It’s summer Animal Camp season at the SPCA. Each Monday, a new group of 40 eight to twelve-year-olds visits our campus for a week-long day camp led by our Humane Education and Outreach Coordinator — Miss Darlenne to the kids — and her talented team of junior counselors.
This popular SPCA mainstay since the 1980s offers children a unique mix of fun and educational hands-on experiences that nurture compassion and respect for all living things, and makes a difference for animals in our care. And, every now and then, the kids work their parents over and end up adopting a dog, cat, bunny, guinea pig, snake or bird they’ve met during the week!
My two kids are three-year camp veterans and they enjoyed camp this summer every bit as much as they did our first summer here in 2016. No doubt, Audrey will apply for a counselor position when she’s eligible, age-wise, in a few years.
Our logo is a bit of a mess and mystery. As far as anyone here knows, it was created for us sometime between 1989 and 1991. Prior to that, we had a typeface only logo, our SPCA letters spun in a groovy 1970s font. That should have gone out with feathered hair, pet rocks and disco, but it survived a decade past its “freshness” date.
A class of students possibly from Monterey Peninsula College took on our logo project either unsolicited or by invitation. Again, the history’s fuzzy. Each student in the class developed a concept and one was selected by our leadership or by a vote. Who knows? And that’s the logo we have and use today. Well, almost. Interestingly, this logo did not initially include our name. Oops.
Depending on how one looks at it, the logo could be seen as clever, confusing, cluttered or maybe a little of everything. Let’s begin with the whale, the logo’s featured star. And, that starts and ends with one simple question: why? We don’t save whales, we don’t find new homes for them and don’t write legislation that protects them. We like them and they are here, in Monterey Bay. Maybe that’s why they made the logo.
As I often say, we see the best and worst in people in our business. Take this past week, which started with this email message:
“I need to get rid of these three dogs. One of them is half boxer and something else and the other 2 is rottweiler [sic] and I just really need to get rid of them. They’re just taking up to much room for me and my family.”
Wow. I haven’t seen a message worded so bluntly, with so much detachment. As the only open-admission shelter in Monterey County, we responded as we always do, informing the owner that we should be seen as a last resort after they’ve exhausted other efforts to rehome their dogs…that we rehome all healthy animals, that we make well most animals with health and behavior challenges, but can’t make any promises. We assess animals carefully and individually.
On April 28, the Monterey Herald ran a Letter to the Editor from a Seaside resident. The writer promoted low-cost spay/neuter, made claims about animals being tortured and dumped, and criticized the SPCA and other local rescue groups for spending “virtually zero dollars” on spay/neuter. The letter made many inaccurate points, so we responded with this as yet unpublished letter.
I joke that our shelter is like the 1980’s classic sitcom Cheers. Our volunteer group is 350 strong, filled with a cast of colorful characters, and the Cheers opening theme “Everybody knows your name” applies to the regulars. Meet two from our Cat Adoption floor, Benny and Susan.
Benny has lived a few lives, much like the cats he watches over at the SPCA. He spent four years in the Navy as an air traffic controller, sold Armani and Hugo Boss suits, then found a career in the hotel, restaurant and bar business. This included a stint as assistant manager at the Phoenix at Nepenthe in Big Sur and bartender at Rocky Point Restaurant, just south of Carmel. Like the bartender from Billy Joel’s Piano Man, “quick with a joke or a light of your smoke” applies to Benny.
Benny invested well and retired early and that was good for us and the animals. He began volunteering with the SPCA four years ago just to “get out of the house” and he found much more than that. He spends four or five hours in our cat adoption wing every Monday and Wednesday. Sam “Mayday” Malone’s charm with Cliff Clavin’s gift of gab. That’s Benny.