New people bring a fresh pair of eyes, another perspective on programs or services, opportunities others may not have seen or, some things less important. This falls into the latter category.
Most days, I take my shelter dog on a short walk to enjoy some of the SPCA’s magnificent, 200 acres. Our buildings sit on a somewhat flat five-acre bowl and the surrounding land is oak-studded, sloped and rugged, with meandering unpaved access trails. Truly, an amazing gift.
My walk takes me past our oldest structure — a wooden, two-story building which houses programs for kids and an office for our Humane Investigations team.
The SPCA for Monterey County has received multiple reports of people soliciting door to door asking for donations to the “humane society.” These fundraisers are not being performed on behalf of the SPCA, and they appear to be fraudulent.
These particular reports we received were from Prescott Avenue in Monterey and Surf Avenue in Pacific Grove, and they all took place this week. The solicitors told residents they were fundraising for the “local humane society” and asked for donations to end puppy mills. One solicitor was wearing a fake badge. Two residents reported the solicitors as demanding and aggressive.
Last Thursday, SPCA staff attended a hearing for the man charged with lighting on fire and torturing his family’s beloved dog. We prepared media statements for any possible outcome and heard the one we had hoped for but didn’t expect. Devonte Sirwet pled no contest to three felony charges and two strikes. As part of his plea agreement, he’ll be sentenced next month to six years and eight months in state prison.
Is this justice for Kato, the dog brutally tortured? I don’t know — it depends on who’s asked. For the people who cared for and loved Kato, I imagine this gave them some sense of closure. They didn’t address media following the hearing and who could blame them.
It took nearly two years, but the final piece of being a tried and true SPCA employee was thrust into my arms this summer when a co-worker brought a surrendered puppy to meet me after I let it slip that my family was looking to adopt.
I did tell co-workers we were interested in a dog. This powder puff looked and felt more like a guinea pig with piranha teeth! The mostly white with black patches, 8-week old Shih Tzu mix barely moved the scale at 4.1 pounds. When curled up asleep, she looked like an ice cream sundae without the cherry on top.
For our fiscal year which just ended June 30, the SPCA’s Humane Investigations team responded to 981 reports related to animal cruelty or abuse. I have mixed feelings seeing that number, and imagine you might as well. Is that number heartwrenching or comforting?
Here’s my take. On one level, seeing 981 truly sickens me. We live in a county famous for being pet friendly and we live in a time where people care far more about their pets than they ever have. Decades ago, dogs lived in the yard, maybe with access to a garage if they were lucky. Today, many dogs share homes with their people, even beds in some cases, and have their own social media followers! Despite all this, we receive, on average, nearly 20 reports of animal cruelty, abuse or mistreatment every week.