The name Marie Aronson isn’t familiar to many of you but she’s special to the SPCA. When I walk through our adoption courtyard where potential adopters spend time getting to know our dogs — where the magic happens — I pass a bench with this inscription: “In Honor of Deputy District Attorney Marie Aronson – Champion of Animal Rights.” Marie’s co-workers, colleagues and friends made a generous donation for the naming rights for a bench to memorialize her shortly after she passed away last year.
Marie, as a member of Monterey County’s District Attorney’s Office, prosecuted animal abuse cases for 15 years. When she first arrived at the DA’s office in the 1980s, she “self-identified” as an animal lover and protector, and actively pursued cases that SPCA humane investigators built and submitted for prosecution.
Longtime residents may remember a widely publicized animal abuse case in the mid 1980s where a little dog was sealed in a box and tossed over a cliff in Carmel. This wasn’t Marie’s first case, but among the first to receive significant publicity and it helped local residents understand our mission included investigating cases of abuse and cruelty.
This Thursday, I get to channel my inner Jerry Lewis for the SPCA’s telethon. Our annual “Share the Love” event will air throughout the day from 6 am to 8 pm on KSBW 8 and Central Coast ABC.
During commercial breaks of your favorite shows, KSBW news anchor Brittany Neilson will guide the festivities and introduce heartwarming stories about animals you helped rescue, and she’ll be joined by yours truly and other SPCA staff. You’ll learn about everything your local, independent SPCA does for pets, people, and wildlife in Monterey County.
Throughout the day, we’ll ask you to share your love by donating to make a difference for homeless, abused, and neglected animals in our community.
We half joke that Mamma, a non-releasable adult Great-Horned Owl who acts as a surrogate mother to orphaned baby owls at the SPCA’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, is our hardest working volunteer. After all, she mothers babies ‘round the clock and has raised more than 50 owl chicks since arriving years ago with a significant, untreatable wing injury preventing her release.
SPCA Volunteer Jeff Weill may have knocked Mamma off her perch. Figuratively-speaking, of course.
Jeff joined the SPCA as a volunteer in June 2016, when he was looking to enrich his lighter schedule after wrapping-up a career as a Department of Defense project manager. He was familiar with the SPCA, having adopted a Shepherd/Lab mix (a “Schlab,” one of our specialities!) from us when he was 19 years old, and that sweet companion was with him the next 14 years.
Two weeks ago, SPCA Facebook followers met Pecan and Chocolate, two miniature donkeys available for adoption. Soon thereafter, so did the rest of the world. Well, not exactly, but a whole mess of them did. The donkey post reached 435,000 people, it was shared 2,400 times and received 2,000+ comments. In our world, that’s viral. It’s bigger than learning the name of Kim Kardashian and Kayne’s baby or the “This is Us” spoiler alert.
Years ago, when I was new to this field, I sat in on a pet loss grief support group session. I wanted to experience all our programs in action and I was amazed this one existed.
I specifically remember a young couple. They were in tears, talking about their loss, how it hurt so much, how they were depressed and losing sleep and how their home felt empty. Then, the kicker. “And we don’t know if we’ll ever be able to get another bird” A bird!? I assumed they were talking about a dog or cat and never imagined people could connect as deeply with a bird.
Of course, I now know these bonds exist with all kinds of pets and that losing an iguana can be every bit as difficult as losing a cat or dog. I see co-workers and volunteers, friends and family struggle with loss. I’m careful not to say “I know how you feel.” I don’t, really. We all process loss differently.
The last time I lost a pet was 10 years ago. My dog came from backyard breeder, before I knew better. I was a Twin Peaks fanatic, so