As they say, a photo’s worth a thousand words. To me, this photo is worth much more, but I’ve kept it to a tidy 567. Hey, we’re all busy this time of year. Busy decorating homes, addressing holiday cards, and shopping.
Our neighborhood is holding a holiday lights decorating contest; $100 for first place, $50 for second and $25 for third. My 8-year-old pleaded “Go big, Dad!” He doesn’t have a great sense of money yet and I don’t have the heart to tell him I already spent the equivalent of the first-place dough on extension cords. My wife asked if I knew what I was doing with all the cords and multi-pronged outlets snaked around the garage and front yard. I said yes with Clark W. Griswold confidence, but I’m also holding my breath when anyone plugs-in a hair dryer.
Two custom, almost life-sized gingerbread men (people?) we made for our front yard could push us into contention. Why buy inflatables, when you can spend far more time jigsawing, sanding, painting and sealing plywood? One of the cookie cutter figures needed minor surgery after a button eyeball I attached with glue slid halfway down his face, making him look more like a deformed Halloween decoration. The eye is screwed back where it belongs. We’re looking good now, ready to be judged.
Our feeds are filled with news related to shootings and fires. We can’t even catch a small break in the world of sports, an escape for many. The Golden State Warriors, who’ve brought nothing but joy, championships and parades in recent years, are fighting with each other!
We need something warm and snuggly. Meet Coco whose name alone fits the bill and that’s just the beginning.
I first learned of Coco over the weekend. Her adopter posted this on our Facebook page:
This week, I’m going back to a familiar topic: our Humane Investigations work. With apologies, I’m going to rant a little.
First, the background. As avid readers of this blog know, The SPCA for Monterey County investigates animal cruelty reports and complaints. We do this by choice because the animals need us and because this work aligns with our nonprofit mission. We do not receive government funding or tax dollars for this work, and it is not required by law. This vital, compassionate, and often heartbreaking work is made entirely possibly by donations.
The SPCA is the only organization or agency in Monterey County which employs officers specifically trained for this work. Last year, we responded to nearly 1,000 calls. Cases that have merit — those with evidence of a crime and a person known to have committed it — are related to California Penal Code 597, the section in our penal code that covers crimes against animals. We encounter far more people who unintentionally harm animals than those who do so maliciously and intentionally. Cases involving unintentional neglect can often be resolved by our officers through education.
Another challenging aspect of this work involves educating the community about what we are and, equally important, what we aren’t. A common misconception is that we are the same as local law enforcement — the police and sheriffs. In one way yes; in most ways, no.
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.
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.