A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Nov 20, 2015

Judge fumbles verdict in ex-Raven Terrence Cody's animal cruelty case

Former Baltimore Raven Terrence Cody was acquitted of felony animal cruelty charges but was found guilty of lesser counts in Baltimore County Circuit Court. The judge, after a bench trial, bought the argument that his conduct was neglectful but that he didn't mean to hurt the dog. 

How is this "neglectful" and evidence that he didn't really mean to hurt Taz? 

Forgetting to feed a dog once in a while is neglectful. Locking a dog in a cage in the garage and never feeding him is evidence of a decision not to feed him - hence intentional cruelty. It is important to understand that this is a slow, cruel, painful and horrific death during which the dog is suffering the entire time - sometimes months. Trust me- he hurt the dog. This is why animal cruelty is a crime where omissions as well as commissions are prosecutable "conduct". Would you rather be hit by one blow and receive treatment immediately or have an ice pick in your eye for a month? Neither is good but the latter is excruciating. The fact that Cody paid a lot for the dog is not evidence that he cared, particularly when looked at against the landscapes of NFL salaries. This verdict is a disgrace and one that I hope was not colored by the celebrity football status of the defendant and a desire not to saddle him with a felony conviction.

When do you think Terrence Cody last missed a meal? 

Facial recognition works for MI6 - why not dogs and cats!

Your spcaLA in conjunction with Finding Rover and VCA Animal Hospitals unveiled a new partnership that has the ability to help reunite more lost dogs with their family by using CSI techniques usually reserved for humans. Finding Rover’s innovative facial recognition for pets can be used on a smartphone through the app or on the web and is 98 per cent accurate in matching lost and found dog reports.

spcaLA has always been on the forefront of new technologies for animal welfare.  This venture strives to reunite lost pets using 21st century advanced technology and human compassion. You don't need a pet to participate. You can snap a picture of a dog on the street and it can be matched in minutes with a photo of a dog that is lost. Imagine how beneficial it would be if animals were reunited with their people before or soon after arriving at a shelter. It's less stressful for pets and their families, less costly redemption fees and more resources available to shelters to rehabilitate and find homes for the truly homeless pets rather than for pets with homes who are simply lost.

We are now fully integrated with this technology. Every dog that enters the spcaLA facility becomes automatically registered with facial recognition on Finding Rover. Users can view and favorite adoptable dogs, as well. VCA is doing the same which increases the data base significantly. The more photos are uploaded the better the system will work!

By 2016 the app will work with cats as well which can have interesting applications with feral colonies as well as indoor cats who accidentally got out!

Imagine how well this will work once the world joins in!

Oct 28, 2015

Who ya gonna call -UBER KITTEN!!

Uber - now a noun - "order an Uber". A verb - "let's Uber". An adjective - "it's an "Uber like" system and probably more. On October 29th, one can Uber Kitten. Yes - click on the kitten option on your app and an Uber will arrive with kittens for 15 minutes of love, stress relief and some adorable in your day. A portion of the proceeds will benefit your spcaLA!

Fun notwithstanding, it is an opportunity to spread the message of adoption, the significance of your local shelters and, the critical importance of corporate philanthropy.

Uber - a good corporate citizen and spcaLA Friend for Life!

Oct 20, 2015

Please help spcaLA fund our much needed domestic violence program

Abusers use everything at their disposal to terrorize and control those they batter - including the family pet, often threatening to harm or kill an animal if the domestic violence survivor dares leave. We are now in the worst of it as incidents of domestic violence increase exponentially with the start of footbal season and extreme heat - both occuring right now!
puppy with ball

Since the mid 1990s spcaLA’s Animal Safety Net (ASN)™ provides a safe refuge for the domestic violence survivors’ pets, free-of-charge, so that they may leave a dangerous situation without fear for their animals’ lives. Unfortunately, there is great demand for this help and we must expand these services. 

There are 3 ways to help us help these human and animal victims, one of which is to help us win a contest!
1. Vote. Help spcaLA earn $100,000 to help expand ASN in the LA2050 Challenge - with enough votes between now and November 3, 2015, we can make LA a safer place to live.
2. Donate. Help survivors of domestic violence and their pets right now. Make a special, one-time donation.
3. Shout. Tell your friends about ASN. Ask them to vote. Ask them to donate.
Where domestic violence is present, child, elder and animal abuse usually are too. If animal abuse is suspected, spcaLA investigates, gathers forensic evidence, and builds a case against the abuser. While under our care, animals receive veterinary treatment, vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery. Families remain in contact with their pets through photos and updates until they are safely out of the shelter and reunited.
At its core, ASN gives domestic violence survivors peace of mind. The comfort in knowing their adored pet is protected and cared for helps survivors escape, persevere, and begin building safer, healthier lives.
Please, help us help them. Vote, and if you’re able, donate today.

*If you don’t already have one, you will need to create a Good account using your email or Facebook in order to vote. Just one vote per account between now and November 3, 2015 at 12pm. More info.

Oct 8, 2015

The OTHER reason the bullhook veto hurts

Courtesy Google Images
In his message vetoing the ban on bullhooks, the governor stated that he did not want "to create a new crime", lamenting that there are so many, and that "our jail and prison population have exploded".

For the most part I agree that we should not criminalize every individual type of behavior when such behavior would be subsumed under a general, elastic, broad statute. The reason is that when there is a list of specific prohibited conduct, and a criminal does something not on the list, the door is opened for the defense to argue that if the legislature intended this to be wrong - it would have added it to the list. Bullhooks however, though instruments of torture, were universally accepted as a necessary training device, a likely defense to the crime of animal cruelty, and therefore needs its own statutory language. But that is NOT the reason for the veto. Prison overcrowding is the reason to the detriment of elephants and the rest us.

Our country uses prisons to house the mentally ill, the homeless, minor drug offenders, and an assortment of others hapless souls. California is already under Federal decree to reduce overcrowding in prisons. Therefore, there is an impetus to avoid the creation of new crimes, reduce sentences and release broad categories of prisoners back into society. Various broad stroke propositions like 109 (which realigns categories of crime) and 47 (which reduces penalties) among other things govern this exodus. The problem, is that these are general, clumsy, thoughtless ways of emptying the jails with no targeted and tailored programs on the other end that will reduce crime, aid re-entry, and prevent recidivism. Additionally, violent offenders who need to be incarcerated squeak out under these "fixes", (Note the increase in crime in this state!) It is analogous to cutting off an arm to treat a splinter!  The splinter is gone but the process, without more, leaves a person in serious peril.

Thus the veto on our bullhook ban. A new crime needed to be created but now won't be because of massive mismanagement of the system.

We can pass city by city bans to help our elephants as we have been doing - but who do I see about fixing the rest of this mess for us all?

Sep 29, 2015

Enter the Flexitarian

Courtesy Google Images
Food issues are a thing. People eat with a purpose which can be ideological, health based, weight loss related or simply trendy. One can be vegan for heart health reasons, environmental concerns or because of a philosophical belief that it is wrong to eat animals. There are conscientious omnivores, pescatarians, fruitarians, an entire panoply of diets from Zone to Paleo and of course endless food allergies real and imagined.

Planning menus for organizational events is just as challenging as hosting a dinner party at home where everyone attending has very particular food issues. As a toddler my son would only eat food that was green, my friend won't eat beige food, another is kosher and so on and so forth. 

I thought that I dealt with it all until a guest pronounced himself a flexitarian! In case you are wondering - a flexitarian is a vegetarian who sometimes eats meat. Is that even a thing? Is it different than a carnivore who sometimes eats vegetables or someone on the wagon who occasionally drinks? What is the purpose of this? How is it not just a varied and balanced diet?

I thought I had seen it all, but frankly, this takes the cake - gluten free of course.

Sep 25, 2015

Man Caught on Video Beating His Dog Pleads Guilty

 A 22-year-old Huntington Park man who was caught on video repeatedly striking his 2 year old German Shepherd, “Sam” in the head, pled guilty today to animal cruelty charges. 

2 year old German Shepherd, Sam

Victor Almendariz (DOB: 06-19-1992) was convicted on one count misdemeano r animal cruelty in case #5FF00619 before Judge Gustavo Sztraicher at the Metropolitan Court House.  Deputy District Attorney Kelly Sakir prosecuted the case. Charges were brought against Mr. Almendariz as a result of an animal cruelty investigation by Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA). 

Video shot by an anonymous tipster was sent to spcaLA Humane Officers in January of 2015.  Upon investigation of Mr. Almendariz, three German Shepherds including Sam were found, removed, and brought to spcaLA for medical care.

Mr. Almendariz was sentenced to 500 hours of community labor; 5 years probation; Level II animal abuse counseling (48 week program); and m ay own no animals for five years.  Mr. Alemndariz must also undergo a psychological evaluation and pay restitution.  As a condition of probation, he waived his 4th amendment right and is subject to search and seizure at all times.  Any violation of these terms of probation could result in 180 days jail time.

Click here for video.


Since 1877, spcaLA has been the premiere independen t, nonprofit animal welfare organization serving Southern California.  There is no national SPCA, parent organization, or umbrella group that provides financial support to spcaLA.  Donations run programs and services including Cruelty Investigation, Disaster Animal Response Team, Humane Education, and a variety of shelter services.