A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Feb 15, 2019

Turn New Tax Cut Law Lemons into Lemonade


The newly enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act smacked down the annual deductions allowed for state and local taxes paid. 

DOT/IRS Notice 2018-54 states the following:

Section 11042 of “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” Pub. L. No. 115-97, limits an individual’s deduction under § 164 for the aggregate amount of state and local taxes (i.e., income, real property, DMV fees) paid during the calendar year to $10,000 ($5,000 in the ca
e of a married individual filing a separate return).  State and local tax payments in excess of those amounts are not deductible.  The new limitation applies to tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026.

For example, if you paid $17,000 in combined state and local taxes during the tax year, you are now only allowed to deduct $10,000 of the amount paid, thereby losing the remaining $7,000 as a deduction.

Would it not be great to take the deduction amount no longer allowed for the above taxes, and use it instead to preserve a deduction through a donation to your spcaLA

Truly, it can be a win-win situation for you, for our animals and the people we serve, whether they be victims of animal cruelty, domestic violence, disasters, or children re-learning empathy. 

We are a private charity, we are not connected to any other spca in the world, and we have been caring for animals and those that love them since 1877. Imagine what we can do together!

How about it? 


Feb 7, 2019

The "Rats" at Los Angeles City Hall


Los Angeles City Hall is infested with rats. The four-legged furry ones to be clear. 

Rats, opossums, and cats carry the fleas that spread typhus, which is a zoonotic illness. Typhus has manifested itself all over Los Angeles County   and has been ignored for years. Pleas by vector control, health officials and even your  spcaLA were ignored. 

When a city attorney contracted typhus, City Hall officials began scurrying around to find blame in carpets, the homeless population, cats, opossums, and anything that could be blamed besides City Hall itself.  

It is interesting that cats are often blamed for the spread of typhus. Because, we also have a homeless cat problem. . . exacerbated by City Hall.  

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, chair of the Personnel and Animal Welfare council committee, and some of his cronies, for years, have been systematically loosening restrictions that have contributed to the problem, including, increasing the number of cats permitted as pets, zoning restrictions where animals can be "stored" en masse, turning a blind eye on animal hoarders, and accepting the fairy tale that cats are better off on the street-all for the sake of pretending that the shelter population has decreased and L.A. is no-kill. These neglected cats, unsupervised colonies, and hoarding populations are often infested with fleas, rodents, and other predatory bugs and animal opportunists. Basic treatments for flea control, ear mites, skin conditions, and other diseases are lacking, and unavailable to such cats. Despite his rhetoric as an animal welfare champion, I have yet to see Koretz do something that was in the best interests of animals.

Now that the rats have found the big cheese, so to speak, let me say this:

I see a correlation between homeless cats and homeless people in Los Angeles, and it’s not typhus. Both groups are vulnerable, in need of real solutions, and, as yet, have been failed.  Neither cats nor people can be cared for in convenient soundbites.

The problem of the Downtown Los Angeles Typhus outbreak must be dealt with at its roots. Specifically, by providing real aid to our homeless neighbors and not treating cats like wildlife.

What is the mayor doing to help the homeless population? They are susceptible to disease and are at risk because the rodent, feces, trash or flea problem on the streets has not been addressed. Where are the funds to help them and, if funds exists, why are they not being spent for their designated purpose? If trash is a problem, what can be done about that?

When our government not only condones but also contributes to companion animals and people living in the streets, something is wrong. People must fight to stay alive while enduring weather, disease, hunger, heartbreak and other indignities. Animals are suffering. Blaming them, does not address the original sin of this problem, which is - we are careless about caring for our vulnerable populations.

While they change their carpets at City Hall, they should take the opportunity to see what was swept under the rugs and fix it.


“If the solution to a problem creates another problem, then it is better to call it a ‘Circular Problem’! Say, the pied piper of Hamelin has freed the city from the rats, but he has caused serious water pollution by leaving the rats into the river where they have died, rotten and mixed up with the water! Apparently, the problem of the city is solved but water gets polluted and another problem arises. So, it is a ‘Circular Problem’!” 
― 
Md. Ziaul Haque









Feb 1, 2019

Pot, Shop, Adopt and Divorce

Courtesy of google images

Every year there are laws passed that affect animals and those that love them. I would like to highlight a few.

First, judges now must take the best interests of a pet in determining sole or joint custody during a divorce or legal separation. By the way, the judge can also determine who will care for the pet during the proceedings. This is another example of the unique status of pets, who are legally property, but have some rights more akin to those of sentient beings. They exist in a world between property and human in some matters.

Second, veterinarians are now permitted to DISCUSS the use of cannabis on a pet for medicinal reasons. They are not allowed to prescribe, dispense or distribute it. Discussing it, is no longer a crime.

Third, pet shops are no longer allowed to sell dogs, cats, and rabbits that are commercially bred.  This law, though well meaning, was poorly drafted and diminished some protections for those animals, which your spcaLA, and California Animal Welfare Association (of which I am president), fought, successfully, to put back this year in time for the retail law to take effect.  However, there are still ways for pet shop owners to circumvent the law, and no guidance in the law as to appropriate business arrangements that shelters can enter into with pet shops. Additionally, there is the issue of fraudulent rescue groups and "cover" groups who will still sell the prohibited pets.

As consumers, you may ask for origin documents, medical records, observe whether there are high end and/or designer breed puppies in the shop, and you can always verify origin documents with the named shelter. Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City, spcaLA and others all inspect pet shops. 

So if you see something amiss - report it.

Jan 30, 2019

The Bitch is Back!

Happy New Year!

I am sorry that I have not blogged in a while.

I wrote a book about Designer Dogs, a gargantuan effort, as I never wrote a book before and thought it a difficult but interesting experience. Fortunately, Dr. Phil wrote the forward, members of the animal welfare community supported the book, and I am still doing promotional media and signings. This is great, as I think it is a story that needs to be told. That said, I pretty much rewarded myself by just eating and sleeping during the holidays!

Stay tuned for an update on new laws in California involving animals, and some thoughts about how the government shutdown affected animals and your spcaLA.

And - I am off the couch!!

Oct 29, 2018

Attention humans - VOTE

imagine if we all could vote
We the people have the power of our vote, our buying choices and our freedoms to believe in and express our opinions, and the ability to make change. Apathy, ignorance and opting out, weaken that power. The candidates and issues that we choose to support, whether locally or nationally, affect us, our pets, the planet, and the quality of our lives.

Whether you are for or against expanding the cage size of confined animals, decide to purchase or not to purchase a designer dog, or select a candidate of your choosing - you must weigh in. Deciding these things is our superpower.

Please, stay informed, get involved and participate.






Oct 18, 2018

What do Putin, a dog named Blue and a Teacup have in common?

I wrote this book to address the international epidemic of  breeding and trafficking in "Instagram worthy" mutts. No matter how many thousands of dollars or pounds you spent on a puggle - you bought a mutt. My hope is that everyone who likes dogs, knows someone who wants a dog, and all who rejects gratuitous cruelty, will read this book and advocate for the original, organic and unique dogs already waiting for you in shelters everywhere. The book is not scary or depressing but rather calls on us together to improve the lives of dogs everywhere.

I am donating the majority of the proceeds to spcaLA because without spcaLA there would be no book. You can also learn more about the book here

Thank you in advance for your interest!

Aug 31, 2018

Just released: WE ARE ONE - the film

As  we approach a holiday weekend, allow me to suggest the documentary film We Are One directed by Kevin Mukherji and narrated by Forest Whitaker.

Yes, I am in it, but so is Harold Ramis, Jimmy Carter, Maneka Gandhi, and many more. This film has already won honors in the Calcutta film festival and developing a buzz.

It is about the interconnections between animal cruelty, the environment, war and abuses of power. In my humble opinion, it is also about the dangers of damning science and lauding ignorance.

The film is about 90 minutes long and available now on Amazon Prime Video.

Let me know what you think.