A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Apr 13, 2012

"Something's Happening Here - What It Is Ain't Exactly Clear..."

I wasn’t going to write about this – but – it has been bothering me.  Last week, the aspca (NOT a national umbrella organization) subsidized adoptions across the country for a couple of days. The subsidy allowed some shelters to give away pets, or to charge 10 or 20 dollars for the pet.  So why has this been nagging at me?

Courtesy spcaL
I began to wonder why they are really doing this.  Promoting adoptions is the obvious answer but is it the correct one? You and I will never know – but here is what I think. The aspca has been and is under fire for fundraising in everyone’s neighborhood and amassing approximately 188,024,402 million dollars in New York to the detriment of all the other spcas and the animals they serve. They get away with it because consumers believe that they are the “national office” and that every spca in the country is a chapter which receives funding from them. Not true.  Each spca is a separate and independent legal entity and it could affect the aspca’s ability to raise funds if they disclosed that.  In fact, out of that near 185,000,000 million dollars,  they grant out fewer than 6 million but spend over 25 million on fundraising.

So, they throw pocket change at this adoption promotion, publicize the hell out of it and generate more smoke for the mirrors.

But was it a good event that helped animals? In California they worked mostly with government pounds where adopters are not screened and all one needs is the fee to take home an animal. At no charge or even with a nominal charge many animals very likely went to hoarders, backyard sellers, and other entities that had only plans to resell the pets at a huge mark up. How many sales were an impulse grab where the pet was returned or simply turned out? It is easy to empty a shelter but not so easy to have the adoption stick and actually find the pet a home. It is neither a success nor even an adoption if the pet is not kept. Do you think the aspca is tracking that or is even concerned about that? I don't know, but if so, the event business model would have been different. Of course there are those of us who would cherish a pet for life that we found on the street or received at no cost. I am not talking about us.

I think that my disquietude comes from the fear that many of these animals might be in awful places as a result of the aspca’s public relations effort to appear to be funding animals in areas in which they solicit donations and provide nothing in return.

They could be throwing couch cushion change to seem to be something they are not, while perhaps tossing pets to the very real wolves.  

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