Living With Animals: The Name Game

By Hope Bidegainberry on September 6, 2019

Here’s a question I often get asked: “What’s the relationship between Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA and American SPCA (ASPCA), Humane Society of U.S. (HSUS), and other national-sounding groups?” The question often comes as those organizations send mail asking for donations, or air those very beautiful (and very expensive!) TV commercials. Now that question is getting asked because the ASPCA has paid solicitors hanging around grocery stores and parking lots throughout San Mateo County asking for your help.

So, first, to answer the question: There is no formal, ongoing relationship between any of those organizations.

Some charities operate like “mother ships” with chapters. Donations are shared among the network. If you experience a problem locally you can “go up the ladder”. Not so in animal welfare. The thousands of SPCAs and humane societies are separate organizations. PHS/SPCA’s focus is saving lives of individual animals here in this, our home community. On the other hand, national organizations are largely about advocacy, along with some token support in some few handpicked communities around the country.

I’m not saying who you should support, only clarifying who we are. All of us. So if you see a compelling TV ad, or if you get gardening gloves or an umbrella in the mail, you may want to know what your money will do before mailing that check. Similarly, if you get approached by nice folks asking you to help, you might want to ask them where that money is going. You should know what you are supporting. Don’t you agree?

If you’d like to support the homeless animals here, that would be lovely: thank you, but please send it directly. Your gift to one of the national-sounding names won’t trickle down to the animals at PHS/SPCA. We (and our animals) get zero support from them. And if you hate something I’ve done, don’t get all huffy with HSUS or ASPCA; they will quite legitimately claim it’s outside their control.

Sure, it’d be great if everyone contributed to, volunteered at, and adopted from PHS/SPCA. But Oakland, Phoenix, Seattle, Miami and NYC all have animals in crisis — and all have local organizations working to help. If you’re curious who is helping the animals elsewhere, just ask. I’ll be happy to advise. 

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