Prop 26 Provides a Financial “Lifeline” to the Horseracing Industry with a Terrible Animal Safety Record

SACRAMENTO, CA – August 4, 2022 – Organizations across the state dedicated to the humane treatment of animals have come together to announce their opposition to Proposition 26 which will be on the November 2022 ballot. Prop 26 contains a provision that allows in-person sports betting at private horse racetracks in addition to tribal casinos. This amounts to a special interest giveaway that hands millions of dollars to horse racetracks – a dying industry that has led to the death of more than 1,600 horses over the last 10 years.

“Prop 26 will give millions of dollars to an industry that has a terrible record on animal safety with horses dying every year,” said Madeline Bernstein, President of spcaLA. “This industry has been failing and attendance declining over the last few years – even before the pandemic – and we should not give them a bailout. The people have already ‘voted’.”

“Prop 26 provides a financial ‘shot in the arm’ to private horseracing tracks with no requirement or accountability towards increasing animal safety,” said Jill Tucker, CEO of California Animal Welfare Association. “This is not good policy as the industry needs to independently improve animal safety to attract back its customer base rather than ignoring these serious challenges and focusing on millions of dollars coming their way due to Prop 26.”

“We are seriously concerned about Proposition 26 as it ignores the animal safety record and instead gives the horseracing industry a new funding stream in the form of millions of dollars,” said Dr. Gary Weitzman, President and CEO at San Diego Humane Society. “We encourage voters to reject Prop 26.”

“Horse racing amounts to animal cruelty and exploitation,” said Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, CEO of San Francisco SPCA. “It is a dying industry that should not be given millions of dollars in aid through in person sports wagering. If Prop 26 passes, countless horses will suffer in the coming years. For this reason, we strongly oppose Prop 26.”

California horseracing tracks reported 144 horse deaths in 2018 as well as reporting 122 horse deaths from July 2019-June 2020 and 72 horse deaths during the height of the pandemic from July 2020-June 2021. In fact, a nationally-recognized horse racing expert stated in a January 2022 Daily Californian opinion article, “From breeding for speed, to employing pubescent bodies, to the incessant grinding – not to mention the commodification – of those bodies, to forcing them to run at an unnatural rate, in an unnatural way, and through unnatural means, horse racing guarantees killing. Guarantees.Source

Santa Anita has already experienced another eight horse deaths in the past six months while the horse racing industry is touting Prop 26 as its “lifeline” stating:

USA Today headline last week proclaimed “How legalized sports betting in California could revive horse tracks” and the article discusses how Prop 26 will help a dying industry. One owner of 76 race horses said, “The addition of this wagering could be monumental for horse racing, a major shot in the arm.”

“It’s going to be very powerful” for the racing industry. Horse racing is never going to get monies from the state or from the casinos. This is our last lifeline, and it’s extremely important to us.” – Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) vice chairman, Bob Liewald, Thoroughbred Daily News

Due to this handout to horse racetracks, organizations today announcing their opposition to Proposition 26 include:

● California Animal Welfare Association
● Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County
● Fresno Humane Animal Services
● Inland Valley Humane Society and S.P.C.A.
● Marin Humane Society
● National Animal Care and Control Association
● Public Interest Coalition
● San Diego Humane Society
● Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA)
● San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (San Francisco SPCA)

If enacted, Prop 26 will propagate the horse racing industry by allowing horse racetracks to accept sports wagers at their facilities and receive millions of dollars in new revenue. For years, horse racing has been declining in popularity, with attendance dramatically down at racetracks even before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Handing millions of dollars to special interest racetracks will enable them to continue operating despite their concerning animal safety record and declining popularity with Californians.

For more information on Prop 26, go to


Barbara brings over 20 year of unique public policy expertise and extensive experience in the animal welfare industry

San Francisco, CA – July 5, 2022 – The San Francisco SPCA has announced that Barbara Schmitz, JD, will join the Shelter Policy and Legal Services (PALS) team as Advocacy Counsel starting in August 2022. Shelter PALS is the country’s first and only legal aid program dedicated exclusively to the needs of animal shelters. Shelter PALS leverages the expertise of the best minds in animal welfare, and channels significant legal aid to animal shelters. The program champions policy change and counsels shelter clients to reduce imbalances of expertise and resources that result in poor outcomes for animals.

Barbara has over 20 years of experience in public policy and advocacy on behalf of animals nationwide. Most recently, Barbara was the Staff Services Manager for the State of California. She previously served as the Director of Advocacy and Outreach for Alley Cat Allies and State Director for the Humane Society of the United States.

“Animal shelters in California are facing significant and mounting challenges; intake numbers are rising while the national veterinary staffing shortage continues to worsen,” said Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, CEO of the SF SPCA. “Barbara has the experience and policy background needed to expand Shelter PALS services and help shelters save lives.”

Barbara also has experience providing pro bono legal support to organizations such as Legal Services of Eastern Missouri’s Volunteer Lawyer Program, St. Louis Animal Rights Team, Missouri’s Humane Advocacy Network, and Missouri River Otter Protection Coalition. Barbara received her JD from the St. Louis University School of Law.

To learn more about Shelter PALS or support the SF SPCA’s advocacy efforts, visit

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About the San Francisco SPCA

The San Francisco SPCA is an independent, community-supported nonprofit animal welfare organization dedicated to saving, protecting, and providing immediate care for cats and dogs who are homeless, ill, or in need of an advocate. The SF SPCA also works long-term to educate the community, reduce the number of unwanted kittens and puppies through spaying and neutering, and improve the quality of life for animals and their human companions. The organization does not receive government funding.

For more information, visit

Animal shelters across the nation are experiencing an influx of dogs and a decrease in demand for adoption

San Francisco, CA – June 6, 2022 – Animal shelters across the nation, including the San Francisco SPCA and San Francisco Animal Care & Control, are unusually full of dogs. The problem is twin fold: Many spay/neuter surgeries were delayed because of the pandemic, and consequently we’re now seeing more homeless animals. At the same time, the demand for adoptions is declining as the pandemic ends and life returns to normal. This is creating an unsustainable situation for shelters that simply can’t accommodate all of the dogs coming through their doors.

To help animals find their forever homes more quickly, both the SF SPCA and SFACC are waiving adoption fees:

“When you adopt, you’re not just saving one animal’s life, you’re also opening space in our shelter so we can save another animal,” said Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, CEO of the SF SPCA. “If you’ve been thinking about adopting, now is a great time. Our shelter is full and we have a huge variety of dogs – especially bigger dogs.”

“As an open-door animal shelter, SF Animal Care & Control (SFACC) takes in all species of animals, and all types of dogs, including lost dogs, dogs that need protective custody, dogs that are linked to investigations, and dogs surrendered by owners,” said Virginia Donohue, Executive Director of SFACC. “The number of dogs in our care – especially large ones – has significantly impacted our operations. We’re hoping that waiving our adoption fees will lead to many of our dogs finding loving new homes.”

Unfortunately, due to a lot of misunderstanding, bigger dogs often have a harder time getting adopted and are therefore being disproportionally impacted by the recent decline in adoption demand. Finding the perfect dog is less about size and more about personality and lifestyle. Big dogs can make wonderful family dogs and thrive in city apartments. Read the SF SPCA’s big dog myth busting article.

How you can help:



About the San Francisco SPCA

The San Francisco SPCA is an independent, community-supported, nonprofit animal welfare organization dedicated to saving, protecting and providing immediate care for cats and dogs who are homeless, ill or in need of an advocate. The SF SPCA also works long-term to educate the community, reduce the number of unwanted kittens and puppies through spaying and neutering, and improve the quality of life for animals and their human companions. The organization does not receive government funding.

For more information, visit


About San Francisco Animal Care & Control

The Department of Animal Care & Control is a taxpayer-funded open-admission animal shelter.  Animal Care & Control provides housing, care and medical treatment to wild, exotic and domestic stray, lost, abandoned sick, injured and/or surrendered animals. Animal Care & Control aims to adopt, rehome or reunite domestic animals with their guardians and to release wildlife to their native habitats.  Animal Care & Control responds to animal related emergencies, including animal abuse and neglect, as well as matters of public safety. Animal Care & Control is located at 1419 Bryant Street San Francisco, CA 94103

For more information, visit

Stevie Wonderful – a handsome orange tabby – recently had a terrible accident where he fell 80 feet from a rooftop and became wedged between two buildings. Miraculously, Stevie was rescued by firefighters and survived.

Stevie’s guardian, Dee Dee, rushed him to an emergency night time veterinary practice, where doctors set the bones of his fractured wrist. In the month that followed, Dee Dee lost sleep as she paid for more veterinary visits, pain medication, and eventually learned that Stevie would need surgery to amputate his leg.

As she wondered how much deeper she’d have to dip into her savings to pay for the surgery, Dee Dee’s research led her back to the San Francisco SPCA – where she adopted Stevie on Valentine’s Day 2019.

Dee Dee was deeply relieved to discover our Financial Assistance program. Soon after, our veterinarians performed the successful surgery to remove Stevie’s damaged leg, and his healing began.

Today, Dee Dee says Stevie is slowly going back to his cheerful, affectionate self.

No guardian should have to give up their pet because they can’t afford veterinary care. Our Financial Assistance program helps keep pets where they belong – in their loving homes.

The need for financial assistance is huge – last year, our program helped more than 2,600 pets! We started our fiscal year by allocating $250,000 to our Financial Assistance program. By January, the funds had depleted, so we quickly started raising more money to help clients like Dee Dee and Stevie Wonderful.

Please consider making a monthly gift to help get animals like Stevie Wonderful the care they deserve, so they can stay with their loving families. All monthly gifts help save homeless animals every month and provide steady support to animals in need.

Stevie Wonderful, a cat saved by the SF SPCA

Interview with Dr. Jena Valdez, SF SPCA Chief Medical Officer

How long have you worked at the SF SPCA?

8.5 years

Do you have pets?

Yes! Oscar, an 11-year-old dachshund and Simon, a 9-year-old shorthaired tabby

How would you describe the SF SPCA in one word?


What motivates your work at the SF SPCA on a daily basis?

At the SF SPCA, we’re always searching for better ways to provide care, to drive conversations and push limits that others may not. Right now, we’re looking at veterinary care in a new way, thinking about how we can deliver lifesaving services for pets and the people who love them. We’re being deliberate about how we bring clients in and how we can cast the biggest net to reach as many people as possible.

How did the monthly Mobile Vaccine Clinic (MVC) at the Cow Palace and low-cost Call-Ahead Clinic (CAC) at the Mission Campus begin?

In 2010, I was working in the SF SPCA hospital, and we noticed a high volume of parvovirus cases coming in from a specific zip code. Parvo can be fatal if not treated, and vaccinating pets is the best protection. This is what led to the creation of the Mobile Vaccine Clinic.

Through the MVC, we started to get to know the community and focused on listening to what we could do to expand care in ways that would be the most useful to clients. These conversations sparked the idea for the Call-Ahead Clinic. Essentially, we created the CAC as a bridge between the MVC and the campus hospitals.

How did the MVC and CAC pave the way for the new Community Clinic?

From talking to the community, we learned that we needed to address two key barriers: cost and transportation. The Community Clinic is a continuation of how we are expanding access to veterinary care. It’s modeled after the CAC and will offer a similar menu of items: care for non-emergent concerns, flea and tick preventatives, heartworm protection, treatment for minor skin and ear cases, and vaccines.

Creating this clinic meant we had to address cost in a way that would be financially sustainable for the organization, so the price point reflects both what clients can afford and what is necessary for ongoing operating costs. Then we started looking for a brick-and-mortar location. It was clear we needed to locate somewhere within the Excelsior neighborhood, which would help people overcome the barrier of transportation.

We also wanted to bring in people from the community to address the lack of diversity in veterinary medicine as well as a decline in veterinary professionals entering the field. That’s where the mentor training program, CoMET, comes in.

Is this a model that can be replicated in other communities and by other shelters?

Yes! Our goal is to have another location. This isn’t just for San Francisco. A successful model means we can replicate this, and it’s a project that can be replicated by our partner shelters. The more shelters who can deliver non-traditional veterinary services and offer mentoring opportunities will equate to more pet guardians accessing care and more trained providers in the field, directly addressing the current veterinary shortage.

Where do you see the Community Medicine Department in five years?

In five years, I see the clinic thriving as a valuable, trusted resource to the community, hopefully open on a daily basis. CoMET will have a couple of cohorts each year to support the veterinary profession in general. Everything about it is a win for animals and the people who consider them part of their family.

Your support makes our access to care programs possible. All donations made before 6/30 will be matched up to $250k. Please make a gift today.

This summer, we’re dismantling the two biggest barriers to veterinary care—cost and transportation—with our new Community Veterinary Clinic in the Excelsior neighborhood. The clinic will be the first of its kind in the city, offering a selection of low-cost, fixed-fee veterinary care. Services will include vaccines, heartworm protection, flea and tick preventatives, treatment for skin and ear infections, and more.

“The Community Veterinary Clinic is about getting away from a one-size-fits-all approach to care, by listening to our clients and working with them to develop a treatment plan that considers their individual goals and resources,” said SF SPCA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jena Valdez.

Since the pandemic, economic hardship has increased. As cost of care continues to rise over the next decade, it’s fair to assume underserved communities will suffer disproportionately. If we’re going to achieve our goal of expanding veterinary access to all pet guardians, we need to create new options for access to high-quality pet care.

“We’re creating ways to help prevent animals from being surrendered to shelters and identifying what we can do to help animals stay in the best home possible: the one they’re in,” said Dr. Valdez.

Modeled after the Call-Ahead Clinic at the SF SPCA Mission Campus, the Community Veterinary Clinic will provide lifesaving care in a way that can be replicated by other organizations.

Over time, we hope to establish as many low-cost clinics throughout San Francisco as are needed by our city’s currently underserved communities. Then, we want to expand the clinic’s model and deliver it across the state and beyond.

The Community Veterinary Clinic would not be possible without your support. Please make a donation today so that we can make veterinary care accessible for all pets.

Photo: Dr. Jena Valdez, SF SPCA Chief Medical Officer, will oversee the Community Veterinary Clinic.


Grand Opening! Shelter Medicine Surgical Suite

This month we are opening a new surgical suite for shelter animals who need medical procedures. Not only will this greatly increase our capacity to help homeless animals, it will also free up space in our Spay/Neuter Clinic so we can perform more procedures. The new surgical suite will increase our spay/neuter capacity by at least 50%.

Currently, our Community Medicine and Shelter Medicine programs share one surgical suite, where we perform spay/neuter procedures, surgeries for both homeless and owned animals, and medical care for animals served through partnerships. There is more demand for these services than our one surgical suite can provide.

“There has been an increase in the number of homeless animals needing medical treatment, as well as an increase in the demand for spay/neuter surgeries for client-owned animals,” said Dr. Jena Valdez, SF SPCA Chief Medical Officer. “By opening a new Shelter Medicine surgical suite, we will dramatically increase our capacity to provide veterinary care for the animals who need our help.”

More than half of the spay/neuter surgeries we perform for client-owned animals are reduced cost or free. In addition, the new suite will allow us to help more homeless animals who need critical medical treatment before they find their forever homes.

The new surgical suite would not be possible without our generous donors. Please consider making a gift today to help animals in need get the medical care they deserve.


“Riley was always a playful puppy. She loved the off-leash dog park. While her play style was rough, we never saw a problem. One day a new dog joined the dog park and a fight between Riley and the other dog broke out. The other dog was injured and had to be taken to the hospital.

We hired a trainer right away and didn’t go back to the park. More than a year later, while Riley was playing in the backyard she slipped by me and hurt another dog who was on a walk with their owner. I was beside myself and again called the trainer.

We made a plan to secure our backyard. Unfortunately, Riley slipped out and again injured another dog. I desperately looked for pet behavior services and found Dr. Wailani Sung at the SF SPCA’s Behavior Specialty Clinic.

During our consultation, Dr. Sung provided multiple recommendations to help Riley. Dr. Sung recommended counter conditioning exercises as well as switching to a harness and gentle lead instead of the chain collar the trainer had recommended. We started Riley on Fluoxetine, which has helped calm her anxiety. These recommendations combined with information for me on how to work with Riley were necessary for Riley and me to succeed.

The bond my family has with Riley now is much stronger after working with Dr. Sung. Riley is less anxious and my family and I better understand her strengths and weakness, making it possible for her thrive in our home.”

Need help with your pet’s behavior issue? Contact the SF SPCA’s Behavior Specialty Services.

Learn from world-renowned experts in the field of animal behavior at next month’s virtual two-day conference 

January 13, 2022 — Fear Free, LLC and the San Francisco SPCA have teamed up once again for the second annual Fear Free Pet Behavior Symposium, which aims to prevent fear, stress, and anxiety in pets by educating and inspiring those who care for them.

With all the false and harmful information on the internet, it can be hard to know what is truly best for pets. Fear Free aims to provide veterinary teams, pet professionals, pet parents, and animal welfare communities with the scientifically backed knowledge and tools needed to look after both a pet’s physical and emotional wellbeing.

The best minds in veterinary medicine will present virtually at the Fear Free Pet Behavior Symposium, February 12 and 13, to three focused audiences: pet guardians, shelter personnel, and veterinary professionals. This year’s symposium will feature all new content focusing on the practical and environmental concepts of Fear Free as well as the latest strategies and processes demonstrated in veterinary clinics and shelters today. Attendees can view the sessions live or on demand for 90 days after the event.

Pet guardians will learn how to help their cats and dogs live happy, healthy, and full lives. Presentations from veterinary and behavior experts will explore topics like common behavior problems, enrichment, the emotional wellbeing of pets, and tips for new adopters.

Shelter and veterinary professionals will learn how to integrate Fear Free concepts into their everyday work, such as identifying stressed body language and gently handling animals. These tracks will give attendees a deep dive into the latest science-based animal behavior research, like Fear Free dentistry, implementing Fear Free into animal anesthesia, reducing stress in the shelter environment, and feline body language.

The symposium features Fear Free experts from the veterinary and shelter world, including renowned Fear Free founder Dr. Marty Becker and board-certified SF SPCA veterinary behaviorists Drs. Jeannine Berger and Wailani Sung.

“We received wonderful feedback from attendees of our first Fear Free Symposium, and we’re excited to offer it again this year,” explained Dr. Berger. “This symposium has something for everyone, whether you’re a pet guardian or animal welfare professional. We will teach practical ways to incorporate Fear Free concepts, and what you learn at this symposium will have a real-life impact on the physical and emotional wellbeing of the animals in your life.”

Since 2016, Fear Free has provided online education to more than 140,000 veterinary professionals, pet professionals, animal welfare communities, and pet owners. By closely listening to the needs of the profession and those of the new generation of pet owners, Fear Free has become one of the single most transformative initiatives in the history of companion animal practice, providing unparalleled education on emotional wellbeing, enrichment, and the reduction of fear, anxiety, and stress in pets and improving the experience of every human and pet involved.

“We are so excited to once again connect and inspire communities that are highly intertwined and need to all be working together to ensure the emotional wellbeing of pets,” Fear Free Founder and Chief Professional Relations Officer Dr. Becker said. “When shelters, the veterinary community, and pet parents all learn the most current tactics, tips, and strategies to keep pets happy and healthy, everyone wins.”

RACE CE credit will be available for both the shelter and veterinary sessions.

Pricing for the various tracks is $9.99 for pet guardians, $149 for shelter personnel, and $295 for veterinary professionals.

Learn more and register at

Symposium hashtag: #SFSPCAFearFree




About the San Francisco SPCA

The San Francisco SPCA is an independent, community-supported, nonprofit animal welfare organization dedicated to saving, protecting and providing immediate care for cats and dogs who are homeless, ill or in need of an advocate. The SF SPCA also works long-term to educate the community, reduce the number of unwanted kittens and puppies through spaying and neutering, and improve the quality of life for animals and their human companions. The organization does not receive government funding.

For more information, visit


About Fear Free

Founded by Dr. Marty Becker and developed by hundreds of experts in behavior, medicine, and handling, Fear Free® offers online and in-person education to veterinary professionals, the pet professional community, animal shelter staff and volunteers, and pet owners. Fear Free provides both professionals and pet lovers alike with the knowledge and tools to look after a pet’s physical and emotional wellbeing.

Veterinary or pet professionals can learn more about becoming Fear Free Certified® by visiting Pet owners can visit to access free videos, articles, and more that will help improve the physical and emotional health of their pets right at home. Shelter, rescue, and animal welfare employees and volunteers can visit to enroll in the complimentary program.

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