The San Francisco SPCA is proud to announce our first proposed legislation tackling our state’s current access-to-veterinary-care crisis.
As many of you know, a growing shortage of veterinarians is impacting hundreds of thousands of California’s shelter and companion animals. We’re seeing delays in medical treatment, overcrowding in the shelters, and more outbreaks of disease. Sometimes, shelters are left with no other option than to euthanize treatable, adoptable pets, while some pet guardians are forced to surrender their animals because they cannot get the care they need.
That’s why we’re so grateful to Assembly Member Cottie Petrie-Norris for introducing AB 1237, a bill we crafted and cosponsored with our friends at the San Diego Humane Society. This proposed legislation is a big step toward helping California’s most vulnerable cats and dogs receive the care they need and deserve.
AB 1237 will bring veterinary care to struggling shelters
AB 1237 proposes up to $150,000 in educational debt relief to licensed California veterinarians who agree to work for California animal shelters or in underserved communities for at least five years.
Currently, new veterinarians are burdened with the second highest monthly debt-to-income ratio among graduate degree holders. Should AB 1237 pass, the much-needed debt relief will incentivize careers in sheltering or the community service space.
Veterinary shortages hurt animals, shelters, and people
According to a survey of California animal shelters, which we led recently with several partners, nearly 350,000 California shelter animals do not have adequate access to veterinary care staff. Meanwhile, among shelters with budgeted positions for veterinarians and veterinarian nurses, more than 50% of those positions remain vacant due to a lack of candidates.
The reduction in resources negatively impacts animals, limits community safety net services, strains shelter budgets, and takes a toll on staff mental health and morale. Unless we take immediate steps to mitigate the suffering, these issues will only worsen.
Standing for the welfare of all companion animals
Since our founding 155 years ago, the SF SPCA has advocated tirelessly for the wellbeing of animals. Today, we’re sharpening our focus to ensure all animals have access to quality medical care, compassionate shelter, and a loving home.
AB 1237 is the first of what I hope will be a series of solutions that deliver on this heartfelt promise.
What you can to do help
Right now is a great time to adopt, donate, or volunteer at the SF SPCA or your local animal shelter. You can also help out by sharing this story and any related posts on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Bill to Create Veterinary Public Interest Debt Relief Program Introduced
State’s two largest animal welfare organizations back effort to address nationwide shortage of veterinarians
SAN FRANCISCO — To mitigate the crisis-level shortage of veterinarians in California that is acutely affecting access to care for the most vulnerable companion animals, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris introduced AB 1237, the “California Public Interest Veterinary Debt Relief Act.” AB 1237 is co-sponsored by San Diego Humane Society and San Francisco SPCA.
AB 1237 aims to attract existing veterinarians to practice where demand is greatest in California, by providing state and private funding to apply toward their school loans. The new state program will offer payments of up to $150,000 in educational debt relief to licensed California veterinarians who agree to work for a California animal shelter or in underserved communities for at least five years.
“With veterinary school debt averaging nearly $200,000, it’s no wonder we have a vet shortage,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine). “It’s cruel to allow pets to suffer prolonged illnesses — by alleviating the stress of education debt, we can increase veterinary care access for the nearly 350,000 California shelter animals who are waiting for lifesaving treatment.”
“The veterinary shortage is one of the most serious challenges we face today in animal welfare. We have to take action to attract more veterinarians to practice in California, especially in shelters,” said Dr. Gary Weitzman, president and CEO, San Diego Humane Society. “We also have to think about what this veterinary shortage means for vulnerable pets and their owners throughout the state.”
“We know that hundreds of thousands of animals in California shelters don’t have access to adequate veterinary care,” said Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, CEO of the SF SPCA. “Inequitable access to veterinary care is the greatest threat to companion animal welfare today. This debt relief legislation would help California animals get the care they need and deserve.”
With private practice veterinarians already struggling to keep up with demand — resulting in weeks-to months-long waits for appointments — the supply of reduced rate veterinary services is now nearly non-existent. California shelters caring for our state’s most vulnerable pets have been hit equally hard and struggle to provide or access veterinary care for their animals.
Veterinarians have the second highest monthly debt-to-income ratio among graduate degree holders. According to an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) survey in 2020, the average veterinary school debt was $188,853. The AVMA reports that educational debt for veterinary graduates is growing by nearly $6,000 each year. The debt load for these graduating vets makes it next to impossible for them to choose to practice in the sheltering or community service space.
A lack of access to basic care is leading to an increased length of stay for animals in shelters across the state. A recent survey of California animal shelters revealed that less than half can consistently provide treatment for non-routine illness or injury that requires a veterinarian’s assessment, and 40% of shelter respondents are unable to consistently perform lifesaving — and legally required — spay/neuter surgeries.
60% of open shelter veterinary positions remain vacant due to a lack of candidates. Of 111 survey respondents, 73 have full-time veterinary positions open, and 82 have full-time registered veterinary technician positions open.
B-roll/photos of San Diego Humane Society’s veterinary staff for media use can be downloaded here: https://bit.ly/3RPvCI0
Suggested Tweet: Today @AsmCottie introduced #AB1237 co-sponsored by @sdhumane and @sfspca to address the veterinarian shortage in California. This bill will provide educational debt relief to vets working in CA animal shelters or underserved communities for at least 5 years.
About Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris
Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris represents California’s 73rd District including Irvine, Tustin and Costa Mesa. She is the Chair of the Accountability and Administrative Review Committee and a member of Banking and Finance Committee; Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy Committee; Revenue & Taxation Committee and Veterans Committee. After working her way through Yale University, where she double majored in Economics and English, Cottie had a successful 20-year career in finance and technology. She helped to build businesses and led teams at Fortune 500 corporations, small companies and start-ups. Cottie’s rescue dog, Flounder brings joy to her family every day. Follow the Assemblywoman on Twitter https://twitter.com/AsmCottie or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AssemblywomanCPN.
About San Diego Humane Society
San Diego Humane Society’s scope of social responsibility goes beyond adopting animals. We offer programs that strengthen the human-animal bond, prevent cruelty and neglect, provide medical care, educate the community and serve as a safety net for all pet families. Serving San Diego County since 1880, San Diego Humane Society has campuses in El Cajon, Escondido, Oceanside, Ramona and San Diego. For more information, please visit sdhumane.org. Follow the SDHS Media Relations department on Twitter @sdhumane.
About 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 sfspca.org.
For some time, animal advocates have sounded the alarm about the growing shortage of veterinarians and veterinary care staff across the nation. Earlier this year, we led a statewide survey* to investigate the impact of this crisis. The results are in, and the situation is even more dire than we expected.
Today, 344,000 California shelter animals do not have adequate access to veterinary care staff; 68% of shelters cannot consistently provide complete care to treat conditions commonly seen in shelters, such as fractures, eye injuries, and dental problems; and 40% of animal shelters cannot provide consistent access to spay and neuter services, which are required in California before animals can be adopted, according to the statewide survey.
The effects of this crisis are far-reaching, creating a downward spiral of challenges that impact shelter animals, communities, shelter budgets, and staff.
Impact on shelter animals
Lack of access to veterinary care in shelters means animals wait longer for care and languish in shelters, which negatively impacts animals’ physical and mental health. One survey respondent said, “We’ve got more dogs than we’ve ever had that are staying for longer periods of time, that all have medical problems.”
Backlogs in veterinary care lead to overcrowding, increased spread of disease, unnecessary suffering, and even euthanasia of animals who are healthy or treatable. One respondent shared, “I would say we have animals actually dying in our shelter that if we had proper medical experience, medical staff on board, would not have passed.” Another respondent said, “Our current distemper outbreak is a result of lack of access to care. We’re euthanizing animals as soon as they test positive, whether it’s low positive or high positive.”
Longer stays don’t just affect animals physically, as one response reveals. “These are dogs that were with us for way, way too long that we’ve tried everything. We couldn’t find a foster home for them, and they deteriorated in the shelter.”
Impact on communities
Lack of access to veterinary care means shelters have no choice but to limit community safety net services, intake prevention, adoptions, and foster programs. Shelters’ reduced ability to provide spay and neuter services was named as the most critical unmet need. The problem impacts shelter ability to meet legal mandates and contributes to shelter overcrowding.
One respondent said, “When our vet told us they could only do five spay/neuter surgeries a day, that means animals were being held here for two weeks or more waiting to go to the vet. That quickly became unsustainable because I’m out of kennel space.” Another said, “We have placed 700 animals that need spay/neuter right now. So, they’re currently in the foster care system only waiting on their space. That’s a huge backlog.”
Limited veterinary care and spay/neuter services negatively impact public spay/neuter services, including community cat programs that, when functional, greatly reduce stray populations as well as shelter intakes. One respondent shared, “Our community cat program is nowhere near where it should be. I think we…made a lot of headway pre-pandemic and it’s like, we’re right back to ground zero.”
Lack of access in the community means more pet guardians are turning to emergency clinics to address basic veterinary care—leaving clinics with reduced ability to address emergency cases. A respondent said, “You hear horror stories of people putting their dog or their cat in the car and starting to drive an hour, two hours away and the animal passes on them while they’re in transport. Just because there isn’t any local support.”
Impact on shelter budgets
Increased length of stay, overcrowding, and disease outbreaks add strain to shelter finances. Incoming animals are arriving with more complex and expensive medical needs, and lack of access means some shelter staff are traveling long distances to obtain emergency care for animals, which increases salary and transportation expenses. “In the last 10 years,” one respondent said, “a budget of $42,000 (went up) to $250,000 for emergency care.”
“We had a mama and her very young puppies come down with kennel cough. (We) had to take them all…an hour’s drive and stay there most of the night waiting for them to be seen and treated. There is a local vet 10 minutes away, but unfortunately, he does not handle after-hours emergencies and he is too busy to even help us with anything other than occasional rabies vaccinations.”
Impact on shelter staff
Finally, morale and well-being of shelter staff are negatively impacted by the lack of veterinary care. Turnover is high and those who remain are vulnerable to the stress. Many say they’re overwhelmed by overcrowding and emotionally challenged by animals’ poor medical conditions. Leaders say everyone is in “survival mode,” doing the best they can in a diminishing situation.
“I think it’s mostly affecting more of the staff than anything,” said one respondent. “I’ve never seen it as bad as it’s been this last six to eight months. Staff are caught in the middle. The animals keep coming and everything we try to do to either keep them from coming in or to get them out. It’s all falling on the shoulders of the staff and I think is what’s going to crush them.”
Another said, “Some of us don’t keep going. Some of us kill ourselves and so it is the most dangerous time in our profession, ever.”
How can you help?
The SF SPCA, advocates, and fellow shelters are working to partner with oversight agencies for solutions. Here’s how you can help homeless animals today:
Our work is more important now than ever.
We know you share our loving commitment to shelter animals. Reach out to us today if you’d like to learn more about how to help. Together, we’ll find solutions for shelter animals across our state.
You can find the full results of our survey at sfspca.org/survey
* The survey was conducted by the SF SPCA in partnership with the UC-Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, CalAnimals, University of Tennessee Pet Health Equity Program, Humane Society of Silicon Valley, and San Diego Humane Society. It was made possible through a California for All Animals grant from the UC-Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program.
SAN FRANCISCO SPCA PARTNERS WITH SFMOMA FOR PET PORTRAITS DAY TO CELEBRATE THE JOAN BROWN RETROSPECTIVE
SAN FRANCISCO (February 2, 2022)— The San Francisco SPCA partners with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) for Pet Portraits Day, an exciting live art extravaganza, to celebrate the Joan Brown retrospective. Joan Brown was known for her enduring love of animals, and her art features many depictions of cats and dogs (many of them her own pets), featured throughout the exhibition. With this inspiration in mind, guests are invited to share a digital photo of their pet for the chance to receive a complimentary, original pet portrait made by a local artist. SF SPCA’s Animal Assisted Therapy Team will make a special appearance at SFMOMA for Pet Portraits Day.
Everyone is invited to watch the art-making experience unfold. Some 50 Bay Area artists — plus participating kids ages 4 and up, working with SFMOMA Family Programs — will create portraits in a variety of mediums, from acrylic, watercolor, and gouache to pen-and-ink, collage, and clay. A selection of finished portraits will be displayed in the museum’s Gina and Stuart Peterson White Box on Floor 4 and will stay on view through February 6. Those whose pet photo is selected for a portrait will receive their artwork in the mail in the weeks following the event. Additional information is available here.
“The SF SPCA is a local nonprofit that relies on community support,” said Lisa Feder, SF SPCA Chief of Rescue and Welfare. “As the SF SPCA celebrates our 155th anniversary throughout the year, this partnership with SFMOMA is a special opportunity for us to connect with pet lovers from across the Bay Area, raise awareness, and share the importance of our lifesaving work.”
“On the occasion of our Joan Brown exhibition, SFMOMA is thrilled to partner with the SF SPCA to present this live art event celebrating our shared love of pets,” added Tomoko Kanamitsu, SFMOMA’s Barbara and Stephan Vermut Director of Public Engagement.
The SF SPCA kicked off its 155th anniversary celebration on January 28 with a special adoption event and will continue to celebrate throughout 2023 with special events, its annual gala, and the inaugural SF SPCA Awards.
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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 sfspca.org.
SAN FRANCISCO SPCA ANNOUNCES INAUGURAL AWARDS PROGRAM TO CELEBRATE PET-FRIENDLY DESTINATIONS THROUGHOUT THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA
Introduced as part of its 155th anniversary, the SF SPCA Awards will recognize pet-friendly restaurants, bars, hotels, fitness locations, retail, offices, and more!
San Francisco, January 30, 2023—San Francisco SPCA announced its inaugural awards program to celebrate pet-friendly destinations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The SF SPCA introduced the new SF SPCA Awards on Saturday, January 28 at Be Mine Furever, a Community Open House and Adoption Event that kicked off the organization’s 155th anniversary celebrations. Sourced in part by local pet guardians and animal lovers, the SF SPCA Awards will recognize pet-friendly restaurants, bars, hotels, fitness locations, retail, offices, and more.
Winners will be determined through a nomination process available now, online at sfspca.org/awards. Submissions will be accepted through February 28, 2023. The winners will be announced on the SF SPCA’s 155th anniversary on April 18, 2023.
“We look forward to recognizing all of the wonderful corners of the Bay Area that help improve and celebrate the well-being of pets and their owners,” said Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, SF SPCA CEO. “There are countless local businesses that love animals as much as we do, and locales that are favorites among our furry friends. With the SF SPCA Awards, more pet guardians will be able to learn about these resources.”
Winners of the 2023 SF SPCA Awards will receive a special SF SPCA Award Winner designation for their location and will be recognized throughout the SF SPCA’s 155th-anniversary celebrations.
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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 sfspca.org.
SUFFERING, EUTHANASIA INCREASE AS ANIMAL SHELTERS STRUGGLE TO COPE WITH STATEWIDE VETERINARY SHORTAGE
Hundreds of thousands of animals impacted, and euthanasia expected to rise without immediate action
San Francisco, January 31, 2023—More than 344,000 California shelter animals do not have adequate access to veterinary care staff, according to a recent survey that highlights how veterinarian shortages are profoundly impacting California’s most vulnerable animals. As a result, shelters are becoming overcrowded, illness is rising, and adoptable animals are being euthanized.
Of the shelters that have budgeted positions for veterinarians and veterinary nurses, more than 50% of those positions remain vacant due to a lack of candidates, leaving 25% of shelters unable to provide essential veterinary care. The survey also noted that 64% of shelters cannot provide care for basic medical needs such as treating common viral infection parvovirus, performing diagnostics like bloodwork and X-rays, and performing surgeries, including spay/neuter. Furthermore, 68% cannot consistently provide complete care to treat conditions commonly seen in shelters, such as fractures, eye injuries, and dental problems.
“This survey lays bare the tremendous hardships facing California’s most vulnerable pets and adds even more urgency to addressing our state’s debilitating veterinary shortage,” said Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, CEO of the SF SPCA. “Inequitable access to veterinary care is the greatest threat to companion-animal welfare of our generation. Unless we take immediate steps to mitigate the suffering through a combination of policy and support of veterinary professionals, these issues will only worsen, and animals will be the real victims.”
According to the survey, veterinary-care shortages have already led to an increase in the euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals at more than a third of California shelters. Moreover, 40% of animal shelters cannot provide consistent access to spay/neuter services, which are required in California before animals can be adopted.
Many shelters provide critical support to their communities through low-cost spay/neuter and other surrender-prevention resources. The survey showed that 78% of shelters are unable to consistently provide these services. The impacts compound themselves in a reinforcing downward cycle. For example, if spay/neuter services cannot be offered to the community, this can lead to more “unwanted” animals surrendered to the shelter.
“The lack of veterinarians in California is having a devastating effect on our state’s most vulnerable animals,” said State Senator Dave Cortese. “We are seeing increases in diseases and even euthanasia services to our pets simply because we do not have the capacity to care for them. Unless we make significant changes soon to how we support our veterinarians and medical staff, more animals will continue to suffer needlessly.”
The survey was conducted by the SF SPCA in partnership with the UC-Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, CalAnimals, University of Tennessee Pet Health Equity Program, Humane Society of Silicon Valley, and San Diego Humane Society. It was made possible through a California for All Animals grant from the UC-Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program.
Nearly 80% of respondents said that an increased length of stay in animal shelters results from inadequate access to vet care. This raises the costs to house animals, strongly contributes to behavioral deterioration, and increases the number of animals that the shelter staff need to care for at any given time.
“These staffing shortages are not only endangering the health and well-being of our animals, they are having increasingly detrimental effects on workers throughout the industry,” said Kate Hurley, Program Director of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. “Staff are overwhelmed because of the sheer volume of animals in their care, and that anxiety is heightened by the inability to provide the level of veterinary care staff know the animals deserve. Shelters are in desperate need of assistance to resolve the situation both in the immediate and long-term. This industry is in a time of crisis right now.”
Homeless animals need your support. Consider reaching out to your local and state representatives to encourage them to take action on this matter. You can also help by adopting, volunteering, and supporting your local animal shelter.
The SF SPCA, advocates, and fellow shelters are working to partner with oversight agencies for solutions.
The full survey results can be found at sfspca.org/survey
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 sfspca.org
The airline donated $5,000 to the SF SPCA at a celebratory adoption party for Polaris the dog and his new family at SFO.
SAN FRANCISCO (December 16, 2022)— San Francisco SPCA and United Airlines partnered to give a new, loving home and family to Polaris the dog after he was abandoned at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) earlier this fall. Through the partnership, Polaris found a forever home with United Captain William Dale and his family. On December 15, United hosted a celebratory adoption party at SFO and donated $5,000 to the SF SPCA to support their year-round lifesaving work helping animals who are ill, injured, homeless, or in need of an advocate.
“United’s Customer Service team took on quite a challenge to ensure Polaris would be safe, healthy, and find a loving home,” said Lisa Feder, SF SPCA Chief of Rescue and Welfare. “We were honored that United called the SF SPCA to facilitate this adoption because of our knowledge and expertise in adoptions, as well as nearly 155 years of offering care and protection to pets. We’re grateful that we can celebrate with them today, and for their $5,000 donation that will help to save lives year-round.”
The dog arrived with a traveler at SFO from an international destination where the customer chose to continue traveling on without his animal. United worked to ensure the puppy completed necessary requirements to enter the United States, including a quarantine period.
“From the moment Polaris landed in our care, our entire SFO United team cared for him 24/7 until we were able to get permission to keep him safely in the U.S.,” said Vincent Passafiume, Director of Customer Service at United. “It’s a great feeling to see this story come full circle and that Polaris will have a loving home with United Airlines Captain Dale and his family—just in time for the holidays.”
During the holiday season, the SF SPCA is making it easier for anyone to give a lucky pet a new home with FREE adoptions for all adult dogs (5+ months old) through December 31 and get 50% off the puppy adoption fee by completing their online Puppy Parent Orientation course. View adoptable animals at sfspca.org/adopt.
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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.
SF SPCA: Julie Richter | email@example.com | 480.818.8022
United Airlines: Maddie King | Maddie.firstname.lastname@example.org
For the first time since 2019, visitors will see a selection of adorable, adoptable cats and dogs in Macy’s Holiday Windows from November 18, 2022 – January 1, 2023.
SAN FRANCISCO (November 7, 2022)— Today, the San Francisco SPCA and Macy’s Union Square announced the return of live rescue animals to its 36th annual Holiday Windows, available for viewing from November 18, 2022, through January 1, 2023. For the first time since 2019, adorable cats and dogs—all available for adoption through the SF SPCA—will delight shoppers and passersby on Thursdays through Sundays from 12-5 p.m. To celebrate the partnership, Macy’s has donated $5,000 to the SF SPCA to support their year-round lifesaving work helping animals who are ill, injured, homeless or in need of an advocate.
“We are thrilled to bring live animals back to Macy’s Union Square for the 36th annual Holiday Windows,” said Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, SF SPCA CEO. “This favorite tradition not only brings joy to holiday shoppers, but more importantly, it has helped more than 10,000 animals find loving homes. This ongoing partnership with Macy’s and their $5,000 donation will help to save lives year-round.”
The Holiday Windows at Macy’s Union Square will provide a preview of the many pets available for adoption this holiday season through the SF SPCA. Those looking for a new best friend can view adoptable animals at sfspca.org/adopt.
In order to serve pets year-round, donation drop-offs will be placed on the 8th floor in Macy’s Backstage, accepting new, unwrapped essential supplies for pets and their owners. Guests can donate supplies such as towels, cat and dog toys and more. Alongside the live cats and dogs, shoppers will also be able to view videos in the Macy’s Holiday Windows—both live streams from the SF SPCA’s adoption center as well as videos of SF SPCA shelter alumni. Santa will make special appearances on the live streams, which will be available for viewing online at sfspca.org/holiday.
“Macy’s Union Square is excited to continue this beloved tradition, which has brought generations of San Franciscans joy and helped thousands of animals find their forever homes,” said John Sparks, Macy’s Union Square store manager. “We are thankful for our long-standing partnership with the San Francisco SPCA and look forward to sharing the season of joy with customers as they continue the tradition of visiting these adorable animals in our Holiday Windows as part of their holiday shopping experience.”
The SF SPCA’s Animal Assisted Therapy team will also bring their specially trained therapy animals to Macy’s Union Square this holiday season. Shoppers will be able to interact with the animals, whose surprise visits are meant to bring a little extra holiday cheer to Macy’s Union Square.
SF SPCA is grateful for the support of sponsors, including the Nestle Purina PetCare Company. To learn more about these experiences and donate to support the SF SPCA’s lifesaving programs, visit sfspca.org/holiday.
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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 sfspca.org.
Macy’s, the largest retail brand of Macy’s, Inc., serves as the style source for generations of customers. With one of the nation’s largest e-commerce platforms powered by macys.com and mobile app, paired with a nationwide network of stores, Macy’s delivers the most convenient and seamless shopping experience, offering great values in apparel, home, beauty, accessories, and more. Macy’s gives customers even more ways to shop and own their style through an off-price assortment at Macy’s Backstage and at our highly curated and smaller store format, Market by Macy’s. Each year, Macy’s provides millions with unforgettable experiences through Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks® and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® and helps our customers celebrate special moments, big and small. We’re guided by our purpose—to create a brighter future with bold representation—that empowers more voice, choice, and ownership for our colleagues, customers, and communities.
About Nestle Purina PetCare Company
Many thanks to our longtime supporter, Nestle Purina PetCare Company. Purina believes pets and people are better together, which is why they support events like Holiday Windows. Purina supports the SF SPCA’s mission to put pets and the people who love them together every day. Purina generously donates all of the food and litter for the SF SPCA shelter animals who are waiting for loving people like you to take them home. Meow, woof, thank you, Purina!
Although National Pit Bull Awareness Month (October) has ended, we’re celebrating this loyal and loving breed here at the SF SPCA all year. With their broad, smiley faces and floppy ears, anyone who’s ever loved one of these dogs knows how affectionate, playful, and goofy they can be.
The term “Pit Bull” officially applies to three breeds: the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the American Pit Bull Terrier. Any dog with such heritage or appearance can be labeled a “Pit Bull.” And unfortunately, mainly due to the behavior of humans, this “breed” is also viewed as dangerous and aggressive.
Here, we push back on some of the most common stereotypes about Pit Bull-type dogs.
Myth #1: Pit Bulls are more dangerous than other dogs
Peer-reviewed studies examining “dog-bite-related fatalities” (DBRF) conclude that most DBRFs are owed to preventable factors like mistreatment, poor handling, and isolation—not breed. Additionally, in German state-regulated temperament tests, dogs deemed “dangerous” by the public responded similarly to dogs viewed as “friendly,” contradicting breed-based biases.
Myth #2: Pit Bulls are more aggressive than most dogs
Also unrelated to breed, aggression is a “context-dependent behavior and most often fear-based,” according to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. Identifying triggers and needs, ruling out medical contributors, and positive behavioral training are proven effective treatments for aggression in any dog breed.
Myth #3: Pit Bulls have locking jaws
There’s no evidence a Pit Bull’s jaws are anatomically different from other dog breeds,’ and peer-reviewed studies reveal the power of a dog’s bite is related to its overall size and strength. A locked jaw in any animal is a physical ailment that requires veterinary medical intervention and cannot be engaged and released at will.
Myth #4: Pit Bull specific legislation keeps people safe
Breed-specific laws do nothing to keep people safer—even the CDC opposes them. In areas where bans are in place, Pit Bull guardians tend to restrict dogs’ outdoor time and socialization, which can ultimately worsen or even create behavior issues. Furthermore, labeling certain dog breeds can create a false sense of safety with other types. All dogs, regardless of their breed, if unknown, should be handled with as much care and caution as any other dog.
Myth #5: If adopting a Pit Bull, choose a puppy so you can shape its personality
A dog’s personality is as individual as ours and is innate. A dog’s character and traits don’t fully reveal themselves until adulthood. Suppose a would-be Pit Bull (or any dog breed) guardian has a particular personality in mind. In that case, it’s best to adopt a grown dog whose traits like energy level, degree of submissiveness to humans, or dog aggression is easily determined.
For information about adopting a Pit Bull-type dog at SF SPCA, contact email@example.com And, if your dog of any breed displays behavior that concerns you, reach out to our Behavior team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To expedite the adoption process, please complete the cat or dog adoption form and bring a printed copy with you to the SF SPCA Adoption Center (Hours & Location). This helps us better understand what sort of pet you’re looking for so we can guide you every step of the way! Please bring a valid photo ID and verification that you are allowed to have a pet where you currently live.
First, we’ll meet with you to find out more about you and your pet preferences and answer your questions. Our goal is to help you find the pet that best fits your lifestyle and living situation so we want to make sure you have a realistic understanding of the time and resources necessary to provide training, medical treatment, and proper care for your new pet. This can take time so please allow at least one hour for the adoption process.
Once we have a good understanding of your living situation and the type of pet you’re interested in, we’ll make introductions and let you spend some quality time getting to know each other to see if there’s a love connection. It’s important that all household members take part in this important decision so please make sure everyone is present (including any resident dogs if you’re considering adding a new pooch to your pack).
Once love happens, we’ll complete the paperwork, review all the SF SPCA adoption benefits, provide information on any known medical or behavioral issues, and share tips to make the transition a success for both you and your new pet.
We consider you and your new furry friend a part of the SF SPCA family so please reach out with questions ― and be sure to share your adoption stories and pet photos at sfspca.org/stories
Don’t forget to schedule your first free health exam at the SF SPCA Veterinary Hospital within three days of adopting.