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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Critics Slam SPCA's Hiring Priorities As Valuing Money Over Animal Welfare

Posted By on Tue, Oct 27, 2009 at 8:30 AM

click to enlarge A neat trick
  • A neat trick
Less than a month after shedding 22 employees -- 15 percent of its workforce -- the San Francisco SPCA is hiring again. It is not, however, seeking trainers or other personnel who work directly with animals to replace the many who were shown the door in the latest round of budget-related cutbacks. But if you can make donors jump through a hoop -- send a resume.

The SPCA is seeking a major gifts manager as well as a communications associate and development assistant to aid with PR matters among other tasks. Spokeswoman Tina Ahn said the SPCA is short on money -- and these positions will "allow us to do our work and drive critical donations to help support our efforts."

Former SPCA volunteers and employees, however, cried foul. In dismissing employees who worked with animals and seeking those who work with donors or PR, SPCA critics claimed the organization was, once again, valuing the amassing of capital over the aiding animals -- and pointed, once again, to the SPCA's money-hemorrhaging hospital as driving the organization to behave this way. "Clearly the hospital is costing them money and they're having to focus on paying for it as opposed to quality care going to animals," said former longtime volunteer turned outspoken critic Hope Johnson.

Johnson, by the way, was not only an SPCA volunteer, but used to don a large furry cat costume to serve as "Miss Emmy," the organization's beloved mascot. So when your mascot is badmouthing you -- things have gone awry.

SPCA President Jan McHugh-Smith this month told NBC that the organization is losing $1 million a year on its new hospital. A 2008 SF Weekly cover story and a later long article in Northside Magazine earlier claimed that the prohibitively expensive hospital was inducing the SPCA to cut financial corners to the detriment of the animal population it ostensibly exists to serve.

"These jobs are all about raising money for that hospital," one SPCA critic told SF Weekly of the new employment postings. Said a former employee, "I think it's been pretty clear since Jan [McHugh-Smith] got there that the focus wasn't on putting animals first. It was putting people first in front of the needs of the animals."

Naturally Ahn didn't see it this way. They need money. These positions can help generate money. There you go. And, regarding the loss of employees who actually work with animals, she notes that every SPCA employee "touches animals every day."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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