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Friday, March 5, 2010

You Needn't Be Moriarty To Steal Animals From SPCA

Posted By on Fri, Mar 5, 2010 at 12:01 AM

click to enlarge Cassidy the puppy, filched this week from the SPCA - SPCA
  • SPCA
  • Cassidy the puppy, filched this week from the SPCA
No, there is not a creature-theft epidemic going on at the local SPCA. That being said, the recent theft of Cassidy the puppy has set off a messy situation in every conceivable way. This dog is suffering from giardia -- meaning he will be a virtual diarrhea factory until treated. And, worse yet, he is fully capable of infecting other animals or people.

A $500 no questions asked reward goes to the person who returns this dog. Click here for details.

Yet while SPCA spokeswoman Tina Ahn says this is the first dognapping in her two years on the job, several former employees and volunteers we contacted on the cat side said feline theft is a fairly regular occurrence.

"When I was there, inviarably, there was at least one kitten stolen every kitten season," said a former longtime volunteer. "It's easy to slip a kitten into your big, bulky hoodie, jacket, or gym bag. It's relatively easy to steal a kitten."

While Ahn said that SPCA customers are "never" left alone with animals,

a number of former employees and volunteers said that's not the case

when it comes to adopting cats. On busy days, the number of workers or

volunteers is not enough to keep an eye on every last visitor. And

customers are allowed to wander around the SPCA's halls, and enter the

rooms cats or kittens are kept in -- which are unlocked. If one sees a cat he

likes, then he's supposed to summon a staffer or

volunteer to get it. And that's how it works. Most of the time.

Last year this partially blind kitten was filched from the SPCA. It was never recovered.

So as to foster a welcoming environment for would-be animal adopters, people walking into the SPCA don' thave to show ID or check their bags. Cats and kittens aren't kept in cages -- as is the case at Animal Control -- but in "condos." These are, essentially, glass-walled small rooms with several cats running around within. While this is an easy way to get people face-to-face with the animals and subtly encourage adoptions, it also allows dishonest people the opportunity to slip a very small animal into their pockets.

"I remember when one kitten was stolen, I made a proposal that we get some sort of locks and put them on certain doors, so it's not free reign for these rooms," said one former SPCA employee. "The answer I was met with was 'It's too expensive to change a lock.'"

Ahn said that security footage didn't give any indication of who might have made off with Cassidy the puppy -- and, keep in mind, he's a 17-pound dog, not a fist-sized kitten.

"It's not the most difficult thing to walk out with an animal," said a former employee. "In the cases I've seen, it's usually a busy day and there's not enough staff or volunteers to keep tabs on everybody. It definitely is something happening more than it should."

Anyone with information about Cassidy is encouraged to call the police at 415- 553-1159, or SPCA at 415-522-3500 or 415 554-3029

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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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