A woman called a few weeks ago to ask us to remove her elderly mother's name and address from our mailing list. She said her mother had been sending us ten dollars per month, every month for the last dozen years or so, but that she would no longer be able to do so.
I asked her to please thank her mother, Mrs. Davis, for her many years of support and wrote down the information so I could mark her record "do not mail" as requested. After a thorough search however, I was not able to find her name in our database nor the address that was provided.
A return phone call to verify the information resulted in discovering that Ms. Davis had not been donating her ten dollars per month to our organization at all, but to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) instead. Unfortunately, Ms. Davis fell under the impression that the ASPCA and our organization are one in the same.
I wish I could say I was surprised, that it was a rare mistake, but sadly it's not. Over the years, we have heard from too many well-meaning, animal loving supporters who believe that the ASPCA is a parent organization over all other SPCAs in the country and that we are all chapter organizations benefitting from the hundreds of millions of dollars they raise each year. The issue is the same with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the many Humane Societies across the country.
The fact is there is no parent animal welfare organization and each SPCA, Humane Society or other animal shelter or organization operates completely independently from the others. If you donate money to the ASPCA or the HSUS, that money stays with that organization and is not passed on or tricked down to smaller, local organizations, which means that your money may not be helping local animals.
That's certainly not to say that donations to the ASPCA and HSUS aren't well-placed. Both of these organizations do amazing work on a larger scale - bringing national attention to the plight of abused[i] and abandoned[ii] animals, coming to the aid of communities during and after natural disasters[iii], working undercover to bring animal mistreatment in puppy mills[iv], pet stores[v] and agriculture facilities[vi] to light and lobbying for legislative change in animal welfare laws[vii].
The extensive work these groups do nationally supports our efforts locally, but not directly with your donations. That's why it is so important that donors understand the difference between all of these organizations, decide where they want their contributions to go, and ensure their support is placed there.
For more information on the ASPCA or the HSUS, visit ASPCA.org or HSUS.org.
If you don't already, get to know your local animal welfare organizations and rescue groups. The SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare and others are working to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome companion animals right here in our community; and we're counting on your financial support to continue our mission. Learn more about us at LetLoveLive.org. Adopt, spay/neuter, volunteer or donate - locally or nationally, it's all for the animals.
Sarah Neikam is the Operations Manager for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. She is an Aiken native and has been with the Albrecht Center since 2012. Sarah's family includes three adopted cats: Bastian, Luna and Grady, who are all living happy, loved lives thanks to the efforts of the SPCA Albrecht Center.