Preamble/Disclosure: There’s a subset of the fine folks who know I’ve been a scrivener for Blogging.la going way back to March 2004, who also know that back in 2011, despite all appearances of sanity, sensibility and advanced middle age, I committed to making a rather drastic career change in leaving behind a 20-odd year (emphasis on the word “odd’) career in journalism to become a humane law enforcement officer, more commonly known as an “animal cop.” Soon after that decision, I undertook what would become a lengthy, arduous and challenging process of training and preparation and hiring — I call it a “journey of a thousand hurdles” — that culminated this past summer when I was sworn in as a Level 1 Humane Officer working for, you guessed it: the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA).
But enough about me. More importantly, I need to clear up an important misconception. You know those heart-wrenching ads that inundate your TV screens around this time of year, soundtracked by Sarah McG’s “Angel” and featuring some celeb (last year it was the guy from “Will & Grace”) guilting the hell out of you to donate NOWRIGHTNOW while a slideshow of horribly mistreated animals scrolls by? Yeah: that’s soooooo not spcaLA. That’s a whole different animal: That’s ASPCA, or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
But Will, you ask, isn’t ASPCA the “parent” of spcaLA? Great question! Answer: Not in any way, shape or form. They are entirely individual and separate entities. It’s a common mistake people make believing that ASPCA is some sort of national umbrella under which all SPCAs in the country operate. But they don’t. Each and every SPCA is its own independent organization. The same goes with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). They have absolutely nothing to do with, say, the Pasadena Humane Society.
But Will, you ask, why should that matter to me? Another valid query! As an Angeleno it should matter to you because at the end of one of those above-mentioned ASPCA ads that will be dominating the local year-end airwaves, when you rush to your computer or telephone, whip out your credit card and ship some money to their headquarters across the country in New York City, not a penny of it will benefit any of the animals in your own neighborhoods. Think of it like donating blood to your local hospital versus the American Red Cross. In both worthy cases, the precious resource will almost certainly go to someone who needs it, but the chances are exponentially greater that the blood you gave at, say, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles will go to a child at that hospital. Donate locally, I say… which rhymes with spcaLA!
After the jump, a bit of history before we get to the fun part.
spcaLA goes back a crazy long way. The forerunners of today’s Humane Officers like myself have been out investigating animal cruelty and neglect in Los Angeles for more than 137 years (and according to that picture at left apparently did so wearing blinding white uniforms back then). Founded on November 13, 1877, spcaLA was the first organization to promote animal welfare in Southern California. Originally chartered to end the abuse of horses used in travel, the organization expanded to include child abuse cases and then pet abuse cases.
That’s not to say that animal cruelty investigations is all spcaLA does. Law enforcement is just one cornerstone of spcaLA’s mission, the other three being, education, intervention and advocacy, which you can learn more about at the spcaLA website. You’ll also learn that all of spcaLA’s programs are donation-run; it receives no federal, state or municipal funding.
Which is where you and the fun part comes in. In the picture at right (biggified when clicked) you see a glass jug filled with what amounts to almost five years’ worth of my and my wife’s spare change that has been collecting in it since I posted about it last being full back in January of 2010.
My plan is to pour that amount into a local Coinstar kiosk during the weekend of December 27-28, and then donate whatever the total amount is to spcaLA. Where you come in is that you can take a guess in the comments at what that amount will be. Whoever comes closest will have the option of having the donation made in their honor.
Of course you can also make your own donation here on the spcaLA website.
- The glass container holds one half-gallon of liquid
- The weight of the glass container and coins is 16.6 pounds
- The total dollar amount of coins when it was emptied in 2010 was $87.84