September 17, 2010
Board of Trustees-San Diego Humane Society and SPCA
Dear Board of Trustees:
The purpose of this letter is to remind the Board of Trustees that the SDHS has accepted
donations from members of the public, promising to end suffering, and promote the adoption of pets
taken into their care. The signatories to this letter are all former members of the Board of Trustees of the
SDHS, who have all made significant contributions and donations to this organization over the last 25
years. Each has resigned due to frustration encountered when urging the Board and current management
to focus on the commitments made to the public and to the animals of this community. The Board of
Trustees must fulfill its fiduciary duty to address these issues and must do so publicly in an open and
transparent manner. More specifically, the following issues and questions must be answered:
What Happened To The Goal of Ending Euthanasia by 2005?: : Why did SDHS fail to meet its
commitment of taking responsibility to meet the County Board of Supervisor’s goal to end
unnecessary animal euthanasia throughout the county within five years (i.e. by 2005) when millions
of dollars was solicited from the public to build the Gaines St. complex with that very goal in mind?
• In 2000, the SDHS distributed Partners for Life as part of a $21 million fundraising campaign for
the new San Diego Animal Welfare Complex in which it promised to meet this goal by 2005.
However in 2007, according to the only data made available to the public, approximately 2,500
animals were unnecessarily euthanized in San Diego County and by 2009 this number had
doubled to more than 5,000.
SDHS’s Role in saving animals: Why does the SDHS play such a small role in helping save
animals in San Diego County while it takes in the majority of the funds donated to private animal
welfare organizations? What is the SDHS doing with the donor’s money?
• In 2009, the SDHS handled less than 10% of animal intake and adoptions in San Diego County
notwithstanding the fact it received more than $10 million in donated money-- which we believe
is an amount that is significantly more than the money donated to all of the other private animal
welfare organizations in San Diego County combined. The public deserves to know what the
money they give is being spent on.
• Adoptions at the SDHS in 2009 (2,332) were less than in 2002 (2,633) and in 1999 (3,529),
before the new Animal Welfare Complex was built, and notwithstanding an annual operating
budget that increased from under $3.7 million to more than $10 million during that time. During
this same period, the SDHS’s endowment almost doubled to $24 million. Other organizations do
significantly more with significantly less. For example, Lab Rescuers, found homes for 600 dogs
in 2009 on a budget of about $300,000. In 2009, the SDHS found homes for just over 1,000
Unnecessary Euthanasia: Overpopulation is the principal challenge to eliminate unnecessary killing
of animals in this county. What is the SDHS doing to address this issue? Why doesn’t the SDHS
offer a low cost spay/neuter program for low-income families?
• Virtually every Humane Society in the United States offers spay/neuter programs to help reduce
the number of unwanted animals.
• In October 2007, the SDHS and certain other animal welfare organizations announced the
formation of the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition. The goal was to eliminate the euthanasia
of healthy, treatable and manageable animals in San Diego County. However, two years later
(2009), the number of unwanted animals increased to about 50,000 animals, and the euthanasia of
manageable and treatable animals more than doubled to more than 5,000.
Why isn’t SDHS Helping Eliminate Unnecessary Euthanasia on The Campus they Share with
DAS-Central?: The SDHS claims it hasn’t euthanized a healthy, treatable or manageable pet in its
facility in more than nine years. However, since 2003, DAS-Central (which shares the San Diego
Animal Welfare Complex on Gaines Street with the SDHS) has had to unnecessarily euthanize
approximately 5,000 treatable and manageable animals.
It's very telling that more than 10 people have recently resigned from the SDHS’s Board of
Trustees, because of their frustration with the organizations' unwillingness to meet its goals and end the
suffering of the animals in San Diego County. We collectively have chosen to support nonprofit
organizations that truly care about ending the suffering of our homeless pet population.
What the SDHS does best is to raise money by tugging at the heartstrings of the public. When
one compares its promises to its success, it is clear that the SDHS is only interested in securing public
donations; the necessary programs have not been implemented to achieve the goals promised. It’s a sad
refrain from what many considered to be a fine organization. The current Board of Trustees of the
SDHS has a fiduciary duty to address these issues, and we ask that you do so publicly, in an open and
Betsy Hilyer (Life Member)
Lori M Walton