Since choosing to adopt a dog from the SF/SPCA five years ago, I have become a fan of both pet adoption and mix-breed mutts. Growing up, my mother owned several pure bred Dobermans that she bought from breeders and we had one litter of puppies ourselves. My understanding of "pound puppies" was that they were mostly strays and feral animals only appropriate for farms and large country properties where they could roam and forage for their food. They certainly were not meant to be “pets” for households. This period was the 1970s and now I find that my perception was common because the laws reflected the same attitude. It was legal at this time to “destroy an animal like a piece of furniture” as Richard Avanzino so aptly puts it.
Richard Avanzino is the former director of the San Francisco SPCA. In 1979 he found himself spearheading the start of the no-kill movement all because of an adorable dog-called Sido.
Sido’s owner committed suicide and left instructions in her will that Sido be destroyed at the veterinarian, because she was afraid no one would show the proper care for her sweet girl. Sido a small mix dog, was ten years old at the time, with an engaging personality. When the executor of her deceased owner’s will tried to force the issue of having Sido put down, the SF/SPCA and Avanzino said they would fight with all their might.
Soon reporters then lawmakers in Sacramento discovered that Sido deserved another chance.
"State Sen. Marz Garcia (R-Menlo Park) wrote a bill, passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, which overturned the portion of Murphy's will calling for Sido's death.
The very next day, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Jay Pfotenhauer ruled that the right to dispose of property after death does not extend to killing a living creature."
Avanzino is no longer with the SF/SPCA but he runs an Alameda-based charity called Maddie’s Fund whose goal is to make America a no-kill nation by 2015. Across our country there are communities and cities striving to focus on adoption, spay and neuter programs and better medical care rather than using death as a humane method for our homeless pet population.
She Changed our World
Because of Sido and Avanzino, today we have a gorgeous large rescue dog ourselves. I have no doubt if Cleo had been around at the time of Sido, she would have be euthanized. Instead we have had her already for five years and hopefully we have at least five more together. In every way she is "treatable" and worthy of being someone's pet for as long as she is alive.
Given our experience with Cleo and what was her second chance was truly our lucky day, I am forever grateful to Sido and Avanzino.
To learn more -
Saving Sido: How one dog sparked a movement by Christie Keith
No-Kill Conference in Washington DC