The History and Future of the Santa Cruz SPCA

Santa Cruz has been fortunate to have our SPCA since 1938, when it was founded by Dr. Charles Edward Graves, the county’s first small-animal veterinarian.

Doc Graves and Santa Cruz SPCA Ambulance
Doctor Graves and the Santa Cruz SPCA Ambulance


A Bit of History

In the past 20 years or so, there’s been some confusion over the difference between the SPCA and Santa Cruz Animal Shelter. That’s understandable. First, the SPCA was once located 2200 7th Avenue in Santa Cruz, where the County’s animal shelter is now. Additionally, SPCA contracted with the county to perform both animal rescue and enforcement services fromSanta Cruz SPCA 1955 to 2002. The current animal shelter, which is a separate entity, is officially known as the Animal Services Authority. Operated by the County of Santa Cruz, the county’s animal control officers investigate reports of animal abuse or neglect and enforce regulations. The shelter is also required to accept every unwanted animal: dogs, cats, chickens, goats, donkeys, etc.

Current Status

Alison “Ali” Talley, SPCA’s executive director since November of 2018, explains that the SPCA is a non-profit organization and relies solely on donations, bequests and other private sources of funding. Its main objective is rescue, adoption, education and community assistance and, because of space, is limited to accepting only dogs and cats. Some people still refer to the SPCA as a “no-kill” shelter, a term based in ignorance and moral superiority, as opposed to the Animal Services, which has no control on the limit of animals they take in. At their present location, 2685 Chanticleer Ave., the SPCA can accommodate approximately 60 dogs and cats. It relies on 15 staff members and approximately 300 volunteers to keep the organization running smoothly.

Future New Facility

But, changes are on their way. Ground has already been broken for a new facility at 2601 Chanticleer Avenue, and is scheduled to open in the spring of 2020. Six times the size of the current shelter, it will be specifically designed for stress reduction and the wellbeing of animals. Cats will be happier in their “catios” and group housing instead of cages. The SPCA will also be able to rescue medium and large dogs, which they are unable to do now. Said Ali, “We are tremendously excited about our next phase and being able to save more lives at our forever home.”

For more information, check out the webpage for the new shelter campaign  or call 831-465-5000, ext. 19.

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