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What are humane societies and SPCAs?


Humane societies and SPCAs are:


  • Individually-incorporated 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that work to eliminate cruelty toward and suffering of animals as well as pet overpopulation.

  • Not affiliated with one another or with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

  • Distinguishable from animal care and control agencies, which provide government-operated animal care services and sheltering.  However, some municipalities do contract with humane societies and SPCAs to provide sheltering, issue licenses, etc.

  • Spread throughout the state of California, the largest of which has an annual budget of $10 million.

  • Organizations that are tightly woven throughout their respective communities and have an extensive donor base that is both wide and diverse.



How are humane societies and SPCAs different from HSUS and ASPCA?

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) are separate and distinct organizations from CalAnimals and its member humane societies and SPCAs throughout California.


CalAnimals represents the collective voice of California’s humane societies and SPCAs.  In contrast, HSUS/ASPCA are national organizations headquartered in Washington D.C. and New York, respectively, that often advance a national agenda.
HSUS does not operate any companion-animal shelters and ASPCA operates one, located in New York City. They are not umbrella, parent, or sister organizations to local SPCAs and humane societies, contrary to the conclusion many reach based on the inclusion of “United States” in HSUS’s name and “American” in ASPCA’s name.


Often, the interests of CalAnimals and its member humane societies and SPCAs are coextensive with HSUS/ASPCA.  When they are, CalAnimals endeavors to work with HSUS/ASPCA to promotes the collective good of California’s shelters. However, only CalAnimals promotes an agenda that is based exclusively on the needs and interests of California’s shelters.


From time to time, the interests of CalAnimals and those of HSUS/ASPCA may not be parallel. Therefore, it is important to look to CalAnimals as the collective voice of California’s animal welfare community. 


If I donate to HSUS or ASPCA, will my local humane society or SPCA receive a benefit?

Probably not. While ASPCA/HSUS may give individual shelters funding from time to time for particular projects, HSUS and ASPCA do not regularly fund California’s shelters and are not involved in their management or operations.


Before you give to any non-profit organization, it is always a good idea to do some research. You want to make sure your hard-earned money goes to support the organizations and causes that are important to you. GuideStar is a good place to start.

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