Law and Order

Category: Gary's Column 311 0
On the cover: San Diego Humane Society Humane Law Enforcement Officer Melanie Hutchinson and Gracie, the dog she rescued in 2013 (see page 20), take a stroll through the Tijuana River Estuary in Imperial Beach. Hutchinson and the rest of the SDHS Humane Law Enforcement team are always ready to jump into action when animals’ lives are in jeopardy. Photo by Jenny Siegwart.

Seeing an entire house full of helpless, debilitated dogs is a sight you don’t forget. For our Humane Law Enforcement team, who rescued over 180 Yorkies from a hoarding situation in January, it was among the most extreme cases they’ve handled in 137 years of service. I remember talking with Sgt. Laurel Monreal, who was one of the first on the scene. In spite of the tragic details of the case, I was deeply moved when she handed me an envelope from one of the owners, addressed to the HLE team. It contained a thank-you note for taking the dogs and helping end what had been a decades-long nightmare for his family. Hoarding is such a complicated mental health issue, especially when it involves animals. Now that the dogs were safe, you had to feel compassion for this family.

Our law enforcement arm is an essential part of what we do and supports our core duty, which is all about education and assistance. Our focus is on protecting animals, but our work is very much about taking care of people. Helping people do the right thing when they just need some help doing it. We currently protect animals and serve the public in six San Diego County cities and five reservations, and our Humane Law Enforcement team oversees all of our disaster, emergency and national shelter support programs. In fact, these teams recently deployed to Houston to help rescue and shelter animals stranded by Hurricane Harvey and reunite them safely with their families. You will read more about that on the following pages. These emergency and rescue programs have a truly
remarkable reach: We’ve taken care
of animals from as far away as Korea and China.

Considering all of these brave efforts from our incredibly dedicated teams, which include HLE, our Animal Rescue Reserve (see page 16), and our animal care, behavior and medical teams, we’re incredibly busy most of the year. I’m amazed by how generous and committed to animals San Diegans have been all summer. Any call to action ends with an extraordinary response by our supporters. Whether it’s towel and blanket donations, response to June’s Day of Giving, participation at our walks or our dog-filled Fur Ball in September, people in San Diego County always step up to help animals. You’re all true partners in our effort to protect animals and help people do the right thing; you constantly remind us of our mission to “inspire compassion.”


Gary Weitzman, DVM, MPH, CAWA
President and CEO
San Diego Humane Society


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