One of the long-standing myths in animal rescue today, and one that is still perpetuated in the general public has to do with nomenclature. Everywhere you go you’ll see the term local Humane Societies or Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and many people do not give the term a second thought as they choose a reputable animal rescue organization to work with.
These names are the source of a lot of confusion though. Even my own family members are confused. About a year ago, my sister (who lives out of state) took a picture of a glossy postcard she received in the mail from the ASPCA and sent it to me with a note saying, “I just got your marketing piece. Great job!”
I responded to her text, “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to take credit for work that isn’t mine!”
She responded, “What? Did you leave? What are you doing now?”
“I never worked for them. I work for a local private nonprofit that has nothing to do with the ASPCA.” I said.
“It’s not the same thing? I’m confused” she replied.
Rather than going into a long explanation, I just said, “Believe me, everyone is.”
Confusion reigns, sadly. I just got off the phone, again, with someone furious that “we” just sent her an expensive, glossy direct mail piece since she already donates, and resents that “we” are using her donation to pay for something she does not need after telling her that the money is needed for the animals.
She was rather upset, so I just let her get it all out of her system. She threw out words like, “greedy” and “irresponsible.” I listened calmly, and waited for the right moment to respond.
When she finally seemed out of breath from the fiery rage she just threw up all over me, I asked, “I’m so sorry, ma’am. That doesn’t sound like it came from us though. Would you mind reading it to me?”
She was annoyed at this.
“You are spending money so wildly that you don’t even know when you’re pestering your donors?” she fired back, exasperated.
“No, I am just saying that you may have received it from a different organization,” I said, “People often think that we are part of national organizations like the ASPCA or the Humane Society of the United States. But we have no affiliation to them at all. We are a local, private non profit – so if you have been donating to them, we don’t see a dime of that.”
I thought this might calm her down a bit – but it just riled her up more.
“But it’s in your name!” she shouted, “Why are you called the Humane Society & SPCA if that isn’t what you are?”
Oy. This was going to take a minute. We ended up being on the phone for a good 30 minutes while I explained the differences between the national organizations and private, donor funded operations like ours.
Both ASPCA (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and HSUS (the Humane Society of the United States) spend a great deal of money advertising on television and sending mail throughout the nation asking for charitable funds. Neither the ASPCA nor HSUS, however, are YOUR local animal welfare organization. They do not operate the shelter for homeless animals in your community. They are not “parent” organizations and the local humane societies and SPCAs are not their chapters.
Having said that, these organizations are important for animal welfare because they provide a lot of advocacy support, grants, and educational resources that shelters like mine can benefit from. But if you are looking to support programs and services for the animals in this community, look to Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA.
So, yeah, about that name. One of the first things that was clear to me when I started working here was how confusing our name was to people in the community. So we set on a journey to assess our name and it’s brand equity in the communities we serve.
What we learned on that journey was that nearly everyone we polled thought we were run by and under the umbrella of these national organizations. This helped to explain all the nasty phone calls and emails we’ve received over the years about our non-existent marketing efforts.
So we began looking at alternative naming conventions that would help to eliminate a lot of this consumer confusion while making a bold statement about our mission in the community.
We decided that we want to celebrate all that it means to be a HUMANE organization. And, for us, that means making sure it’s central to the most visible part of our identity, our name. Moving forward, Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA will simply be known as Pasadena Humane.
Not only does our shortened name highlight what is most important to us, it helps clear up confusion about our identity. Pasadena Humane is an independent organization.
The best part of coming out with a new, shortened name is all the beautiful new branding that comes with it, and our exceptional new website! If you haven’t already, you should check it out along with some of its new features:
- Adoptable Pet Viewer: A photo feed of adorable animals? Yes, please! You can easily browse animals by species, sex, age, and size. Be sure to click on the animal’s photo for more info about that pet.
- Expanded Menu: Our new navigation allows you to easily find the information you are looking for. Click around to learn all about our programs and services.
- Oh, and did I mention that the original studio photography that you see all over our new website exclusively features animals adopted from Pasadena Humane? All the beautiful faces on brightly colored backdrops that you see throughout the site are pets who found their “happily ever after” here. A huge shout out to L.A-based pet photographer Sorrell Scrutton for her masterful work!
As always, our dedication to helping the animals and people of our community remains as strong as ever. Welcome to the new Pasadena Humane!