Position Statements

Domesticated and Companion Animal Welfare

The East Bay SPCA believes that people who choose to keep an animal dependent on their care are responsible for ensuring care of the animal for the duration of its life. This includes preventing neglect and cruelty and providing a good quality of life. At the very least, the animals should be provided with:

• Appropriate food and water
• Veterinary care when needed
• Appropriate shelter from the elements
• Appropriate mental and emotional care

The East Bay SPCA offers numerous programs that support people who need assistance in meeting the needs of their pets, including resources and referrals for pet owners in crisis who do not already know where else to turn for support.

Accessible Resource for the Community

The East Bay SPCA works to serve as a resource for all members of our community through our various programs. We strive to remove barriers to animal welfare–related services and resources including a free behavior helpline, a full-service veterinary clinic with financial assistance available, an open adoption policy, Humane Education programs with scholarship opportunities, temporary pet boarding for those in crisis, and more.  

Positive Reinforcement Training

The East Bay SPCA endorses and uses positive reinforcement in training and handling all companion animals. Studies show that positive reinforcement leads to improved welfare of pet dogs, has a positive influence on the human-animal bond, and is effective in achieving training goals.   

Training based in the idea that many undesirable behaviors in pet dogs are rooted in the motivation to be “alpha” or “dominant” is not supported by scientific evidence, and knowledgeable behavior professionals reject this notion based on both ethical and scientific grounds. Shock or prong collars, “choke” chains, or physical corrections might change an animal’s behavior in the moment, but this type of training addresses symptoms and not underlying behavioral issues. The use of aversive-based methods and equipment, including electric collars, prong collars, choke chains, and other tools can result in an increased risk of danger of injury for animals and their guardians/trainers. When visiting our campus, you may be asked to remove such equipment and be provided with a temporary alternative.  

To learn more about our methodology and philosophy click here. 


The East Bay SPCA supports early-age spay/neuter for sheltered and adoptable dogs and cats. California requires that all dogs and cats leaving shelters, humane and/or rescue organizations are spayed or neutered (Food and Agricultural Code 30503). Sterilization is appropriate for these animals if: 

  • The animal is at least 8 weeks of age 
  • The animal weighs at least 2 pounds 
  • The animal is deemed healthy by a veterinarian 
  • Proper surgical protocols are used 

The East Bay SPCA encourages spay/neuter for dogs and cats and recommends owners discuss spay/neuter timing with their veterinarian for privately owned pets.  

Community Cat Welfare

The East Bay SPCA supports the National Animal Care and Control’s position statement on management of community cats.  

Learn more about what you can do regarding helping stray cats, feral cats, and kittens. 

Responsible Animal Acquisition

The East Bay SPCA encourages members of the public to adopt pets from reputable nonprofit animal welfare organizations/rescues or municipal animal shelters as a first option. If this is not possible, the East Bay SPCA cautions the public to purchase a pet only from a reputable and responsible breeder.

The East Bay SPCA spearheaded the movement that banned animal sales on Craigslist in 2006. The East Bay SPCA does not support the acquisition of companion animals from puppy mills. Acquisition of animals over the internet is strongly discouraged unless sellers can provide evidence of good animal welfare and safe transport for non-local buyers.

If you have found a lost pet, you must attempt to find the animal’s owner before you can legally consider it to be yours. The East Bay SPCA provides information on what to do if you’ve found a lost or stray pet.

Classroom Pets

The East Bay SPCA acknowledges that classroom pets can be a source of learning about compassionate care and responsible acquisition of animals. If classroom pets are kept, they need to be legal, sourced responsibly, and receive species-appropriate care as noted in the Domesticated and Companion Animal Welfare section above. It is especially crucial to be aware of how stress manifests in the species chosen to be a classroom pet and take steps to prevent and mitigate stress as necessary. 

The topics of compassion and empathy can also be taught without an animal present full-time in the classroom. Many organizations in the area (East Bay SPCA, Sulphur Creek Nature Center, Lindsay Wildlife Center, The Oakland Zoo, etc.) have programs that involve bringing animals to classrooms and offer classroom visits to their facilities. Visit the Humane Education page to learn more about these programs and ways to incorporate Humane Education into your curriculum.  

Guard Dogs

The East Bay SPCA recognizes that having a dog can help people feel more secure. While having a dog that alerts their owners to the presence of strangers is a benefit to many members of our community, we do not condone intentionally training a dog to indiscriminately display aggressive behavior. Likewise, we do not support the acquisition of dogs for the sole purpose of guarding property or people.  

Outdoor Confinement of Dogs

The East Bay SPCA advocates for the socialization of puppies to be members of the home environment. In rare cases, we recognize that some adult dogs are more comfortable in outdoor-only environments and will adopt dogs to outdoor-only homes when it is decided to be in the best interest of the individual dog.  

Dogs that spend extended periods of time outdoors should have their needs met as outlined in our Domestic and Companion Animal Welfare position statement. 

The East Bay SPCA supports California Health and Safety Code 122335, which bans the tethering of dogs for more than three (3) hours per 24-hour period. Dogs exposed to tethering in excess of three (3) hours per day may be impounded by the jurisdictional municipal shelter and the owner cited. 

The East Bay SPCA strongly urges all dog owners to follow local leash laws. In Oakland, O.M.C. 6.04.070 requires dogs to be under the control of a 6-foot leash when not in designated off-leash areas. 

Non-Therapeutic Alterations

The East Bay SPCA is opposed to any physical alteration of an animal’s body for cosmetic or behavioral reasons. For example, tail docking, ear cropping, de-barking, and declawing are strongly opposed as these elective procedures cause pain and can lead to infection, behavioral issues, ongoing pain and suffering, and even death. If a physical alteration is necessary to alleviate the animal’s suffering, it should be performed by a licensed veterinarian. 

Humane Euthanasia and “No Kill”

The East Bay SPCA is opposed to shelter euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals. 

While “no kill” is a popular phrase in today’s animal welfare environment, we do not find its use responsible. We discourage the use of the phrase “no kill” as it is often misunderstood and hides the problems of safety, overpopulation and responsible ownership that our communities face. Instead, we want to be clear to our supporters and the public how we make the difficult choice of humane euthanasia when it is absolutely required. 

The East Bay SPCA will euthanize an animal whose poor health cannot be managed humanely by our highly skilled medical staff or consulting specialists, or an animal whose condition puts other shelter animals or workers at risk. We also will choose euthanasia when an animal has negative behaviors that are beyond our ability to modify or manage, such as severe aggression toward other dogs or people. This is especially true if the animal presents a safety hazard to potential adopters or the community or is experiencing a poor quality of life. 

In fact, keeping such animals in shelters while thousands of healthy, adoptable animals are euthanized because there is no place to keep them could be considered an unconscionable decision. To see our animal statistics tables, click here. 

For members of the community with owned animals, we provide resources through our behavior helpline and veterinary clinic for cases in which quality of life or safety are in question to help determine appropriate outcomes. 

We Serve Vegetarian Foods

The East Bay SPCA went vegetarian in October 2014. As an animal welfare organization, we have aligned with our values by implementing a vegetarian menu for all East Bay SPCA events including staff lunches, VIP events, and board meetings. 
We respect that dietary choices are personal, and we do not intend to dictate what anyone eats. Vegetarian cuisine and options abound, especially in the Bay Area.  

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