Getting to know the Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills
The Journal sat down with Rosemary Frieborn, humane officer, and Marilyn Jasper, board member of the Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills, to discuss the role the society plays in preventing animal abuse in Placer County.
The society is governed by a five-person board of directors (currently there is one vacancy), and the humane officers are Frieborn, who volunteers her time and also serves on the board of directors, and a recruit who is currently in training. Curt Ransom, who was a paid humane officer, is now in HSSF’s reserve program and available to help as needed. The officers, appointed in 2011, have the authority to issue tickets and go to court for arrest and search warrants. They have the power to enforce laws as they pertain to animals, and can investigate situations of animal neglect or cruelty. Their duties can include confiscating animals and property, making arrests and appearing in court.
The HSSF does not receive taxpayer money, Jasper said. She and Frieborn did not say what the society’s budget is, as the amount of money spent varies greatly based on the caseload and, in the case of seizures, the conditions of the animals and how long it takes for them to be adopted. On average, Jasper said, it’s at least $100 per animal seized, and usually more due to veterinarian care. The society spends “literally tens of thousands of dollars a year, well over,” she said, and relies on donations, grants and funds from its bookstore on Lincoln Way.
When did the HSSF form?
RF: “In 2008, but humane officers and humane societies have been around for more than 100 years in California.”
MJ: When we say ‘Humane Society,’ people immediately think of the Humane Society of the United States, and they think that all humane societies are one. … humane societies and societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals are 501c3 nonprofits. … Every single one of them is an individual corporation.”
Why was there a need for a humane society here?
RF: “Twelve years ago, we (Friends of Placer County Animal Shelter) were one of a handful of animal rescue organizations, and our mission was to reduce the euthanasia at Placer County Animal Shelter. Three years ago, we started to look at that and realized that there were so many organizations doing that. So we began to talk about where animals were underserved. … We got the humane society up and running, and we also looked at those (other) groups and said, ‘Wow, they do a fabulous job at finding homes for animals … so let’s use them for that part of what we do. We have memorandums of understanding with various organizations where when we take animals in, they do the rehabilitation, they do the caring, and then either in conjunction with us, or singly, they’ll find them homes. And we pay them for that service.”
How is HSSF funded?
RF: “We have private donors, we have grant-makers and we have our bookstore.”
Where do humane officers get their authority?
RF: “Corporation Code 14502 gives us the authority as humane officers. Remember, it’s over 100 years old, so that has been in law for that long.”
MJ: “As part of that, the humane officers have to go through incredible training.”
RF: “We have our own academy. We do everything that a peace officer does and can do. We can arrest people, but only as it pertains to animal abuse and neglect.”
Are you and officer Ransom armed?
RF: “There are two types of humane officers. One carries weapons and the second level does not carry weapons, that’s the only distinction between the two. We are not armed – we are at a level 2.”
What is your experience with animals?
RF: “I am a registered veterinary technician and I have 12 years of running Friends of Placer County Animal Shelter, and in that included the Cat House in the DeWitt Center.”
Is there a ‘typical day’ for a humane officer?
RF: “You can make your day – you can absolutely make your day. You could start at the rodeo, at the auction, at the pet stores. That’s stuff that we can just go in and look at. Typically, we’ll run on complaints – somebody’s got a dog died up somewhere to horses that aren’t being fed. And if we don’t have any complaints, we can go find work. That’s not difficult.”
What is the role of the board?
MJ: “It’s actually governed by corporation law. You have to have your bylaws, and you have to make sure that you’re following the rules in terms of how you’re spending your money. You’re getting donations and grants, so the board’s role would be to make sure we’re doing everything according to the law as far as the organization is concerned.”
What should someone do who suspects animal abuse?
RF: “They can call us, they can fill out an online complaint form, they can email us … a lot of people will go to the animal rescue groups because they have an issue with an animals, then those groups will call.”
What if someone has a complaint about the humane society?
RF: “They would start with the board – email, telephone, any of those. Just leave a message and we’ll get it.”
MJ: “We’ll try to resolve it at first, and if the person who is complaining is not satisfied, then they would have to follow the steps you would follow if you had a complaint with any other corporation. It’s a civil matter, unless we were doing something illegal – then it would be a different law enforcement agency that would handle it.”
Can a humane officer decide whether an animal is euthanized?
RF: “We never make that decision. The veterinarian makes that decision.”
What are you most proud of so far?
RF: “I think the animals that we have really impacted. (For example) We’ve done education, and the owner now understands. They didn’t realize there was a law against tying their dog eight hours a day … it’s really an education, now the dog is happy and spending more time with their owner.”
Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills
Where: Virtual offices, and at the bookstore, 13420 Lincoln Way, Auburn
Phone: (530) 823-6828