The Grinch Who Almost Stole Christmas: An Animal Rescue Adventure

Dec 24, 2011 | 2011 Articles, Helping Hands, Joyce Brandon, Pets

by Joyce Brandon

Joyce is a part of Animal Compassion Team, an animal rescue in Squaw Valley.

The Grinch is a fictional character created by author Dr. Seuss in 1957. This funny looking green goblin was featured in the children’s book How the Grinch Stole Christmas and has become a symbol for anti-holiday sentiments and also is used to describe someone with an unforgiving and greedy attitude. Oddly enough, even the Grinch had a dog. His only companion is Max, a Coonhound who stands faithfully by his master.

I mentioned in a recent Animal Compassion Team Facebook post that I think the Grinch resides at 103 S. Hughes (the address of the CCSPCA). This comment was in response to a plea for help we received from a family wanting desperately to save their dog from the Central California SPCA. It was, in fact, the second situation in as many days that we had assisted a family in paying reclaim fees. Did you know that if your pet gets out of your yard and is unfortunate enough to end up at the CCSPCA it can be quite costly to get him/her back?

In this case, a little dog named Chloe decided to take a little stroll down the street, a very bad decision for this eight month old Chihuahua cutie. While on her big adventure she was picked up by an animal control officer and after only one day of impound her reclaim fees were $175 and climbing.

Chloe’s family did the responsible thing when they discovered their little friend missing and went looking for her. Chloe’s twelve year old owner was overjoyed to find her beloved dog in the shelter. That joy soon turned to dismay as her mother told her they didn’t have the money needed to get her out. Imagine leaving your wonderful family dog or cat behind because you don’t have the funds needed to bring them home. It would break my heart, as it did theirs, to leave a friend behind.

Our Fresno animal control organization will not return animals to loving families if the fees cannot be paid. That is their policy. Animals with homes are killed frequently because the fines are out of reach for many well intentioned pet owners. The shelter does have the option of putting a pet up for adoption and that does happen sometime but with close to an 80% kill rate why on earth would they not choose to send a pet home when able? The shelter administration could choose to waive fees – they choose not to.

I do have to give credit where credit is due. There was an employee at the CCSPCA who, after seeing how upset the little girl was, gave them a list of contacts who might be able to help them. There are many caring people working there: if only they were given the freedom to make life saving decisions we might be dealing with a whole different kind of shelter.

Many make the argument of responsibility. How can a family afford a pet if they can’t afford the fines? Why was the dog running loose? Why wasn’t the pet spayed? All of these blame games serve to make loving families out to be the villains. In a perfect world our pets always stay home, they always stay healthy, they never reproduce, and they never misbehave. We don’t live in a perfect world.

I say where is the mercy? Where is the compassion? How can we kill a vital, wonderful, living creation of God over an unpaid fine? What is wrong with us?

There is something wrong with a community that allows over one hundred family pets a day to be put to death. This is a failure of our elected officials, our shelter administration, and far too many complacent citizens. It’s time for a change. What is going on in your city? How are your stray animals dealt with? I can tell you that for many of you in small communities surrounding Fresno, they are held for a few days then delivered to Fresno to be exterminated but that is an article for another day.

This story has a happy ending. Because local rescue groups and private citizens got involved, Chloe will be home for Christmas. I want to say thank you to Westside Rescue for donating half of her reclaim fee and the wonderful staff at H.O.P.E. Animal Foundation for chipping in for her spay surgery.

Chloe and her family

This family got lucky but what about the unlucky ones? Please make phone calls and write letters to your city and county officials. Demand change. Let’s make 2012 the year of the animals. They give so much to us, it is the least we can do for them.

If the CCSPCA wants to allow the Grinch to live and flourish at 103 S. Hughes then I would challenge the city and county to look elsewhere for answers. Who knows, maybe Santa will bring a brand new shelter to town!

Learn more about ACT in their article here at KRL & watch for a new adoptable pet from ACT on our home page every week.

Joyce Brandon is co-founder of Animal Compassion Team, has lived in Squaw Valley for 21 years and has always had lots of four legged friends sharing her mountain home along with her husband Jim, and five children. Joyce works part time for Mountain Valley Community Church and splits the rest of her time between family and animal rescue work. Joyce believes animal rescue is a mission field God has called her to and has given her a passion for.


  1. Unfortunately, families are not able to claim their dogs on a daily basis. I stopped in at the Stray desk just a few days after the incident you report, and was sitting there literally for 5 minutes when the next family that ACT and the community helped reclaim their dog came to the counter and had to leave without their dog, Oscar, because they did not have enough funds to bail him out. ACT also helped to get him neutered at HOPE, as well as their chihuahua.

    I echo your recommendation for people to contact their city council member and urge them to put pressure on the CCSPCA to create a far more flexible reclaim policy. What sense does it make to keep any animals in this “shelter” longer than they have to be or to put them at risk for unnecessary euthanasia because they do not then get adopted. The community also has to stand together to end the killing of 100 animals per day. Together, we can absolutely make Fresno and the outlying communities far more compassionate and humane.

  2. Again Joyce u knocked it out of the park its nice to see the changes they are a.coming!

  3. I will write a letter.

  4. Agreed we should all do something about this they are killing the animals that they are supposed to protect


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.