spcaLA celebrates CEO’s 25 years of service

Los Angeles, CA (4/1/19) – Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) celebrates the silver anniversary of its President and CEO, Madeline Bernstein. In Bernstein’s tenure, the agency has reinforced its position as Los Angeles’ premiere animal welfare agency.

“Hiring Madeline continues to be one of the best investments that our board has made in spcaLA and the Southern California community,” said Chairman of spcaLA’s Board of Directors, Rollin Ransom. “By going back to the agency’s roots – education, law enforcement, intervention, and advocacy – Madeline has brought spcaLA full-force into the future.”


Violence-Prevention, Humane Education Initiatives

Bernstein’s vision ushered in violence-prevention initiatives such as the award-winning Teaching Love & Compassion (TLC) ™ program for youth from at-risk communities (1994), as well as its offshoot: spcaLA Court Diversion Program for Youth, an animal-assisted intervention program specifically made for justice system-involved youth referred by the District Attorney’s office and other juvenile justice professionals (2011).

Further, Bernstein helped to break the cycle of violence by creating the Animal Safety Net (ASN)™ program for individuals and families affected by domestic violence (1998). ASN Pet Housing offers free, temporary housing for the pets of domestic violence survivors. ASN Youth and Families offers animal-assisted programming for DV-affected families, in partnership with local domestic violence agencies (2017). Further, Bernstein worked then-State Senator Sheila Kuehl and other humane advocates to make California the fourth state in the nation to permit companion animals to be added to restraining orders in cases of domestic violence (2007). Find more information about violence-prevention and humane education initiatives on spcaLA.com.


A paradigm shift in animal welfare

Together with the City of Long Beach leaders, Bernstein brought forward Southern California’s first public-private partnership in animal welfare: the PD Pitchford Companion Animal Village and Education Center situated on 6.5 acres in Long Beach’s El Dorado Park.

Since spcaLA and the City of Long Beach opened the Village in 2001, Long Beach Animal Care Services has transferred over 40,000 animals into the care of spcaLA. The Village set a replicable benchmark in cost-effective, life-preserving care for abandoned and abused animals. For more information, visit spcaLA.com/partnership.

Further, Bernstein sought to put “puppy mills” – poorly kept, inhumane, and often-illegal breeding facilities for dogs – out of business by matching supply with demand. In 2009, she launched spcaLA’s inaugural “Air Chihuahua” program – sending shelter Chihuahuas and small-breed dogs (of which Los Angeles has a glut) to other areas of North America in which they are in demand. Since its inception, Air Chihuahua has had hundreds of four-legged passengers.


Law Enforcement and Disaster Response

With her history as a prosecutor in New York, Bernstein provides valuable guidance and insight to the operation of spcaLA Animal Cruelty Investigations, and advocates for the passage and enforcement of comprehensive animal cruelty legislation. Under her guidance, spcaLA’s Humane Officers investigate the worst animal cruelty offences, gathering evidence and developing in-depth cases for prosecution. Their assistance is routinely called for by other SPCAs and law enforcement agencies throughout California.

In 2015, following a series of high-profile incidents involving law enforcement officers and family pets, Bernstein launched the Dog Behavior for Law Enforcement course. POST-certified, the course provides offices the tools necessary to determine when and if force is necessary; how to read dog behavior correctly; and how to diffuse a difficult situation involving dogs.

Prior to joining spcaLA, Bernstein worked for the New York City Department of Ports and Terminals as Deputy Inspector General/Advocate and as a former Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx County District Attorney’s office. She is the author of Designer Dogs: An Exposé Inside the Criminal Underworld of Crossbreeding (2018: Apollo Publishers). More info: spcaLA.com/designerdogs.