Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills
● By David Norby
Rosemay Frieborn and Marilyn Jasper with Dandy and Bodhi
Sixty-six horses, 63 goats, 40 dogs, 26 sheep, 21 cats and eight pigs—these are just some of the lucky animals rescued by the Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills (HSSF), a nonprofit started in 2008 in Auburn, by 24 citizens who wanted to protect animals from cruelty.
HSSF enforces California’s anti-cruelty laws through “humane officers” who are trained, sworn personnel appointed by the Superior Court that have the power to issue citations, make arrests and conduct searches if necessary, to prevent animal abuse anywhere in California. The nonprofit is a sister organization of Friends of Placer County Animal Shelter, and has rescued and rehabilitated countless animals through medical attention and legal services. “[It’s] most satisfying when a neglected or abused animal situation is turned around and corrected so that the animal can live out its life without suffering,” says Marilyn Jasper, president of HSSF’s board of directors.
According to Rosemary Frieborn, executive director and humane officer, the penal code states that “failure to provide medical care placing the animal at a high risk of great bodily injury or death” is a felony; and a misdemeanor means that “although the animal was not at high risk of great bodily injury or death, the acts or omissions on the part of this animal’s caretaker could have foreseeably caused danger to this animal’s life.”
When HSSF receives a complaint, they contact agencies like animal services/control, to make sure no one else is working the case. Then, a humane officer verifies the validity of the complaint, contacts the owner and educates them on making corrections to improve the animal’s condition. With the owner’s cooperation, treatment is prescribed and when conditions improve, the case is closed. On refusal to comply, a citation may be issued, search warrant obtained and the animals may be seized. A citation filed with the District Attorney’s office for criminal prosecution may result in the owner paying for rehab expenses or relinquishing the animals to HSSF, who then nurtures and trains them for adoption and selects suitable homes, before the case is closed.
HSSF’s success stories are vast and varied—having seized 76 animals from horrific conditions in Loomis and seven horses in Lincoln, along with 10 cats, two ponies, llamas and exotic birds. Usually, the most common occurrence is the deterioration of these animals as a result of neglect. “Study after study has confirmed a direct link between animal abuse and human abuse. When young people are indoctrinated into believing that animals are a commodity, or are disposable (or worse), and can be treated as such, it is a recipe for future human abuse as well,” shares Jasper, making their work all the more significant.
With a workforce of two humane officers (only humane societies and SPCA’s can have court-certified humane officers) and over 100 dedicated volunteers, HSSF also works closely with veterinarians, trainers and lawyers. “Our love of animals instills a responsibility to protect those that cannot speak for themselves. We refuse to walk away or ignore an animal that is being mistreated, unintentionally or otherwise,” asserts Jasper, proving HSSF is a champion for our two- and four-legged furry, hooved and winged friends.