Dog Day Afternoon: Battle Over $500K Bequest For Hearing Dog Program Continues Today

Throw a pile of food on the ground, and all but the most beatific dogs will scramble for what's theirs. Turns out, if you do the same thing with a pile of money, hearing dog programs don't share well, either.

When a $500,000 bequest was recently awarded to the San Francisco SPCA's hearing dog program — despite the fact said program was very publicly curtailed last year — the SPCA claimed that, yes, of course it still had a program. Meanwhile, the staff of the former SPCA program, now reincarnated as the independent nonprofit “Hearing Dog Program,” and Canine Companions for Independence — which took referrals after the SPCA nixed its program — also threw their dog bowls in the ring and claimed the money is rightfully theirs.

The matter went to court last month in San Mateo and, after a lengthy hearing, was continued until today. At the time of the last hearing, Tom Oliver, the program director for the Hearing Dog Program, was pessimistic:  “The judge asked them to prove they have a program and they proved they

have a program,” Oliver said in March. “Our contention is the program they're providing is so skeletal they don't even have a staff. But, no, it's not looking good.”

Having reviewed a pile of documents submitted by the SPCA, Oliver is feeling better about his chances:

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