Legal Dogfight Over $500K Bequest Remains Unresolved

A legal battle over which hearing dog program is entitled to a half-million dollar bequest went into overtime yesterday.

The Hearing Dog Program, a San Francisco nonprofit formed by the workers laid off by the San Francisco SPCA when it liquidated its 29-year-old hearing dog program in 2008, objected to the money going to the SPCA. Its directors claim the money is rightfully theirs — while Canine Companions for Independence — which took SPCA referrals last year — says the money should go there. The SPCA, of course, thinks it deserves the loot.

It was anticipated by all parties that the big question would be answered at a Tuesday hearing in San Mateo County Probate court — but battles over bequests for hearing dog programs do not always equate with the notion of a “speedy trial.” After several hours of testimony, the case was continued to April 28.

Tom Oliver, the program coordinator for the new Hearing Dog Program, candidly said his program is the smaller dog in this fight and he doesn't like the odds.

While his side claims the SPCA has no program — and is therefore not a fitting recipient for the bequest — Oliver believes the SPCA may well have established that it does still run some manner of hearing dog program.

Calls to SPCA development director Tina Ahn have not yet been returned.

Last week, she told SF Weekly that, yes, the SPCA has a program — but

is not training nor

selecting dogs nor taking applicants for the program

“The judge asked them to prove they have a program and they proved they have a program,” Oliver said. “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.”

Photo   |   Yomanimus

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