SPCA Triumphs in Legal Dogfight, Wins $500,000 Inheritance

After a lengthy legal dogfight, an appeals court judge has handed the San Francisco SPCA a half-million dollar inheritance.

The battle was sparked last year when the Hearing Dog Program — a nonprofit formed two years ago when the SPCA gutted its 29-year-old hearing dog program — claimed it was the rightful heir to a bequest for the “Hearing Dog Program of the SPCA.” The Hearing Dog Program claimed that the SPCA no longer had a hearing dog program — and sued to claim the money. The SPCA, meanwhile, acknowledged that it was no longer training hearing dogs nor accepting new enrollments into the program. But it felt that keeping tabs on its graduates, sometimes via phone, qualified it as running some manner of program, and enabled it to accept the money. A San Mateo County Court judge agreed — and, this week, so did the court of appeals.

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