A. SPCA stands for Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. There are several regional SPCAs in the Bay Area - they are not one organization. Any nonprofit group can have SPCA in its name, as well as Humane Society, Animal Rescue, etc. These types of animal welfare organizations usually have animals available for adoption and offer educational services to the public. Some of them do take "surrendered" pets that people do not want, but your county animal services agency is the one that definitely takes animals whose owners cannot keep them. The county agencies also pick up stray animals, and investigate reports of possible animal cruelty and animal bites. Animal control officers are government employees who are specially trained in this field. They can investigate situations such as animals left chained. They do not respond to noise complaints, or dogs left alone in the yard. However many cities have ordinances for noise related to barking dogs, so you would want to contact your local police department non-emergency number if you have that kind of problem.
--Dr. Heidi Strand is a veterinarian for the East Bay SPCA in Dublin. She has lived in the Tri-Valley for 10 years with her family and an assortment of four-legged friends. Questions can be mailed to 315 Diablo Road, Suite 100, Danville 94526; or e-mailed to email@example.com. Her column runs every other week.