Santa Cruz SPCA

Saving lives since 1938.

SPCA Our Mission

The Santa Cruz SPCA provides safe harbor for animals in need and promotes an active humane community through adoption, advocacy, and education.

 Who We Are

The Santa Cruz SPCA is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of animals. Our organization, and the work that we do, is supported by individual contributions. We do not receive funding from HSUS, ASPCA, nor local, state or federal government entities. Our organization is not affiliated with any other SPCA or Humane Society.

The Santa Cruz SPCA collaborates with other shelters and animal groups (municipal and private) to help rescue and rehabilitate cats and dogs, and find them loving homes. Our variety of programs are geared towards providing humane education and spay neuter awareness to the public as well as assisting with resources to help animals stay in their homes.

Our staff includes a management team of well-qualified leaders and an extraordinary animal care and adoption staff–as well as the most dedicated bunch of volunteers any organization could ask for–who work daily to care for our animals and to treat and rehabilitate those with special needs.

Every time you support the Santa Cruz SPCA—whether by financial support, volunteering, adopting, or by simply spreading the word about the work we do— you support the thousands of dogs, cats and people we serve.

Doc Graves and SPCA Ambulence (2)Our History

The Santa Cruz SPCA began when Dr. Charles Edward Graves, the first veterinarian in Santa Cruz County to treat small animals, donated his land to the shelter, which allowed for expansion and increased capacity to help the community’s animals.

In 1955, the Santa Cruz SPCA was incorporated, and Alva Enberg was its first executive director. The shelter acted as animal control for Santa Cruz County, adopted out homeless animals, assisted pet owners with spay/neuter costs, and covered veterinary fees for injured stray animals.

In 2002, the Santa Cruz SPCA relinquished the contract for municipal animal control, as Santa Cruz County started its own animal control agency (the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter). The Santa Cruz SPCA continues to focus on animal welfare issues in the greater Santa Cruz community.

Currently, the Santa Cruz SPCA continues operations in Santa Cruz County, including extensive humane education programs, promoting of spay/neuter, cat and dog adoption placements, the operation of a free pet food bank, no-cost behavior and training classes, and other programs and services that support efforts to save and care for animals.

Meet Our Board of Directors


PRESIDENT:  Moira Gagen


SECRETARY:  Nina Mar Burnette

TREASURER:  Sheri Billings



Deb Walt – Immediate Past President

David Kunis

Ren Menon

Hedy Nochimson


MOIRA GAGEN, President

Moira Gagen has served on the Board since May 2013. She has volunteered at the Santa Cruz SPCA for the past ten years and at the county shelter for eight years before that. A dedicated animal welfare advocate, Moira has two dogs and a cat of her own as well as the occasional foster. Moira works in Corporate Training, specializing in Train-the-Trainer and Train-the-Designer programs and has consulted all over Silicon Valley. She has taught at both UCSC and Stanford and is currently working for Apple Computer. In what little time is left over, Moira is an avid mystery reader, amateur thespian and Scrabble nut!


TERRIE SIMA, Vice President

Terrie Sima joined the Board in August 2014. Her relationship with the Santa Cruz SPCA began in 2008 when her family adopted the first of their three dogs from the organization. Having grown up with a Chihuahua, she has a special fondness for small dogs with big personalities. A gadget geek at heart, Terrie advises early-stage digital Sports and Fitness companies. Her consumer electronics product management career includes work on iconic products for Apple and Nike. In addition to family and pups, her passions include food, travel, sports, conversation, the Ohio State Buckeyes, and opportunities to be involved in her community.



Nina believes that people who love and respect animals will be better stewards of the planet, and be kinder human beings in general. Given the opportunity as a child, she always chose to cat-sit or dog-sit versus babysit.

Nina joined the board of directors in April 2017, and brings an extensive financial and tax background. She earned her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and her LL.M., Taxation from New York University. Nina recently retired from a career with Apple, Inc. as Senior Director, International Tax & Senior Tax Counsel.

In addition to their daughters, and many animal companions throughout the years, Nina and her husband have raised three golden retrievers.



Sheri Billings has served on the Board since February 2011. She is a CPA and owner/principal of the Summit Accountancy Group, Inc., in Soquel, specializing in income taxes and business valuations. A fancier of all things feline, Sheri shares her home with two rescue cats, Buddy and Bentley. Her hobbies include fly fishing.


DEB WALT, Immediate Past President

Deb Walt joined the Board in October 2013 and served as Board President from 2016 through 2017. An active shelter volunteer for 14 years, Deb has served in a variety of leadership and hands-on roles at several regional shelters, including Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV) and Pets in Need. While at HSSV, Deb was four- time co-chair of The Fur Ball — the annual black-tie fundraising gala– and also served as dog socializer, mentor, writer, event volunteer, and member of numerous task forces and committees. Deb brings 25+ years of experience in marketing and communications to the SPCA. She has managed comprehensive programs for many major national consumer brands, as well as many biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Her background includes PR agencies in New York and Silicon Valley, and she also directed the marketing communications team at Stanford University Hospital. Deb has two senior dogs and two senior cats, plus a fuzzy foster dog. In addition to her passion for animals, Deb’s enthusiasms include theatre, ballet, skiing, and haunting bookstores.



David Kunis joined the Board in December 2016, and has been an active volunteer of the SCSPCA for the past 9 ½ years. He enjoys working with dogs in greatest need of socialization, training, and behavioral work. He also provides animal transport whenever and wherever needed and continues to act as lead volunteer for numerous community events. David managed the Education Program for new adopters for 8 years, and also generated the connection to the Pet Food Express food donation program where he travels regularly to their warehouse in Oakland to pick up food for the SCSPCA.

Before coming to Santa Cruz, David volunteered at several Bay Area rescues, including Pets in Need, Pound Puppy Rescue, Furry Friends Rescue, and the Palo Alto Animal Shelter. He also fostered for the Milo Foundation.

David has worked at Stanford for the past 37 years as a Research Lab Manager, and has published more than 80 articles in research journals.

He continues to study the peaceful martial art of Aikido (has attained the rank of 5th dan), and has taught it at Stanford University, as well.



Ren believes that our perfect companions have no fewer than four feet. He will tell you that he is mostly a caretaker of his house where the real residents are his four Chihuahuas.

Ren brings 20+ years of general management, marketing and product development experience at companies including Invisalign and GE. He is currently the Managing Director of the health and wellness at Silicon Valley Capital.

Ren’s hobbies include reading and global travel. He has been an SPCA board member since August 2016.



Hedy Nochimson joined the Board in April 2016. A lifelong animal lover, she became a Santa Cruz SPCA volunteer in 2012 in the spirit of giving back, and in gratitude for all the wonderful animal companions that had shared her life. With a special fondness for felines, Hedy has been very involved in the welfare of the Santa Cruz SPCA cats — and not being able to resist the other residents of the shelter, has also fostered and adopted a little Maltese/Poodle now known as “George.”After working for 20 years as a software engineer in the high-tech industry, Hedy retired and began a second career as a chef, opening her own business and becoming an active member of the growing food scene in Santa Cruz. Besides her passion for food and family, Hedy enjoys travel, home design, and sports activities.


Meet Our Staff