When I first started producing the Baldwin Park Animal Care Networking list in January of 2009 I never imagined so many people would come out of the woodwork to help the poor unfortunate pets impounded at this high intake shelter. It’s left me in absolute awe of the power of networking as we’ve managed to achieve a 94 percent adoption rate for the dogs featured on the list. People throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia have been helping us find homes for our pets and I now understand the concept of the global village.
In January of this year we took our networking list concept to the Downey Animal Care Center and they will probably adopt their 1,000th networked pet this week. This week we are thrilled to have helped the fabulous Carson Animal Care Center volunteers with their debut networking list and we look forward to the Carson pets getting the same exposure that Baldwin Park pets have enjoyed.
Despite all our successes, we’ve had failures. The unfortunate six percent of networked dogs who didn’t get homes haunts me every day. But the real failure doesn’t lie with the individual care centers and their volunteers. It lies with the Los Angeles County government. We have either hit or are about to hit a ceiling on the number of pets that the DACC will permit us to adopt or rescue. The Downey Animal Care Center can only perform 25 spay/neuters per day five days a week, and the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center can perform between 125 and 200 pets per week depending on the medical staff’s schedules. The problem is that because we have been able to increase adoption numbers the clinics are full and the County hasn’t expanded its capacity to perform spay/neuter surgeries.
The reason for this appears to be financial. The Department of Animal Care and Control just doesn’t have the money to bring in help and dogs and cats are dying as a result.
The DACC’s budget has been slashed due to the recession. Mismanagement has compounded the problem. The DACC paid out over six hundred thousand dollars to settle a legal claim that would have been covered by insurance, had the insurance been in place. As a result vitally needed kennel attendant positions have been left vacant. Both Downey and Baldwin Park have had to operate with only two kennel attendants on recent Sundays and as a result dogs were left in dirty kennels and without water for prolonged intervals. We need to provide more volunteers to assist the overworked shelter staff, but the head of the DACC contracted with a video company to provide online training videos for volunteers at a price of $50 per person. All volunteers, both new and existing, are required to watch these videos. The videos have very little to do with the reality of working in the shelter environment and are of minimal value; better videos could be created and produced by our staff and volunteers for a fraction of the cost. Because $50 per volunteer has a significant impact on budget, the DACC is trying to slow down volunteer training to control costs!