For me the Christmas and New Year holidays have always been a time of reflection, a time of thanks and a time for joy – and this year, perhaps more than any other year, I have a lot to be thankful for and rejoice as I prepare to make my New Year’s resolutions. At the Baldwin Park Shelter I have seen volunteers and staff tirelessly working together with a spirit of camaraderie and respect to get pets out of the shelter and into homes. There were countless nights or mornings when volunteers and staff showed up at the shelter at midnight, two A.M. or three A.M. to exercise, feed and pack dogs off into crates so they could be at the airport at 5 A.M. in time to catch planes for destinations where they would be cherished and wanted. I can’t count the number of times I received calls and e-mails from various shelter staff members telling me about pets they wanted us to immediately feature on our Facebook page so they could get the medical care they urgently needed, and other amazing pets who they just wanted to make sure received public attention and networking efforts.
The most gratifying aspect of this cooperation has been our statistics. Our 2012 Facebook networking effort has had a 94.5 percent adoption rate for dogs; and we have seen a marked improvement in our cat adoptions.
This would not have happened without the teamwork of our incredible Baldwin Park team, shelter management, kennel attendants, veterinary staff, field officers, clerical staff and volunteers all working together for the good of the pets. It is my opinion that the Baldwin Park Shelter has the best staff and volunteers of any shelter in California.
2013 is going to be more interesting and more challenging. The bureaucrats from Long Beach who run Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control have now started their own “Official Baldwin Park Animal Care and Control” Facebook page – and it is going to be interesting to see what they do with it. A cynic might think that it is a precursor to our existing Facebook page being shut down.
As many of you know, the DACC has suspended my volunteer status for thirty days as the result of the opinions and observations I have made on this blog. For those of you who are wondering what I am doing and what my plans are, I remain committed to rescue and place my faith in the United States Constitution’s First Amendment which states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I invite all of us to celebrate our successes of 2012 while mourning our failures, and fervently hope that 2013 will improve the plight of shelter animals throughout the county and the world. If we are able to continue and even expand the teamwork exhibited by the Baldwin Park Shelter staff and volunteers I am confident that 2013 will be better.
December 15, 2012 As many of you know I have been suspended as a shelter volunteer by the Los Angeles County Animal Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) primarily for things I have written in this blog.
I have always acted in the best interests of the animals, and have laid blame when and where I believe it belongs. The DACC is using suspension, and the threat of termination, to intimidate me into silence and complacency. Serving as a volunteer does not strip me of my First Amendment right to criticize government bureaucrats, and my opinions have always been identified as being put forth in my personal capacity, not as a volunteer speaking on behalf of the DACC.
Similar issues were the subject of the case of Nguyen, et al -v- County of Los Angeles, et al., which can be read by clicking this link: http://lacdacc.blogspot.com/search/label/Lawsuit.
Attorney Sheldon Eisenberg’s excellent article on retaliatory “firing” of shelter volunteers can be read by clicking this link: http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=728 . Quoting from that article, “There would be little hope of progress in improving the conditions at municipal animal shelters if rescuers – the people likely most knowledgeable about those conditions – could be intimidated into remaining silent by the threat of retaliation.”
Whether I continue as a county volunteer or not, my commitment to the shelter animals will continue and I will still be heavily involved in the shelter networking program that I helped develop.