The Road to Improving the DACC (part 3)
The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) is underfunded and understaffed. The following is Part 3 in a series suggestions are offered as ways to better use available resources without increasing costs.
Volunteers: Tax revenues have fallen and the budgets and staff of governmental agencies including the DACC were cut. Volunteers can help fill in the gaps, The shelter volunteer program is more important than ever. Yet on January 24th the DACC notified more than 70 volunteers from the Baldwin Park Shelter alone that they had been placed on “inactive” status and advising that “…you will no longer be an active volunteer in the program and may not from this point volunteer”. This was because the DACC’s records indicated that these volunteers had not participated for a period of 90 days. This was erroneous – a number of the “inactive” volunteers had served during that period but their login records seem to have been misplaced. Volunteers are donating their time, and the DACC pays lip service to their value, but DACC management seems to view them as either adversaries or employees. Treating volunteers as the valuable resources they are would significantly help the overburdened shelter staff.
Foster/Bottle Baby Program: Under DACC policy all unweaned puppies and kittens are to be immediately euthanized unless released to a foster who has attended the applicable DACC training class. I was a volunteer at the Baldwin Park Shelter from January 2009 – December of 2012, during which period the required class was not offered. Other county shelters report similar stories. A well-organized foster and bottle feeder program would save the lives of thousands of puppies and kittens.
Best-Price Purchasing: We all have a legitimate aversion to government waste of tax dollars. The DACC is currently required to purchase supplies and services – from kennel keys and computers to truck repair and shelter renovation – through the county’s government purchasing system, County Internal Services Department (ISD) at vastly inflated prices. If a light bulb burns out at my house I go to the store and buy a pack of light bulbs, with the cost per bulb somewhere around one dollar. If a light bulb burns out at one of the DACC shelters, they are only authorized to purchase a replacement bulb through ISD – at a cost of $250. If I need to copy a key, I trot down to the nearest hardware store, pay between two and three dollars and walk out with a brand new shiny and working key two minutes later. If I work for the DACC and need a new key, I fill out several forms, submit them, and several weeks later – if I’m lucky – I receive a key that cost the county taxpayers $25! A local mechanic quoted a price of $3,000 to repair a truck, but the shelter was forced to go through ISD and the repair cost $10,000. A professional roofing contractor estimated the cost to repair a leaking roof at roughly $6,000. ISD’s price for the same repair? $125,000! If the DACC were allowed to receive a dollar of value for each dollar spent, there would be enough money to put the ‘Care’ back into the Department of Animal Care and Control and improve conditions for the animals, the shelter employees and the volunteers. There would be money to operate enough spay/neuter clinics to meet community demand. We can’t afford the government waste built into the ISD, and transparency is needed on why it is the only option available to the DACC. If the only way to buy goods and services at fair market price is to privatize the shelter system that is an option that should be seriously considered.
Next week I will be back with part four of how we can improve the poorly managed Los Angeles County shelter system.