Monthly Archives: February 2013

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!


I visited the Baldwin Park Shelter this afternoon.  That’s the shelter I volunteered at before I was fired as a volunteer for criticizing mismanagement of the Los Angeles County Animal Shelter system.   Almost one quarter of the kennels – forty-seven in all – were vacant.  With this many empty kennels there is no reasonable justification, other than irremediable suffering, for the DACC to order any dogs to be killed at Baldwin Park, I thought to myself.

There was a mistake in this logic – I used the words “reasonable” and “DACC” in the same sentence.  It seems the DACC has decided that keeping a dog impounded for longer than 21 days is unreasonably stressful for the dog, which will presumably become so depressed and ill on the 22nd day that it would be happier dead than alive.  Despite the availability of large numbers of empty kennels the DACC has ordered shelter staff to kill.   Pets are now being killed for time rather than space.  Volunteers and staff at other shelters have confirmed that they were told this was the new DACC policy, and when we examine the DACC’s website we see that with very few exceptions there are no dogs who have been at the shelter longer than 21 days.  The county’s adoption rate has not dramatically surged and DACC employees have confirmed that they are still taking healthy, non aggressive pets to the back of the shelter to be euthanized.

Today I rescued one of the dogs whose 21 days were up.  Cornelius (A4539344) is a four month old, three pound Chihuahua puppy who had been at the Baldwin Park Shelter for 22 days and the shelter had alerted me he had to leave immediately.  Cornelius seemed quite happy to see me in the shelter – his tail was wagging profusely and hasn’t stopped since I brought him home – but according to the new DACC policy he was supposed to be dead.

The Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control’s Mission Statement claims its policy is “to promote responsible pet ownership, compassion toward animals…”  and then goes on to say “As the agency responsible for animal-related public safety, our mission is achieved through shared county values including professionalism, responsibility, compassion, commitment, integrity, accountability and community partnerships”.

If truth in advertising laws applied to the DACC, the DACC leadership would be prosecuted for fraud – as well as cruelty to animals.


Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!


Four years ago when I first walked into a Los Angeles County shelter I was stunned by the number of highly adoptable dogs being euthanized every day because they were “invisible” – not marketed, often without viewable photos on the website and never actively brought to the attention of potential adopters. The shelter workers were resigned to the fact that an impounded dog would most likely be euthanized in four days because Marcia Mayeda, the bureaucrat running the County shelter system (DACC), was only interested in making her budget work and showed no inclination to ameliorate the problem by encouraging rescue, adoption or transports of animals from her shelter or launching educational programs to promote spay/neuter and animal welfare in the numerous communities the DACC serves. Hundreds of invisible dogs died in quiet obscurity in the back of the shelters because no one knew about them or cared.

Four years later and I’ve seen a radical change at Baldwin Park, Downey and Carson. Baldwin Park was the first Southern California shelter to make the affirmative decision to be transparent in their actions. The shelter’s outstanding leadership empowered their volunteers to make a difference by marketing the shelter’s impounded pets through the social media websites of Facebook and YouTube, something which had previously been discouraged (SEACA, another Southern California shelter system, still prohibits photographing of its pets). It was tremendously successful and Baldwin Park’s “live releases” increased exponentially. The Downey shelter implemented a similar program in January and last month Carson came on board. We are making huge progress.

Marcia Mayeda has done nothing. She has missed every opportunity to show leadership in trying to get pets out of the shelters. While volunteers work around the clock to partner with no kill shelters throughout North America and transport large numbers of dogs to those shelters, Mayeda has done nothing – unless you count making it more difficult for legitimate 501(c)3 rescues to adopt pets.

In any private sector business a chief executive who continues to deliver bad results quarter after quarter is replaced by the shareholders. When politicos disappoint their constituents send them packing on election day. Mayeda holds a position appointed by the five elected members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors – Gloria Molina, Mike Antonovich, Zev Yaroslavsky, Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas. It is time to hold these officials accountable and insist that in exchange for our votes that they dismiss Marcia Mayeda.


Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!


The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) is a lot like North Korea.  The leadership regime issues heavily manicured proclamations – which can never be taken at face value – telling of their great successes, their leader is inaccessible to the public and travels with security, and the true statistics showing how badly the DACC is doing are guarded as state secrets.  But what reminds me of North Korea the most is the way that the DACC markets the product it is supposed to be ‘selling’ – the sad pets who found themselves impounded in the county shelters.

Two months ago the DACC started its own Facebook pages for the Baldwin Park and Agoura shelters.  Full of pictures of glorious leader Marcia Mayeda, the DACC has only managed to attract 69 followers (many of whom are employed by the DACC) on its Baldwin Park page and 45 followers on its Agoura page because it forgot to include one essential element.  There are no pictures of the shelters’ pets!

Promoting pet adoption and marketing their pets is one of the essential functions of a shelter.   The DACC is failing miserably at this, not just on Facebook – but in every facet of its operations.   Last year the marketing geniuses at the DACC staged an event at their shelters where they actually advertised, ‘come visit our shelters – so you can see an actual animal control truck’!  Needless to say the people stayed away in droves – but the staff and pets didn’t mind – as the county had the shelters provide food for the guests that didn’t come – and the employees and some lucky pets had a free lunch – courtesy of Mayeda and company.

The DACC needs a leadership change at the top.  People who understand the importance of marketing and being in touch with the communities they serve need to be brought into the agency and then, and only then, do we have a chance of getting to the utopian goal of operating no kill shelters.


Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!


It is difficult to establish a definitive measuring stick to judge whether Animal Control is doing a good job.  Most of us just look at the body count – the number of pets being shipped off in barrels to rendering plants.   In the eleven and one half years that Marcia Mayeda has run the Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control,  the DACC has – according to their own numbers – killed 549,430 pets or nearly 131 pets per day.   In my opinion you have to go far beyond this dreadful number to really judge a shelter system.   You need to see what Animal Control is doing to reduce the number of intakes, so it can reduce the number of pets euthanized.

Is the shelter system effectively reaching into the community it serves and promoting spay/neuter?  Is it enforcing the law in communities where spay/neuter laws have been enacted?  Is the shelter maximizing efforts to collect licensing revenues?  Is the system doing an effective job of marketing its impounded pets?  What is the opinion held by the public, volunteers and staff?

There is no way to subjectively quantify these measurements and it comes down to a variation on former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous quote on pornography, “I know it when I see it.”  What I see when I look at the DACC is abysmal.  Too many deaths, too much of its budget squandered, the agency is wracked by bureaucratic inertia and is often at war with its volunteers and employees.  Without independent oversight, the numerous complaints filed against the DACC are handled by the DACC and are often answered by form letters.

If the DACC was a publicly held company the stockholders would have revolted and demanded change.  It cannot be fixed from within and only a complete overhaul of the agency will improve its unacceptable performance.

Every two weeks volunteers from the Baldwin Park Shelter and United Hope for Animals gather at the shelter to photograph and video the shelter’s pets.  Attached is the latest networking list.  Anything you can do to help by adopting, rescuing or networking these fabulous pets is appreciated and urgently needed.


Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!


Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”   Using Einstein’s definition, objective analysis of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control would lead you to believe that the bureaucrats running the County’s shelter system are most likely insane.   For years the DACC leadership has been more interested in preserving their jobs and their turf than implementing new solutions to the problems facing the shelter system, and have been content to use the same failed strategies.  The results have always been the same – way too many dead animals in barrels, inside freezers waiting to be transported to rendering plants.

It is time to end this insanity and make some real inroads into improving the shelter system.  In this –  the fourth and final part of my recommendations to improve the DACC – I am proposing a radical makeover of the way the Los Angeles metropolitan area approaches its animal control problem.

First it is time for the head of the DACC to go to both the Board of Supervisors and the individual municipal governments and lobby them to allow residents to have more pets if certain conditions are met.  Presently the law throughout most of Los Angeles is residents are allowed to have three dogs.  Some people live in apartments, others live in homes on small plots of land, others live on larger plots of land.  If someone lives in an apartment perhaps three is the right number, but if you live on an acre of land you should be able to have more pets.   Governments should allow a fourth licensed dog to property owners who apply for an exemption and pay for an inspection of their property to see if it would support an additional pet.  All pets on the property would need to be altered, and the fourth license should be more expensive.  This would create more licensing revenue for the DACC, as well as reduce the shelter intakes as people would not have to surrender as many pets.

It is time to merge the Los Angeles County and Los Angeles City shelter systems.   I live in the City of Los Angeles, but I pay my property taxes to Los Angeles County and there is no reason that the two governments cannot work together to implement this.    If we merge the two shelter systems not only would we achieve a more cohesive and understandable policy throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area, but there would be substantial savings.  Administrative redundancies can be eliminated and the money could be used to put more workers in the kennels and in the field throughout both the City and County.  The more people who are in the field the better enforcement will be, and tickets can be issued for unaltered and unlicensed pets – all of which reduces the number of pets coming into the shelter systems.   Money that would have been spent on redundant bureaucrats could be used to develop pet education and retention programs – trying to head off pets before they end up at the shelters’ doors.

The DACC has a pretty good sounding mission statement, “…our mission is achieved through shared county values including professionalism, responsibility, compassion, commitment, integrity, accountability and community partnerships.”  With the changes I have outlined perhaps it might become more of a reality and less of the empty slogan it is now.