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.