Monthly Archives: May 2013

Baldwin Park and Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help


Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start of heavy impound traffic into the Los Angeles County Shelters.  The DACC serves a number of lower income communities, which experience high resident turnover at the end of the school year.  Many of the families who move are from cultures in which pets are viewed less as members of the family and more as livestock, and are often abandoned at the shelters when the family leaves.

Because many of these animals spend more time in the yard than in the house, there is a huge influx of strays at the shelters in the weeks surrounding the Fourth of July holiday.  Fireworks are common, and many cities in the DACC service area erupt nightly in a volley of explosions reminiscent of war zones.  Pets not safely confined to the house are terrified by the noise and escape their yards, ending up in the shelters as strays.

The shelters fill up quickly, and the resulting overcrowding means many lost and abandoned pets will die anonymous deaths in the back of the shelter unless we increase our rescue and adoption rates.

Today Baldwin Park took in 73 cats and dogs.  Historical statistics tell us this will only get worse as the season progresses.   The only way to change things is to get Los Angeles County, and ideally the entire state of California, to pass laws mandating spay/neuter and prohibiting landlords from discrimination against pet owners.  If you want to help alleviate the problem, contact your legislators and demand that these laws be put on the books.


Downey and Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Desperately Need Your Help!


The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control self-insures, and after a mauling at the Agoura shelter resulted in a settlement reputed to be close to half a million dollars, the DACC implemented a system where all volunteers and staff were required to watch a series of videos (at a cost to the taxpayers of $50 per viewer) and pass a hands-on test of their animal handling skills before they were allowed to interact with animals.

Despite these training videos having been filmed in a veterinary clinic and having very little to do with the shelter environment the highly paid public servants who run the DACC thought they had all the bases covered.  Except as usual they didn’t.

The County court system refers petty criminals to the DACC for community service in the shelters.  At the Castaic shelter, these completely untrained workers are, according to volunteers, being allowed to handle cats because of staff shortages.  According to volunteers one of these court referral workers mishandled Bella, A4542088, which caused her to bite and be deemed rescue only.   Despite the fact that Castaic officials knew a rescue was coming to pick up the cat on the following day, they euthanized her as we reported in last week’s blog post.

The reason the rescue did not pick up Bella in time to save her was the discontinuance of the ‘one time pull’ policy.  Prior to the end of 2012, the head of a rescue could fax or email a shelter authorizing an individual, whose name, address, telephone number and driver’s license information they would provide in writing, to pick up an animal on the rescue’s behalf.    The DACC’s service area is geographically spread out, and this was the only way rescues could save animals both in terms of time and cost.   When a rescue is advised at noon that they have until 5:00 pm that same day to get an animal out of the shelter, often the only logistically possible way to do it is to “deputize” someone who is near the shelter to pick up the animal on behalf of the rescue.   Nearly every other shelter system in Southern California honors a “One time pull policy” but Marcia Mayeda’s DACC doesn’t.  As a result pets die.  Bella was far from the only one to suffer this fate.

In other shelter news, the Downey Shelter continues its policy of refusing to microchip certain adopted animals (sick dogs and dogs which have been deferred from spay/neuter surgery) in direct violation of Los Angeles County Code 10.20.185, which requires that all dogs over the age of four months must have a microchip.

The DACC is still killing adoptable dogs, and not just Pit Bulls, despite having numerous empty kennels.  We do not know if this is a financial or philosophical decision – but do know it is an unpopular and heartless decision.


Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!


Nearly everyone involved in pet rescue in Los Angeles County wonders how Marcia Mayeda, the disinterested and ineffective head of the Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) is able to keep her job.  Few government agency heads garner as many complaints to the County Board of Supervisors at the apparently Teflon-coated Mayeda.

As a frequent critic of Mayeda, I constantly get e-mails and phone calls from rescues, volunteers and DACC employees complaining about DACC policies which make it unnecessarily difficult to adopt, rescue or care for the shelter system’s animals.

I ask these people why they are calling me instead of going public with their grievances.  DACC employees are afraid of “Freeway Therapy”, the term describing Mayeda’s unofficial policy of transferring employees who have fallen out of favor to the shelter farthest from their homes – and no one wants to be a DACC employee living in Lancaster and forced to drive every day to Agoura to put food on their table.

The rescues are scared of losing their pull privileges.  Although Mayeda is not legally allowed to retaliate against rescues for speaking out, many have had their privileges revoked for questionable reasons.  This has instilled a sense of fear which has silenced valid criticism.

Volunteers want to advocate for the fair treatment of shelter animals but know the likely consequences.  They may be fired in violation of Federally protected Section 1983 rights, as happened in the cases of Cathy Nguyen and most recently myself.

Remaining silent about issues affecting the county shelters will not make the problems go away.  According to Castaic volunteers, the shelter’s cats went without food or water for one day in February because of inadequate staffing.  This is cruel and intolerable – and a direct violation of the Hayden act.    A kitten named Bella (A4542088) allegedly bit or scratched an individual (there were no witnesses).  The shelter, which had designated Bella as “rescue only”, advised the volunteers that Bella would be euthanized in 48 hours unless a rescue took her.  A rescue stepped up and the volunteers alerted the shelter that the rescue would pull Bella the next morning.  Despite knowing that the rescue was on its way, and having empty kennels, the shelter euthanized Bella for no discernible reason other than to teach the volunteers a lesson – that they should not complain about lack of care for the Castaic felines.

Pets should not suffer because of an inept and uncaring bureaucracy.  Our shelter system is supposed to be humane.  Unfortunately it is far too often inhumane – and all of our collective silence will only perpetuate this needless suffering.  People must speak up and speak loudly.