On June 10th 2012, a seven year old Labrador Retriever, A3597897, was turned in at the Lancaster shelter. The dog was determined to be suffering from seizures and needed veterinary attention. Because Marcia Mayeda refuses to staff the shelters with veterinarians on weekends, the shelter’s officer in charge filled out an “ETF” (Emergency Treatment Form) and at 3:30 P.M. assigned a staff member to take the dog to an outside veterinarian for treatment. The outside temperature was 91 degrees and the assigned officer loaded the dog onto his truck and promptly never made it to the veterinary clinic. For 8 hours the dog went through convulsions in the back of the truck while the officer found better things to do than take the dog to the veterinarian. Sometimes the air conditioning may have been on – but much of the time it wasn’t and the inside temperature of the truck was most likely well over 100 degrees while the officer took other calls, went on several breaks and just plain hung out at the shelter. It was not until the next shift came on at midnight that the dog was discovered and was finally brought to the veterinarian. The officer involved had reportedly repeatedly engaged in such conduct and had been suspended previously for other misconduct. Today he is not only still employed by the DACC, but has a job working the “graveyard” shift in Lancaster interacting with animals without any oversight whatsoever.
In 2009 KCBS reporter David Goldstein aired a report on Channel 2 showing Officer Felix Reyes dragging a dog who had just come back from an outside veterinarian with a hip injury. As a family of five walked by in the tape, Reyes dragged the dog on a rope across the floor and then yanked him over the threshold and deposited him inside a kennel. Reyes was suspended, and thankfully no longer works at the Baldwin Park Shelter. However he still has a DACC job and works at the call center in Downey.
Nearly all of the employees at the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Control who come into daily contact with pets care deeply about the animals they work with and for. They pride themselves on the care and compassion they provide not only to the pets unfortunate enough to end up in the shelter system, but to the public at large. When an employee does something egregious to the animals they take great offence because they know it is all too easy for the public and rescues to see them as all the same – and unjustly disdain them for something they find morally repugnant.
What makes it even more galling for many of these employees as well as the public is that Marcia Mayeda, who has fired people capriciously for lesser offences, knows about these transgressions and has kept these employees on the county payroll.
Life goes on as usual for the high paid leadership of the DACC – for the shelter pets – not so much.