• 2014
  • (Page 3)

Yearly Archives: 2014

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

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Marcia Mayeda, the embattled head of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control has firmly signalled to Los Angeles’ volunteers, staff and rescue community that the word ‘Care’ needs to be removed  from the department’s moniker with this week’s hiring of Pat Claerbout as the new head of the high-intake Baldwin Park Shelter.

It was with great dismay that we read the results of a Google search on her name.   The first entry is from Sacramento’s local television Station KQCR which investigated her tenure as director of the Stockton Animal Shelter and concluded “a months-long investigation into the Stockton Animal Shelter finds laws were broken…” and that she euthanized pets in violation of the Hayden Act.  The second story is headlined “Pat Claerbout killed 996 animals her first month on the job, and in a television interview said that will continue.”   The third story is an article from the Stockton Record from January 2014 detailing her stewardship of the Stockton Animal Shelter.

The oft-criticized Stockton Animal Shelter is under fire again, this time from three local citizens and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a national advocacy organization that is preparing to take its grievances to court.

                  The organization alleges in a 27-page complaint an “ongoing pattern and practice of abuse” that has resulted in “the unnecessary and wrongful killing of numerous impounded animals in direct contravention of Stockton’s municipal code and the laws of the State of California.”

Our search showed multiple petitions seeking to remove her (which might make her a kindred soul to Mayeda – since there are plenty of well-deserved petitions demanding Mayeda’s ouster) and not one flattering story.   Marcia Mayeda must have done her due diligence before hiring Claerbout.  She knows and approves who and what she is bringing into her shelter system.

We would like to keep an open mind about Claerbout’s hiring – but the available information makes us doubtful at best.

In other Baldwin Park news, rumors are swirling around the shelter that Mayeda is trying to demoralize the shelter staff and will soon be implementing transfers to break up the committed, proactive team.  Her alleged reason for instituting the transfers is that the shelter, under its popular previous manager, was getting too much positive recognition nationally and not just within the community it serves.

Temporary Baldwin Park Shelter manager Gayle Miley, who has worked diligently to alienate staff and volunteers at Baldwin Park, is rumored to have been tapped by Mayeda to head up the Carson shelter which leaves the fate of Carson’s manager Gil Moreno in question.

This all coincides with the city of Bradbury terminating its relationship with the DACC and hiring another agency to handle its animal control, and with the city of La Puente allegedly also dissatisfied and looking to leave.

When asked about the developments, a DACC insider who is not a member of the Marcia Mayeda fan club reminded me that all new hires are subject to a six month probationary period, and urged everyone to make their opinions of Ms. Claerbout’s performance known not just to Mayeda, but to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and every Mayor and City Council member that the Baldwin Park Shelter serves, before shaking her head and wondering aloud, “I think it’s time to teach Marcia how to use Google.  I know it works on her computer the same way it does on yours and mine!”

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Baldwin Park and Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

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Yesterday was a surreal experience for many volunteers as they were invited to meet the new acting shelter manager of the Baldwin Park Shelter, Gayle Miley.  Many of them had heard reports that one of Ms. Miley’s first acts upon taking over from her popular predecessor, Lance Hunter, was to complain that the shelter had too many volunteers.

Also attending the meeting was Dr. Salcito the chief DACC veterinarian, and chief county volunteer coordinator Rohmi Reed – the author of the recent e-mail inviting prospective Downey shelter volunteers to tour the shelter on June 31st!

A few of the volunteers came with hard questions for Ms. Miley.  The first of these was why euthanasia rates at Baldwin Park had risen since she took over.  Ms. Miley denied that it had, which flew in the face of the evidence – as the volunteers had seen four of their networking dogs euthanized (the polite way of saying killed) in the last two weeks, after not losing a single dog in the preceding several months.

They also heard Miley, Salcito and Reed insinuate that Hunter had not adhered strictly enough to DACC policies and procedures during his tenure and that they were going to “improve” things.  This was hard to stomach for veteran volunteers who knew that Lance Hunter had fostered an unprecedented degree of cooperation amongst volunteers, staff, rescues and the community at large, as a result of which adoptions, rescues and transports soared and euthanasia rates fell dramatically during his tenure.  Evidently fostering live release of pets was not following procedure.

This led to anger, disbelief and silence from the frustrated volunteers.  Many of them shook their heads knowing that they were getting smoke blown up their collective rear ends.  How could they trust Gayle Miley, who had fallen asleep at an important May 7th meeting at DACC headquarters where shelter managers, veterinarians and transporters met to discuss implementation of new transport policies?  How could they believe her sincerity when she refused to even respond to a high school that had e-mailed and called her to ask if they could help raise money and awareness for the shelter?  How were they to respond to a person who was observed through the back window of the manager’s office taking naps in her office with her door closed and the lights off?  Why had they frequently overheard her screaming insults at her staff who they knew to be hard working and conscientious – especially since rumor had it that she had been removed as head of the Agoura Shelter for exhibiting the same behavior several years earlier?

Many of the volunteers spoke about transferring to the volunteer-friendly Downey shelter whose manager welcomed their help while others spoke about quitting as DACC volunteers altogether.  Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and they remembered what motivated them to volunteer in the first place was to help the pets.  Gayle Miley is scheduled to retire in seven months – and they joined the majority of Baldwin Park’s staff in looking forward to her retirement party.

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Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help

 

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Eighteen months ago while I was still an official volunteer at the Baldwin Park Shelter, I tracked all the stray dog impounded at the shelter over the span of one week.   Over that particular week only 12 percent of the strays impounded were reclaimed by their owners.  The other 88 percent were held for their mandatory hold period and put up for adoption – and thankfully Baldwin Park’s staff and volunteers worked diligently to find homes or rescues for nearly all of these pets.

Naturally I wondered the origins of the unclaimed 88 percent.  Nearly all of them must have at one time belonged to someone.    Who were these anonymous “someones”  who were littering pets on the shelter – and wouldn’t it be just if these people could be identified and had to pay fines for the burden they created on the shelter system as well as causing some pets to be euthanized?

Los Angeles County has adopted a mandatory microchip policy which, if rigorously enforced, would certainly increase the odds of finding the offending parties.    But the reality is nearly fifty percent of all microchips traced by the shelters are associated with disconnected telephone numbers and addresses from which the registered owner had departed.   It is my contention that in addition to the contact information for microchips, the registration should also include the adopter’s DMV information which is far more static.

If we can successfully lobby elected officials to pass legislation to assess significant fines against people who fail to come retrieve their pets from the shelter the number of unclaimed pets will drop exponentially.    Someone facing several thousand dollars in fine for failing to come and get their pets is going to be strongly motivated to come and get their pet, the number of strays will be greatly reduced and shelter crowding will be significantly reduced.
Such a system is already in place in Italy and other European countries and they do not have anywhere near the shelter overcrowding that we in California do.  To implement this would require strong and pragmatic leadership at the legislative level – yet another reason to elect Bobby Shriver to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on June 3rd.    Bobby Shriver will end the stagnation and poor decision making at the DACC by solving problems, rather than sweeping them under the table.

 

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Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

 

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  Marcia Mayeda the bureaucrat running the Los Angeles County Department of Animal “Care” and Control  recently received a raise and her salary and benefits package now totals well north of $200,000. 

  

     The Baldwin Park Shelter has had no wet dog food since it’s old manager left three weeks ago.  Older dogs, nursing mothers and puppies, who urgently need this life sustaining food, have been deprived.  Out of frustration several Baldwin Park Shelter staff have asked me privately, as the administrator of the Friends of the Baldwin Park Shelter Facebook page,  to put out a plea for donations of canned food.

       Bobby Shriver is running for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on a platform which includes promises to bring change to the poorly run DACC.  He has promised to remove ineffective and unresponsive management.   The election for the Board of Supervisors is on June 3rd.  Shelter animals and anyone who believes in common decency need you to cast your vote for Bobby Shriver to end the misery of shelter animals.

           

            Until then the pets go hungry and Mayeda ‘s wallet gets fat.  Due to truth in advertising laws perhaps from hereon the DACC should be known as the Department of Animal Care and Control –  at least until Bobby Shriver is elected.

 

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Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help

 

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When a stray pet is impounded at a Los Angeles County shelter the city that the pet was found in must pay for the first four days of the pet’s impoundment.   In the  Baldwin Park Shelter’s service area three cities – El Monte, West Covina and Azusa do not have spay/neuter laws and these three cities,  accounting for nearly one half of the shelter’s impounds, pay the same fee as the cities which have enacted spay/neuter laws.

If the Los Angeles Department of Animal ‘Care’ and Control was really serious about reducing the number of impounded pets, and thereby both improving caring for the animals it has and  reducing euthanasia it would be lobbying the Los Angeles County government to authorize higher impound fees for these offending cities.  If the fees were significantly raised for these  communities, we are sure that spay/neuter laws would be implemented and the number of pets being killed in the shelters would be greatly reduced.

Meanwhile the loss of Baldwin Park’s effective shelter manager, Lance Hunter, has already had an adverse effect on the shelter’s pets, staff and volunteers.  For the last two months of Mr. Hunter’s tenure as Baldwin Park;s manager, the shelter was killing for space and not time – and had reduced its euthanasia rates to an all time low.   This week despite having over thirty empty kennels on May 10th, the shelter staff was being ordered to kill.  Adoptable dogs were being given deadly Marcia Mayeda cocktails and staff and volunteer morale plummeted as the number of barrels full of pet carcasses inside the shelter’s freezers soared.

Many of the pets selected to be killed are chosen because they are sick.  During a recent meeting of medical staff, senior shelter staff and volunteers it was disclosed that the medical team was not cleaning or changing the tracheal tubes used in the spay/neuter clinic between animals.  This greatly increases the spread of disease and we hope the DACC will demand better procedures from its veterinary staff.

 

 

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Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help

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There is a sense of gloom at the Baldwin Park Shelter, as staff and volunteers wait to see if the new interim shelter manager is going to adopt an “if it ain’t broken, don’t try to fix it” philosophy, allowing this high intake shelter to continue serving as an example of how to successfully forge relationships with both the rescue community and the community which the shelter serves to save the lives of its unfortunate impounded pets.   It was not too long ago that the Baldwin Park Shelter killed 100 dogs a day every day; five years into outgoing shelter manager Lance Hunter’s model relationship with rescue and volunteer groups the shelter recently had several weeks of not killing any dogs.  Lately there has been hope that the Baldwin Park Shelter would become a no kill shelter within the next few years, and we hope that the loss of Mr. Hunter will not make this laudable goal any less of a priority.

For the Baldwin Park Shelter to go no kill, it will require more than the cooperation of shelter management.  Enforceable mandatory spay/neuter laws must be enacted in El Monte and West Covina – something which can only happen within the political arena.  For precisely this reason we are excited by the candidacy of Bobby Shriver, who is running for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.  Shriver, a member of the famed Kennedy family, has made the passage of much needed spay/neuter laws a part of his platform and he was not content to stop with spay/neuter legislation.   He has called for a top to bottom review of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal ‘Care’ and Control, and has vowed to stop the words “care” and “animal Control” from being oxymorons as they have been under the failed leadership of Marcia Mayeda.

We wholeheartedly endorse Bobby Shriver and urge you to vote for him on June 3rd.  His opponent Sheila Kuehl was a key opponent of statewide spay/neuter legislation while she served in Sacramento.  The senseless killing of animals cannot be justified by a civilized society, and electing Bobby Shriver is a giant step in the right direction.  We need more visionaries and less business as usual bureaucrats both in our shelter system and our government.

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Downey and Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

 

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After years of being one of the least rescue friendly shelters in Southern California, the Downey Shelter has undergone a radical and welcome metamorphosis under its new leadership.  As a result we have been able to work hand in hand with this high intake’s shelter management and volunteer corps to make it the primary sending shelter for our Wings of Rescue/Shelter Me/Bark Avenue Foundation air transports to no kill shelters in Washington and Idaho.  85 Downey dogs have made the flight to safety along with 26 dogs from Carson and 35 dogs from Baldwin Park on the three transports funded entirely by money raised from the Baldwin Park and Downey Shelter Facebook pages – the very same pages that the bureaucrats running the Los Angeles County Shelter system have tried to shut down.

We have taken big dogs, little dogs, young dogs and older dogs of all breeds on transport- and at last count 103 of the original 122 dogs sent to Idaho have been adopted into forever homes.   The receiving shelters have been pleased with the results and have already asked us to send them 100 more dogs every month!   So far it has cost us roughly $80 per dog to transport these pets to safety and we have been overwhelmed by our Facebook friends’ generosity.  However for us to continue these lifesaving transports we are going to need to acquire corporate sponsorship.   Our friends at Bark Box have already donated $1,000 to our transport program and are making a sizable donation for each purchase made from their excellent line of products.  Meanwhile our Bark Avenue team is out approaching other potential donors so we can work together to save lives and we are asking for everyone’s help in keeping these transports going.

Meanwhile the one place we do not need to ask help from  has been the Downey Shelter team.  The entire shelter has removed every barrier, come in early, stayed late and jumped through every hoop to make these transports possible.

Unfortunately the Downey Shelter is still taking in huge number of pets on a daily basis.  Although there are spay/neuter laws on the book, the Los Angeles shelters lack the manpower to adequately enforce them – especially in the high intake areas of Compton, Lynwood, East Los Angeles and Huntington Park.   Until this flood of pets can be stemmed, and the end seems nowhere in sight, our networking lists of pets urgently needing your attention will be produced.

 

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Baldwin Park and Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

     

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, the immortal words of Charles Dickens pretty much sums up the last week at the Los Angeles County Department of Animal ‘Care’ and Control.  

     I’ll start with the best of times.  In perhaps one of the finest displays of teamwork and thinking out of the box to make things work, the Downey, Carson and Baldwin Park Shelters joined together with Melanie Pozez and my Bark Avenue Foundation team, Yehuda Netanel’s Wings of Rescue organization and Steven Latham of Shelter Me to stage an unprecedented 105 dog airlift to the no kill Kootenai Humane Society and the Panhandle Animal Shelters in Idaho.  Using the $7,500 we were able to raise from the Friends of the Baldwin Park Shelter Facebook page which Marcia Mayeda has tried assiduously to shutdown we were able to have 8 private planes meet us at the Long Beach airport to fly the dogs to safety.  Within 24 hours nearly sixty of the 105 dogs were adopted into their forever homes.  I have nothing but admiration for Danny Ubario, Debbie Tittle and the Downey shelter team, Gil Moreno and Kat Rosales and the Carson team, and of course Lance Hunter and the Baldwin Park team in making this, the biggest air transport from a County Shelter work.  Things went so well that Yehuda and Steven have informed us that they want to do this on a monthly basis, and we are already working on securing corporate sponsorships to make this work.  Our next mega-transport date is tentatively scheduled for April 30th.

              Now for the sadness and the worst of times.  Lance Hunter, the most inspiring and gifted shelter manager and more importantly one of the most fundamentally decent human beings I have ever had the privilege of working with, has resigned his position as shelter manager of the Baldwin Park Shelter.  This is devastating news to the staff and volunteers at Baldwin Park.  I don’t think there is a single shelter manager, or person within the animal rescue community who is more revered and inspires more loyalty than Lance Hunter.    

Personally, when I first considered getting involved with the Baldwin Park Shelter nearly six years ago, I remember Ed Boks, then head of the Los Angeles City shelter system telling me I would be horrified by what I saw and predicting I would be back in the city within a few weeks.  He was wrong.  When I arrived at Baldwin Park I met Lance who was all too happy to accept any help I or anyone else could offer in solving the monumental problems facing his shelter – an uneducated public dumping unprecedented numbers of pets at a facility down a deserted alley in a bad neighborhood that no one wanted to come to.  Lance promised me he would try his best to help me help his shelter, and he delivered in spades.  He allowed me to set up our networking program and encouraged me to look for new avenues at getting the shelter’s pets exposure.  I watched as he developed partnerships with Best Friends and other organizations to bring in transports and mobile adoptions and above all I watched the Baldwin Park Shelter’s euthanization rate plummet while the shelter’s morale soared.  Baldwin Park, with its outdated facility became a true adoption and rescue center, and my former city colleagues looked at the shelter with envy – all because of Lance Hunter’s leadership and commitment to teamwork.

              I am pleased that Lance is departing for a fabulous and exciting chance to make an even bigger difference in improving the plight of animals as he takes on a new position with the ASPCA.  Like everything in Lance’s life it is about teamwork, dedication and sacrifice – and we know he will continue in the same vein especially with the latter as he is going to have to listen to endless commercials featuring Sarah McLachlan turgidly warbling as she busks for money.   

              Meanwhile the staff, volunteers, rescues and especially me wonder who Lance’s successor is going to be and only hope she or he will carry on in Lance’s footsteps and remember Yogi Berra’s truism, if it ain’t broken – don’t try and fix it. 

  

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Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Need Your Help!

      

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           Nearly every weekend I send out either the latest Baldwin Park or Downey shelter networking list with a commentary on the latest travesty, miscarriage of justice and abuse of power perpetrated by the dismal bureaucrats running the Los Angeles County Department of Animal ‘Care’ and Control.  In a refreshing change, this week is different. 

           For the last several month impounds have dropped significantly at the Baldwin Park shelter; but more importantly the shelter’s staff has worked tirelessly to find homes for its pets, and to work with rescues and no kill shelters to move their pets to safety.  As opposed to previous years when pets were being killed merely for time, new policies have been implemented and this year pets are only to be killed for space.  So far, nearly always,  Baldwin Park has been able to find space to accommodate its dogs.  Kennel attendants who in previous years were taking the long slow walk to the back of the shelter to kill dogs, are now spending their time providing care and showcasing pets for potential adopters.   Cases of upper respiratory illness amongst the shelters’ pets are dramatically down and I am making fewer emergency pleas for rescue for dogs with pneumonia. 

           Meanwhile at Downey, the shelter’s manager Danny Ubario has sent out encouraging signals that Downey is prepared to work with rescues and is going to try to rival Baldwin Park as a rescue friendly shelter.  The rivalry is welcome and the Downey staff are working collaboratively with their volunteers on finding new no kill shelters where they can transport their pets to.  There is a genuine sense of optimism that I have heretofore not experienced and I keep having to pinch myself to make sure this isn’t a dream.

           However we still have a long way to go and the only way Baldwin Park and Downey can be successful and continue to improve is if we all work together to help them adopt and rescue their deserving pets.

 

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Downey and Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

        

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Marcia Mayeda, the head of the Los Angeles Department of Animal ‘Care’ and Control, must have difficulty entering her office.  With everything that she has swept under the carpet the floor must be so elevated that the only way you can enter her office is by lying down – which explains how she and her top deputies have spent the last several years lying on the job in every meaning of the word. 

However all the lying on the job is apparently catching up with her.  After months of Mayeda publicly claiming that the DACC was not in any way culpable in the fatal May 9, 2013 mauling of jogger Pamela DeVitt, the truth of the DACC’s gross dereliction of duty and subsequent cover up as reported on this blog has leaked out.  The DACC has belatedly begun an internal investigation and has been asking Lancaster shelter employees if there is anything the agency could have done differently to have prevented this event from occurring.  However the shelter employees have learned not to trust Mayeda and her deputies and suspect that what the DACC is really looking for is someone to be a sacrificial lamb and scapegoat.  They quite rightly fear that their dereliction of duty in failing to properly respond to previous incidents involving the dogs who killed Ms. Devitt, could lead to involuntary manslaughter charges being filed against them.  How far up the food chain this dereliction of duty goes is the real question – and several Lancaster officers have said it extends to the very top of the DACC.

In other DACC news, the agency continues to pursue its smart but unethical policy of trying to prevent any case that would establish case precedent from ending in an actual judgment.  Following an adverse preliminary ruling in the case of JoJo, S.P.A.R.C. and Travis Bosquez vs the DACC, in which the presiding judge made it clear that the DACC’s position was not going to win and they should release JoJo, the DACC turned the dog over to Best Friends.  However, the DACC and their mouthpiece, County Counsel Diane Reagan, are refusing to release the over $5,000 trial bond that they insisted SPARC post.  Ms. Reagan’s rationale is that the DACC hasn’t lost the case since it never came to judgment, so therefore the bond need not be returned.  This forced another court hearing and the Presiding Judge told the County Council that the DACC’s position was indefensible and any further litigation on this matter is a waste of time and taxpayers money.  Despite this admonition the DACC is persisting in litigating the matter and of course tying up SPARC’s money.  The DACC’s motives are very clear – they will use scorched earth tactics to scare people from opposing their illegal practices, and will divert funds and resources which could otherwise be used to save and take care of the animals entrusted into their care to do so.

        

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