• 2014
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Yearly Archives: 2014

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

              

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  On April 5, 2010 I started the Facebook page for the Baldwin Park Shelter and it has been a highly effective tool in publicizing the pets unlucky enough to be impounded at the shelter.  We started with 20 fans, and have grown to having over 57,000 people who have now liked our Facebook page.  The people who have flocked to our page have been incredible, inspired only by their love of pets to diligently network the shelter’s pets.  When I first came to Baldwin Park the shelter’s staff would spend the entire morning killing pets and the mood was grim. 

             Almost four years later, we have seen over 7,500 pets who were featured on our Facebook page adopted and rescued.   The shelter’s kennel attendants were smiling this morning and proudly boasting that none of them had to take a dog to the back of the shelter to be killed for over a month – and it’s all due to the rescue community working around the clock to clean up the debris left at the shelter’s doors.

              However the good has also had a small dark side.   The generous supporters of the shelter have routinely been pledging money towards the rescue of pets, and in a few instances people driven by greed and ego have scammed money for unclear if not altogether fraudulent purposes. 

              Right now all rescues are free to 501(c)3 adoption partners of the Los Angeles County Shelter system because of a large donation from the ASPCA – meaning that listening to Sarah McClachlan whine  out their commercials ad nauseam on late night television may have not been entirely an act of cruel and inhumane punishment.    

              The plain fact of the matter is that most pets in the shelters do not need money, they only need adopters to love them or rescues to take them in.  Rescuers do have legitimate overhead including veterinary bills and the costs of feeding pets.    However for the vast majority of pets that amount is trivial and easily offset by the adoption fees rescues charge.   I do not begrudge a rescue who is facing a one thousand dollar veterinary bill looking for donations.  I do question people seeking donations for a perfectly healthy, highly adoptable pet.

              It is all of our responsibility to know to whom and for what we are giving our money.  Rescue funds are all too limited, and we need to use our money wisely and make sure that it is not being siphoned off by someone for unscrupulous purposes.

     

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Downey and Baldwin Park Shelters Urgently Need Your Help!

        

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        Last weekend I had the privilege of going to the one truly no kill open admission municipal shelter in Ventura County, the Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center (SPARC) to help them prepare their first networking list.  While I was at SPARC I noticed a fundamental difference in the way shelter management dealt with its employees.  SPARC operates on the principle that it is better to beg forgiveness than ask permission and empowers its employees to do the right thing rather than bog them down with the confusing and illogical regulations and red tape which mar the Los Angeles County Shelter System (the DACC).   

              DACC employees are constantly scared of being disciplined for showing any initiative or trying to think outside of the box in trying to facilitate the rescue and live release of their pets.  At the DACC, policies are often poorly conceived by management who rarely go to their shelters (and some cases into their own offices!) out of some knee jerk overreaction to an isolated event.  An examples of this is the ridiculous liability waiver which the DACC requires all potential adopters to sign before they can meet a dog.  This waiver has no legal standing as it is written only in English, a language many of our potential adopters are unable to read, and asks them to waive rights that could only be legally surrendered if they had the benefit of counsel prior to signing.   Another example is the end of the “one time pull” policy which previously allowed rescues to call in their pulls to the shelters and send a transporter to pick up rescued pets.  Instead the rescue must physically be present at the shelter to pull an animal which means that it is no longer possible for many rescues to operate out of more than one shelter due to the amount of time it takes to get from one County shelter to the other.  Pets who otherwise would be rescued are languishing and dying in the shelters everyday because of this – especially in Lancaster.     

              SPARCS management is at the shelter and sees what policies work and what policies don’t and then is able to quickly fix any problems.  The DACC’s (mis)management is in their bloated Long Beach headquarters far away from any of their shelters.   DACC policy makers rarely go into their shelters and have little to no concept of the reality their shelters operate under. 

              The best way to ameliorate this situation is for the DACC to abandon its headquarters in Long Beach and to move these employees into the six County shelters.   By doing the DACC executives, when they deign to actually show up to work, would be able to see how ineffective their policies are in reality – and instead of hobbling the shelters with failed bureaucratic red tape and memos, might actually improve their unacceptably high euthanasia rate, as well as not be at war with the rescue community and their volunteers.   

  

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Downey and Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help


      

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       On January 28th, volunteers walked through the Lancaster shelter and discovered that there were 17 empty dog kennels, and 31 empty cages in the shelters cattery.  The volunteers noted that most of the dogs at the shelter, even small ones, had their own individual kennels, rather than the norm of having two to four dogs sharing a kennel.

              Later that evening at 9:55 P.M. Feral Paws Rescue, a cat rescue group who frequently try to save impounded pets at the Lancaster Shelter notified via e-mail nine Lancaster staff supervisors that they  intended to rescue seven cats whose impound number were furnished in the e-mail.  They did it via e-mail because there was no one at the shelter to contact via telephone, and they were instructed to use this means of communication by shelter head Sherri Koenig.  Amongst those cats who they wished to rescue was a cat whose impound number was A4672002.

              Early in the morning of January 29th, just to make sure their e-mail was looked at, Christina Patz of Feral Paws Rescue Group, called the shelter and spoke to Cesar Chavez, a Lancaster officer, and asked if they had received and read the e-mail.  She was assured that they had received the e-mail and Lancaster would keep the cats safe.

              A4672002 was still being listed on the DACC’s website as being alive at this moment.  Two hours later the cat was killed – another in a long list of tragic mistakes made by the Lancaster staff.    

              Questions abound as to not only why A4672002 was killed, but why any pets at all were killed considering the low number of pets at the shelter.   Lancaster shelter staff are whispering that they were ordered to bring down the shelter’s population to make the shelter look and smell cleaner for Supervisor Mike Antonovich’s inspection tour of the facility.   “No pets – no mess,” one staff member sardonically joked, as the rendering plant’s truck pulled up to the shelter’s gates to remove the dead carcasses.

              Meanwhile back at DACC headquarters the locks were all changed last week, which happens every time a high ranking bureaucrat is fired.  Unfortunately when we checked on Friday, DACC managing Director Marcia Mayeda and her chief deputy Derek Brown were still somehow employed.

      

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Baldwin Park and Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help

      

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State Senator Jan Peavey represents the 27th District in Sacramento and sends out monthly newsletters to her constituents and we were pleased to see her give a shout out to the volunteers at the Agoura Shelter for their service in her January 2014 newsletter. What was even more interesting is her quote “Volunteers help with the countless chores that have helped to make the Agoura Hills Animal Care Center no-kill facility one of the best.” This coincides with  statements – overheard by lower level DACC employees – made by Los Angeles County Department of Animal ‘Care’ and Control Deputy Director Derek Brown claiming the Castaic shelter is no kill as well.  Where did Senator Peavey get the idea that Agoura was no kill? From the DACC of course.

The only problem is that both shelters are killing. According to statistics published on the DACC’s website, Agoura killed 83 dogs and 160 cats in the last year, while Castaic snuffed out the lives of 208 cats and 192 dogs before sending their bodies to rendering plants. Although we suspect that the Agoura Shelter’s statistics are grossly misstated and that the DACC is manipulating their statistics to make the Lancaster shelter appear to be doing better than it is at the expense of Agoura and Baldwin Park in particular, these numbers prove our contention that when the DACC speaks, to use polite bureaucratic terminology, “they misspeak”, which translates into English as “they f@#king lie”.

Speaking of the Lancaster, the shelter’s staff are being ordered to clean up their act and everything else so that Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich can pay a visit to the shelter on January 26th without having to see any of the reality of pets being left on sweltering trucks, pets being deprived of water and several employees being AWOL from their shifts. We are sure DACC officials, who rarely come to this or any other of their shelters, will be there proudly guiding Supervisor Antonovich through a sanitized facility, where he will be told that Lancaster is the highest adoption shelter in the County. The pity is that Antonovich may actually believe them.

      

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Baldwin Park and Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

      

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       One thing that nearly everyone across the pet rescue spectrum agrees upon is that there is an over abundance of dogs and cats in Southern California shelters.  Even the most entrenched and malevolent bureaucrat and the most fervent no kill advocate can agree on this.   To solve this problem we need strong and enforceable spay/neuter legislation, something which unfortunately has stalled at the state level due to opposition from the American Kennel Club, the National Rifle Association and their cronies in the Republican party.

       Because our municipal shelters are generally poorly funded  (and often mismanaged by the public servants in charge) they have not been able to open their spay/neuter clinics and provide free, or even low cost, altering service to the general public.    Private veterinarians charge between $79 to $350 to provide spay/neuter services, which is often more than what many members of our community can afford.

        Thankfully there are private individuals who are willing to use their own money to try and make a difference.  I am extremely gratified to be working with Carrie Ann Inaba, of Dancing with the Stars fame, who has reached into her own pocket to pay for 200 free spay neuters at Morgan Park in Baldwin Park on January 18th.  When you consider in six years, one non-spayed female dog and her un-spayed offspring can theoretically produce 67,000 dogs, and in seven years an un-spayed female cat and her un-altered offspring can produce 420,000 kittens in 7 years, Ms. Inaba could literally be preventing several million pets from ever entering the shelter system.  

              If we had more Carrie Ann Inabas in this world and more responsible governments who were willing to both pass spay/neuter legislation and pay now to fund spay/neuter clinics rather than having to pay later to care for, or kill, their resulting offspring  in our municipal shelters, the lives of pets and animal rescuers would be infinitely better.

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Baldwin Park and Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

 

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    In a dramatic case of glasnost the bureaucrats running the Los Angeles County Department of Animal ‘Care’ and Control (DACC) posted their euthanasia statistics on their website this past week.  We applaud the decision to make their statistics public, but as usual with anything promulgated by Marcia Mayeda when you examine it closely the document proves hard to believe.     

    According to the document Marcia Mayeda’s shelters are killing 35.66% of all dogs, and 73.6% of all cats brought into her shelters, or 53 percent of all pets entering the system.  These statistics are, in our opinion, believable.  Ms. Mayeda’s minions then break it down on a shelter by shelter basis, and this is where the DACC’s credibility takes a major hit.   According to the DACC 83 dogs and 160 cats were killed at the Agoura shelter, or 30 percent of all intakes.   According to the Agoura volunteers (who tend to know every animal brought into the shelter), these figures are incredibly overstated and the shelter killed far less.  They find it difficult to believe that the shelter has killed even 30 dogs this past year and the number of cats killed, including ferals, was probably no more than 70.

              According to the statistics Lancaster, which has worked hard to achieve the status of being the highest kill shelter in the county, is actually killing fewer pets than Baldwin Park, who have the best reputation in the county shelter system amongst the high intake centers.  When you examine the Baldwin Park numbers which show only 1,322 dogs, or 110 dogs a month, rescued at Baldwin Park the numbers become even harder to believe, given that the Best Friends Pup My Ride Transports take an average of 100 dogs a month from Baldwin Park, the Jason Heigl Foundation takes an average of 25 dogs a month on their transports, and United Hope For Animals takes at least 20 dogs a month from the shelter and that is before all the other rescues step in.    While we can believe that the shelter kills on average 4 dogs and 10 cats a day, the adoption/rescue statistics just do not seem plausible.

              We asked DACC insiders – the ones who aren’t too scared to talk to us – about these statistics and they started giggling.  Evidently the DACC purchased at considerable expense, borne by us the Los Angeles taxpayers, a new tracking system – which to no one’s surprise doesn’t work too well.   Furthermore, our sources added, there is a conscious decision to prop up Lancaster’s performance to avoid all the bad publicity that surrounds this high kill shelter – bad publicity which is about to crescendo in the next month when details of the amount of missing money, missing animals, and AWOL personnel become public.

              We don’t have the answers to all the questions raised by these statistics but we do know that the managers of several shelters are now paying closer attention because they don’t want to be judged on heavily manicured numbers that undermine their performance.

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