Monthly Archives: February 2014

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

              

  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.

     

Downey and Baldwin Park Shelters Urgently Need Your Help!

        

        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.   

  

Downey and Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help


      

       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.