Monthly Archives: March 2014

Baldwin Park and Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

     

“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. 

  

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Need Your Help!

      

           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.

 

Downey and Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

        

 

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.