There are two primary reasons why the Los Angeles County Shelter system is not killing as many dogs as it has in previous years. First is the economy has somewhat improved and fewer people are losing their homes and being forced to leave their pets in the shelter, and the second is because of the many transports. Under former shelter manager Lance Hunter’s adept leadership, Best Friends, the Heigl’s and my own, Wings of Rescue/Shelter Me/Bark Avenue Foundation transport team have moved thousands of dogs from high intake/high kill shelters to safety at no kill shelters from where they are quickly adopted – and recently the ASPCA has joined in to take even more pets out of county shelters, creating kennel space for incoming dogs.
All of the transportation groups are in close contact with their receiving shelters and know what breeds and ages of dogs these shelters are willing to accept – as none of them want to tie up their own kennels with pets who cannot be easily and quickly adopted. Generally all the receiving shelters have a high demand for relatively young fluffy and scruffy dogs under twenty-five pounds. All of the transporters try to get the receiving shelters to accept as many Chihuahuas (the number one most euthanized breed in California) as possible – but there is not as huge a demand for them.
Transports leave the shelter nearly every week and Baldwin Park ‘s management has taken to moving the dogs selected for transports into Building 4 which they have made off limits to the public – often for a week to ten days in advance. The dogs in this building cannot be readily seen. Often dogs are ‘cherry picked’ for these transports from the moment they enter the shelter – and these dogs are never seen by the public – or even potentially by their owners if they are strays.
In my opinion this is wrong. The public should have the right to see and adopt any dog at the shelter – whether the dog is going on transport or not. As transporters we do not need to transport dogs who have a local home waiting for them. Unfortunately the intakes are sufficient in Los Angeles County that we can always go get another dog from one of the other nearby County shelters, Downey and Carson, to fill in for any dogs who were lucky enough to be adopted – and if for some reason there are not enough dogs to transport – that in my opinion would be cause for a major celebration and we would be able to turn our rescue efforts to other shelters.
Because of the transports, Building 4 often has up to twenty empty kennels. Meanwhile Pat Claerbout and her mistress Marcia Mayeda. are still ordering dogs to be killed because of what they claim to be shelter overcrowding. As transporters trying to save as many lives as possible, it is our duty to stop cherry picking, and to commit to making all dogs adoptable to the public until the day before our transports are due to leave and our health certificates are issued. Our mission as transporters is to save as many lives as possible and not to tie up kennel space.
The Baldwin Park Shelter has 192 kennels and all of them should be used to house dogs in need of homes – and all of these kennels need to be in clear view of the public.