Monthly Archives: November 2014

Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Prayers and Downey Pets Need Your Help!

Never has the old adage, “A leopard never changes his spots” been more clearly illustrated than by Pat “Google Me” Claerbout’s recent behavior. Appointed by Marcia Mayeda to run the Baldwin Park Shelter she has run it – straight into the ground. Like everyone else, we Googled Claerbout’s name when she was appointed and were stunned by her employment history, which included multiple complaints of illegal euthanizations and abuse of employees. These allegations were substantiated and led to her being dismissed from jobs heading both Stockton and Sacramento’s animal control agencies. In her new position at Baldwin Park the mistress of disaster has managed to outdo herself in abusing pets, employees and volunteers.

Last week we told you about Claerbout’s negligence in caring for a dun gelding quarter horse at Baldwin Park. Further investigation disclosed that staff members warned Claerbout she was giving this unfortunate horse the wrong type of feed. Her response was to berate the staff members and tell them she knew what the horse needed. The results, according to an outside veterinarian, is possible kidney failure. The DACC previously agreed in writing to release the horse to respected horse rescuer Betsy Bueno but reneged when told how bad the horse’s condition is. They ordered the outside veterinarian not to speak to Bueno and appear to be hoping the horse dies before he can be transported so the full extent of Claerbout’s stubborn incompetence at best, and deliberate sadism at worst cannot be proven.

Adding to the controversy, on October 16th ‘Google Me’ discovered that an employee – one of the most respected and liked kennel attendants at Baldwin Park who has a reputation of being a loyal and hard worker – had brought a foster kitten with her to work. The kitten was suffering from Feline Panleukopenia, an often fatal disease that has killed scores of Baldwin Park cats in the last month. On Claerbout’s orders, the cat was taken from the employee’s car and euthanized. Claerbout berated the employee and accused her of mistreating the kitten. She had received only the best performance reviews from her superiors before Claerbout took over at Baldwin Park.

The employee disclosed to her fellow workers that she had seen Claerbout providing substandard care to Baldwin Park’s pets, depriving dogs of blankets and in some instances food. She started photographing the animals to document her case.

Having presumably heard about this, Clarebout reacted swiftly and severely. On November 20th she summoned the employee to her office and threatened to have her arrested for mistreatment of animals if she did not resign immediately. The employee, without a legal education and unaware of the illegality of Claerbout’s threat, tearfully signed the termination papers and left the shelter, to the dismay of virtually the entire staff. Employees and volunteers are upset and morale at the shelter is non-existent.

There is a perverse irony here. If the employee’s kitten being struck by Feline Panleukopenia constituted negligence, shouldn’t Ms. Claerbout be prosecuted for negligently allowing hundreds of cases that have devastated the Baldwin Park Shelter’s feline population? After all, Claerbout’s handling of the epidemic at Baldwin Park has not decreased the incidence of disease, and her banning volunteers and the general public from the cat building has produced no tangible results other than anger at her ill-conceived policies.

We remind people of the Hayden Act, California SB 1786 Section 12 :
(A) All public pounds …. shall treat the animals in their care kindly and shall provide them with all the following:
Protection from accidents and injuries caused by people, other animals, or inadequate housing or treatment.
(5) (all shelters shall provide) …Veterinary care as needed
(B) The duties imposed by this section are mandatory duties for the purposes of Division 3.6 (commencing with section 810) of Title 1 of the Government Code and any of the entities subject to this section, or their employees, that fail to perform these duties may, in addition to other liability or penalty permitted by law, be liable for civil damages, including, but not limited to, damages for the loss of a companion animal, and may also be subject to criminal prosecution for cruelty to animals as provided in Section 597 of the Penal Code.

The State Attorney General has received several requests to convene a Grand Jury to look into Pat Claerbout’s appointment and actions. We strongly urge the Attorney General to act on these requests and to prosecute and punish to the full extent of the law this serial abuser of animals.

Downey and Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your help

It must be tough to be Betsey Webster, Marcia Mayeda’s Chief Deputy Director and Whitewasher at the Los Angeles County Department of Animal “Care” & Control. Webster has had the unenviable job this past week of trying to cover up for Mayeda’s trainwreck of a hire, Pat “Google me” Claerbout as Baldwin Park Shelter Manager.

At the beginning of the week Baldwin Park had three horses. One was a small black mare, who had been abandoned for two months, living off weeds and dirty water, before she was impounded at Baldwin Park. A respected horse rescuer named Betsy Bueno of Lost Hearts and Souls Horse Rescue, contacted a Baldwin Park officer and told them she was willing to rescue this horse. During their conversation, the officer – who has a huge heart and has always been a big advocate for the animals – told Bueno there were two other horses at the shelter in need of rescue. One was a lame and unridable dun Gelding with damaged legs, who had been used in Charro events. The other was a 22 year old Thoroughbred, who was blind in one eye and difficult to touch. Ms. Bueno agreed to take all three horses. All appeared to be well for the horses.

The following day, Pat Claerbout called Bueno. Without checking Bueno’s impeccable references, Claerbout was rude and aggressive over the phone and said she and she alone makes the decisions at the DACC about where the horses go – and she wasn’t letting the horses go to rescue.

By then Bueno had discovered that the dun Gelding had been treated by an outside veterinarian, Dr. Lindsay Brown, after Claerbout had negligently allowed the horse to get into some feed that he should never have had access to. According to Dr. Brown due to Baldwin Park’s negligence, “There are high levels in the horse’s blood work showing possible kidney failure.” Several Baldwin Park insiders think that Claerbout’s reluctance to allow Bueno to have these horses was due to the substandard care they were receiving, which is a violation of the Hayden Act, California SB 1786 Section 12:

(A) All public pounds …. shall treat the animals in their care kindly and shall provide them with all the following:
Protection from accidents and injuries caused by people, other animals, or inadequate housing or treatment.

(5) (all shelters shall provide) …Veterinary care as needed

(B) The duties imposed by this section are mandatory duties for the purposes of Division 3.6 (commencing with section 810) of Title 1 of the Government Code and any of the entities subject to this section, or their employees, that fail to perform these duties may, in addition to other liability or penalty permitted by law, be liable for civil damages, including, but not limited to, damages for the loss of a companion animal, and may also be subject to criminal prosecution for cruelty to animals as provided in Section 597 of the Penal Code.

Bueno – who has spent her career in law enforcement – promptly circulated the story and the wrath of the public was such that Betsey Webster was forced to defend Claerbout. In an e-mail to Michael Bell, Webster wrote:

After reading Betsy’s E-mail and speaking with Pat it appears to me that Betsy may have misunderstood how our organization works with networkers. Some social media sites have been critical of Pat Claerbout, and have based their position on social media complaints and some news reports from a couple years ago. Regrettably, the information provided is incomplete. Pat is a compassionate, dedicated animal welfare professional who is working towards making the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center a model for animal care. We always take the responsibility for the ultimate placement of shelter pets and will favor adoption to rescue – as rescue is an interim solution. Additionally, we will always look into organizations who seek to rescue our animals to ensure they are capable of providing necessary care and are not organizations of concern to their local animal control agencies. Of course, this is in the best interest of the animals.’

Ms. Bueno’s response was curt and to the point:

…you claim Ms. Claerbout is “a compassionate, dedicated animal welfare professional who is working towards making the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center a model for Animal Care.” Perhaps you need to reread my credentials. I have had a long career in law enforcement – which means I know how to conduct investigations. Rather than rely upon your word, or even the noise from the social media you seem to want people to ignore, I made direct contact with the governmental officials in both Stockton and Sacramento. They told me that the allegations against Ms. Claerbout are true, and that she was dismissed from each department. They are also waiting for this investigation and outcome from L.A. County, since their case is still pending for the same issues. It is clear that you hired a person who is clearly unfit to be allowed to be involved in sheltering animals and is a liability both civil and criminal.

The black horse was rehomed. Yesterday, after much drama, Bueno was finally allowed to rescue the thoroughbred who was in deplorable condition. The dun Gelding is still in need at Baldwin Park.

Meanwhile Baldwin Park is buzzing with the news that Claerbout has been illegally adopting out stray animals during their legally mandated hold periods. Recently an orange snake was brought to the shelter as a stray and the very next day Claerbout adopted the snake out to a snake rescuer friend of hers who is not a County adoption partner. This is a suspendable offence and it will be interesting to see whether Mayeda will take action or whether poor Betsey Webster is going to have to get out her bottle of Maalox, hold her nose, and write another disingenuous e-mail.

Baldwin Park and Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help

It was a generally unpleasant week for those of us wishing to improve shelter conditions in Los Angeles County. Bobby Shriver, who was campaigning on a platform that included a promise to fire Marcia Mayeda, the fundamentally damaged head of County Animal Control, lost to spay/neuter foe Sheila Kuehl.   Meanwhile, Pat “Google Me” Claerbout, Mayeda’s terrible hire as Baldwin Park Shelter manager, is rapidly approaching the end of her probationary period and despite demonstrating the same behavior that got her fired from previous stints in Stockton and Sacramento, appears likely to gain tenure at this formerly well-run facility.   Staff discontent with Claerbout is rampant and the number of people calling in sick just so they don’t have to deal with her draconian policies is at an all time high, as is the number of employees actively seeking transfer out of this once rescue-friendly shelter.

Medical care for Baldwin Park’s pets has declined. Under the shelter’s previous manager, a large percentage of the dogs coming into the shelter with broken bones and other serious injuries were submitted to the “Dreams Come True” program. This program grants approved pets $1,500 in medical bill coverage so they can be operated on by outside veterinarians who have the medical equipment and expertise to save these pets. Under Claerbout’s regime the number of injured dogs funded by “Dreams Come True” has dramatically dwindled.

Meanwhile. staff at other shelters have been voicing their own complaints. In a widely circulated scathing e-mail, former Castaic Shelter employee Wendy Sue Mesny explained to the Board of Supervisors and DACC employees why she was leaving the DACC after five years. According to Ms. Mesny:

… the experience I had with the DACC management and supervisors has been less than enjoyable. This is largely due to a level of unprofessionalism that has been tough to understand, work with, and at times has been embarrassing. This is a fact that has been felt by staff, volunteers, and the public, and has affected the welfare of the animals in our care, and a few times has even resulted in wrongful euthanasias. Why this has been allowed to continue is tough for all to understand. Our mission statement, is appreciated and followed by most, but sadly is not adhered to by management. My feelings about management and supervisors is also the same feelings most all staff has about them, but are afraid of rejection, retaliation, or “Freeway Therapy”.

There was one great piece of news this week coming from the Downey Shelter, where Manager Danny Ubario announced that due to an increase in adoptions and rescue transports the shelter was no longer drawing up euthanasia lists for dogs, unless there was irremediable suffering or significant temperament reasons.   I applaud Danny Ubario, Maria Rosales and the Downey staff and especially their lead volunteer, Debbie Tittle, for this huge positive development and hope they can continue down this pathway to success.

Downey and Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

Many employees of Los Angeles County Department of Animal “Care” and Control have joined volunteers, members of the rescue community and the general public in wondering how Marcia Mayeda could have hired Pat Claerbout to run the Baldwin Park Shelter given her horrific track record which is easily accessible to anyone with Google. As one DACC insider opined, “Perhaps Mayeda hired Claerbout to distract everyone from examining Mayeda’s own appalling record.”

Certainly Claerbout misdeeds can be distracting. The DACC uses the designation “BOFFICE” for pets who are missing. When we checked today, Baldwin Park was missing an incredible 65 cats and 20 dogs. Where are these pets? According to DACC employees it is the largest number of missing pets in recent memory.

Ms. Claerbout, an avid reader of my blog, reacted to a recent post criticizing her for not bringing enough dogs to the Bow Wows and Meows Super adoption. Evidently Ms. Claerbout does not want to get criticized again – so she has promulgated that Baldwin Park not send any dogs on transports to no kill shelters until after the NKLA Super Adoption on November 8th and 9th. Although she has 249 dogs listed as being in the shelter, Clarebout apparently is clueless at multi-tasking and cannot find thirty dogs to go to the NKLA event, where they may or may not be adopted, while still sending 50 dogs on transport to guaranteed safety.  It was only three years ago that her predecessor managed to bring 100 pets, all of whom were adopted, to the NKLA event – and he still had pets ready for transport both the preceding and following weeks.  It’s the difference between good and poor management and clearly Pat Claerbout falls into the latter category.

Today, 51 of the 192 dog kennels at Baldwin Park are empty, yet Ms. Claerbout is still ordering staff to draw up euthanasia lists. The live release of pets, as repeatedly demonstrated at her previous employment stops at Stockton and Sacramento, has never been too high a priority with Claerbout. Perhaps that explains why both cities discharged her from her duties, and why Sacramento’s top animal control officer, Jaleh Janatpour, resigned citing poor treatment of the animals at her shelter and Claerbout’s indifference to improving the live-release rate. The shelter’s veterinarian, Cindi Delaney, resigned too, because of the shelter’s poor leadership and lack of interest in saving animals, saying, “The newer idea is to have people who have a heart and save the animals, not just kill them to save public money. I thought this was not what a shelter should be doing in this day and age.”

Here’s a memo to Ms. Mayeda: Standing next to the ugliest girl in the beauty contest is not going to make you any prettier. You hired Pat Claerbout knowing full well what you were getting. It was a deliberate middle finger salute to your critics, but like most of your edicts the people you intended to harm were only enraged. It’s the unfortunate pets trusted into your care who are suffering.

On Tuesday Los Angeles County voters have the opportunity to elect two new members to the Board of Supervisors. Bobby Shriver has made a campaign promise that he will investigate and reform the DACC. The only way to reform the DACC is to fire Marcia Mayeda and her cronies. Because of this alone, Bobby Shriver has won my vote and endorsement.