• 2015
  • (Page 2)

Yearly Archives: 2015

Will the last one to leave the D.A.C.C. please turn off the lights?

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It’s been another tumultuous week at the Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control.   Ryan Drabek, who was only recently brought in as Deputy Director, tendered his resignation – and although we don’t know his reasons, we suspect Drabek did not enjoy toiling under the agency’s tainted autocratic head, Marcia Mayeda.

Drabek’s replacement is the affable and capable Danny Ubario. Ubario had done an admirable job reforming the Downey Shelter before being sent to Baldwin Park to clean up the mess that was created by Mayeda’s unfortunate hire, former Baldwin Park shelter manager Pat “Google Me” Claerbout. In his short tenure at Baldwin Park, Ubario managed to re-socialize the shelter’s battle-scarred staff, restore relationships with rescue partners and improve volunteer morale.   With his sensibility and consensus building style, Ubario’s promotion is certainly a breath of fresh air at the fetid DACC headquarters.

Replacing Ubario at Baldwin is Lancaster’s current shelter manager, Sherry Koenig. The timing of Koenig’s move is interesting, because rumors are that she is being investigated by the County Equity Investigations Unit, the agency responsible for investigating reports of potential violations of  County Policy or of either Federal or State law.   The Equity investigations department has rarely been turned loose on the DACC, but Marcia Mayeda’s constant thwarting of internal affairs investigations conducted by the DACC’s own Human Resources Department left the Board of Supervisors no choice but to outsource the investigation to an independent body free from her meddling.   Amongst the employees currently rumored to be under investigation are Claerbout, Koenig and Deputy Director Derek Brown.

Speaking of the DACC’s Human Resource Department, its hatchet man, David Hou, has quit and has, ironically, taken a job with the Los Angeles County Superior Court. This is the court where the Devitt case is scheduled for trial. The plaintiffs allege that Mayeda and her agency negligently failed to impound a pack of marauding dogs which later fatally mauled jogger Pamela DeVitt,  The plaintiffs also allege that Mayeda and her minions engaged in a deliberate cover-up through a series of backdated notes and fraudulent entries into the DACC’s tracking software, attempting to frame the dogs’ owner, Alex Jackson, for murder and hide their own negligence in order to avoid paying a large settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit.   Speculation is that if Mr. Hou chooses to reveal the corruption he was ordered to ignore the Board of Supervisors would have no choice but to immediately fire Marcia Mayeda and several of her cronies, including certain members of the Board of Supervisors.

Meanwhile Raul Rodriguez, Lancaster’s Lieutenant, has been given the position of Lancaster Shelter Manager.

One can only wonder how much longer Marcia Mayeda can steer the sinking ship that is the DACC. We used to question her integrity but not her brains. Given the turbulent seas she is trying to navigate and the possibility of criminal charges, her decision not to abandon ship and get out while she can makes us question our original evaluation of her intelligence.

We also hope that once the smoke clears – the last person left standing at the D.A.C.C. remembers to turn off the lights.

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Marcia Mayeda and the DACC get “Bitch-slapped” in court… Could her firing be imminent?

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Thanks to yesterday’s ruling by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mel Red Recana, Marcia Mayeda’s grip on her position as Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) has never been so tenuous (to see Judge Recana’s ruling please click here:) . Mayeda and her crumbling agency are being sued for their negligent failure to perform mandated duties – that had they done their job would have prevented the fatal mauling of jogger Pamela DeVitt. The ensuing cover-up implicates not only Mayeda – but new evidence points to the blame reaching all the way up to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Rather than address the facts of the case, the defendants tried to argue that the statute of limitations had expired for Ms. DeVitt’s family to sue and filed a demurrer – a failed attempt to make the case go away and be swept tidily back under the rug where the County tried to bury it in 2013. The County tried to force the plaintiffs, (Benjamin DeVitt, Pamela’s husband and best friend of forty-two years before he was widowed, their daughter April, a marine biologist, and their son, Tad, a U.S. Army war hero who retired from active duty in June of this year), to pay a $60,500 bond to secure an award of costs and attorney’s fees based on the County’s claims they would win the case if it went to trial.

Judge Recana denied the County’s request for bond and also wrote that based on the facts alleged Devitts’ amended complaint, the County did not have a reasonable probability of prevailing on the merits. Judge Recana correctly sent a strong message that this case will be tried on its legal merits without the bluster and circus that County Counsel historically trots out for DACC-related cases. The DACC’s traditional tactics of deny, delay, obfuscate and causing the maximum financial hardship for any plaintiff brave enough to call them to account do not seem to be sticking this time around.

If it cannot be settled before trial, the DeVitt case is likely to be tried in front of a jury. Defendants – LA County the feckless bureaucrat, Marcia Mayeda, and the Department she has repeatedly failed to lead, will be held accountable for their deeds. It has been a long time coming. DACC’s laziness and callous disregard for the public’s safety – despite multiple attacks on people and animals – and despite multiple complaints to DACC, the Sheriff’s Department and to the Board of Supervisors, simply failed to impound a bunch of unlicensed, unaltered, stray dogs. Even Alex Jackson, who now sits in jail for murder, called animal control to advise them that he had been feeding stray dogs dumped in the desert and that the dogs on his property were not his and were un-licensed strays. DACC has 27 days between Alex Jackson’s call and the mauling to pick up those stray dogs. But they didn’t.

Will Judge Recana’s ruling motivate the County to try to settle this case before the truth of their negligence and reckless disregard of the public’s safety is splattered in technicolor all over the public record? The evidence is explosive and it keeps coming. Whistleblowers (whose privacy is protected by attorney-client privilege and the press’ right to hold sources confidential) continue to provide more evidence to the Plaintiffs. Many DACC employees have been disgusted for years while their complaints about mismanagement, failure to follow DACC procedures have fallen on deaf ears – even at the Supervisor level. Further, those who spoke out against Mayeda – even when their complaints were about procedural failures – resulted in the messenger receiving discipline rather than the legitimate issues raised being addressed. As long as employees stayed silent, their failure to perform even the most fundamental duties of their job was condoned, even when it came to picking up stray, unlicensed marauding animals.

It leaves no doubt that there was a conspiracy involving Marcia Mayeda, the DACC and the office of County Board of Supervisor Mike Antonovich to cover-up the agency’s negligence. The Sheriff’s Department hands are also dirty on this one, as it appears that they also were called by the public on multiple occasions regarding attacks on people and animals.

Reliable sources state that there will be no settlement without the County publicly admitting they failed in their duty and taking responsibility for their actions because only real change in leadership and staffing – not the usual lip service – is the only way to prevent this from happening to another person’s wife or mother. The plaintiffs reportedly will not accept any settlement that does not include the dismissal of Mayeda and a meaningful audit and overhaul of animal control.

Legal experts speculate that a jury trial could yield a judgment well into eight figures. Los Angeles County self-insures, which means that continuing to employ Marcia Mayeda, when they had knowledge of her misdeeds, may be the single most expensive mistake Los Angeles County has ever made. Supervisor Antonovich will have to face the bright light of truth as it is shined on his office’s own culpability in this case. There is a great deal at stake – not only a multi-million dollar verdict – but Antonovich’s reputation and legacy as well.  If Antonovich and the County want to make the Devitt’s go away without their culpability being exposed, they are going to have to begin negotiations by offering up Marcia Mayeda’s head.  Otherwise it’s see you in court, in front of a jury and a Judge who does not appear to be impressed with the DACC’s antics.

Alex Jackson, the owner of some of the marauding pit dogs, was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to fifteen years to life in a criminal court. The County happily drove the Alex Jackson “murder” bus when manslaughter would have been the proper charge. Why? To deflect from their own liability and failure to perform their duty. Alex Jackson may have been a marijuana grower and an addict, but he had no intention to kill anyone. He fed the stray dogs others had previously dumped in the desert who the DACC failed to pick up. So we pay for Alex Jackson to sit in jail when he is no danger to others. We also pay Mayeda’s $213,282 annual salary (plus she receives over $50,000 in additional benefits!) while she oversees DACC’s budget of  $39,000,000 – and yet over a period of several months and after multiple complaints, the DACC could not perform their most fundamental duty by impounding a few dangerous stray, unlicensed dogs. If they had just done their job, Pamela Devitt would still be alive.

Marcia Mayeda and her employees failed to prevent the attack from ever occurring and then engaged in a deliberate cover-up in an attempt to hide their reckless disregard for their duties. Should Marcia Mayeda be charged with manslaughter and obstruction of justice? That is a matter for a Grand Jury to decide, and only time will tell. As more ugly truths comes to light and the panic and blame game sets in, we are likely to see the fur fly all over Los Angeles County.

 

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Downey and Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

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Surprisingly enough the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) has a Code of Ethics, published in its Policy and Procedures Manual. Over our next two blogs we are going to check out the code, clause by clause and see how Marcia Mayeda’s agency is doing:

As an employee of the County of Los Angeles’ Department of Animal Care and Control, my fundamental duty is to promote and protect public safety and animal welfare, assist citizens in obtaining information regarding the animal laws of the County of Los Angeles and the State of California, and to respect the constitutional rights of all persons to liberty, equality and justice. In pursuit of this mission, I pledge:

Let’s talk equality and justice.   If a member of the public’s dog bites someone, the DACC comes to their home, and files a bite report incident which is investigated.   At the very least the biting pet will be placed under quarantine for ten days. Frequently the DACC seizes and subsequently kills the dog by designating the animal “PDD” (Potentially Dangerous Dog). However, if an Inglewood dog belonging to DACC Deputy Director Derek Brown bites a member of the public, as allegedly recently happened, there is no investigation, no quarantine and the incident is swept under the table. Clearly no violation of ethics here…

To provide humane treatment and care for all animals, always mindful of what is best for the animal’s physical and behavioral well-being and to prevent suffering and pain.

A Lancaster officer left an elderly Pomeranian on his truck for 8 hours in temperatures over 100 degrees with the air conditioning off and the doors closed. The dog died. This same officer has repeatedly crashed DACC trucks, and allegedly has parked his vehicle outside his home while on duty – yet he is not only still employed by the DACC – but works the graveyard shift where he is alone and unsupervised at the shelter.

To provide emergency care to injured and diseased animals and, when necessary, humane and dignified death, by recommended and approved methods, for all animals in my care.

 Again at Lancaster, in the evening after the shelter’s veterinarian had left for the day, an officer recently ignored five sick dogs who she was ordered to transport to an emergency outside veterinarian. The pets died. The officer involved is still on duty.

            To protect the public from harm or fear caused by animals

On May 9, 2013, Littlerock jogger Pamela DeVitt was fatally mauled by a pack of pit bulls. These unaltered, unlicensed dogs had previously been involved in at least three different biting incidents, drawing multiple complaints… yet the DACC never confiscated them and then engaged in a coverup to hide their non-action.   The officials who engaged in the coverup are still drawing salaries from the DACC.

To make every effort to reunite lost pets with their owners, or place unwanted pets into suitable homes.

            In a recent survey of dogs at the Baldwin Park and Downey Shelters, we found twelve dogs whose microchips were not detected upon impoundment. Several of these dogs’ chips were not discovered for as long as three weeks.  A couple of years ago, Lancaster killed a microchipped Labrador retriever before its mandated ten day hold was up and knowing full well that the owner was coming to claim the dog the following morning.

Everyone has a bad streak here and there – and although Marcia Mayeda’s agency has failed miserably in upholding the first half of its Code of Ethics there is always a chance that they will salvage everything with a great second half rebound. There is an equally good chance that Donald Trump will look in the mirror, and be so horrified at what he sees and announce that he will atone by entering a monastery and taking a vow of silence.

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Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

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Former California Governor Pete Wilson signed SB1785 popularly known as the “Hayden Act” into law on September 22, 1998.   The bill has never been repealed, yet Los Angeles County’s head of the Department of Animal Care and Control, Marcia Mayeda has routinely treated the law with the same contempt and disregard that she has shown both to the pets entrusted into her care and to the public.

SP1785, Sec 12. 31008. 2 (b) reads:

Any stray dog that is impounded pursuant to this division shall, prior to the killing of that animal for any reason other than irremediable suffering, be released to a nonprofit, as defined in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, animal rescue or adoption organization if requested by the organization prior to the scheduled killing of that animal.

The Hayden Act does not give Mayeda the right to determine which 501(c)3 rescue groups are approved to pull pets from her agency. However the beleaguered bureaucrat routinely breaks the law by refusing to release impounded pets at her shelters to groups who have gone through the byzantine process of becoming “Los Angeles County Adoption Partners”. Consequently Buddy, A4856978, a two year old Chow Chow, who has been deemed rescue only – despite his having never bitten anyone, is scheduled to have his life snuffed out at her Carson shelter on Tuesday, even though there are legitimate rescues who have asked to take him. Normally rescues such as the one I pull for would immediately step up and rescue the dog and transfer the pet to the other rescue, but with the draconian restrictions placed by Mayeda on rescues transferring pets to other rescues, we would be risking our own pull privileges to save this dog.

Turning a blind eye to the law is nothing new to Mayeda and her cronies at the DACC. Last year one of her top deputy’s dog bit a neighbor. Rather than investigate the incident by interviewing witnesses, having a bite report filled out, quarantining the dog, and having the dog tested to see whether it was aggressive before he/she could be released – the investigation was halted before it could be started on the orders of the very same deputy who owns the biting dog. It seems that the DACC has one set of rules for its higher ups and another for the public. We will be exposing the name of the offending official next week and the DACC’s hatchet man, David Hou, should be happy because for once he won’t have to drive all the way to Lancaster to not perform his job.  This time he can save the commute and merely walk down the hall – before his investigation is thwarted by his masters.

Meanwhile the DACC’s crumbling empire was rocked by the revelation that there is a new plaintiff joining the case of DeVitt vs the County of Los Angeles and Marcia Mayeda, the case arising out of the fatal mauling of jogger Pamela DeVitt. The DACC failed to impound these dogs despite their multiple prior attacks – and then tried to coverup its failure to do so through a series of post-dated notes. Mayeda and company  maintained they had escaped this lawsuit on a technicality – because the six month statute of limitations had passed to sue the County. However the DACC’s spurious argument became moot when Ms. DeVitt’s son, Master Sergeant Tad DeVitt joined the lawsuit. Tad DeVitt was on active duty defending his county and was not discharged until three months ago in April. For active members of the military there is an exception in the statue of limitations provisions which doesn’t start the clock until their time of discharge. So now the case will likely be tried in front of a jury solely on its merits – and we, the County taxpayers, had better brace ourselves for a large payout at our expense for Mayeda’s misdeeds and coverup.

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Downey and Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

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Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control head Marcia Mayeda shows the same level of contempt for human beings as she shows for the pets entrusted into her care. This was clearly demonstrated this past week by her department’s initial Discovery request for documents in their attempted defense of a lawsuit filed by the widower of Pamela DeVitt. Ms Devitt was attacked and killed while jogging in Littlerock in May 2013 by a pack of marauding dogs who the DACC had failed to impound despite several prior complaints by local residents. In a level of unprecedented tastelessness Mayeda and her legal team, who are being paid with our tax dollars, demanded that the plaintiff disclose the names of the mourners at Ms. DeVitt’s funeral.

The most striking takeaway from their Discovery requests was the County’s obsession with trying to find out who leaked the secret DACC documents which showed how easily this tragedy could have been prevented had the agency acted. Because Los Angeles County’s taxpayers are being forced to pay for the legal costs to fight this losing fight, we have decided to save them some time and give them a hint. The documents were secured from embarrassed DACC employees by a blogger who is covered by First Amendment Freedom of the Press laws. Instead of focusing on trying to find out which appalled DACC employee(s) leaked the DACC’s dirty secrets, we suggest that petty bureaucrat Mayeda focus her attention on why there were any nefarious doings on their part to begin with. Mayeda appears to think the sin was in getting caught, rather than being culpable in the death of Pamela DeVitt.

However with Mayeda and her inner circle it’s all about revenge and reprisals – sometimes against her employees who she sentences to ‘freeway therapy’ making them drive two hours to the farthest DACC facility from their homes, other times against her volunteers who she fires for telling the truth about how badly run her shelter system is, and all too often against the public as demonstrated in the DACC’s actions this past week. Frequent and public Lancaster shelter critic, Antje Stobbe, a dog trainer who lives in Acton was paid a surprise visit by a DACC officer who drove 67 kilometers from Norwalk to try and force his way onto her property where she has a total of two dogs. Disgruntled DACC employees have already confirmed that the official was there solely to harass Stobbe for her continual criticism of the DACC and its Lancaster shelter manager, Sherri Koenig.   Stobbe was not intimidated and responded by sending the following to Mayeda, thereby laying the groundwork for another potential lawsuit against the DACC if they should foolishly try to retaliate:

Recently Sergeant Montez-Kemp of the Lancaster shelter was quoted as saying that your agency does not have enough manpower to go after major hoarders and other offenders. In fact you procrastinated raiding the property at 19021 East Avenue Q in Lake Los Angeles – a property where you found many chained and abused dogs as well as a sheep who had been mauled and had to be euthanized. Allegedly you still have not shown up to answer other hoarding complaints, for example the property located at 13242 Avenue R in Littlerock. This case has been sitting on your desk for several months, “no timed” rather than investigated. 

However, somehow you were able to find DACC manpower [wasting tax dollars] to send an officer in a DACC vehicle 67 miles from Norwalk to my home, a property that you have never received one complaint about…

If you continue to harass me you are not only going to lose in a court of law, but you are going to bring me an even larger audience for my criticism of your poorly run agency.”

 It’s time for Mayeda to address the root problems that bedevil her scandal plagued agency. Ms. Mayeda needs to understand that it’s the perpetrators of the misdeeds, and not the people who discover them, that need to be retaliated against.

Anyone who reads the DACC’s entries into their Chameleon software comes to the same conclusion, had the DACC done its job properly Pamela DeVitt would be alive today. Alex Jackson, the owner of the dogs who killed Mrs. DeVitt was sentenced to 15 years to life for second degree murder for Ms. DeVitt’s death.  Deputy District Attorney Ryan Williams stated in Jackson’s sentencing memo, “(Jackson’s) actions in this case shows that he has a nearly psychopathic disregard for the lives and well-being of others”.

The same could be said for Marcia Mayeda.

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Baldwin Park & Downey Pets Need Your Help!

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We recently had several current Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control (DACC) employees go into Chameleon, the database program which records each dispatch call and resulting action by the agency, and read the notes surrounding the fatal mauling of jogger Pamela DeVitt by a pack of vicious dogs owned by Alex Jackson on the night of May 9, 2013. Each of these people came to the conclusion that if the DACC had performed its job, Mrs. DeVitt would be alive today and Mr. Jackson would not be in jail for murder.   They also expressed shock and dismay at the DACC employees’ clumsy attempts to backdate notes in trying to cover-up the agency’s failure to respond to prior complaints against these dogs.

Why did the agency go to great pains to cover up their failure to act? The DACC self-insures and was still reeling from a $450,000 settlement of a serious but non-fatal mauling at the Agoura Shelter which came out of the agency’s operating budget.  Several vitally needed staff positions went unfilled for a year until the DACC could amortize the Agoura settlement. The potential payout for a fatal mauling caused by the DACC’s negligence was much greater and a popular theory is that DACC head, Marcia Mayeda did not want to surrender even more staff positions to pay for the misdeeds at the Lancaster shelter and therefore conspired with her staff to engage in a cover up.

Ms. Mayeda, in her usual blundering manner, allegedly not only asked her staff to cover-up, but also asked the DACC’s lawyer, Diane Regan to propose new language to the DACC’s charter.   The new language – enacted shortly after the DeVitt incident – modified the law requiring the DACC to pick up vicious dogs and allowed them to choose whether or not to pick up vicious dogs.   Perhaps this change in the DACC charter was unrelated to the DeVitt case but we don’t believe in coincidences.

Speaking of coincidences, our blog two weeks ago questioned the DACC’s failure to act on numerous detailed complaints it had received about an animal cruelty case at 19021 East Avenue Q in Littlerock, a property that was allegedly being used as a marijuana production center. Two pit bulls severely mauled a dog that was reported chained to a tree in plain sight of the road. After the DACC failed to act, an aide to a prominent member of the Board of Supervisors was called, reminded of the DACC’s failure to confiscate dogs in the DeVitt case and advised that the DACC was now on formal notice of the Littlerock situation. Somehow on July 9th the DACC, assisted by Sheriff’s deputies, raided the place and in addition to discovering guns, lots of marijuana and 18 dogs on the premises, found a sheep which had been so badly mauled by the pit bulls that he had to be euthanized.

Lancaster’s shelter Manager, Sherry Koenig, who had ignored prior complaints about the property, called the complainant and explained that the delay in responding had been caused by the presence of guns on the property. Unarmed DACC officers should not go into a dangerous situation unaccompanied by police, but Ms. Koenig was evidently unaware that the sheriffs work 24 hours a day, seven days a week and could have responded to this dangerous situation in less than a month.

Failure to take responsibility for one’s own failings and covering up are the trademarks of Marcia Mayeda’s DACC and how long the Board of Supervisors, no strangers to cover-ups themselves, will tolerate her lies and inertia remains to be seen.

 

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Downey & Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help

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The Fourth of July and the week leading up to it are the worst days for any Los Angeles County Animal Shelter. Because of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor’s refusal to outright ban the sale of fireworks – which you would think would be easy to implement given their inherent fire danger combined with the severe drought conditions facing California, the areas surrounding the Downey and Baldwin Park Shelter sound like Syria at night as explosion after explosion shatters the night calm. Given the large numbers of poorly educated and poorly informed people within these shelters’ service areas there are a huge number of pets who are never allowed inside their owners houses (and most of these pets are unlicensed pets with no collars with identification tags, or microchips) that escape into the streets. The lucky ones are brought to the shelters, the less fortunate ones are hit by cars and killed or maimed.

With so many impounds shelters are filled beyond capacity – and the result is that there have been huge numbers of pets being killed in the shelters to make room for the new arrivals. Each truck full of strays coming into the shelter makes the situation grimmer.

Each week Mike Antonovich, the Republican 5th District Supervisor who has served on the BOS for 35 years, posts a picture to his website, www.antonovich.com, of him holding a dog from a Los Angeles County Shelter trying to promote adoption. Its time for Antonovich to show he actually cares about these pets and actually do something for them. He can start helping pets by proposing a ban on the sale of fireworks in his County. Then he can move onto the bigger issues – like explaining his office’s involvement in the coverup of the fatal mauling of jogger, Pamela DeVitt, and why he allows his co-conspirator Marcia Mayeda to continue her reign of error as the head of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control.

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Baldwin Park and Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

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Last month, an Orange County Grand Jury issued a scathing report condemning its shelter system’s leadership for operating a dilapidated facility, saying “Structural integrity, cleanliness and sanitation continue to be compromised and pose serious risks to human as well as animal health.” The Grand Jury went on to state “The county’s lack of leadership, lack of commitment to animal care, and the prioritization of other Orange County Community Resources Department functions ahead of Orange County Animal Care are the primary reasons for failure.”

If Los Angeles County investigated its shelter system, something we pray for every day, they would find the same, if not worse conditions in their Baldwin Park and Downey shelters. These sixty year old shelters pose dangers to both the unfortunate pets and the workers consigned to these facilities. They are literally crumbling apart and are so intrinsically filthy that they can no longer be properly cleaned.

But merely renovating or replacing these two shelters will not solve the huge problems facing Los Angeles County’s Department of Animal Care and Control. Under the feckless leadership of Marcia Mayeda, the DACC has become an inefficient and unresponsive bureaucracy infected with a culture of duplicity and corruption which careens recklessly from one scandal to another and is an utter waste of the taxpayers’ money.

Citizens calling in complaints about hoarding situations and tips about animal cruelty are routinely ignored, owners of unlicensed and unaltered dogs are not being cited and fined while Mayeda and her chief Deputy Derek Brown are in perpetual cover their ass mode and only stir their inertia bound agency to act when their masters at the Board of Supervisors rattle their cages.

A concerned citizen in Lancaster reported that a trailer property located at 19021 East Ave Q in Lake Los Angeles had 120 Chihuahuas and Shih Tzus living in deplorable conditions. The DACC refused to respond and despite multiple complaints have not visited the property since December 2004.   When the DACC failed to respond a rescue came in and rehomed most of the dogs but there are still 20 dogs left. Reportedly the property is being used to grow marijuana and the owner has an unlicensed, unaltered pit bull who has been chained in plain sight to a tree for six years guarding the property.   There are several other dogs chained in the yard living in deplorable conditions and at least six dogs have died mysterious deaths on the property – but the DACC refuses to respond.

According to the DACC the reason they haven’t responded and investigated this, and several other similar situations, is because the agency is understaffed.

Why is the DACC so understaffed? A good deal of the reason falls back on Marcia Mayeda. A huge amount of salaries and staff positions are taken by bad Mayeda hires who were later removed for good reason – like Pat Claerbout.. Other honest employees like Baldwin Park’s capable Lieutenant Eileen Hill have been put on paid administrative leave for whistleblowing against Mayeda. We don’t know what prompted Patricia Learned to be removed but she is still collecting a paycheck. Mayeda is further hamstrung by civil service protection regulations. The rogue Lancaster employee who was caught red handed stealing both money and dogs from the shelter is still drawing a paycheck. The list goes on and on, and the result is there are is a shortage of officers in the field protecting animals. Things are so bad that a Baldwin Park Sergeant who was caught on camera stealing money hasn’t been disciplined, much less terminated, because Mayeda can’t take him off the payroll. Apparently Mayeda figures as long as this person limits his theft to small items it is better to keep him on the job than have a vacant position. As several DACC employees have ruefully observed, they should steal money on camera and then they would be able to stay home and get paid!

The only way that the County can extricate itself from this mess is to privatize the shelter system. If privatized we could remove civil service protection from employees at all levels whose job performance is unsatisfactory.  Until the County government is ready to take this step (with steps taken to preserve employees’ salaries, pensions, and benefits), a civilian oversight committee should be appointed to regularly meet and review the DACC’s performance.

This civilian oversight committee should be unpaid and its members drawn from the various stakeholder groups (employees, volunteers, rescue groups) in the County shelter system.  The committee should be empowered to implement changes and hold the DACC to performance standards.

Of course if performance standards were used to determine employment, the next time you see Marcia Mayeda, she might be hanging around outside of Home Depot looking for work. If this pipe dream ever should happen, I would hire Mayeda, especially if I needed anything whitewashed.

 

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

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Last week’s surprise dismissal of Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) executive Patricia Learned is still reverberating around DACC headquarters. For the first time in recent memory the DACC has managed to keep a secret and the reason for Learned’s departure is still a mystery.   Several unconfirmed rumors are swirling around including one suggesting that DACC leader Marcia Mayeda was able to persuade a judge to issue a search warrant, and Sheriff’s deputies subsequently tossed Learned’s home looking for secret DACC files.

Regardless of whether Learned is indeed being treated as a criminal by the DACC, the circumstances of her termination have everyone speculating. What possible secrets could Learned have that scare Marcia Mayeda? The DACC is not a top secret spy agency and other than personal information about its employees, what information are they refusing to share with the public?

Could Learned have incriminating information concerning the non-performance of Mayeda’s inner circle? We have heard rumors that the DACC’s Human Resources Department have become frustrated from being ordered to ignore abhorrent behavior and outright misconduct of certain “protected” employees.   Rumors have it that these very same HR employees may be polishing their own résumés looking for new jobs from which they can go home each night with their heads held up high.

Or could Learned know about the DACC procrastinating actions against horrific hoarding situations? Last week the DACC finally staged a raid on a Lancaster hoarding situation that the agency knew about for quite a long time, and by the time they finally moved, two wolf hybrids were in such bad shape that they had to be euthanized upon intake.

Regardless, whatever Patty Learned knows and is willing to disclose is not going to be good news for Marcia Mayeda – but it could be awesome news for both those seeking justice and for the pets entrusted into Los Angeles County’s care.

 

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Baldwin Park & Downey Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

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It’s been another surreal week for the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Control. On Sunday, Patricia Learned, the agency’s Executive Assistant and Marcia Mayeda’s right hand aide posted on her personal Facebook page “Sharpening my claws for tomorrow”. On Monday morning people received messages from Learned’s private e-mail account announcing that her DACC E-mail account was not functioning. This was followed shortly by the news that the DACC had changed its entrance codes to its headquarters – and rumors that Learned was escorted out of the building by DACC hatchet-man David Hou, who would not even let her gather her personal belongings before she was tossed out the door. An hour later e-mails were sent instructing DACC employees to no longer e-mail Learned.

Usually everyone knows quickly why a DACC employee has been dismissed – but this time it was different. Although there are salacious rumors involving Learned having disclosed things Marcia Mayeda did not want known, the DACC has finally managed to keep something secret at least for a little while – although this reportedly might have something to do with a short Asian DACC official warning people at various shelters that they had better start shutting up because his boss was getting tired of their leaking information.

We do not know why Learned was dismissed – and we’re not sure if she has civil service protection so she can continue to draw her salary (In 2013 Learned made $92,206 in salary, $7,163 in “other pay” and $27,964 in benefits for a total package of $127,333) like the recently removed Pat Claerbout receives while she fights efforts to terminate her. However we do know that Learned’s termination could come to bite Mayeda in the ass – as Patricia Learned is in possession of many damning secrets which if revealed could prove very damaging to Mayeda’s tenuous grip on her job.    Mayeda has never been an adherent of the old adage, keep your friends close to you and your enemies even closer.   If Learned sings, Mayeda could be quickly joining her former aide in the unemployment line.

Meanwhile headquarters was not the only scene of ongoing DACC scandals. Lancaster’s Officer in Charge tried to blame an underling for the death of five animals who recently were left without medical care. However video tape reviewed this officer to be lying and instead she was the one responsible for their deaths. Yet this officer still has her job – even though she is living with another Lancaster shelter officer – which is a direct violation of DACC rules.

Also the County Auditor is reportedly looking into goings on at the Castaic after the shelter’s staff allegedly turned in complaints claiming that Shelter Manger Karen Stepp has repeatedly been taking three to four hour trips to make bank deposits – chores which normal Castaic workers can perform in less than ten minutes.

However all was not scandal at the DACC. This weekend’s Sleepover at the Downey Shelter event organized by Shelter Me and Bark Avenue was an unqualified success seeing approximately 100 pets adopted and $26,310 raised in donations to be used to provide free spay/neuter surgeries in the Downey service area.

Further good news emanated from Baldwin Park where the shelter’s staff and volunteers are being deprogrammed and re-socialized after a year of being subjected to abuse from Marcia Mayeda’s prized hire, Pat Claerbout.  Volunteers were allowed to produce a full networking list with the blessing of new manager, Danny Ubario. Ubario’s arrival has sparked rescuers and transporters to return to Baldwin Park and it was refreshing for them to discover that the fetters have been taken off the shelter’s staff and once again Baldwin Park’s staff is smiling and rescue friendly.

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