Monthly Archives: January 2016

Baldwin Park Shelter and Downey Pets Urgently Need Your Help

On January 14th, the Los Angeles Times ran an excellent story by Abby Sewell documenting how the County of Los Angeles has seen a dramatic increase in legal costs in defending itself against lawsuits brought by the public.   In the fiscal year 2014-2015, Los Angeles County paid over $59.9 million in judgments and settlements and almost an equal amount, $59 million in attorney fees.   According to Sewell, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors are going to discuss how to combat these rising drains to its budget this week.

Being the highly civic minded person that I am, I would like to offer a few easily implemented suggestions which could save a shitload of money that could be diverted to positive alternatives than wasting our tax dollars defending the misdeeds of the inept, corrupt and complicit directors, managers and employees of the County of Los Angeles.

My first suggestion is to cut the rotting limbs to save the body: Fire the corrupt and inept directors, managers and employees.    Exhibit A1:  Los Angeles County Animal Control ” Director ” Marcia Mayeda who routinely violates California law, and the same policies and procedures which she instituted and mandated her employees follow.

Under Mayeda’s failed leadership, because she concerns herself only with appearances while neglecting all duty to the public and the animals she is supposed to serve, the department has continually been dragged into court for its untenable violations of the Hayden Act, (see the infamous ‘JoJo’ case, Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, Travis Bosquez, Rebecca Merrill and Denise Wheeler vs. County of Los  Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control Case no BS144497 in Superior Court and Nguyen et al vs Los Angeles County et al and for their negligence and after the fact cover – up in the negligent and wrongful death oPamela DeVitt after she was fatally mauled by a pack of unlicensed, unaltered stay Pit Bulls  (Benjamin DeVitt, Tad Devitt and April DeVitt against County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control and Marcia Mayeda.  Case No: BC 568584) to name but a few.

In the ongoing DeVitt case, Los Angeles County hired  Carpenter, Rothans & Dumont a firm enriching itself by defending the county’s flagrant and unapologetic wrong-doers (talk about selling your soul to the devil) to defend the grotesque caricature that is Marcia Mayeda and the DACC.

At the time of DeVitt’s fatal mauling Los Angeles County Ordinance Title 10, Division 1, Section 10.12.090 stated that (the director of animal control) shall take into custody:

a.)   All unlicensed dogs

d.) dogs and other animals running at large

f.) sick, injured, stray, unwanted or abandoned animals

Carpenter, Rothans & Dumont’s attorneys argued (with straight faces) that the word ‘shall’ does not require mandatory duty on the part of the DACC – and that it was merely a coincidence when two weeks after Ms. DeVitt was killed that the Board of Supervisors modified the law changing the word “shall” to “is authorized to”.   Really? Really.

These same attorneys are also spending your tax dollars to make the specious argument that copies of Plaintiff Tad DeVitt’s discharge papers from the Army showing that he retired from the Army in April of 2015 do not prove that he was discharged from the army in April of 2015.

We do not know exactly what Carpenter, Rothans & Dumont are charging Los Angeles County to sell their souls to make such arguments but the blood money is being paid by LA County taxpayers !  Yes! Our tax dollars at work to defend the negligent, reckless and grotesquely overpaid  “Director” of the DACC – Marcia Mayeda for not protecting the public – the very job she is being paid to perform!

There is evidence that Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich not only knows how corrupt his Director of Animal Control is, but conspired with her to institute the DeVitt coverup – and therefore will spend the County into oblivion defending his morally undefendable  employee, Marrcia Mayeda.  So if the Board of Supervisors decides as Ms. Sewell says to figure out why their legal costs are so high – we can suggest they save time by insisting that Mr. Antonovich bring a mirror with him.

Downey & Baldwin Park Shelters Urgently Need Your Help!

No Kill.

When applied to anything, especially animal shelters, this slogan sounds so right that we cannot imagine anyone living in Western Civilization being against it.   For those of us in Southern California – and many other areas of the United States – who have dedicated our energies to saving shelter pets No Kill is certainly the goal, but it is a Sisyphean task. There are too many unaltered pets procreating in our streets and backyards, and there are too few adopters and fosters in our communities. You don’t have to accept this as being morally correct, but you cannot ignore the reality that until the number of pet births equals, or is less than the number of adopters, rescues and fosters, municipal open admission shelters will continue to be pet killing facilities.   It sucks, but it is the cold hard unvarnished truth.

The problem is that no matter how much we dream and crave that all shelters truly become “No Kill” we can’t trust the No Kill movement. Nathan Winograd and his well-funded No Kill coalition decided to redefine the phrase ‘No Kill’ as a 90 percent live release rate. Apparently the other ten percent – the pets who were killed – do not count as having been killed. I may not be an expert on the English language but to me saying you are “No Kill” when you kill ten percent, is like saying “I am a vegetarian – I only eat meat on the weekends.” It is disingenuous at best and downright fraudulent at worst. If a facility kills only one pet, they cannot honestly claim that they are ‘No Kill”.

There are many national fundraisers promoting the No Kill cause.   With religious zeal they sell t-shirts and books, erect billboards, take money for speaking engagements and solicit donations. Some of the money is used to save shelter animals but where does the rest of it go? Kim Sill’s outstanding documentary Saved in America shows that all too much of this money goes to salaries, lobbyists, advertising and fundraisers, who raise even more money so they can increase the organizations’ salaries, secure even more lobbyists and buy even more advertisements soliciting funds.

So what does this all mean? Should we give up trying to save shelter pets’ lives and working to improve the lives of the stray dogs and cats? Absolutely not. However we have to do so honestly and transparently. The only way we are truly going to become No Kill is for spay/neuter laws to be enacted and rigorously enforced with significant fines levied against offenders. Revenue from dog licenses needs to be increased by having canvassers in the field checking to see if residents’ pets are licensed. In the city of Los Angeles it is estimated there are one million dogs kept as pets, yet there are only 100,000 dog licenses. Fines for failing to alter and license pets should be used to fund not only the shelters themselves, but to also operate low cost spay/neuter clinics. We cannot leave packs of feral and unaltered wild dogs on the streets to starve and freeze to death as Brenda Barnette, Los Angeles City’s head of Animal Control, does to keep her euthanasia numbers down and make it look like her giveaway of a Los Angeles shelter facility to a national fundraising organization has had any salutary effect.

Having the available revenue is not the solution in and of itself. Municipal shelters need to change the fundamental way they think. They need to stop being secretive government agencies who kill animals and then carefully manicure their statistics to make it appear that they are improving.   The only way to escape this never-ending tragedy is for the shelters to be inclusive, embrace their constituency and work in cooperation with them. Volunteers, rescues and the general public need to be included in the decision making process so that we can transform the shelters from being pet warehouses to becoming pet adoption centers.   Laws need to be changed to allow residents to have pets based on the amount of land they have and their ability to care for them, rather than a strict three pet per household limit. Landlords need to be motivated to allow renters to have pets.

I doubt I’ve met anyone – including Marcia Mayeda and “Google Me” Claerbout – in the Los Angeles metropolitan area who is against true No Kill. But I’ve never met a head of animal control who has either the balls or the insight to actually implement it.  It’s time to stop believing and parroting slogans printed on t-shirts and be honest with ourselves.  Pets are being killed in our municipal shelters – and we are all seriously drinking the Koolaid if we think that anyone is “saving them all” – we haven’t come even close – and as long as pets are dying in our shelters we have not only failed as a society –  we’ve also allowed someone to get rich off of it.

Baldwin Park & Downey Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

Like nearly every other government-run open admission animal shelter, Los Angeles County’s shelter system is woefully underfunded. Even if you take out the bloated salary and benefits given to Marcia Mayeda, the morally challenged despot running the operation, and if you subtract the salaries of all her tragic hires who are being paid not to work because of their misconduct and her inability to fire them due to their civil service protection, the agency is not sufficiently funded to provide homeless pets with anything beyond the most basic care.

The saving grace is that there are thousands of kindhearted people who selflessly donate their time and money to help the unfortunate pets who find themselves in these refugee camps. These people are called “volunteers” and without their donations of time and labor the shelters would not be able to provide even minimal care.

Volunteers should be cherished – and at some Los Angeles County Shelters, particularly Agoura and Downey, they are. Regrettably, at Baldwin Park the opposite is true. In prior years Baldwin Park volunteers often spent 8 hours a day at the shelter – sometimes arriving at 5 A.M. to prepare pets for mobile adoptions and not leaving until the event was over and the pets were kenneled and fed at 9 P.M. Volunteers made transports possible, showing up at the shelter at 4 A.M. to make sure that pets were at LAX by 8 A.M. There was a camaraderie amongst staff and volunteers and a sense of shared purpose.

When Sheri “Goldilocks” Koenig took over at Baldwin everything changed. A Baldwin Park volunteer who showed up on New Year’s to help clean cages and feed the animals was told that volunteers were no longer allowed in the shelter on holidays.   The shelter’s lead cat volunteer – let’s call her “Kitty” – who spent 8 hours a day every day at the shelter, was suspended for two months because, in response to a question posted on her personal Facebook page, she truthfully confirmed that Baldwin Park had recently killed off most of its cat and rabbit population on the orders of Koenig.   Koenig denied going on Kitty’s Facebook page which was ironic considering that she had, a few days previously, told a group of Baldwin volunteers that she enjoyed reading their Facebook pages. During Kitty’s absence cat adoptions plummeted and cages were often cleaned improperly – when they were cleaned at all.

Last week Koenig met with Kitty to discuss her reinstatement, one condition of which was that Kitty divulge no information about the number of animals killed. Apparently Goldilocks thinks that this should be a state secret and hasn’t yet learned that the euthanasia statistics are posted on the DACC’s own web site!   She also banned Kitty from fostering kittens because she was, according to Koenig, the first foster ever to have kittens come down with the deadly disease Panleukopenia.   For years Baldwin Park’s cattery has been losing hundreds of cats to Panleuk and nearly every foster has lost kittens to the disease – but as usual Koenig was either lying or poorly informed.

Goldilocks reinstated Kitty – but limited her to volunteering three hours a day, four days a week and only during the shelter’s open-to-the-public hours.

Needless to say when you treat volunteers this way, you lose volunteers. When you lose volunteers your staff members, already stretched thin, pick up the slack as best they can. Conditions worsen, pets become sick and staff members are demoralized. It’s a vicious cycle.

What is ironic is that while this drama was going on there were several transports offered of both cats and dogs offered to Los Angeles County’s shelter system by the two major transport charities helping the shelter system. Baldwin Park claimed it did not have enough eligible pets for transport. Perhaps if the shelter had not killed so many pets over the Christmas holidays – they might have been able to send them on transport to safety at no kill shelters!

As a follow up to last week’s blog entry about Koenig killing pets over Christmas while there were kennels sitting empty at Baldwin – the DACC leadership has removed Koenig from making euthanasia decisions. These decisions will now be made by a trio of Baldwin Park senior staff – two of whom in particular are well respected by rescue groups and volunteers alike as they have a track record of doing everything within their power to save pets.

Downey & Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help

Last week, Baldwin Park staff and volunteers received a newsletter from their shelter manager, Sheri Koenig.   Like most communications from any DACC official, it was full of boring banal tripe, until it got to the last paragraph where Koenig wrote:

“if anyone has any suggestions on improvements for our care center (sic), please feel free to see me.”

I’m not sure how many comments Koenig received from her readers, but I certainly received quite a few from Baldwin Park’s staff and volunteers .   Feeling that Ms. Koenig would either pay no attention to, or retaliate against, them if they expressed their opinions directly to her they asked me to convey their thoughts via this blog.

One staff member e-mailed, “how about stop contradicting yourself by telling everyone how pro-adoption/rescue you are one minute, and then ordering us to go pull (pets to be killed) the next minute when we have a shitload of empty kennels.”

A volunteer suggested, “you say it is ‘our care center” If it indeed is our ‘care center’ that means we should have some say in who runs it, and in that case you should resign immediately and let someone who wants to help save animals run it.”

Those were just some of the printable ones.   I received two e-mails suggesting that Ms. Koenig do something which is biologically impossible and then cease living – and heard from several other Baldwin Park people who expressed similar sentiments.

Why the discontent?   Well, it was not a particularly happy holiday at Baldwin Park after Koenig ordered her staff, on December 24th, to celebrate Christmas by killing fifteen cats despite having a plethora of empty cat kennels.   Perhaps fearing that she would be perceived as discriminating against felines, Koenig followed it up by snuffing out the lives of eighteen dogs (including a four month old German Shepherd puppy) on December 26th – despite having over thirty empty dog kennels. Koenig’s excuse for bumping off the cats was they had overstayed their time (generally on average less than ten days) while for the dogs it was that she was “unable to kennel” them.

As one disgruntled staff member explained “It (expletive deleted) sucks here. I thought I was hired to provide care and save lives, not to kill just to save money on pet food.” Another Baldwin Park staffer added, “At least with Google Me Claerbout (Baldwin’s disgraced former shelter manager who was driven out of the shelter last Spring) everyone knew she was just pure evil. With Goldilocks (Koenig’s nickname) she is either stupid, incompetent or a liar, or a combination of all three, you just never know.   What I think is that Marcia (Mayeda) is mad at us for organizing to get rid of Claerbout, and this is her way of exacting revenge against us.”

Facts speak louder than words.  Koenig should be removed from her job, as should Marcia Mayeda, the morally challenged head of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Control, who once again proved if there is a bad decision to be made – she is just the person to make it.