Monthly Archives: February 2016

Baldwin Park and Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

Only two years ago, the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center was perhaps the best run municipal shelter in Southern California. It was a model rehoming center, where pets were treated kindly, the public was treated fairly and the staff and volunteers shared a camaraderie with the rescue community as they were empowered to try anything within reason to save the lives of impounded pets. In two short years things have changed and the once proud facility could be sued for fraud for describing itself as either a “Care Center” or a “Shelter”.

For years the shelter’s former manager, Lance Hunter, spent countless hours cultivating relationships within the economically challenged community which the shelter primarily serves. Because of his compassion, corporations like Walmart, Petco and Petsmart would routinely donate soon to be expiring bags of food to the shelter. As anyone who does the least bit of research knows, expired food is still nutritionally good for at least a year past its date. Yet as you see in the picture below, the shelter’s inept kennel manager ordered an enormous quantity of usable food to be thrown away last Monday – instead of donating it to the countless number of people who surrender their pets because they can no longer afford to feed them – or to local food banks serving the public.

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It’s not just food that is being wasted. The facility has 192 dog kennels and its population has been hovering around 150 dogs for the last month meaning that there are a minimum of 42 empty kennels – and in reality closer to 70 empty kennels as many, if not most, small dogs always share kennels. Adoptions and rescues have been high at Baldwin Park and other Los Angeles County shelters due to the ongoing special $15 adoption fee, but a good deal of the empty kennels can be accounted to euthanization. A perusal of recent euthanasia logs showed that 39 dogs were killed in a ten day period and only 7 were for medical reasons. The other 32 were killed for “behavior”. Were these all bad dogs? Absolutely not. A4908865, Mortimer was a reserved but friendly nine year old Corgi/Chihuahua mix who was described as “Low key”, “friendly” and “calm” by the shelter’s volunteers on their networking list yet he was killed for behavior. Betty, A4909861, a two year old Pit Bull who had passed her shelter given temperament test and was described as “happy” and “joyful” by the volunteers was promptly killed for behavior three days after having being added to the networking list.

Meanwhile Baldwin Park’s cat population is at an historic low. The ASPCA is funding a transport program and has offered to save nearly every adoptable cat at Baldwin Park – and unfortunately has been unable to fill the demands of no kill shelters who would like to receive these pets. Yet Sherry Koenig and her minions were killing cats with a vengeance, in a recent week claiming that 47 of Baldwin’s cats were feral. Odd then, that over half of these cats were socialized enough for shelter workers to determine their sex and vaccinate them.

According to Baldwin Park staff, the facility has adopted a new policy that dogs who fail temp tests will be killed the following day. Who is assessing the behavior of animals and determining that they should die? It is unconscionable that there is not one certified animal behaviorist in the employ of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Control. Temperament tests given by Baldwin Park (and all other DACC shelters) are poorly designed, frequently poorly administered and graded subjectively by people who are unqualified to give them. A few years ago Baldwin Park volunteers challenged the temperament test results of 10 dogs who failed their temp test during the period of one month. All were retested and 8 of them passed their retest.

To further anger volunteers and employees, Baldwin Park’s senior staff has decided that it is holding on to injured dogs too long. Even though there is plenty of kennel space the lives of highly adoptable dogs with fractured limbs or pelvises are now in danger.

Baldwin Park has become a senseless animal slaughterhouse under the failed leadership of first Pat “Google Me” Claerbout and now Sheri “Goldilocks” Koenig – both hired by the morally bankrupt DACC head Marcia Mayeda. Mayeda has a fourteen year track record and a body count of over 600,000 pets and one 63 year old grandmother, Pamela DeVitt, to prove she has nothing but contempt for the public and the animals she is sworn to protect.

Downey & Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

According to its website:

The County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care (sic) and Control relies on volunteer support from the community to provide additional public service and animal care programs that are vital to a healthy community.

Indeed the DACC is perpetually in need of free volunteer labor to compensate for chronic shelter understaffing, which is due in large part to Director Marcia Mayeda. Once a county employee has worked six months they are protected by Civil Service regulations making it extremely difficult to fire them even when they have exhibited serious misconduct, with the result being that they continue on payroll with full pay and benefits while being suspended from duty. Currently numerous DACC employees are being paid not to work at the jobs they were hired to do because they mistreated pets, stole money or County property, failed to show up at work or engaged in other misconduct. Others have been banished for challenging illegal acts ordered by Mayeda or for seeking better care for the pets.

At Baldwin Park pets would never be walked, groomed or marketed for adoption/rescue if not for the shelter volunteers. It was therefore surprising – if not downright insulting – for Baldwin’s volunteers to receive an e-mail last week from DACC volunteer coordinator Rohmi Reed telling them:

“Building 4 is off limits to volunteers.  There is no need for volunteers to be in this area.”

Insiders state Reed is the messenger, not the culprit, and the new regulations were promulgated by Baldwin’s unpopular manager “Goldilocks” Koenig. But regardless of who is responsible the point is that deserving, adoptable dogs are being hidden from the public in Building 4 and may die as a result. While there are quarantined and aggressive dogs housed in the building, seventy-five percent of Building 4’s population consists of sick dogs, nursing moms, dogs too big to fit into Baldwin’s regular kennels and dogs hidden so they can be cherry picked by rescues and transports or presented at Board of Supervisors meetings. These dogs deserve to be seen and given a chance to find a forever home, yet Koenig has put them off limits in a condescending and rude way.

This anti-volunteer attitude coincides with several other recent and highly questionable Koenig policies. Volunteers have been ordered to leave the shelter as soon as it closes to the public – something that was never the policy at Baldwin Park and is not the policy at the Downey, Agoura or Carson facilities. She has instructed staff not to share information with members of the facility’s volunteer networking team – so the volunteers now find it difficult to inform the public or the rescue community of information needed to match pets with suitable homes and secure needed medical care for them. What is ironic is that this information could easily be obtained through a Freedom of Information request. However, Koenig views this info as top secret in much the same way as she tried to prevent word of her unconscionable killing sprees (such as when she ordered nearly every rabbit and cat in the shelter as well as quite a few dogs to be massacred over the Christmas holidays despite having a plethora of empty kennels) from leaking out.

It’s time for Koenig and her patron Marcia Mayeda to abandon their Stalinist approach to running their shelters. There is no reason for day to day shelter activities to be state secrets. It is time for the Mayeda/Koenig team to stop treating Baldwin Park’s volunteers as “mushroom partners” to be kept in the dark and continually fed shit.