Monthly Archives: May 2016

Baldwin Park and Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

A few weeks ago we told how Baldwin Park Shelter manager Sheri Koenig somehow managed to adopt a Yorkshire terrier puppy for free from the Baldwin Park Shelter before the public had any access to said puppy. If any other DACC employee – other than Marcia Mayeda who is allowed to openly flaunt rules and regulations – had done this, they would have been suspended if not fired. However, no disciplinary action has been taken against Koenig, because she concocted a story claiming that she was fostering the dog and that an over-anxious clerk misunderstood and filed adoption rather than fostering paperwork.

There are several holes in Koenig’s story:

  1. Koenig told several people that she had adopted the pet on the morning the pet left Baldwin Park.
  2. The dog was a healthy owner turn-in who had not been made available to the public and was ineligible for foster.
  3. Koenig adopted the pup while in uniform, and when the shelter was not open to the public, both in violation of the DACCs written policy and procedures.
  4. The clerk who processed the original adoption papers does not have access to foster paperwork. Koenig claims she asked for foster rather than adoption paperwork to be issued and the clerk misunderstood her. It defies logic that Koenig would have asked this clerk to execute paperwork she did not have access to.
  5. Koenig returned the Yorkie to the Agoura shelter, which issued a receipt showing the dog as being an owner turn-in from Sheri Koenig. If the dog was a foster return no receipt would have been issued.

It is clear that Koenig violated DACC policy and was not disciplined. That same week, Marcia Mayeda suspended Downey Shelter manager Fred Agoopi for three days for taking responsibility for his employees euthanizing several pit bulls who had been at the facility for a long time, after his shelter had run out of kennel space. There were no notes saying that these dogs had holds on them, there was merely an expired interested party note from the head of the group running the shelter’s pit bull training program. Downey’s entire Sergeant corps were reassigned and the particular Sergeant who authorized the euthanization was also suspended. According to those in the know the reassignments and suspensions were because Mayeda had issued a “zero tolerance” policy for mistakes.

Meanwhile, back at Baldwin Park, Koenig had authorized the killing of scores of adoptable pets despite abundant kennel space several months ago. In the eyes of many, including this writer, she was caught inappropriately adopting a dog and clumsily attempted to cover it up by trying to say she was fostering it. In neither case was she disciplined. The demoralized Baldwin Park employees have reacted by shaking their heads and allegedly circulating a petition seeking her ouster, and many have suddenly and mysteriously fallen ill and had to call in sick. This past Friday there were only two kennel attendants at the shelter (the normal shift has at least four) and the main cat building was cleaned and the cats fed only when a volunteer stayed after hours to finish the job.

Marcia Mayeda renamed her animal holding facilities “care centers”, but there has been a shortage of care given to Baldwin Park shelter pets during Koenig’s tenure as manager. It seems that workers obeying DACC policy and procedures will be hunted down and disciplined, while a privileged few can flaunt the rules without consequences. It is a dangerous precedent to set for your staff – but that apparently does not bother either Marcia Mayeda or Sheri Koenig.

Downey and Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

Yesterday the Animal Legal Defense Fund held a seminar on animal cruelty.   Attendees were surprised to see Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) Director Marcia Mayeda in the audience listening to the proceedings.   In her fifteen year career as head of the DACC , Mayeda has had a poor record in bringing charges against animal abusers.   Sergeant Rachel Kemp Montez of the Lancaster shelter and several other DACC officers were summoned numerous times over the last eight years to the home of Palmdale School District Assistant Superintendent Pauline Winbush.   They saw injured pit bulls tied up, scarred and emaciated animals and dog fighting tools, yet failed to pursue an investigation. It wasn’t until Sheriff’s Deputies raided her house that the major dog fighting ring headed by Winbush and her boyfriend Kevin Williams was shut down and charges were brought – not by the DACC but by the Sheriff. In a plea bargain deal earlier this month Winbush pled no contest to a single felony charge – and was sentenced to 270 days in jail and five years probation.

However Mayeda and her crony Pat “Google Me” Claerbout were able to get one animal abuse case into court this week.   Former Baldwin Park Shelter kennel attendant Erika Valles was in West Covina Court to answer misdemeanor charges stemming from the death of a kitten she was fostering in October 2014.   While head of Baldwin Park’s shelter, Claerbout ordered employees to reduce the feeding of dogs as a cost cutting move. The dogs were getting thinner – some to the point of being emaciated – and Valles had begun photographing them to show the negligent care that the DACC was providing. When Claerbout heard about this she was upset, and upon finding out that Valles’ foster kitten was sick, Claerbout decided to get revenge. Valles had brought the kitten to the shelter in the morning to be examined by Baldwin Park’s veterinarian. The vet was busy and could not see the animal until later, so Valles, mindful of protecting other pets in the shelter, placed the kitten in a carrier in her car. Claerbout broke into the car and seized the kitten. The kitten was taken to the back of the shelter, diagnosed with panleukopenia and euthanized.  The shelter did not perform a necropsy and sent the body to a rendering plant. Without a body as evidence Claerbout was able to claim that the cat became sick due to Valles’ mistreatment and, in collaboration with Mayeda and the aforementioned Sergeant Montez-Kemp, filed charges against her.   What is ironic is that Baldwin Park killed over 100 cats the same week and closed down their cattery because of a panleuk epidemic that swept the shelter. Although Claerbout was directly responsible for the cats’ welfare no one was charged for their deaths.

Valles is being offered a plea bargain deal which does not involve jail time.   Because she has no financial resources to fight these baseless charges, Valles might have to take the deal. However, a whistle blower lawsuit which would vindicate Valles may be in the cards and Mayeda and Claerbout’s act of vengeance could end up costing the county millions of dollars in damages.

In Marcia Mayeda’s disastrous reign of error at the DACC, she has killed over 600,000 pets. She is a serial abuser of animals – which makes many observers wonder whether she attended the Animal Defense League’s seminar to learn how to be better at her job fighting animal abuse, or whether she was trying to learn how to abuse animals better.

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help

Under the failed leadership of Marcia Mayeda, the head of Los Angeles’ Department of Animal Care and Control, the once proud Baldwin Park Shelter is falling apart, both literally and metaphorically – and unfortunately it is the pets who are paying the price. The sixty year old facility is undergoing a much needed, but poorly planned renovation during which each of Baldwin’s three main kennel buildings will be gutted and rebuilt one building at a time. The project will take at least a year if all goes to plan and as a result Baldwin will lose 48 of its 192 kennels as each building is renovated. Traditionally Baldwin Park is always at full capacity from Memorial Day until October and with one quarter of its kennels unavailable, dogs will be dying in record numbers.

Had the renovation been well planned, there would have been no loss of kennels. Baldwin Park’s barn area could have easily been converted into a temporary or even permanent kennel. The only pets this would have displaced are the approximately three farm animals, horses, goats and pigs who come into the shelter each month – all of whom could easily be transferred to the Agoura or Lancaster shelters which both have excellent barn facilities. Instead of adopting this safe and logical plan, Mayeda, whose contempt for the pets entrusted to her care is eclipsed only by her contempt for her employees, is simply reducing the shelter’s capacity by 25% for the next year.

The backup plan is to send pets to other County facilities, all of which, with the exception of her new Palmdale facility, are already full. Last week Mayeda transferred eight pit bulls to the Downey Shelter. Forty-one percent of Downey’s canine population now consists of dominant breed dogs and Downey is having to kill its own pit bulls – and other breeds – to make room for Baldwin Park’s dogs.  Because of the increased Pit Bull euthanasia at Downey, its capable manager Fred Agoopi is reportedly on an unplanned vacation for a week.

Meanwhile back at Baldwin Park morale has plummeted to new lows. Before renovation began, Sheri “Goldilocks” Koenig had demoralized staff by ordering mass killings of pets when there were scores of empty kennels. She ordered the shelter volunteers to reduce their photographing and videoing of pets for their networking list – even though the networking list was the most effective program for getting pets released. She callously changed the schedule of a Baldwin Park officer who held a second job with the city’s Police force, so that he could not perform both jobs and she had the shelter’s lead cat volunteer suspended on trumped up charges. As a result Baldwin Park’s staff have retaliated in the way they always do when they feel powerless. They called in sick in droves. There were only two kennel attendants working this past weekend and kennels were not being cleaned properly and had it not been for volunteers cats’ litter boxes would not have been changed.

Reportedly the staff are circulating a petition calling for Koenig’s ouster. If so this is the second time in less than two years that Koenig has been the subject of a petition demanding her removal. Lancaster’s staff had signed a petition and were about to formally submit it when Mayeda moved Koenig to Baldwin Park to reduce the heat.

What Mayeda will do this time is anyone’s guess. She is still paying disgraced former Baldwin Park manager Pat “Google Me” Claerbout a manager’s salary to work in the Lancaster shelter’s call room and DACC insiders are wondering if Mayeda is arrogant enough to put her in another shelter.

Downey & Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

The announcement two weeks ago that Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) Deputy Director Derek Brown was resigning was met with wide cheers both from within the DACC’s rank and file, and from the rescue community at large. Brown worked hard to earn a reputation for either ignoring or being slow in responding to animal cruelty and hoarding complaints, impeding shelter reform, and for playing hooky – leaving DACC headquarters and driving to his home in Inglewood instead of going to the Lancaster and Carson Shelters as he told his staff. He also gained fame for turning a blind eye to misconduct at his shelters and for squashing investigations into his own personal misdeeds.  Perhaps Brown  merely parroted the same behaviour exhibited by his boss,  DACC Director Marcia Mayeda – but still, by any standards, he failed miserably at his job.

Ironically Brown is now assuming a senior position at Los Angeles City’s Department of Animal Services (LAAS), the agency which had the nerve to issue a press release on April 25th claiming that Los Angeles was about to become a “no kill” city. According to LAAS their live release rate was 84.3 percent so far for 2016 and implied that this trend would continue through the year. Of course this is fiction.

Eight years ago, nearly 75 percent of all strays were brought in from the field by officers. Under LAAS head Brenda Barnette, Los Angeles City has basically discarded all their field officers, and according to insiders less than 10 percent of pets brought into the shelters are being brought in by officers in the field. What has happened is there are large packs of homeless feral dogs in deplorable condition on the streets of Los Angeles. Anyone who drives through South Central LA at night can see them along Exposition, You can also see them in the San Fernando Valley. If you see a dog who is being mistreated in someone’s backyard, or if you see a tethered animal ( with no access to food, water or shelter) and report it to LAAS – the complaint will be ‘filed’, no officer will be dispatched and the pet will be left to suffer. If you refuse to impound any pets, your numbers are going to look good.

There are many other factors contributing to this disingenuous press release. Traditionally January – April produce the lowest amount of pets entering shelter system throughout Southern California. The months of May – September always produce nearly 75 percent of all impounds – and this is the period one needs to measure when measuring trends.

However the most offensive statement in LAAS’s press release is that according to Brenda Barnette claims if you release 90 percent of animals (and presumably kill the remaining ten percent) you can claim with a straight face that you have achieved no kill status. This is disingenuous sophistry of the highest order, like saying “I’m a vegetarian, I only eat meat on the weekends.”

I am against killing shelter pets, but to me the “No Kill” movement is merely a marketing ploy, used by Best Friends to sell “NKLA” t-shirts and raise money, and by Nathan Winograd to sell speaking engagements and books. Barnette and her Best Friends partners are lying when they try to claim “We are saving them all”. We are nowhere near No Kill – and even further away from “saving them all”. Until we end all killing in shelters, and stop turning our heads to animal cruelty we have failed as a society and have no right to pat ourselves on the back and imply that all is well.

Barnette is not doing her job and is allowing cruelty to pets to flourish in the streets and backyards of Los Angeles. Derek Brown will fit in very nicely at Los Angeles Animal Services.