It is no secret that Marcia Mayeda, the widely detested head of Los Angeles County’s Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) has contempt not only for the pets entrusted into her care but for most of the dedicated people involved in pet rescue. Mayeda has continued to flaunt the provisions of California SB 1785, popularly known as the Hayden Act, by refusing to allow 501(c)3 rescues to adopt certain pets from her facilities.
Mayeda has mandated that certain breeds, including Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Chow Chows, Shar’ Peis and Jindos be temperament tested by DACC employees. If the pet fails the temperament test it cannot be adopted without an indemnity waiver signed by the head of an official DACC adoption partner.
Mayeda’s temperament tests are poorly conceived and often poorly administered, and have fundamental flaws:
1.). Dogs are tested for food aggression by giving a dog a can of food, and then taking a wooden hand to nudge the food. If the dog pushes back against the hand, he is deemed to be “food aggressive”. Hundreds of dogs, many of whom have been underfed, if not starved or who have never been given wet food before, fail and are condemned to death because they are so excited to finally have some good food that they will nudge the hand which is trying to take away the food. We suggest you try it with your own dog and see how they do. If they nudge the hand, according to Mayeda’s standards your dog is dangerous and should be killed.
2.) The DACC does not have a single certified animal behaviorist on its payroll. The tests are being subjectively administered and graded by unqualified and often burned out employees who just don’t care and are making the scores up based on their mood. One shelter worker jokingly claimed to have become so disillusioned with the DACC that the employee was passing all pets in the vain hope that the dog would turn vicious and get lucky and have the chance to bite Mayeda.
3.) Under Mayeda’s edicts, any dog who is ill, even with something as mundane as kennel cough, cannot be tested and automatically will require an indemnity waiver to be released. This means that a member of the public is prohibited from adopting the pet, as is a 501(c)3 rescue which has not submitted additional paperwork and gone through the DACC’s arbitrary approval process. This causes many wanted pets to needlessly be killed in the back rooms of DACC facilities.
Nowhere in the Hayden Act does the State of California grant a shelter to deny the right to pick which rescues it will work with.
To further impeded adoptions and promote the killing of pets in her overcrowded facilities, Mayeda has implemented a byzantine system for waiver pets to be released to rescues. Only the head of a DACC rescue adoption partner may request a waiver – and it must be requested in writing. Once it is requested the waiver must be drafted by a DACC employee who only works four days a week from Monday – Thursday. If the waiver is requested on a Thursday the dog will linger in the shelter, taking up valuable kennel space until at least the following Monday when the waiver may be issued. Sometimes the process of issuing the waiver will take over a week. Then once the indemnification waiver is drafted (and in reality all waivers are basically the same), it is sent to the rescue who requested it for signature. To verify this person’s identity, the shelter also requests that the person remit a copy of their driver license. It is a lengthy process and if the DACC really cared they would have a standard liability waiver which each shelter could issue on the spot.
However we would argue that it is ridiculous to insist that rescues sign indemnity waivers in the first place. The standard DACC adoption agreement signed by the public and by rescues specifically indemnifies the shelters against all liability arising from pets biting or causing damage. Mayeda’s indemnity waiver adds no legal protection for Los Angeles County – it merely is used to hinder adoptions of pets that Mayeda and her minions have a rooting interest in killing.
Meanwhile in happier news – in a case of “even a blind squirrel gets an acorn sometime” department, the DACC finally managed to do something right and provided 195 pets (54 cats and 141 dogs) for transport to no kill shelters as part of the Wings of Rescue Holiday Airlift of 785 pets from California and Louisiana shelters. Full kudos are due to the rescue coordinators at the various DACC facilities for their efforts in making this the biggest single rescue event in the agency’s history. Somehow Marcia Mayeda wasn’t on hand at the airport to celebrate these pets being flown to safety. Perhaps her absence was due to this reporter being one of the organizers of the airlift, or perhaps it was that frankly she doesn’t give a damn. It doesn’t matter either way – because she wasn’t missed.
In other notable DACC news after years of sexual harassment charges having been leveled against them two sergeants are finally being discharged, and a top deputy is rumored to have been demoted for as yet undisclosed reasons.