The last few weeks have not been kind to the Marcia Mayeda run Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control as seemingly the mismanaged agency has done everything short of taking out paid advertisements to demonstrate its contempt for the public, the rescue community, the pets it is supposed to be protecting and California law.
DACC Deputy Director Danny Ubario’s sent two rescuers an e-mail which stated:
“All animals that are deemed not safe for placement due to behavior will no longer be made available to rescuers. You will not receive notifications on these animals, and animals that fall under his category will be euthanized after their holding period is up.”
Ubario’s position directly violates California law SB1785 popularly known as the Hayden Act, Section 12 which amends California Section 31108 of the Food and Agricultural Code to read:
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.
Under Mayeda’s stewardship of the DACC, the agency has routinely violated the Hayden act and refused to release pets that they have deemed aggressive to rescues. It is important to note that the DACC does not have a single trained animal behaviorist on their payroll – and therefore does not have anyone qualified to deem a pet as “aggressive”. On the rare occasions that rescues have had the resources to sue the DACC for violating the Hayden Act, Mayeda has used the legal tactic of having Los Angeles County Attorney, Diane “the Laughing Grandma” Regan delay, obfuscate and lie, to force the plaintiffs into spending as much money in legal fees as possible, without allowing the case to come to judgement. Once the DACC’s delaying tactics had run its course and the case was nearing a verdict, Mayeda has always quietly dropped the case, so that there would be no legal ruling which would have set a precedent for future litigation. We personally witnessed this tactic in action three years ago in the infamous JoJo and Leo litigations.
Ironically a few weeks ago, Mayeda’s poorly run Baldwin Park Shelter impounded a dog who was deemed a dangerous dog. The dog had a microchip which was registered to a family living in San Diego. The San Diego family claimed that the pet belonged to them and Baldwin Park released the pet to its legal owners. After reading the new DACC policy Baldwin Park tried to get the dog returned to them – but by virtue of the living in San Diego, outside LA County’s jurisdiction, the agency had no legal authority to do so. They tried to get San Diego County’s Animal Control department to confiscate the dog so they could kill it – but San Diego’s animal control agency does not trust the DACC’s assessment and the dog is still safe and sound in his home.
Meanwhile at the DACC’s Downey shelter, A5044036, a Chihuahua named “Brownie” was surrendered on March 25th. As noted in the DACC’s Chameleon tracking software, the initial assessment by Downey’s veterinary staff on Brownie was that he was too fearful and would bite anyone who came near him. Notes were added on April 1st that Brownie would bite and he was labeled ‘rescue only’. Downey’s new volunteer coordinator, who has been at odds with nearly every volunteer and staff member at the shelter, ordered a new volunteer to take Brownie out of his kennel on April 15th. Veteran volunteers warned the volunteer coordinator that the dog would bite, but he insisted that he knew better despite his having demonstrated no dog handling abilities. On the volunteer coordinators orders, the new volunteer took Brownie out of his kennel and was promptly bitten. A bite report has been filed and is working its way through the system. According to one volunteer who is a lawyer, the bitten volunteer has an excellent legal case against the DACC and its volunteer coordinator for refusing to heed the warnings.
What scares us is that the DACC is a reactionary agency – and will likely formulate a draconian policy towards all dogs, due to the arrogant decision of an unpopular employee. Our eight year experience with the DACC is that when the agency announces a new policy it is always driven by a desire to protect its own ass, rather than a desire to help the pets – who are always the first to suffer under any edict issued by Marcia Mayeda.