It has been a while since I last wrote a blog to accompany the Downey networking list. It hasn’t been because I’ve lost interest in reporting the goings on and scandals at the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control – instead it has been due to my assuming the Presidency of Wings of Rescue, which has been both exciting and time-consuming as we responded to three Category 5 hurricanes and the California wildfires while also flying our regularly scheduled lifesaving missions.
Part of my responsibilities at Wings of Rescue is to visit open admission animal shelters throughout the country and it has been eye-opening to see how poorly run by comparison both the Los Angeles County and City shelter systems are. One only has to go to Miami Dade County’s outstanding shelter – which has gone from killing 70 percent of its dogs five years ago to a 94 percent live release rate. The shelter’s administrators recognized that the only way to have a permanent solution to shelter overcrowding is to make spay/neuter affordable to everyone. They do spay/neuter services every weekday for the public for a charge of $30, and if people indicate they don’t have thirty bucks, they waive the fee entirely.
Meanwhile in Los Angeles there are no large scale publicly subsidized spay/neuter programs. Our low income population has extremely limited if any access to low cost spay/neuter services – and Los Angeles shelters are full and pets are being euthanized every day in both the City and County shelters – despite Los Angeles City’s Brenda Barnette’s recent disingenuous press release claiming Trumpesquely that her department is now “no-kill”. Ms. Barnette says achieving a 90 percent live release rate makes Los Angeles no-kill – which is the equivalent of claiming that one is a vegetarian because they only eat meat on weekends. We would be remiss if we did not also mention that Barnette has directed her officers to stop impounding tethered animals and strays – so that her numbers look better.
Meanwhile Marcia Mayeda has taken a different tact. She has berated her shelter managers for not killing enough. She recently continued her practice of circulating a report to each of her managers detailing the pets that had been at her shelters over 60 days. The implied message to the managers is that they should kill all these dogs as soon as possible.
It is ironic that Los Angeles is recognized throughout the country for being where liberal trends start. Yet we are so backwards when it comes to our treatment of animals. If we really want to turn the tide and stop shelters from having to kill pets, we need our shelters to provide low cost if not free spay/neuter services. Neither Mayeda nor Barnette have been strong advocates, or for that matter weak advocates of increasing spay/neuter activity in their communities.
Both women are dinosaurs who need to be replaced by innovative and forward thinking professionals as soon as possible.