On August 27th, Pat Claerbout, the new Baldwin Park Shelter manager, asked me to meet with her. During our polite but contentious conversation Ms. Claerbout accused me of scaring away Baldwin Park Shelter volunteers because of the blog I wrote suggesting that people Google her name and learn about her previous employment history at both the Stockton and Sacramento shelters. She stated that she valued and needed volunteers and blamed me for their decreasing numbers, despite her having failed to schedule a single volunteer training class since she took over (volunteer training classes had been held on a monthly basis for the last three years) and her having been overheard by staff members complaining that the shelter had “too many volunteers”. She also claimed that the shelter had improved since Lance Hunter, her well respected predecessor, departed.
On September 30th Ms. Claerbout managed to scare away far more volunteers than I ever could by ordering the killing of 66 cats and 10 rabbits. She followed that up by sanctioning the killing of Peaches, a two year old six pound Chihuahua whose life was ended because, according to the shelter’s notes, ‘they had no kennel space’ although there were twenty empty kennels in Building 4. Peaches was the 51st dog from the shelter’s networking list killed since Claerbout took the reins of Baldwin Park in late May. During Mr. Hunter’s last 15 months there were only 23 networking dogs killed.
At today’s Bow Wows & Meows event which usually is a big day for adoptions from Baldwin Park, the shelter brought fewer pets to the event than any other County shelter – and had more than 50 percent fewer adoptions than any previous year. Several volunteers had to work very hard to contain their disgust with having so few pets at Bow Wows and Meows. Surely, they said, if the shelter has to put dogs down because of no kennel space they could have managed to bring more than 6 dogs to the event. But the worst insult came to the volunteers when all the other Los Angeles County shelters’ volunteers were treated to free pizza for lunch as promised by the DACC. Baldwin Park’s volunteers were promised free pizza as well, but the County did not receive an order from the shelter – because the shelter manager was apparently too busy ordering that no blankets be put in the cold kennels for dogs to lie on and forgot. Instead the lead volunteer, who is on a fixed income from Social Security, reached into her pocket to purchase lunch for the Baldwin Park volunteers… who left with a bad taste in their mouth – and it wasn’t from the pizza.
According to several sources, Ms. Claerbout has been grilling employees trying to find out how so much information about the shelter is being leaked to me. I suggest that Ms. Claerbout spend more time worrying about adopting out the pets entrusted into her care, and less trying to suppress the truth about her continuing the same failed policies that led to her being run out of Stockton and Sacramento.