It was a generally unpleasant week for those of us wishing to improve shelter conditions in Los Angeles County. Bobby Shriver, who was campaigning on a platform that included a promise to fire Marcia Mayeda, the fundamentally damaged head of County Animal Control, lost to spay/neuter foe Sheila Kuehl. Meanwhile, Pat “Google Me” Claerbout, Mayeda’s terrible hire as Baldwin Park Shelter manager, is rapidly approaching the end of her probationary period and despite demonstrating the same behavior that got her fired from previous stints in Stockton and Sacramento, appears likely to gain tenure at this formerly well-run facility. Staff discontent with Claerbout is rampant and the number of people calling in sick just so they don’t have to deal with her draconian policies is at an all time high, as is the number of employees actively seeking transfer out of this once rescue-friendly shelter.
Medical care for Baldwin Park’s pets has declined. Under the shelter’s previous manager, a large percentage of the dogs coming into the shelter with broken bones and other serious injuries were submitted to the “Dreams Come True” program. This program grants approved pets $1,500 in medical bill coverage so they can be operated on by outside veterinarians who have the medical equipment and expertise to save these pets. Under Claerbout’s regime the number of injured dogs funded by “Dreams Come True” has dramatically dwindled.
Meanwhile. staff at other shelters have been voicing their own complaints. In a widely circulated scathing e-mail, former Castaic Shelter employee Wendy Sue Mesny explained to the Board of Supervisors and DACC employees why she was leaving the DACC after five years. According to Ms. Mesny:
… the experience I had with the DACC management and supervisors has been less than enjoyable. This is largely due to a level of unprofessionalism that has been tough to understand, work with, and at times has been embarrassing. This is a fact that has been felt by staff, volunteers, and the public, and has affected the welfare of the animals in our care, and a few times has even resulted in wrongful euthanasias. Why this has been allowed to continue is tough for all to understand. Our mission statement, is appreciated and followed by most, but sadly is not adhered to by management. My feelings about management and supervisors is also the same feelings most all staff has about them, but are afraid of rejection, retaliation, or “Freeway Therapy”.
There was one great piece of news this week coming from the Downey Shelter, where Manager Danny Ubario announced that due to an increase in adoptions and rescue transports the shelter was no longer drawing up euthanasia lists for dogs, unless there was irremediable suffering or significant temperament reasons. I applaud Danny Ubario, Maria Rosales and the Downey staff and especially their lead volunteer, Debbie Tittle, for this huge positive development and hope they can continue down this pathway to success.