We recently had several current Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control (DACC) employees go into Chameleon, the database program which records each dispatch call and resulting action by the agency, and read the notes surrounding the fatal mauling of jogger Pamela DeVitt by a pack of vicious dogs owned by Alex Jackson on the night of May 9, 2013. Each of these people came to the conclusion that if the DACC had performed its job, Mrs. DeVitt would be alive today and Mr. Jackson would not be in jail for murder. They also expressed shock and dismay at the DACC employees’ clumsy attempts to backdate notes in trying to cover-up the agency’s failure to respond to prior complaints against these dogs.
Why did the agency go to great pains to cover up their failure to act? The DACC self-insures and was still reeling from a $450,000 settlement of a serious but non-fatal mauling at the Agoura Shelter which came out of the agency’s operating budget. Several vitally needed staff positions went unfilled for a year until the DACC could amortize the Agoura settlement. The potential payout for a fatal mauling caused by the DACC’s negligence was much greater and a popular theory is that DACC head, Marcia Mayeda did not want to surrender even more staff positions to pay for the misdeeds at the Lancaster shelter and therefore conspired with her staff to engage in a cover up.
Ms. Mayeda, in her usual blundering manner, allegedly not only asked her staff to cover-up, but also asked the DACC’s lawyer, Diane Regan to propose new language to the DACC’s charter. The new language – enacted shortly after the DeVitt incident – modified the law requiring the DACC to pick up vicious dogs and allowed them to choose whether or not to pick up vicious dogs. Perhaps this change in the DACC charter was unrelated to the DeVitt case but we don’t believe in coincidences.
Speaking of coincidences, our blog two weeks ago questioned the DACC’s failure to act on numerous detailed complaints it had received about an animal cruelty case at 19021 East Avenue Q in Littlerock, a property that was allegedly being used as a marijuana production center. Two pit bulls severely mauled a dog that was reported chained to a tree in plain sight of the road. After the DACC failed to act, an aide to a prominent member of the Board of Supervisors was called, reminded of the DACC’s failure to confiscate dogs in the DeVitt case and advised that the DACC was now on formal notice of the Littlerock situation. Somehow on July 9th the DACC, assisted by Sheriff’s deputies, raided the place and in addition to discovering guns, lots of marijuana and 18 dogs on the premises, found a sheep which had been so badly mauled by the pit bulls that he had to be euthanized.
Lancaster’s shelter Manager, Sherry Koenig, who had ignored prior complaints about the property, called the complainant and explained that the delay in responding had been caused by the presence of guns on the property. Unarmed DACC officers should not go into a dangerous situation unaccompanied by police, but Ms. Koenig was evidently unaware that the sheriffs work 24 hours a day, seven days a week and could have responded to this dangerous situation in less than a month.
Failure to take responsibility for one’s own failings and covering up are the trademarks of Marcia Mayeda’s DACC and how long the Board of Supervisors, no strangers to cover-ups themselves, will tolerate her lies and inertia remains to be seen.