The announcement two weeks ago that Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) Deputy Director Derek Brown was resigning was met with wide cheers both from within the DACC’s rank and file, and from the rescue community at large. Brown worked hard to earn a reputation for either ignoring or being slow in responding to animal cruelty and hoarding complaints, impeding shelter reform, and for playing hooky – leaving DACC headquarters and driving to his home in Inglewood instead of going to the Lancaster and Carson Shelters as he told his staff. He also gained fame for turning a blind eye to misconduct at his shelters and for squashing investigations into his own personal misdeeds. Perhaps Brown merely parroted the same behaviour exhibited by his boss, DACC Director Marcia Mayeda – but still, by any standards, he failed miserably at his job.
Ironically Brown is now assuming a senior position at Los Angeles City’s Department of Animal Services (LAAS), the agency which had the nerve to issue a press release on April 25th claiming that Los Angeles was about to become a “no kill” city. According to LAAS their live release rate was 84.3 percent so far for 2016 and implied that this trend would continue through the year. Of course this is fiction.
Eight years ago, nearly 75 percent of all strays were brought in from the field by officers. Under LAAS head Brenda Barnette, Los Angeles City has basically discarded all their field officers, and according to insiders less than 10 percent of pets brought into the shelters are being brought in by officers in the field. What has happened is there are large packs of homeless feral dogs in deplorable condition on the streets of Los Angeles. Anyone who drives through South Central LA at night can see them along Exposition, You can also see them in the San Fernando Valley. If you see a dog who is being mistreated in someone’s backyard, or if you see a tethered animal ( with no access to food, water or shelter) and report it to LAAS – the complaint will be ‘filed’, no officer will be dispatched and the pet will be left to suffer. If you refuse to impound any pets, your numbers are going to look good.
There are many other factors contributing to this disingenuous press release. Traditionally January – April produce the lowest amount of pets entering shelter system throughout Southern California. The months of May – September always produce nearly 75 percent of all impounds – and this is the period one needs to measure when measuring trends.
However the most offensive statement in LAAS’s press release is that according to Brenda Barnette claims if you release 90 percent of animals (and presumably kill the remaining ten percent) you can claim with a straight face that you have achieved no kill status. This is disingenuous sophistry of the highest order, like saying “I’m a vegetarian, I only eat meat on the weekends.”
I am against killing shelter pets, but to me the “No Kill” movement is merely a marketing ploy, used by Best Friends to sell “NKLA” t-shirts and raise money, and by Nathan Winograd to sell speaking engagements and books. Barnette and her Best Friends partners are lying when they try to claim “We are saving them all”. We are nowhere near No Kill – and even further away from “saving them all”. Until we end all killing in shelters, and stop turning our heads to animal cruelty we have failed as a society and have no right to pat ourselves on the back and imply that all is well.
Barnette is not doing her job and is allowing cruelty to pets to flourish in the streets and backyards of Los Angeles. Derek Brown will fit in very nicely at Los Angeles Animal Services.