Under the failed leadership of Marcia Mayeda, the head of Los Angeles’ Department of Animal Care and Control, the once proud Baldwin Park Shelter is falling apart, both literally and metaphorically – and unfortunately it is the pets who are paying the price. The sixty year old facility is undergoing a much needed, but poorly planned renovation during which each of Baldwin’s three main kennel buildings will be gutted and rebuilt one building at a time. The project will take at least a year if all goes to plan and as a result Baldwin will lose 48 of its 192 kennels as each building is renovated. Traditionally Baldwin Park is always at full capacity from Memorial Day until October and with one quarter of its kennels unavailable, dogs will be dying in record numbers.
Had the renovation been well planned, there would have been no loss of kennels. Baldwin Park’s barn area could have easily been converted into a temporary or even permanent kennel. The only pets this would have displaced are the approximately three farm animals, horses, goats and pigs who come into the shelter each month – all of whom could easily be transferred to the Agoura or Lancaster shelters which both have excellent barn facilities. Instead of adopting this safe and logical plan, Mayeda, whose contempt for the pets entrusted to her care is eclipsed only by her contempt for her employees, is simply reducing the shelter’s capacity by 25% for the next year.
The backup plan is to send pets to other County facilities, all of which, with the exception of her new Palmdale facility, are already full. Last week Mayeda transferred eight pit bulls to the Downey Shelter. Forty-one percent of Downey’s canine population now consists of dominant breed dogs and Downey is having to kill its own pit bulls – and other breeds – to make room for Baldwin Park’s dogs. Because of the increased Pit Bull euthanasia at Downey, its capable manager Fred Agoopi is reportedly on an unplanned vacation for a week.
Meanwhile back at Baldwin Park morale has plummeted to new lows. Before renovation began, Sheri “Goldilocks” Koenig had demoralized staff by ordering mass killings of pets when there were scores of empty kennels. She ordered the shelter volunteers to reduce their photographing and videoing of pets for their networking list – even though the networking list was the most effective program for getting pets released. She callously changed the schedule of a Baldwin Park officer who held a second job with the city’s Police force, so that he could not perform both jobs and she had the shelter’s lead cat volunteer suspended on trumped up charges. As a result Baldwin Park’s staff have retaliated in the way they always do when they feel powerless. They called in sick in droves. There were only two kennel attendants working this past weekend and kennels were not being cleaned properly and had it not been for volunteers cats’ litter boxes would not have been changed.
Reportedly the staff are circulating a petition calling for Koenig’s ouster. If so this is the second time in less than two years that Koenig has been the subject of a petition demanding her removal. Lancaster’s staff had signed a petition and were about to formally submit it when Mayeda moved Koenig to Baldwin Park to reduce the heat.
What Mayeda will do this time is anyone’s guess. She is still paying disgraced former Baldwin Park manager Pat “Google Me” Claerbout a manager’s salary to work in the Lancaster shelter’s call room and DACC insiders are wondering if Mayeda is arrogant enough to put her in another shelter.