Shelter volunteers could not help but be amused after receiving an e-mail from Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) Director Marcia Mayeda this past week. In this rare communication Ms. Mayeda tried to rally her volunteers who had given many hours, days and weeks of their lives to help the plight of shelter pets. Mayeda wrote:
Wow, what a week! Just when we think we can’t get any busier we get new challenges and rise to the occasion! I want to thank all of you for all your extra hard efforts these past days. Here are some highlights of what you miracle workers have accomplished recently:
The first highlight Mayeda mentioned was the grand opening of her new Palmdale facility. While indeed the facility is the most modern one the DACC has, many people are wondering why it was built in an area which traditionally provides high intakes and low adoptions. The DACC’s challenge has always been to adopt out its pets. The well managed Agoura shelter quickly moves nearly every dog it receives into new homes – but only has 48 dog kennels. The millions of dollars spent opening Palmdale would have been better spent by expanding Agoura’s capacity and then quickly transferring in pets whose stray holds had expired. Agoura could easily double its adoption rate without increasing euthanasia if they only had more dogs at the facility.
Next, Mayeda’s cited as an accomplishment that her staff represented Los Angeles County at the annual National Association of Counties Convention in Long Beach. Ms. Mayeda failed to mention that her shelters are so understaffed that many of them are failing to provide adequate care and customer service. The needless diversion of DACC manpower for an event that had nothing to do with sheltering animals increased the misery of shelter pets.
Mayeda then went on to praise her department’s participation in the Sand Fire evacuation. In the ‘even a blind squirrel will find an acorn sometimes’ department Mayeda is correct, the DACC’s response under the capable leadership of Fred Agoopi was well executed – and indeed full kudos are due.
She further went on to praise her department’s participation in the nationwide “Clear the Shelters” event, which saw the adoption of 170 dogs, 54 cats and two rabbits into new homes. The numbers were fairly good – but should have been much better at the poorly run Baldwin Park Shelter which had only a tepid 31 adoptions.
The final sentence in the e-mail was the kicker:
From the bottom of my heart I thank each and every one of you for your hard work and commitment, not just for these past few days but for every day you are part of our organization.
First of all, if Mayeda is so grateful for volunteers, why has she conducted a flat out war against them? Despite chronic manpower shortages in her shelters – often caused by Mayeda’s mismanagement, Mayeda has instituted a policy kicking volunteers out of her facilities when the shelters are closed to the public. Baldwin Park’s pets are rarely walked, have dirty litter boxes and sometimes have not even been fed – yet they chase out volunteers who are providing the care that staff are unable to perform, due to Mayeda’s understaffing her shelters. Volunteers who complain about this are accused of suffering from ‘compassion fatigue’ – the new politically correct phrase the DACC uses to brand activists (i.e. troublemakers). These volunteers have often been fired or ordered to curtail their volunteer hours.
This reporter often wonders what constitutes the “bottom of Mayeda’s heart”? Is it the part containing her cover-up on her involvement in the fatal mauling of Pamela DeVitt? Is it the heart that has failed to provide wet food for a month to the DACC’s pets – and then tried to lie about it when it was exposed? Is it the heart that has led the prosecution of whistleblowers like former kennel attendant Erika Valles, who exposed that Mayeda hire, Pat “Google Me” Claerbout was systematically starving her shelter’s pets? Was it the heart that has killed over 600,000 pets – many of whom could have easily found homes had Mayeda only shown a modicum of care?
Perhaps the song lyrics below sums it all up best…Mayeda is the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz:
When a man’s an empty kettle
He should be on his mettle
And yet I’m torn apart
Just because I’m presumin’
That I could be a human
If I only had a heart