It is disturbingly ironic that despite Los Angeles being regarded throughout the world as a trendsetting community where progressive ideas are born and implemented, it fails so miserably when it comes to animal control. Whereas large cities such as New York have dramatically reduced their euthanasia rates through innovative leadership and programs, Los Angeles, both the City and particularly Los Angeles County fail miserably.
The solution to alleviating shelter overcrowding and thus reducing our tax dollars being used to kill highly adoptable pets is not difficult to implement. All one needs to do is enact and enforce spay/neuter laws and incentivize the public to buy in to the concept. Our neighboring communities have taken great strides towards this goal. In Riverside under the excellent leadership of Robert Miller, the County shelter parks a spay/neuter truck at the bottom of a street and sends a team of canvassers to aggressively ticket neighborhood pet owners found to have unaltered pets. If the ticketed owner takes the pet to the spay/neuter vehicle and has the surgery performed the ticket is cancelled. If the pet owner refuses to comply there are financial penalties. Meanwhile, in Bakersfield, under the progressive leadership of Julie Johnson – Wings of Rescue is working with the agency to implement “Operation Pit Stop” where the owners of unaltered Pit Bulls will be able to purchase a low priced raffle ticket for a 72 inch Smart Television, if they bring in their Pit Bull for a free spay/neuter.
But in Los Angeles County, under the “leadership” of Marcia Mayeda – it’s crickets.
She has several communities, including Azusa and West Covina, two cities that contribute the largest number of strays into her Baldwin Park facility, that totally lack spay/neuter laws. Mayeda has done absolutely nothing to pressure or incentivize these cities to enact spay/neuter legislation. Two years ago El Monte had no mandatory spay/neuter laws – and an El Monte school teacher and I went to the City Council and persuaded them to enact one. Did Mayeda or the DACC offer to help – by even writing a letter of support for the effort? Of course not. It would have required Mayeda to do something proactive rather than reactive – something that is not in the DNA of this overpaid ($238,000 per year plus benefits) morally bankrupt bureaucrat.
Los Angeles County’s shelter systems are adopting out hundreds of unaltered pets each week to the public under “health waivers”. Pets who are sick with diseases such as kennel cough are exempted from surgery and the adopters are charged a $50 spay/neuter deposit – which they can get refunded when they later provide a certificate of sterility, which can be secured by either taking the pet to a private vet for surgery, or by returning the pet to a DACC facility within three months of adoption when the pet is deemed healthy enough to be altered. We do not criticize the DACC for the concept of the program, however the problem is that less than 50 percent of the pets are ever sterilized and the DACC does not have a single employee following up on the scofflaws who have not had their pets altered.
Mayeda’s shelters have also been automatically deferring pets if they are over eight years old. The rationale behind this is that older pets require bloodwork analysis before being subjected to anesthesia. Blood machines are relatively inexpensive – but Mayeda refuses to provide her veterinarians with most basic diagnostic equipment beyond a stethoscope. The other huge problem that has caused hundreds of pets to be released unaltered is that a few of her staff veterinarians are lazy. When I was a Baldwin Park volunteer our vets were capable of altering 40 pets a day; now the vets have reduced their surgeries to 25 per day and will often do even fewer by claiming healthy pets are too sick to be altered. Considering that Downey is now routinely adopting more than 25 pets a day this creates enormous backlogs in the spay/neuter clinic and pet owners who have adopted deferred pets cannot get spay/neuter appointments at the shelters. More often than not these pets are never altered.
As a result of the Mayeda-led department’s failure to track the unaltered pets released by her own department thousands of pets are born each year who ultimately flood the shelter system – and cause the continual cycle of killing that has been the trademark of Mayeda’s reign of error. We would like to attribute this failure to Mayeda’s laziness and incompetence, but also muse that it may be due to a more sinister and venal reason – that Marcia Mayeda would rather keep the unclaimed trust deposits and use these monies for her pet projects like her $60,000 private dog park by DACC headquarters, rather than have to pay for the surgeries to be done by hiring additional veterinary help.