• Home

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

  

For me the Christmas and New Year holidays have always been a time of reflection, a time of thanks and a time for joy – and this year, perhaps more than any other year, I have a lot to be thankful for and rejoice as I prepare to make my New Year’s resolutions. At the Baldwin Park Shelter I have seen volunteers and staff tirelessly working together with a spirit of camaraderie and respect to get pets out of the shelter and into homes. There were countless nights or mornings when volunteers and staff showed up at the shelter at midnight, two A.M. or three A.M. to exercise, feed and pack dogs off into crates so they could be at the airport at 5 A.M. in time to catch planes for destinations where they would be cherished and wanted. I can’t count the number of times I received calls and e-mails from various shelter staff members telling me about pets they wanted us to immediately feature on our Facebook page so they could get the medical care they urgently needed, and other amazing pets who they just wanted to make sure received public attention and networking efforts.

The most gratifying aspect of this cooperation has been our statistics. Our 2012 Facebook networking effort has had a 94.5 percent adoption rate for dogs; and we have seen a marked improvement in our cat adoptions.

This would not have happened without the teamwork of our incredible Baldwin Park team, shelter management, kennel attendants, veterinary staff, field officers, clerical staff and volunteers all working together for the good of the pets. It is my opinion that the Baldwin Park Shelter has the best staff and volunteers of any shelter in California.

2013 is going to be more interesting and more challenging. The bureaucrats from Long Beach who run Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control have now started their own “Official Baldwin Park Animal Care and Control” Facebook page – and it is going to be interesting to see what they do with it. A cynic might think that it is a precursor to our existing Facebook page being shut down.

As many of you know, the DACC has suspended my volunteer status for thirty days as the result of the opinions and observations I have made on this blog. For those of you who are wondering what I am doing and what my plans are, I remain committed to rescue and place my faith in the United States Constitution’s First Amendment which states:
                       Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the   freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I invite all of us to celebrate our successes of 2012 while mourning our failures, and fervently hope that 2013 will improve the plight of shelter animals throughout the county and the world. If we are able to continue and even expand the teamwork exhibited by the Baldwin Park Shelter staff and volunteers I am confident that 2013 will be better.

December 15, 2012 As many of you know I have been suspended as a shelter volunteer by the Los Angeles County Animal Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) primarily for things I have written in this blog.

I have always acted in the best interests of the animals, and have laid blame when and where I believe it belongs. The DACC is using suspension, and the threat of termination, to intimidate me into silence and complacency. Serving as a volunteer does not strip me of my First Amendment right to criticize government bureaucrats, and my opinions have always been identified as being put forth in my personal capacity, not as a volunteer speaking on behalf of the DACC.

Similar issues were the subject of the case of Nguyen, et al -v- County of Los Angeles, et al., which can be read by clicking this link: http://lacdacc.blogspot.com/search/label/Lawsuit.

Attorney Sheldon Eisenberg’s excellent article on retaliatory “firing” of shelter volunteers can be read by clicking this link: http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=728 . Quoting from that article, “There would be little hope of progress in improving the conditions at municipal animal shelters if rescuers – the people likely most knowledgeable about those conditions – could be intimidated into remaining silent by the threat of retaliation.”

Whether I continue as a county volunteer or not, my commitment to the shelter animals will continue and I will still be heavily involved in the shelter networking program that I helped develop.

  

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

  

 

Last week I had to pinch myself to make sure I was awake and not dreaming.  After having been working out of the country for most of the last two months I returned to Baldwin Park and for a moment thought I had somehow ended up in some sort of weird parallel world where everything was the opposite of the real world that I inhabited.  The reason for this confusion on my part was in two weeks the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control’s leadership had actually managed to do several constructive things without, to use a common expression that may be impolite but aptly fits when dealing with the DACC, “fucking up”.

The DACC actually listened to its staff and volunteers and replaced a veterinarian at the Carson Shelter who had some rather controversial theories of shelter medicine to say the least and had proved herself to be ill suited for the job.

The DACC reassigned Danny Ubario, a genuinely nice human being, from running the much maligned Lancaster shelter to a position where he will build up the innovative program that the DACC is launching with PetSmart to turn one of their stores into an adoption center.  Danny will also be contacting less-crowded local shelter systems to see if they will take some of our dogs.  This is monumental because most of the reaching out work had been done by volunteers; evidently the DACC management did not previously consider this to be a priority.

The DACC finally acknowledged that the microchips they had switched to were not doing their job (the company providing them had no recognized national database) and has switched back to Avid microchips.  Although this has forced them to charge an extra $15 per pet adopted, it is definitely worth the price to have peace of mind knowing that should your pet be lost you have a good chance of being reunited with him/her.

Subaru, a rare company with ethics, compassion and a sense of corporate responsibility donated a brand new crossover vehicle to the DACC to be used to facilitate mobile adoption efforts and the car is already being put to use at Baldwin Park!

And the DACC has decided to auction off DACC head bureaucrat Marcia Mayeda for one day to the shelter which raises the most money for charity.  The winning shelter gets Ms. Mayeda as a kennel attendant for one day (cynics have claimed that prize was limited to one day because no one could tolerate her presence for longer, but we are keeping an open mind).  I am pleased to announce that Baldwin Park is pulling out all the stops to win Ms. Mayeda’s services.  We relish the opportunity to have her do hands-on work in the kennels and learn firsthand how understaffed and overworked our staff are, how her ill-conceived policies have hampered adoption and rescue efforts, and the needless misery caused to the shelters’ pets, and we hope to film this journey of discovery.  We hope our shelter’s networking efforts will make moot the question of whether Ms. Mayeda, whose ill conceived policies have doomed so many animals, will be forced to personally participate in the euthanasia process.

  

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

Traditionally the number of discarded pets found on the streets in Los Angeles County lessens as we hit the fall season. However volunteers and workers at the Downey and Baldwin Park Shelters have not noticed any reduction in intakes as our county’s residents have not grasped the importance of spaying and neutering their pets. Sadly the shelter system has a finite amount of kennel space and once that number is eclipsed the trail of tears leading to the back of the shelters is a well worn path and far too many friendly and adoptable pets are being euthanized.

Bringing down the unacceptably high euthanasia rates in not only Los Angeles County but throughout California, is not something which can be done overnight and is not something we can entirely blame on the poor management shown by Marcia Mayeda.

  

If the utopia of the no kill shelter is to be reached in Los Angeles County, the public has to force the state legislature to pass three pieces of legislation:

1.) Enforceable spay/neuter legislation must be passed. Yes we will have to compromise with the American Kennel Club and allow their breeders to continue producing purebreds, but backyard breeding must be ended – and the only way backyard breeding is going to be impacted is through legislation.

2.) We need to pass a law requiring all pets to be microchipped, and have the right to fine people who refuse to come and get their pets. In northern Italy there are severe fines for abandoning an animal – and we need to penalize irresponsible people who do not take care of their pets.

3.) We need to pass a law requiring landlords to allow pet ownership. Roughly thirty percent of all pets surrendered at shelters are the result of landlords refusing to allow pets in their buildings.

If we could get these three pieces of legislation through we might have a chance to bring our euthanasia rates down. Until then we will be nothing more than little Dutch boys trying to insert our fingers into dykes to stop the incoming tide and prevent the levee from being breached.

  

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

  

As many of us have feared Marcia Mayeda’s incredibly poor decision to make it harder for legitimate 501(c)3 rescues to operate within the Los Angeles County shelter system has caused many rescues to reevaluate whether it is feasible to work any longer with the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control. Several rescues, including Take Me Home, a wonderful Boxer rescue adoption partner, have decided that Mayeda’s combination of mismanagement and bureaucratic red tape is too cumbersome to deal with – and have withdrawn from rescuing pets from the Los Angeles County System.

Sadly to Marcia Mayeda another thousand or so pets being euthanized each year because rescues are no longer able to work with the DACC is no big thing. When you’ve already killed a million pets during your reign of error the value of Los Angeles County’s pets’ lives isn’t very high – and Marcia Mayeda clearly has nothing but contempt for those of us who give our time, money and hearts to rescue animals.

However as rescuers and volunteers we cannot afford lose the forest for the trees and turn our backs on the Los Angeles County Shelter System merely because Marcia Mayeda insists on throwing roadblocks in our way to saving pets’ lives. To quit would be easy, but it wouldn’t do much good for the pets about to be stuffed into barrels and sent to rendering plants because we were unwilling to step up and save them.

Yes, Marcia Mayeda needs to be fired – along with Derek Brown – but we must fight even harder to save the lives of pets in the county shelter. The stakes are just too high not to.

  

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

  

In the four years I have been a volunteer in the Los Angeles County Shelter system (DACC) I have learned that the shelter system is in a perpetual state of crisis and that yesterday will always be better than today. Chronic mismanagement of the DACC’s scant resources, combined with Marcia Mayeda’s seemingly contempt for the animals in the county’s care, has led to wanted pets being killed.

The shelters are chronically short staffed. It seems that hardly a day goes by without one of the shelters posting a sign saying that they cannot take pets out of their cages for potential adopters because the shelters lack sufficient staff and volunteers to do this simple and vital task. Adequate staff cannot be hired because Mayeda has wasted a large part of her budget on paying legal settlements which could have been easily avoided had she bought liability insurance – something that all other shelter systems carry. Adequate numbers of volunteers cannot be hired, because Mayeda has a paid volunteer coordinator who has successfully avoided scheduling volunteer classes for two out of the last four years.

Mayeda has made it harder for rescues to save animals – and my e-mail account is constantly filled with frantic e-mails from rescues -pleading for help pulling pets – help which I cannot provide because of the latest policy prohibiting accredited rescues from pulling pets by e-mail or telephone.  Take Me Home Rescue, a valued rescue partner who have saved so many Boxers from our shelter system have decided that Mayeda’s regulations are so deliberately harsh and ridiculous that they make things too onerous for a responsible rescue to follow – and as a result they will no longer be pulling dogs from the Los Angeles County System.   Does Mayeda care?  The answer sadly is ‘no’.

The DACC has a published “Mission Statement” on its website www.animalcare.lacounty.gov . It says:

As the agency responsible for animal-related public safety, our mission is achieved through shared county values including professionalism, responsibility, compassion, commitment, integrity, accountability and community partnerships.

Every day that Marcia Mayeda keeps her job is an affront to this mission statement, and the plain and simple truth is pets die because of it.

  

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

  

Although it seems to many people including myself that my job is being a full time volunteer at, and critic of, the Los Angeles County shelter system, I actually do have a regular job , My commute is a little longer than most people’s and I am writing this blog from 7,000 miles and 10 light years away in Italy.

Here in Italy we do not have a stray dog problem and the municipal shelters are no kill. How in the world did they get that way? It isn’t only because Marcia Mayeda and her cronies don’t run the Italian shelter systems

It’s because there are strongly enforced laws that require all pets to be microchipped. Police are equipped with scanners, and failure to have your pet microchipped results in a 300 Euro ($390 US) fine. Willfully abandoning your pet can result in a 3,000 Euro ($3,900 US) fine. People cannot afford to not take care of their pets!

This is just one example of things that can be done to reduce the number of homeless, abused and unwanted pets. We need to look around, see what is working, and fight to implement it here!

  

Baldwin Park and Downey Pets Urgently Need Your Help

As so often is the case, Charles Dickens’ immortal words, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” best describes the past week for the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control.

In an unprecedented show of teamwork the Downey, Carson, Baldwin Park, and Lancaster shelters joined together in a transport of 41 dogs to Connecticut. I am pleased to report that each of the shelters operated flawlessly – and I can honestly say there is not a single thing they could have done better. If this becomes the normal way of doing things, which I believe it will be, I am extremely optimistic. I would particularly like to thank Danny Ubario and his Lancaster staff, who have all too often been maligned here and elsewhere, as they surprised everyone with their “can do” attitude. Let me say to all rescuers – give Lancaster a chance, they proved they’ve earned it.

This wonderful news was tempered by the reality that as good as the individual shelter are, there are some serious problems resulting from the poor management of Marcia Mayeda, the head of the Los Angeles Animal Care and Control. Because of Mayeda’s squandering of the DACC’s budget, manpower shortages are so severe that Carson had to politely tell potential adopters that they did not have enough shelter staff or volunteers to show pets on Thursday. Baldwin Park is so shorthanded that it sent an e-mail asking its volunteers to come in and help clean kennels and feed the shelter’s pets.

The shelters need volunteer help now more than ever. But the DACC’s volunteer coordinator, Rohmi Reed, has done such a poor job that the shelters do not have a sufficient number of approved volunteers to fill the need. For the second time in four years, Reed has gone a full year without scheduling the volunteer classes candidates are required to complete -even though she had literally thousands of applications from people wanting to donate their time. Many of the applications have been archived and ignored, but even more frightening is the number of applications which have been lost – given the fact that the information required by the DACC includes social security numbers and other personal information which would be a bonanza for identity thieves. The DACC has been notified of this problem, but so far have not, as required by Federal law, notified individuals potentially at risk of identity theft as a result of the mishandling of personal information.

The word ‘accountability’ does not exist in Marcia Mayeda’s vocabulary – and Mayeda, Reed and the gang that couldn’t shoot straight incredibly still have taxpayer funded jobs.

Every two weeks volunteers from the Downey Shelter and United Hope for Animals gather to take photographs and videos of the shelter’s pets. Anything you can do to help by adopting, rescuing or networking these pets is appreciated and urgently needed

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

  

As the moderator of the volunteer run Baldwin Park Animal Care Facebook page as well as an associate moderator of the Downey and Carson Shelters’ Facebook pages, the one insult constantly hurled at the shelter staff is that the staff is composed of people who love killing animals. It’s easy to criticize something that you either don’t understand or don’t want to understand. As yet I haven’t met a single person who enjoys the long walk to the back to the shelter with a doomed animal who is about to end up dead, stuffed in a barrel inside a freezer.

The sad fact is that in Southern California we have a significant portion of the population who do not want to spay/neuter their pets, and a government which is too apathetic to enact mandatory spay/neuter legislation. Because of this we have an exponential population explosion and there are just not enough homes – the supply constantly exceeds the demand. Consequently pets die anonymous deaths in the back of the shelter.

It is shattering to all of us – volunteers and staff alike – to see. We wish people would spay/neuter their pets and provide love and care for them throughout their lives. Part of being a responsible pet owner is microchipping your pet and keeping the microchip registration information current at all times, and making sure your pet is up to date on all his/her vaccinations. Moving is not a good excuse to jettison your pet. Having a new baby is not a good reason to dump your pet. Having your pet get “too old” is definitely not a good reason to abandon your pet.

  

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help

  

When I first started producing the Baldwin Park Animal Care Networking list in January of 2009 I never imagined so many people would come out of the woodwork to help the poor unfortunate pets impounded at this high intake shelter.  It’s left me in absolute awe of the power of networking as we’ve managed to achieve a 94 percent adoption rate for the dogs featured on the list.   People throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia have been helping us find homes for our pets and I now understand the concept of the global village.

In January of this year we took our networking list concept to the Downey Animal Care Center and they will probably adopt their 1,000th networked pet this week.  This week we are thrilled to have helped the fabulous Carson Animal Care Center volunteers with their debut networking list and we look forward to the Carson pets getting the same exposure that Baldwin Park pets have enjoyed.

Despite all our successes, we’ve had failures.  The unfortunate six percent of networked dogs who didn’t get homes haunts me every day.  But the real failure doesn’t lie with the individual care centers and their volunteers.  It lies with the Los Angeles County government.  We have either hit or are about to hit a ceiling on the number of pets that the DACC will permit us to adopt or rescue.   The Downey Animal Care Center can only perform 25 spay/neuters per day five days a week, and the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center can perform between 125 and 200 pets per week depending on the medical staff’s schedules.  The problem is that because we have been able to increase adoption numbers the clinics are full and the County hasn’t expanded its capacity to perform spay/neuter surgeries.

The reason for this appears to be financial.  The Department of Animal Care and Control just doesn’t have the money to bring in help and dogs and cats are dying as a result.

The DACC’s budget has been slashed due to the recession.  Mismanagement has compounded the problem.  The DACC paid out over six hundred thousand dollars to settle a legal claim that would have been covered by insurance, had the insurance been in place.  As a result vitally needed kennel attendant positions have been left vacant.  Both Downey and Baldwin Park have had to operate with only two kennel attendants on recent Sundays and as a result dogs were left in dirty kennels and without water for prolonged intervals.   We need to provide more volunteers to assist the overworked shelter staff, but the head of the DACC contracted with a video company to provide online training videos for volunteers at a price of $50 per person.  All volunteers, both new and existing, are required to watch these videos.  The videos have very little to do with the reality of working in the shelter environment and are of minimal value; better videos could be created and produced by our staff and volunteers for a fraction of the cost.    Because $50 per volunteer has a significant impact on budget, the DACC is trying to slow down volunteer training to control costs!