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Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

If one believes that government’s function is to serve the best interests of its people, the County of Los Angeles is woefully lacking. With Los Angeles mired in an historic drought, and fires sweeping across the county, the sale of fireworks is legal in 41 Los Angeles County communities. It seems like every street corner in Baldwin Park has a stand selling fireworks and the same can be said for other cities including Azusa, El Monte, La Puente and Downey.

During the weeks leading up to and following July 4th, legalized fireworks turn Los Angeles County’s communities into mini-Syrias as explosions punctuate the night. Scores of children will be maimed by fireworks, and the toll on pets will be even higher. With so many of these communities’ residents believing that pets should be kept outdoors, thousands of terrified pets will be frantically escaping their yards. The lucky ones end up being brought into the municipal shelters like Baldwin Park and Downey, the unfortunate ones meet gruesome end being hit by cars.

Less than 25 percent of all pets impounded by the Baldwin Park Shelter have collars with attached identification tags or microchips – and the shelter’s overall return to owner rate is only ten percent. The influx of unclaimed pets will lead to large scale euthanasia throughout the Los Angeles County Shelter system. This is especially true at Baldwin Park, which is down to 48 kennels as a result of renovation. The renovation is proceeding at a snail’s pace because Los Angeles County government’s corrupt and lazy Internal Services Division (ISD) is in charge of the construction – meaning that the taxpayer funded project will cost at least three times as much and take five times longer than the same construction would if performed by private sector contractors.

There is no accountability in Los Angeles County government. Local news coverage has been filled with scandals and criminal indictments in the sheriff’s and child services departments. The Court system is a mess, our school system is a failure, and this column has operated for four years exposing the daily scandals involved in the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control.

Nothing will change between now and July 4th. Our government will fail to be proactive and deliver the message in English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese – the most popular languages spoken in the Baldwin Park service area – that people need to bring their pets inside for the next month while the government sanctioned madness of fireworks erupts. Dogs and cats will flood the shelters – and the shelters’ freezers will be full of barrels of freshly euthanized pets.

It’s totally preventable madness, if only our elected government would show something approaching civic concern for their constituency’s welfare.

In the meantime, children will be maimed and pets will suffer. It’s business as usual for Los Angeles County.

 

Downey and Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

In her fifteen year tenure as Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC), Marcia Mayeda has worked diligently to earn a reputation for violating California and federal laws, actively encouraging and engaging in corruption, ruthlessly killing pets taking vengeance on any of her department’s employees or volunteers who question her numerous illegal acts. Many DACC observers have wondered how Mayeda has been able to act with such impunity – as any other government official in such blatant violation would have been forced out, perhaps with criminal charges leveled against them, as recently happened with Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

The fact is that Mayeda has survived because of her cozy relationship with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and particularly outgoing Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who have constantly thwarted investigations into her misdeeds. Some DACC critics have alleged that the Antonovich- Mayeda relationship is extremely close and personal but we have seen no evidence to confirm this.

Mayeda’s reign of error may finally be coming to an end as a result of her malicious attempt to railroad former Baldwin Park Kennel Attendant Erika Valles into accepting an unwarranted misdemeanor charge for animal cruelty. As previously reported in our May 23rd blog, Valles was photographing and documenting the mistreatment of animals by Mayeda crony and former Baldwin Park Shelter manager, Pat “Google Me” Claerbout in October of 2014. Claerbout, who has a long and documented history of animal abuse, grew angry and saw an opportunity for revenge when a kitten Valles was fostering came down with panleukopenia – an extremely contagious, nearly always fatal disease that kills hundreds of kittens at Baldwin Park every year. Claerbout seized and euthanized the kitten, and with Mayeda’s blessing had criminal charges brought against Valles.

Because Valles could not afford to hire a lawyer, Mayeda must have thought it would be a slam dunk to get Valles to take a deal and plead guilty. The deal would have involved community service, but no jail time for Valles, and left her with a conviction for animal cruelty on her record.

Mayeda was wrong.

Erika Valles, an Air Force veteran and a highly principled human being, refused the deal and has demanded a jury trial.  This could create serious problems for Mayeda, as Valles has been given leaked DACC documents showing that scores of kittens died in their cages of panleukopenia at Baldwin Park during the period when Valles was fostering and no one was prosecuted. A jury trial would also enable Valles to subpoena current and former Baldwin Park and DACC officials and question them under oath about a number of potentially embarrassing things, including an April 15, 2009 e-mail sent by a former DACC officer to the Board of Supervisors and Mayeda complaining about the systematic inhumane treatment of cats at Mayeda’s shelters.  A public relations firm has volunteered involvement to ensure media coverage.

By the time Valles’s case gives rise to a whistleblower lawsuit Antonovich will be termed out and have finally left the Board of Supervisors. The question is whether the new Board of Supervisors will want to swallow another judgement – especially since they have been discussing how to to reduce the $59.9 million in civil judgments and settlements and $59 million in attorney fees awarded against Los Angeles County in the fiscal year 2014-2015.

Will the new Board of Supervisors tolerate Mayeda’s illegal and immoral acts, or will they try to mitigate the damage by kicking her to the curb? We like to believe in the wisdom and integrity of our elected officials. The strange prosecution or persecution of Erika Valles may be the litmus test to judge Los Angeles County’s elected government.

Baldwin Park and Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

A few weeks ago we told how Baldwin Park Shelter manager Sheri Koenig somehow managed to adopt a Yorkshire terrier puppy for free from the Baldwin Park Shelter before the public had any access to said puppy. If any other DACC employee – other than Marcia Mayeda who is allowed to openly flaunt rules and regulations – had done this, they would have been suspended if not fired. However, no disciplinary action has been taken against Koenig, because she concocted a story claiming that she was fostering the dog and that an over-anxious clerk misunderstood and filed adoption rather than fostering paperwork.

There are several holes in Koenig’s story:

  1. Koenig told several people that she had adopted the pet on the morning the pet left Baldwin Park.
  2. The dog was a healthy owner turn-in who had not been made available to the public and was ineligible for foster.
  3. Koenig adopted the pup while in uniform, and when the shelter was not open to the public, both in violation of the DACCs written policy and procedures.
  4. The clerk who processed the original adoption papers does not have access to foster paperwork. Koenig claims she asked for foster rather than adoption paperwork to be issued and the clerk misunderstood her. It defies logic that Koenig would have asked this clerk to execute paperwork she did not have access to.
  5. Koenig returned the Yorkie to the Agoura shelter, which issued a receipt showing the dog as being an owner turn-in from Sheri Koenig. If the dog was a foster return no receipt would have been issued.

It is clear that Koenig violated DACC policy and was not disciplined. That same week, Marcia Mayeda suspended Downey Shelter manager Fred Agoopi for three days for taking responsibility for his employees euthanizing several pit bulls who had been at the facility for a long time, after his shelter had run out of kennel space. There were no notes saying that these dogs had holds on them, there was merely an expired interested party note from the head of the group running the shelter’s pit bull training program. Downey’s entire Sergeant corps were reassigned and the particular Sergeant who authorized the euthanization was also suspended. According to those in the know the reassignments and suspensions were because Mayeda had issued a “zero tolerance” policy for mistakes.

Meanwhile, back at Baldwin Park, Koenig had authorized the killing of scores of adoptable pets despite abundant kennel space several months ago. In the eyes of many, including this writer, she was caught inappropriately adopting a dog and clumsily attempted to cover it up by trying to say she was fostering it. In neither case was she disciplined. The demoralized Baldwin Park employees have reacted by shaking their heads and allegedly circulating a petition seeking her ouster, and many have suddenly and mysteriously fallen ill and had to call in sick. This past Friday there were only two kennel attendants at the shelter (the normal shift has at least four) and the main cat building was cleaned and the cats fed only when a volunteer stayed after hours to finish the job.

Marcia Mayeda renamed her animal holding facilities “care centers”, but there has been a shortage of care given to Baldwin Park shelter pets during Koenig’s tenure as manager. It seems that workers obeying DACC policy and procedures will be hunted down and disciplined, while a privileged few can flaunt the rules without consequences. It is a dangerous precedent to set for your staff – but that apparently does not bother either Marcia Mayeda or Sheri Koenig.

Downey and Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

Yesterday the Animal Legal Defense Fund held a seminar on animal cruelty.   Attendees were surprised to see Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) Director Marcia Mayeda in the audience listening to the proceedings.   In her fifteen year career as head of the DACC , Mayeda has had a poor record in bringing charges against animal abusers.   Sergeant Rachel Kemp Montez of the Lancaster shelter and several other DACC officers were summoned numerous times over the last eight years to the home of Palmdale School District Assistant Superintendent Pauline Winbush.   They saw injured pit bulls tied up, scarred and emaciated animals and dog fighting tools, yet failed to pursue an investigation. It wasn’t until Sheriff’s Deputies raided her house that the major dog fighting ring headed by Winbush and her boyfriend Kevin Williams was shut down and charges were brought – not by the DACC but by the Sheriff. In a plea bargain deal earlier this month Winbush pled no contest to a single felony charge – and was sentenced to 270 days in jail and five years probation.

However Mayeda and her crony Pat “Google Me” Claerbout were able to get one animal abuse case into court this week.   Former Baldwin Park Shelter kennel attendant Erika Valles was in West Covina Court to answer misdemeanor charges stemming from the death of a kitten she was fostering in October 2014.   While head of Baldwin Park’s shelter, Claerbout ordered employees to reduce the feeding of dogs as a cost cutting move. The dogs were getting thinner – some to the point of being emaciated – and Valles had begun photographing them to show the negligent care that the DACC was providing. When Claerbout heard about this she was upset, and upon finding out that Valles’ foster kitten was sick, Claerbout decided to get revenge. Valles had brought the kitten to the shelter in the morning to be examined by Baldwin Park’s veterinarian. The vet was busy and could not see the animal until later, so Valles, mindful of protecting other pets in the shelter, placed the kitten in a carrier in her car. Claerbout broke into the car and seized the kitten. The kitten was taken to the back of the shelter, diagnosed with panleukopenia and euthanized.  The shelter did not perform a necropsy and sent the body to a rendering plant. Without a body as evidence Claerbout was able to claim that the cat became sick due to Valles’ mistreatment and, in collaboration with Mayeda and the aforementioned Sergeant Montez-Kemp, filed charges against her.   What is ironic is that Baldwin Park killed over 100 cats the same week and closed down their cattery because of a panleuk epidemic that swept the shelter. Although Claerbout was directly responsible for the cats’ welfare no one was charged for their deaths.

Valles is being offered a plea bargain deal which does not involve jail time.   Because she has no financial resources to fight these baseless charges, Valles might have to take the deal. However, a whistle blower lawsuit which would vindicate Valles may be in the cards and Mayeda and Claerbout’s act of vengeance could end up costing the county millions of dollars in damages.

In Marcia Mayeda’s disastrous reign of error at the DACC, she has killed over 600,000 pets. She is a serial abuser of animals – which makes many observers wonder whether she attended the Animal Defense League’s seminar to learn how to be better at her job fighting animal abuse, or whether she was trying to learn how to abuse animals better.

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help

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.

Downey & Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

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.

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

In addition to her showing no compassion towards the pets entrusted to her care, Marcia Mayeda, the head of Los Angeles County’s Animal Control department has even more disdain towards the people who work for her. Mayeda has a track record of appointing morally challenged or incompetent shelter managers (her last two Baldwin Park managers serve as prime exhibits) and as a result she has so disillusioned the rank and file, that they have a tendency to feign illness and call in sick just so they don’t have to deal with the capricious mood swings of their supervisors. Volunteers also have felt unwelcome and are donating far fewer man hours of service than they did when the popular former manager Lance Hunter ran things with a gentler hand.

Things have gotten so bad at Baldwin Park that last weekend there were only two kennel attendants taking care of the shelter’s population of over 300 pets. These two employees put in their eight hours but did not finish feeding the shelter’s pet population. Sheri Koenig neither authorized overtime for her workers, nor called other Los Angeles County shelters to lend manpower assistance. According to Baldwin Park insiders as a result cats in the shelter’s Building 5 were locked in cat boxes without food or water for over 24 hours. This is entirely unacceptable.

There are several job openings posted on Los Angeles County’s website for animal control jobs – but Mayeda has not filled them. We are not sure if she is leaving these positions unfilled so she can save money and thereby qualify for an end of the year bonus from the Board of Supervisors, or whether she cannot fill them because she is such a terrible boss and no one wants to work for her.

Either way it is only the poor pets who suffer – which is entirely unacceptable to anyone with a shred of compassion. Unfortunately the only ones who can ameliorate this situation and force Mayeda to act responsibly and take care of her agency and its pets are the five members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors – Mike Antonovich, Sheila Kuehl, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Hilda Solis and Don Knabe. These elected representatives claim to represent the will of the citizens of Los Angeles County.

If indeed starving pets and providing negligent care is the will of Los Angeles County – we as citizens need to either fight to remove these unresponsive politicos and their horrific deputies from office or be eternally ashamed of ourselves.

Downey and Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help

Investigations of employee misconduct, resignations, firings under clouds of secrecy – it was just another week at the scandal-plagued Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC).

Deputy Director Derek Brown – who had been telling associates that he was going to resign before anyone “walked him out” (the term DACC employees use to describe HR hatchet man David Hou escorting terminated employees out of the building without their personal possessions) lived up to his word, perhaps for the first time in his long tenure at the DACC, submitted his two week notice and is set to return to Los Angeles City’s Animal Control agency – the same agency that widely celebrated his departure ten years ago. Brown was implicated in many scandals during his tenure at the DACC, including the cover-up of the Pamela DeVitt killing, squashing the investigation of a dog bite incident involving his own dog and repeatedly being found at home during working hours after telling colleagues he was leaving DACC headquarters to visit the Carson and Lancaster shelters.

Meanwhile, DACC insiders were snickering at Baldwin Park Shelter manager Sheri “Goldilocks” Koenig, who was caught adopting a Yorkshire Terrier puppy from the Baldwin Park Shelter in violation of DACC policies requiring that the dog be made available to the public before being adopted by a shelter employee. Adding fuel to the fire, Koenig took the dog without paying the adoption fee. Inside sources have told us that the matter has been taken up by Los Angeles County’s auditor who is “building a case” against Koenig for this incident as well as some allegations involving misuse of a County gas card and other improprieties. It may only be a matter of time until Koenig goes for a walk with Hou.

As anyone who has followed this blog knows, the widespread sleaze factor which seems to permeate the DACC did not occur in a vacuum. It oozes down from its leader, Marcia Mayeda. In 2009 her top deputy and until then best friend, Christine DeFranco wrote an e-mail, copying the Board of Supervisors, exposing the fact that Mayeda left work an hour early every day to go horseback riding.  The same Marcia Mayeda ordered her employees to stop putting things in writing lest their e-mails be subpoenaed and illegal acts be exposed. And the same Mayeda lied in front of the Board of Supervisors and covered up the DACC’s, and her own, role in the grisly death of Pamela DeVitt.

The ooze may come down from an even higher level – the Board of Supervisors. Two Los Angeles County government departments recently saw criminal indictments handed down. Sheriff Lee Baca was indicted for lying to the FBI and four Los Angeles County Social Workers were indicted for failure of duty in connection with the torture death of an eight year old boy.   Perhaps the DACC leader will be next in the dock facing indictment for criminal actions – only time will tell – but the bigger question is why corruption is flourishing in the departments overseen by the Board of Supervisors.

Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control has certain written policies which the agency is supposed to follow.   DACC Policy number HR240 states:

an employee may obtain an available animal under the same rules and regulations that apply to the public. The animal must have been held in the routine manner which would give no special advantage to the employee. No employee, while on duty or in uniform, may adopt an animal from a County Animal Shelter.

At 11:11 A.M. on April 3rd, Lucy a one year old purebred Yorkshire Terrier puppy was discarded at the Baldwin Park Shelter. Lucy’s former owners claimed she was suffering from head tilt and the dog was taken to the off-limits to the public medical building and placed in kennel B607.  Lucy was examined by Baldwin Park’s veterinary staff on Monday April 4th and the vets felt that the head tilt was merely due to an infection and prescribed antibiotics.

That same Monday,  Sheri Koenig, Baldwin Park’s unpopular shelter manager, arrived at work around 8 A.M. to start her shift. She was presumably wearing her official DACC shelter manager t-shirt.   Los Angeles County Shelters do not open to the public on Mondays until noon.  At 11:18 A.M., before the public was allowed access to the shelter, Koenig adopted Lucy.  Employees noted that Koenig did not go change her clothes to file the adoption paperwork.  To compound her violations of DACC policy she appears to not have paid any adoption fee – even though any member of the public would have been required to shell out $115 for the adoption, spay/neuter trust deposit and microchip.

It is ironic that Koenig violated DACC policy by adopting a dog and apparently taking a five finger discount in the process. On June 16th 2014, Koenig, then serving as manager of the DACC’s Lancaster facility, secured a search warrant for the home of a Lancaster employee who had violated DACC policy by adopting a white German Shepherd to the employee’s husband at a discounted price.  The employee was subsequently terminated.

Perhaps Koenig had a come to Jesus moment and tried to atone for her misdeeds – because on April 6th she decided to relinquish Lucy – but strangely enough she chose to send the dog to the DACC’s Agoura shelter rather than put the dog up for adoption at Baldwin Park.  Perhaps she did not want the scrutiny of people asking how she managed to get such a great deal on a highly adoptable dog, or perhaps it may have been for genuine concern that the pet be adopted from a shelter which serves a more economically advantaged community than Baldwin Park.  From Lucy’s perspective we are sure it was better for her to be at Agoura than at a dysfunctional shelter run by an even more dysfunctional manager.

We imagine that the DACC’s Human Resources Investigator and hatchet-man, David Hou may have to take time off from his job of not investigating the many illegal acts of his boss Marcia Mayeda and her deputy Derek Brown and drive out to Baldwin Park and ask a few pointed questions.

What with the recent reassignment of Carson Shelter Manager Lisa Eldridge to the Palmdale Shelter and the appointment of Javier Guttierez as her replacement , the DACC’s middle management ranks are extremely thin right now – and it will be interesting to see if Ms. Koenig is shown the door.

Downey & Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

In 1998, the state of California enacted SB 1785, popularly known as the Hayden Act, which was the first legislation in North America providing animals their own bill of rights.  Section 1 (b) (3) of the Act states “Shelters should aggressively promote spay and neuter programs to reduce pet overpopulation”  

The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) under its piss-poor leader Marcia Mayeda has failed to obey or even live up to the spirit of the legislation.   In the community the Baldwin Park Shelter serves, Azusa and West Covina, the two cities contributing the highest percentage of strays to the shelter system, do not have spay/neuter laws – and the DACC has not lobbied or even pressured the cities to enact one.  The city of El Monte, responsible for 21% of all Baldwin Park impounds during the time I was a volunteer, recently moved toward enacting a spay/neuter ordinance.  The DACC and Ms. Mayeda never once reached out to El Monte to encourage them to enact the legislation, did not attend a single hearing on the matter or send even one piece of correspondence to support the ordinance.  El Monte’s progressive City Council was persuaded to act due to the lobbying efforts of an El Monte high school teacher and this blogger.

The DACC built a spay/neuter clinic at Baldwin Park four years ago, but only provides services to its own pets Monday – Friday.  The taxpayer-financed clinic sits idle every night and during the weekends.  If the DACC truly wanted to increase spay/neutering in the community it would offer services to the public during these periods.  Marcia Mayeda has not done this.  So much for even passively promoting spay and neuter programs to reduce pet overpopulation.

The next clause in the Hayden Act, in Section 1 (b) (4) states, “Shelters should not adopt out animals that are not spayed or neutered”.   The DACC does try to spay most of their pets, but many are suffering from kennel cough and other diseases and are released deferred from surgery, and any pet over the age of seven is automatically deferred because the DACC does not want to pay for blood panels which are recommended for older pets by most veterinarians.  As a result nearly twenty percent of all pets adopted from the County are released unaltered.  Adopters pay a $50 spay/neuter trust deposit, commit to having the pet altered within a set period of time and take the pet home with them, often never to be heard from again. The DACC claims it is too understaffed to routinely follow up with adopters whose pets were deferred to get certificates of sterilization from them.  Instead their trust deposits sit in the DACC’s coffers.

We understand and support deferring pets due to illness and the last thing we want is the DACC to pull out its normal modus operandi by throwing the baby out with the bath water and banning all releases of unaltered animals. However, if Mayeda would furnish her veterinarians with any diagnostic equipment beyond a stethoscope and a parvo test kit the number of pets being released unaltered would dramatically fall.   A blood machine is not terribly expensive and would have a multitude of uses other than determining whether a senior pet is healthy enough to alter.  Five years ago a donor offered to donate a blood machine to Baldwin Park and were turned down.   A more aggressive follow up policy by the DACC on unaltered pets who were released for medical reasons is also needed – and could easily be implemented by assigning the task to the large number of employees who are currently being paid to do nothing by the DACC.

Marcia Mayeda’s inaction on spay/neuter is consistent with her inaction on nearly every other problem with the DACC.   Not once in the last decade has she held a public meeting where she could explain or be questioned as to what she does to earn her $238,000 plus county benefits salary.   This is the same administrator who ordered her staff to put nothing in writing lest it be subpoenaed at a later date.

The DACC under Mayeda hates transparency.  She is shielded by Mike Antonovich and the County Board of Supervisors who suppress any inquiries into Mayeda’s or the DACC’s actions – causing many to wonder what both she and the Board are hiding.  From the leaked documents that have already been provided to us from disgruntled DACC employees it is clear that the taxpayers are being taken for a ride by a corrupt bureaucrat, Marcia Mayeda, and perhaps an equally duplicitous Board of Supervisors.