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Baldwin Park & Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control last week staged its own version of spring cleaning – but the end result may have left its shelters even dirtier.

At Downey nearly all the Sergeants were transferred from the shelter for questionable reasons. One Sergeant was transferred for having allowed several Pit Bulls, who were featured on a popular internet networking site, to be euthanized after the dogs’ hold period had long past expired. Another Sergeant, one of the hardest working people at the shelter, was transferred to the Call Center, allegedly because some kennel attendants were slacking off on the days when the Sergeant wasn’t working.   Their replacements are a very capable freshly promoted Sergeant from Baldwin Park, a worker with neither kennel nor field experience, and a person from the DACC’s call center. It remains to be seen if these people are fully prepared to excel at their new assignments.

Meanwhile at Lancaster, the shelter was buzzing about a male employee who was promoted to Sergeant despite his having been caught on camera making unwanted sexual advances on a fellow shelter employee on multiple occasions. This same employee had also been recently written up for punching the time-clock for an absentee field officer – who happens to be his live-in girlfriend.   Lancaster also is the temporary home of former Baldwin Park manager, Pat “Google Me” Claerbout, who has been overheard claiming that she is about to be installed as head of the soon to be opening Palmdale Shelter. Hopefully this is blustering on Claerbout’s part – but with the DACC having a horrific track record has never been a bar to promotion or employment.

If the DACC is truly interested in cleaning up its act – which we believe it isn’t – the change must start at the top. Marcia Mayeda, the scandal plagued head of Animal Control, has proven herself over time to be perhaps the most corrupt and morally deficient department head in Los Angeles County’s government (the same government that until recently employed Sheriff Lee Baca)- yet she keeps getting promoted – even after her actions contributed to the death of jogger Pamela DeVitt.   Mayeda can move around all her middle managers, and shuffle her peons, but it will not wipe clean either the scum or the stench that emanates from her own office.

 

Downey & Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help

Perhaps the number one complaint of customers of Los Angeles County’s Shelter shelter system (DACC) is its byzantine adoption process.   In most shelter systems pets cannot be reserved until they are actually available for adoption, but Los Angeles County allows people to place a “Commitment to Adopt” (CTA) as soon as the pet enters the shelter.  Potential adopters stand in line at the shelter for up to an hour and, if they are lucky enough to be the first one to ask about the pet’s availability, they are able to place a CTA. The person who places the CTA has the right to adopt the pet on the first day the pet becomes available. The problem is that the shelter does not place a note on the pet’s kennel to indicate that the pet is already reserved.   If another potential adopter wants the same pet they have to wait in line only to be told there is already is a CTA on the pet. We recently saw a potential adopter go through the line at the Downey shelter five times, inquiring about a different pet each time, only to find out that the pet already had a CTA. After wasting several hours in line they left and were overheard saying it would be easier to adopt a pet on Craigslist.

Further muddling the adoption process is the DACC’s policy of not requiring payment to be made when a CTA is placed.  The DACC’s rationale is that the owners of stray pets might come and reclaim their pet – thereby forcing the DACC to refund the payment to the CTA holder.

The problem is that more than 25 percent of people placing a CTA never show up to pick up their pet. Some CTA holders plain forget, while others are unwilling to wait and adopt a pet they can immediately bring home be it either from another shelter or Craigslist.

Pets whose CTA holders don’t show up languish in the shelters because potential adopters have been told the pet already has a CTA and is unavailable. This is harmful and sometimes fatal for the pet, and it contributes to shelter overcrowding by delaying adoptions.

We suggest that the DACC adopt the policy that most other shelter systems use including Los Angeles City, Kern County, Bakersfield, Riverside and Long Beach. Anyone wanting to adopt a pet can come to the shelter on or after the day the pet is made available for adoption. If more than one person wants the same pet, all interested parties come to the shelter on the morning of the first day that pet is available and the adopter is determined by lottery.   The winning adopter pays the adoption fee, and, if the pet is not altered, is given a date and time to pick up the pet.   If the adopter does not show up they forfeit the adoption fee and the pet is immediately available for adoption by other interested parties.

This system would save lives, increase revenue streams and reduce the time pets spend in Los Angeles County’s crowded shelters.  It also would have the added benefit of not having so many people leaving the shelters firmly convinced that Los Angeles County’s shelters are too difficult to adopt from.  Losing potential adopters to Craigslist and backyard breeders only perpetuates shelter overcrowding and euthanasia – something that sadly does not keep DACC head, Marcia Mayeda up late at night worrying about.

 

Baldwin Park and Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help

For years the Baldwin Park Shelter worked hard to earn a well-deserved reputation as the most rescue-friendly shelter in Southern California. Staff and volunteers worked together, leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to find homes and rescues for the unfortunate pets impounded at the facility.   Sadly those days are gone, as Marcia Mayeda, the feckless head of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control deliberately dismantled and destroyed the shelter, first by appointing Pat “Google Me” Claerbout as shelter manager despite her horrific record, and when Claerbout predictably violated the laws of morality as well as the laws of the State of California, replacing her with Sheri “Goldilocks” Koenig who was given the Baldwin Park job after the Lancaster shelter’s staff had risen up against her and demanded her removal.

Since Koenig’s arrival, the shelter has been wantonly killing pets for time rather than for kennel space or temperament. With 70 empty dog kennels staff were being ordered to kill. With 50 empty cat kennels, staff were being ordered to kill. Even though instructions have now been issued to reverse this heartless policy morale has plummeted to the point where Baldwin Park’s staff routinely call in sick and the shelter is understaffed, with workers frequently having to double shift just so the shelter can keep its doors open. Volunteers are angry because they are no longer allowed on the premises outside of the hours when the shelter is open to the public.   The shelter’s highly effective networking team has been ordered to limit their activities and told which pets they can and cannot help. Adding insult to injury, Baldwin Park’s staff will no longer will upload the professional photographs taken by volunteers onto the County’s website – photographs which have in the past greatly increased adoption/rescue traffic into the shelter.

Under former manager Lance Hunter, the philosophy was if people won’t come to the Baldwin Park shelter, let’s bring the shelter to them.   Baldwin Park staged an average of eight mobile pet adoptions each month throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area. These MPAs are now few and far between – although we were gratified that Baldwin Park chose to participate in last weekend’s successful MPA at Pet Food Express’ new store in Long Beach. Not only did Baldwin Park adopt out nearly all the pets it brought to the event – the incredibly rescue friendly Pet Food Express company donated $50 for each pet brought to the event.

Shelters need to be innovative and responsive to be successful. Baldwin Park is neither and pets die as a result. Marcia Mayeda has lost all interest in managing the shelter system effectively; her primary concern seems to be remaining in place and collecting a salary for as long as possible . Mayeda will always be protected by her masters at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors – who only respond to people who make large political donations. Pets don’t give money, they only give love – and therefore are useless to Supervisor Mike Antonovich and his colleagues.

 

Downey and Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help

For the last four months and for the foreseeable future Los Angeles County Department of Animal Control (DACC) has lowered its adoption prices to $15 for dogs and cats are being given away for free. Although critics question the quality of these adoptions and the bounce-back rate has been fairly high, there is little question that the program has been hugely successful and that the euthanasia rates have dropped considerably at every Los Angeles County shelter.

However the increased adoption activity has had an unanticipated downside as often the DACC spay/neuter clinics have not been able to keep up with adoptions. Marcia Mayeda the supercilious head of DACC only provides veterinarians at her shelters Monday – Friday, and Downey’s medical staff can only alter between 25 and 30 pets per day. For the last several weekends, members of the public placing   “Commitments to Adopt” on unaltered Downey pets have been told that they could not pick up their pets until the following Wednesday due to the huge adoption demand. Right now while shelter populations are low, very few pets are dying at Downey for wont of a kennel; but if history serves as a guide, in two months the shelter will be filled beyond capacity and pets will be killed because too many kennels are being occupied by adoption pending pets waiting to be sterilized.

There are two easy solutions available for the DACC, if the agency truly wants to avoid killing pets because they can’t provide timely sterilization services. First they can remove the red tape obstacles preventing the DACC from bringing in outside veterinarians to the County’s spay/neuter facilities either in the evenings or weekends. Secondly they can make a deal with the ASPCA whose mobile spay/neuter van sits idle in Downey Shelter’s parking lot Monday through Friday.   This van can easily alter twenty pets per day and currently is only used on weekends.

Meanwhile Baldwin Park is soon going to undergo much needed renovations. The plans are to refurbish one kennel building at a time and the project will take over a year. During the renovation the loss of a building will mean that the shelter will lose 48 kennels or the ability to house nearly 100 dogs. We are hoping that the DACC will try to minimize the impact of Baldwin Park’s lost kennels by facilitating daily transfers to the high adoption Agoura shelter.  Agoura has been averaging over 20 empty kennels every day for the last year and can easily absorb a great deal of the volume if a transport protocol and program is competently instituted.  To further help Baldwin Park, Wings of Rescue has also agreed to step in and transport its pets to safety to no kill facilities in the Pacific Northwest.

Lastly, Marcia Mayeda has scornfully stated that she never reads this blog. It is gratifying that the reading challenged bureaucrat is perhaps one of the few DACC employees who don’t.   This was proven when within hours of the publication of last week’s piece exposing Baldwin Park’s management decision to throw away donated food, arrangements were made with a local food bank to receive and distribute any future donations to those members of the community who need assistance. We give full marks to DACC Deputy Director Danny Ubario for quickly stepping in to bring a happy and productive solution, but seriously question how shelter manager Sherry Koenig could have been so insensitive and clueless as to authorize the food to be thrown into dumpsters in the first place.

 

Baldwin Park and Downey Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

Only two years ago, the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center was perhaps the best run municipal shelter in Southern California. It was a model rehoming center, where pets were treated kindly, the public was treated fairly and the staff and volunteers shared a camaraderie with the rescue community as they were empowered to try anything within reason to save the lives of impounded pets. In two short years things have changed and the once proud facility could be sued for fraud for describing itself as either a “Care Center” or a “Shelter”.

For years the shelter’s former manager, Lance Hunter, spent countless hours cultivating relationships within the economically challenged community which the shelter primarily serves. Because of his compassion, corporations like Walmart, Petco and Petsmart would routinely donate soon to be expiring bags of food to the shelter. As anyone who does the least bit of research knows, expired food is still nutritionally good for at least a year past its date. Yet as you see in the picture below, the shelter’s inept kennel manager ordered an enormous quantity of usable food to be thrown away last Monday – instead of donating it to the countless number of people who surrender their pets because they can no longer afford to feed them – or to local food banks serving the public.

IMG_4291
It’s not just food that is being wasted. The facility has 192 dog kennels and its population has been hovering around 150 dogs for the last month meaning that there are a minimum of 42 empty kennels – and in reality closer to 70 empty kennels as many, if not most, small dogs always share kennels. Adoptions and rescues have been high at Baldwin Park and other Los Angeles County shelters due to the ongoing special $15 adoption fee, but a good deal of the empty kennels can be accounted to euthanization. A perusal of recent euthanasia logs showed that 39 dogs were killed in a ten day period and only 7 were for medical reasons. The other 32 were killed for “behavior”. Were these all bad dogs? Absolutely not. A4908865, Mortimer was a reserved but friendly nine year old Corgi/Chihuahua mix who was described as “Low key”, “friendly” and “calm” by the shelter’s volunteers on their networking list yet he was killed for behavior. Betty, A4909861, a two year old Pit Bull who had passed her shelter given temperament test and was described as “happy” and “joyful” by the volunteers was promptly killed for behavior three days after having being added to the networking list.

Meanwhile Baldwin Park’s cat population is at an historic low. The ASPCA is funding a transport program and has offered to save nearly every adoptable cat at Baldwin Park – and unfortunately has been unable to fill the demands of no kill shelters who would like to receive these pets. Yet Sherry Koenig and her minions were killing cats with a vengeance, in a recent week claiming that 47 of Baldwin’s cats were feral. Odd then, that over half of these cats were socialized enough for shelter workers to determine their sex and vaccinate them.

According to Baldwin Park staff, the facility has adopted a new policy that dogs who fail temp tests will be killed the following day. Who is assessing the behavior of animals and determining that they should die? It is unconscionable that there is not one certified animal behaviorist in the employ of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Control. Temperament tests given by Baldwin Park (and all other DACC shelters) are poorly designed, frequently poorly administered and graded subjectively by people who are unqualified to give them. A few years ago Baldwin Park volunteers challenged the temperament test results of 10 dogs who failed their temp test during the period of one month. All were retested and 8 of them passed their retest.

To further anger volunteers and employees, Baldwin Park’s senior staff has decided that it is holding on to injured dogs too long. Even though there is plenty of kennel space the lives of highly adoptable dogs with fractured limbs or pelvises are now in danger.

Baldwin Park has become a senseless animal slaughterhouse under the failed leadership of first Pat “Google Me” Claerbout and now Sheri “Goldilocks” Koenig – both hired by the morally bankrupt DACC head Marcia Mayeda. Mayeda has a fourteen year track record and a body count of over 600,000 pets and one 63 year old grandmother, Pamela DeVitt, to prove she has nothing but contempt for the public and the animals she is sworn to protect.

Downey & Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

According to its website:

The County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care (sic) and Control relies on volunteer support from the community to provide additional public service and animal care programs that are vital to a healthy community.

Indeed the DACC is perpetually in need of free volunteer labor to compensate for chronic shelter understaffing, which is due in large part to Director Marcia Mayeda. Once a county employee has worked six months they are protected by Civil Service regulations making it extremely difficult to fire them even when they have exhibited serious misconduct, with the result being that they continue on payroll with full pay and benefits while being suspended from duty. Currently numerous DACC employees are being paid not to work at the jobs they were hired to do because they mistreated pets, stole money or County property, failed to show up at work or engaged in other misconduct. Others have been banished for challenging illegal acts ordered by Mayeda or for seeking better care for the pets.

At Baldwin Park pets would never be walked, groomed or marketed for adoption/rescue if not for the shelter volunteers. It was therefore surprising – if not downright insulting – for Baldwin’s volunteers to receive an e-mail last week from DACC volunteer coordinator Rohmi Reed telling them:

“Building 4 is off limits to volunteers.  There is no need for volunteers to be in this area.”

Insiders state Reed is the messenger, not the culprit, and the new regulations were promulgated by Baldwin’s unpopular manager “Goldilocks” Koenig. But regardless of who is responsible the point is that deserving, adoptable dogs are being hidden from the public in Building 4 and may die as a result. While there are quarantined and aggressive dogs housed in the building, seventy-five percent of Building 4’s population consists of sick dogs, nursing moms, dogs too big to fit into Baldwin’s regular kennels and dogs hidden so they can be cherry picked by rescues and transports or presented at Board of Supervisors meetings. These dogs deserve to be seen and given a chance to find a forever home, yet Koenig has put them off limits in a condescending and rude way.

This anti-volunteer attitude coincides with several other recent and highly questionable Koenig policies. Volunteers have been ordered to leave the shelter as soon as it closes to the public – something that was never the policy at Baldwin Park and is not the policy at the Downey, Agoura or Carson facilities. She has instructed staff not to share information with members of the facility’s volunteer networking team – so the volunteers now find it difficult to inform the public or the rescue community of information needed to match pets with suitable homes and secure needed medical care for them. What is ironic is that this information could easily be obtained through a Freedom of Information request. However, Koenig views this info as top secret in much the same way as she tried to prevent word of her unconscionable killing sprees (such as when she ordered nearly every rabbit and cat in the shelter as well as quite a few dogs to be massacred over the Christmas holidays despite having a plethora of empty kennels) from leaking out.

It’s time for Koenig and her patron Marcia Mayeda to abandon their Stalinist approach to running their shelters. There is no reason for day to day shelter activities to be state secrets. It is time for the Mayeda/Koenig team to stop treating Baldwin Park’s volunteers as “mushroom partners” to be kept in the dark and continually fed shit.

 

Baldwin Park Shelter and Downey Pets Urgently Need Your Help

On January 14th, the Los Angeles Times ran an excellent story by Abby Sewell documenting how the County of Los Angeles has seen a dramatic increase in legal costs in defending itself against lawsuits brought by the public.   In the fiscal year 2014-2015, Los Angeles County paid over $59.9 million in judgments and settlements and almost an equal amount, $59 million in attorney fees.   According to Sewell, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors are going to discuss how to combat these rising drains to its budget this week.

Being the highly civic minded person that I am, I would like to offer a few easily implemented suggestions which could save a shitload of money that could be diverted to positive alternatives than wasting our tax dollars defending the misdeeds of the inept, corrupt and complicit directors, managers and employees of the County of Los Angeles.

My first suggestion is to cut the rotting limbs to save the body: Fire the corrupt and inept directors, managers and employees.    Exhibit A1:  Los Angeles County Animal Control ” Director ” Marcia Mayeda who routinely violates California law, and the same policies and procedures which she instituted and mandated her employees follow.

Under Mayeda’s failed leadership, because she concerns herself only with appearances while neglecting all duty to the public and the animals she is supposed to serve, the department has continually been dragged into court for its untenable violations of the Hayden Act, (see the infamous ‘JoJo’ case, Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, Travis Bosquez, Rebecca Merrill and Denise Wheeler vs. County of Los  Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control Case no BS144497 in Superior Court and Nguyen et al vs Los Angeles County et al and for their negligence and after the fact cover – up in the negligent and wrongful death oPamela DeVitt after she was fatally mauled by a pack of unlicensed, unaltered stay Pit Bulls  (Benjamin DeVitt, Tad Devitt and April DeVitt against County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control and Marcia Mayeda.  Case No: BC 568584) to name but a few.

In the ongoing DeVitt case, Los Angeles County hired  Carpenter, Rothans & Dumont a firm enriching itself by defending the county’s flagrant and unapologetic wrong-doers (talk about selling your soul to the devil) to defend the grotesque caricature that is Marcia Mayeda and the DACC.

At the time of DeVitt’s fatal mauling Los Angeles County Ordinance Title 10, Division 1, Section 10.12.090 stated that (the director of animal control) shall take into custody:

a.)   All unlicensed dogs

d.) dogs and other animals running at large

f.) sick, injured, stray, unwanted or abandoned animals

Carpenter, Rothans & Dumont’s attorneys argued (with straight faces) that the word ‘shall’ does not require mandatory duty on the part of the DACC – and that it was merely a coincidence when two weeks after Ms. DeVitt was killed that the Board of Supervisors modified the law changing the word “shall” to “is authorized to”.   Really? Really.

These same attorneys are also spending your tax dollars to make the specious argument that copies of Plaintiff Tad DeVitt’s discharge papers from the Army showing that he retired from the Army in April of 2015 do not prove that he was discharged from the army in April of 2015.

We do not know exactly what Carpenter, Rothans & Dumont are charging Los Angeles County to sell their souls to make such arguments but the blood money is being paid by LA County taxpayers !  Yes! Our tax dollars at work to defend the negligent, reckless and grotesquely overpaid  “Director” of the DACC – Marcia Mayeda for not protecting the public – the very job she is being paid to perform!

There is evidence that Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich not only knows how corrupt his Director of Animal Control is, but conspired with her to institute the DeVitt coverup – and therefore will spend the County into oblivion defending his morally undefendable  employee, Marrcia Mayeda.  So if the Board of Supervisors decides as Ms. Sewell says to figure out why their legal costs are so high – we can suggest they save time by insisting that Mr. Antonovich bring a mirror with him.

Downey & Baldwin Park Shelters Urgently Need Your Help!

No Kill.

When applied to anything, especially animal shelters, this slogan sounds so right that we cannot imagine anyone living in Western Civilization being against it.   For those of us in Southern California – and many other areas of the United States – who have dedicated our energies to saving shelter pets No Kill is certainly the goal, but it is a Sisyphean task. There are too many unaltered pets procreating in our streets and backyards, and there are too few adopters and fosters in our communities. You don’t have to accept this as being morally correct, but you cannot ignore the reality that until the number of pet births equals, or is less than the number of adopters, rescues and fosters, municipal open admission shelters will continue to be pet killing facilities.   It sucks, but it is the cold hard unvarnished truth.

The problem is that no matter how much we dream and crave that all shelters truly become “No Kill” we can’t trust the No Kill movement. Nathan Winograd and his well-funded No Kill coalition decided to redefine the phrase ‘No Kill’ as a 90 percent live release rate. Apparently the other ten percent – the pets who were killed – do not count as having been killed. I may not be an expert on the English language but to me saying you are “No Kill” when you kill ten percent, is like saying “I am a vegetarian – I only eat meat on the weekends.” It is disingenuous at best and downright fraudulent at worst. If a facility kills only one pet, they cannot honestly claim that they are ‘No Kill”.

There are many national fundraisers promoting the No Kill cause.   With religious zeal they sell t-shirts and books, erect billboards, take money for speaking engagements and solicit donations. Some of the money is used to save shelter animals but where does the rest of it go? Kim Sill’s outstanding documentary Saved in America shows that all too much of this money goes to salaries, lobbyists, advertising and fundraisers, who raise even more money so they can increase the organizations’ salaries, secure even more lobbyists and buy even more advertisements soliciting funds.

So what does this all mean? Should we give up trying to save shelter pets’ lives and working to improve the lives of the stray dogs and cats? Absolutely not. However we have to do so honestly and transparently. The only way we are truly going to become No Kill is for spay/neuter laws to be enacted and rigorously enforced with significant fines levied against offenders. Revenue from dog licenses needs to be increased by having canvassers in the field checking to see if residents’ pets are licensed. In the city of Los Angeles it is estimated there are one million dogs kept as pets, yet there are only 100,000 dog licenses. Fines for failing to alter and license pets should be used to fund not only the shelters themselves, but to also operate low cost spay/neuter clinics. We cannot leave packs of feral and unaltered wild dogs on the streets to starve and freeze to death as Brenda Barnette, Los Angeles City’s head of Animal Control, does to keep her euthanasia numbers down and make it look like her giveaway of a Los Angeles shelter facility to a national fundraising organization has had any salutary effect.

Having the available revenue is not the solution in and of itself. Municipal shelters need to change the fundamental way they think. They need to stop being secretive government agencies who kill animals and then carefully manicure their statistics to make it appear that they are improving.   The only way to escape this never-ending tragedy is for the shelters to be inclusive, embrace their constituency and work in cooperation with them. Volunteers, rescues and the general public need to be included in the decision making process so that we can transform the shelters from being pet warehouses to becoming pet adoption centers.   Laws need to be changed to allow residents to have pets based on the amount of land they have and their ability to care for them, rather than a strict three pet per household limit. Landlords need to be motivated to allow renters to have pets.

I doubt I’ve met anyone – including Marcia Mayeda and “Google Me” Claerbout – in the Los Angeles metropolitan area who is against true No Kill. But I’ve never met a head of animal control who has either the balls or the insight to actually implement it.  It’s time to stop believing and parroting slogans printed on t-shirts and be honest with ourselves.  Pets are being killed in our municipal shelters – and we are all seriously drinking the Koolaid if we think that anyone is “saving them all” – we haven’t come even close – and as long as pets are dying in our shelters we have not only failed as a society –  we’ve also allowed someone to get rich off of it.

Baldwin Park & Downey Pets Urgently Need Your Help!

Like nearly every other government-run open admission animal shelter, Los Angeles County’s shelter system is woefully underfunded. Even if you take out the bloated salary and benefits given to Marcia Mayeda, the morally challenged despot running the operation, and if you subtract the salaries of all her tragic hires who are being paid not to work because of their misconduct and her inability to fire them due to their civil service protection, the agency is not sufficiently funded to provide homeless pets with anything beyond the most basic care.

The saving grace is that there are thousands of kindhearted people who selflessly donate their time and money to help the unfortunate pets who find themselves in these refugee camps. These people are called “volunteers” and without their donations of time and labor the shelters would not be able to provide even minimal care.

Volunteers should be cherished – and at some Los Angeles County Shelters, particularly Agoura and Downey, they are. Regrettably, at Baldwin Park the opposite is true. In prior years Baldwin Park volunteers often spent 8 hours a day at the shelter – sometimes arriving at 5 A.M. to prepare pets for mobile adoptions and not leaving until the event was over and the pets were kenneled and fed at 9 P.M. Volunteers made transports possible, showing up at the shelter at 4 A.M. to make sure that pets were at LAX by 8 A.M. There was a camaraderie amongst staff and volunteers and a sense of shared purpose.

When Sheri “Goldilocks” Koenig took over at Baldwin everything changed. A Baldwin Park volunteer who showed up on New Year’s to help clean cages and feed the animals was told that volunteers were no longer allowed in the shelter on holidays.   The shelter’s lead cat volunteer – let’s call her “Kitty” – who spent 8 hours a day every day at the shelter, was suspended for two months because, in response to a question posted on her personal Facebook page, she truthfully confirmed that Baldwin Park had recently killed off most of its cat and rabbit population on the orders of Koenig.   Koenig denied going on Kitty’s Facebook page which was ironic considering that she had, a few days previously, told a group of Baldwin volunteers that she enjoyed reading their Facebook pages. During Kitty’s absence cat adoptions plummeted and cages were often cleaned improperly – when they were cleaned at all.

Last week Koenig met with Kitty to discuss her reinstatement, one condition of which was that Kitty divulge no information about the number of animals killed. Apparently Goldilocks thinks that this should be a state secret and hasn’t yet learned that the euthanasia statistics are posted on the DACC’s own web site!   She also banned Kitty from fostering kittens because she was, according to Koenig, the first foster ever to have kittens come down with the deadly disease Panleukopenia.   For years Baldwin Park’s cattery has been losing hundreds of cats to Panleuk and nearly every foster has lost kittens to the disease – but as usual Koenig was either lying or poorly informed.

Goldilocks reinstated Kitty – but limited her to volunteering three hours a day, four days a week and only during the shelter’s open-to-the-public hours.

Needless to say when you treat volunteers this way, you lose volunteers. When you lose volunteers your staff members, already stretched thin, pick up the slack as best they can. Conditions worsen, pets become sick and staff members are demoralized. It’s a vicious cycle.

What is ironic is that while this drama was going on there were several transports offered of both cats and dogs offered to Los Angeles County’s shelter system by the two major transport charities helping the shelter system. Baldwin Park claimed it did not have enough eligible pets for transport. Perhaps if the shelter had not killed so many pets over the Christmas holidays – they might have been able to send them on transport to safety at no kill shelters!

As a follow up to last week’s blog entry about Koenig killing pets over Christmas while there were kennels sitting empty at Baldwin – the DACC leadership has removed Koenig from making euthanasia decisions. These decisions will now be made by a trio of Baldwin Park senior staff – two of whom in particular are well respected by rescue groups and volunteers alike as they have a track record of doing everything within their power to save pets.

Downey & Baldwin Park Shelter Pets Urgently Need Your Help

Last week, Baldwin Park staff and volunteers received a newsletter from their shelter manager, Sheri Koenig.   Like most communications from any DACC official, it was full of boring banal tripe, until it got to the last paragraph where Koenig wrote:

“if anyone has any suggestions on improvements for our care center (sic), please feel free to see me.”

I’m not sure how many comments Koenig received from her readers, but I certainly received quite a few from Baldwin Park’s staff and volunteers .   Feeling that Ms. Koenig would either pay no attention to, or retaliate against, them if they expressed their opinions directly to her they asked me to convey their thoughts via this blog.

One staff member e-mailed, “how about stop contradicting yourself by telling everyone how pro-adoption/rescue you are one minute, and then ordering us to go pull (pets to be killed) the next minute when we have a shitload of empty kennels.”

A volunteer suggested, “you say it is ‘our care center” If it indeed is our ‘care center’ that means we should have some say in who runs it, and in that case you should resign immediately and let someone who wants to help save animals run it.”

Those were just some of the printable ones.   I received two e-mails suggesting that Ms. Koenig do something which is biologically impossible and then cease living – and heard from several other Baldwin Park people who expressed similar sentiments.

Why the discontent?   Well, it was not a particularly happy holiday at Baldwin Park after Koenig ordered her staff, on December 24th, to celebrate Christmas by killing fifteen cats despite having a plethora of empty cat kennels.   Perhaps fearing that she would be perceived as discriminating against felines, Koenig followed it up by snuffing out the lives of eighteen dogs (including a four month old German Shepherd puppy) on December 26th – despite having over thirty empty dog kennels. Koenig’s excuse for bumping off the cats was they had overstayed their time (generally on average less than ten days) while for the dogs it was that she was “unable to kennel” them.

As one disgruntled staff member explained “It (expletive deleted) sucks here. I thought I was hired to provide care and save lives, not to kill just to save money on pet food.” Another Baldwin Park staffer added, “At least with Google Me Claerbout (Baldwin’s disgraced former shelter manager who was driven out of the shelter last Spring) everyone knew she was just pure evil. With Goldilocks (Koenig’s nickname) she is either stupid, incompetent or a liar, or a combination of all three, you just never know.   What I think is that Marcia (Mayeda) is mad at us for organizing to get rid of Claerbout, and this is her way of exacting revenge against us.”

Facts speak louder than words.  Koenig should be removed from her job, as should Marcia Mayeda, the morally challenged head of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Control, who once again proved if there is a bad decision to be made – she is just the person to make it.