Not everything will be coming up roses this Valentine’s Day as animal welfare organizations including Los Angeles based Eastwood Ranch Foundation, All About the Animals, Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation and Santa Barbara’s Davey’s Voice, are set to present the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors with a petition encompassing over 2,500 signatures demanding the repeal of local laws that were recently changed by the LA County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC).
Claiming the laws that were revised in September 2016 will “likely kill more homeless dogs and cats,” the Coalition will highlight changes to the County Code on Animals which included the removal of all record keeping requirements applicable to the DACC in entirety, and the effective removal of protections from euthanasia which previously applied for pets for six days following impound at one of the seven LA County Animal Care Centers.
In the petition, Laura Jones, CEO of All About the Animals states “With an euthanasia rate of approximately 50%, we are dumbfounded by these measures which were passed under the misleading assertion from Marcia Mayeda, Director of LAC Animal Care and Control, that they would ‘reunite owners with their lost pets’, when the reality is the polar opposite.”
“The statistics on outcomes for categories including adoption and euthanasia, which were previously accessible to the public, have been removed from the DACC website,” said Jones. “What have they got to hide?”
Patricia Poole, a resident of Glendale, who signed the petition, noted, “This was done the sneaky way. This Marcia Mayeda, Director of LAC Animal Care and Control should be fired immediately. She definitely has no love for animals.”
In a letter penned to the LA County DACC and Board of Supervisors, the Coalition summarize from an analysis conducted by Attorney Marla Tauscher (generously funded by Gretchen Lieff in the name of Davey’s Voice), which sets out in detail the ways in which the changes are perceived to be detrimental to both pets and the public.
“What is conspicuously absent from these amendments is any concern for the well-being of animals and due process rights for animal owners,” declared Tauscher in the petition. “If DACC were really motivated to reunite pets with their owners, they would fairly assess fines and fees for impounding animals and for ‘boarding’ of impounded animals and they would permit animal owners to make payments to cover those costs rather than hold the animals for ransom or force the owners to surrender their pets because they can’t afford the fees.”
“What other Government Department have you heard of that has zero requirements for record keeping,” inquired Tauscher. “The result is zero transparency, zero accountability.”
Valarie Ianniello, Director of Operations at the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation (AHWH), which recently launched its Canine Microchip Initiative in China to help protect stolen pets from ending up at the annual Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, will be addressing an adjustment that the Coalition feels should have been made to the Code on Animals.
“Our belief is that the DACC microchip scanning procedures are flawed, involving a search of only the County database and not external databases,” explained Ianniello. This, coupled, with the now reduced protection around the six-day stray hold, results in a potentially lesser chance of pets being reunited with their owners.”
The same Coalition of local animal welfare groups recently undertook a campaign which raised more than $10,000.00 to purchase beds and blankets for pets housed at four of the seven LA County Animals Care Centers (Downey, Carson, Baldwin Park and Lancaster), following observing hundreds of pets missing beds and blankets, or with broken, torn or worn beds, upon touring the seven shelters on November 19, 2016.
“What struck me was the most diverse and inconsistent treatment of the animals across the seven shelters; from the luxury of newly built Palmdale shelter with heated floors; to Lancaster shelter where there was barely a blanket in sight; from Agoura shelter, which has vast support from the local community where we observed pets dressed in cozy coats, to Downey shelter with the majority of pets laid out on a cold, hard floor,” shared Jones. “It just doesn’t seem fair.”
Jones also recalled a live radio interview she participated in back in August 2015 on KFI AM 640 along with Mayeda, where Mayeda claimed that the problems within her network of shelters stemmed from a lack of funding; “The real cause is the funding problem, and you know the Board of Supervisors is very supportive of this Department, and they really do want to be able to make sure to provide the care that we strive for the community. They are challenged with very strong competing priorities Countywide, such as the jail issue, homelessness initiatives and so forth, and there’s not that much County general funds to go around,” Mayeda said during the interview.
Jones went on to express surprise at this stance having recently uncovered via Public Record Request that Mayeda failed to spend $917,000 in the 2015/16 fiscal year which had been allocated to her Department by the Board of Supervisors for expenditure on projects deemed “short-term solutions to address critical unmet needs.” The planned projects included enclosing the euthanasia space at Carson Animal Care Center, which commenced in October 2016 and is set for completion in April 2017.
“Why did it take 14 months following approval of the funding for this critical project to get started?” questioned Jones who noted that only 40% of the projects had been completed as at January 19, 2017.
“Between the changes to the local laws that we feel are potentially detrimental to the rights of homeless pets and their owners, the abundance of missing (or broken) beds and blankets, and other perceived problems with the operation of the Department of Animal Care and Control, we paint a bleak picture for the homeless pets of LA County, not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day,” concluded Ianniello. “Where is the love for these voiceless souls?”
Photo Credit: StandWithRandPac.org