Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mad Dogs

NY Times Op-Ed
August 27, 2006
Mad Dogs
By Ted Kerasote

This week, Judge Peter Kelly of the New York State Supreme Court may incarcerate 1.4 million New Yorkers. Their crime? Being dogs.

The Juniper Park Civic Association in Queens is taking the city to court over its 1959 leash law, which requires dogs in public places to be restrained by a leash of no more than six feet. In recent years, the law hasn’t been fully enforced. Instead, city park administrators have accommodated the recreational needs of dogs and their owners by instituting “courtesy hours”, usually between 9 PM and 9 AM, during which dogs, under the voice command of humans, can be off-leash in designated areas of the parks. The crown jewel of the courtesy-hour system is Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, where one can see dozens of dogs frolicking on weekday mornings and several hundred on the weekend.

But with 1.4 million dogs in the city, someone in some park at some time will be bitten, just as someone will be struck by a softball, hit by a cyclist or run over by a car. The association has argued that the public must be protected from these occasional bites by restraining dogs at all times. Their reasoning is hardly unique. Across America, more and more urban and suburban communities have instituted leash laws, not only to protect the public against dog bites, but also to protect against lawsuits.

The upshot is that dogs lead ever more incarcerated lives at the end of a very short lead, and dog owners don’t get to play with them in the way dogs and people have interacted for thousands of years. This loss might be viewed as one of the tradeoffs that comes with living in an urbanized world -- if, that is, leash laws actually worked as intended.

But after nearly 50 years of watching them in operation, we can say that they’ve brought about the opposite of what we’ve hoped: dogs that are constantly leashed aren’t as well socialized as dogs that get to meet other dogs off-leash; they display more behavioral problems; and they’re often more aggressive. These are the very sorts of dogs that, spending their lives away from their own kind -- often in a city apartment or suburban yard -- bark their heads off at passers-by, make the mailman’s life hell and act aggressively toward other dogs and people.

Yet, proponents of strong leash laws have a point: 4.7 million dog bites were reported by the Centers for Disease Control in 1994. However, the CDC and its Canadian counterpart also note that the majority of these dog bites -- 75% in the U.S. and 65% in Canada – didn’t happen to pedestrians who encountered an off-leash dog in a public place. Rather, most dog bites occurred within the home to a family member who knew the dog. In fact, only 1.1% of all dog bites surveyed in Canada occurred in public parks or sports and recreation areas. Data on emergency room visits in the U.S. also puts the danger of dog bites into perspective. Only 1.3% of all people admitted to emergency rooms in the U.S. are treated for dog bites. The chances of being bitten by a dog are about the same as being poisoned.

The chances of being bitten by an urban dog are even lower. Their caretakers, being city people and not so wedded to automobiles, walk, and when they walk they take their dogs with them. If they have access to parks that allow off-leash recreation, their dogs run and play with other dogs, burning off pent-up energy. In addition, both person and dog get what many of us want nearly every day: access to some green space, safety from cars, exercise and conversation with our own kind.

New York’s dog owners and their dogs deserve these basics, and not simply because the dog owners pay taxes that support the parks. The benefits of off-leash recreation have spread far beyond dogs and their owners. Parks that were once hangouts for criminals have been reclaimed for the non-dog-owning public, in part, by the presence of so many law-abiding citizens walking their dogs at all hours and in bad weather.

Sending the city’s dogs back to leash jail won’t make the parks any safer. The leash law and off-leash courtesy hours have worked synergistically to control dogs on crowded streets while allowing them and their owners to enjoy a small portion of the city’s green space. Both should be kept.

Ted Kerasote is the author of the forthcoming “Merle’s Door: How Dogs Might Live if They Were Free.”

For a listing of LA's Dog Parks click here:

Monday, August 21, 2006


Animal cruelty can be described as the three deadly sins against animals. Cruelty is the sin of commission, an overt act of hurting an animal. Neglect is the sin of omission, the lack of providing for the needs of an animal's well being. And hoarding, perhaps the most misunderstood of the three sins. Hoarding is a deadly combination of the first two sins elaboratively disguised as love when in fact it is hurtful, self-serving avarice.

Despite their professions of love, animal hoarders neglect to provide their animals with needed medical care as well as the minimum basic necessities of adequate food, water, and shelter. Left untreated and uncared for, the animals and their diseases multiply. Blind to the reality of the tremendous suffering they inflict, animal hoarders maintain they are saving animals that no one else would want.

Attached is an article written by Lisa Avery, published in the Valparaiso University Law Review, Summer, 2005 edition. Ms. Avery's article addresses the largely misunderstood phenomenon of animal hoarding. It proposes that in order to protect hoarders' animals and to prevent the inevitable victimization of shelter animals impacted by hoarder rescues, it is necessary to dispel the common perception that hoarders are Good Samaritans whose intentions have gone awry. Her article describes the critical need to educate the agencies and individuals called upon to respond to hoarding cases of the severe animal, human, and economic harm hoarders cause.

The article introduces the phenomenon of animal hoarding and efforts to study its cause and effect. From those studies and recent hoarding cases, Ms. Avery describes the characteristics animal hoarders share and discusses the psychological conditions that may trigger their conduct. She chronicles various efforts to prosecute animal hoarders and explores the possibility of intervention programs to address hoarding cases. She concludes with a recommendation that all the agencies and individuals affected by animal hoarders' behavior work together to prevent them from hoarding and hurting again.

If this is a topic you are interested in please click on this link:

The more we understand this obsessive compulsive disorder the better equipped we will be as a community to help both the victimized animals and the hoarders themselves.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New Hope Program Expands and becomes more inclusive

Over 75 organizations have already signed up as New Hope Partners to help LA Animal Services save lives and make LA the first major no-kill city in the United States.

Each day, New Hope Partners receive an email list of all the animals they can rescue at no cost to them. This includes free spay/neuter surgery, a microchip, vaccinations, and some times additional medical treatment. Absorbing these costs demonstrates Animal Services' commitment to the life saving efforts of our partners by allowing them to maximize their limited resources to care for the animals they take from our Animal Care Centers.

The New Hope Alert is now available on-line for all to see. Now our New Hope Partners and members of the public can see for themselves the animals on our New Hope Alert every day. And this list is updated EVERY HOUR, 24 hours a day!

The New Hope Alert is not a euthanasia list. It is simply a list of animals that our New Hope Partners can take at no charge. However, if the animal on the New Hope Alert has red font, it is at greater risk of being euthanized and it is our hope that our Partners will prioritize their life saving decisions to help these animals first.

The purpose of posting this information on our website is to save lives. With transparency comes vulnerability. The more information Animal Services shares the easier we can be made into a target by people not willing to help save lives but whose only intent is spreading discontent and strife that ironically slows the effort to end the killing.

Please use this tool responsibly. We share it with the community because we trust in the better angels of Angelinos to do the right thing. Please work with us to save lives.

If you would like to view our New Hope Alert daily you can view it at:

LA Animal Services does not yet have a New Hope Program for rabbits, but in the meantime if you would like to view the rabbits we have up for adoption you can go to:

Together we can make LA the safest City in the United States for our pets. Thank you for your continued support!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Humane Transport of Animals and SB 1806

Every year animals die due to inappropriate transportation methods by air and car. The Los Angeles Department of Animal Services recommends that animals not be transported during extremely warm or cold temperatures. When necessary to do so, appropriate measures must be taken to ensure the health and well-being of the animal.

When traveling by air, only reputable airlines that have a written policy on animal transportation should be used. Transportation should be scheduled when ambient temperatures are more likely to be within animal health and safety margins. When traveling by car, an animal should be confined within a crate or restrained with a seatbelt. No animal should be transported in the back of a pick up truck or allowed to hang out of a window without being secured. It is cruel and inhumane to keep an animal in a parked vehicle without air-conditioning for any amount of time when outside temperatures represent a risk to the health and well-being of the animal.

In keeping with this position, LA Animal Services worked with Senator Liz Figueroa and Assemblyman Lloyd Levine on Senate Bill 1806. Thanks to the hard work of LA Animal Services' staff and the tireless efforts of LA Animal Services' volunteer Judie Mancuso, it appears this life saving legislation will soon become state law with broad bi-partisan support.

Today's San Francisco Chronicle ran the following article on the successful passage of this legislation so far:

Bill on leaving pets in cars goes to governor
Measure makes it a crime to subject animals to the heat

08-15) 04:00 PDT Sacramento -- Attention pet owners. You might want to think twice before you leave your pooch in the car on a warm day while you run into the store for a few minutes.

If Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a state Senate bill headed for his desk, it will be a crime to leave pets in unattended cars under conditions that pose a danger to the animals.

The Assembly on Monday gave a 64-7 thumbs up to pass SB1806 written by State Sen. Liz Figueroa, D-Fremont, that also seeks to impose a fine of up to $500 and as much as six months in jail.

But perhaps more importantly, the legislation would empower animal control officers to remove pets in distress even if it means breaking the window of a car to gain access.

"We hear incidents (about pets dying in locked cars) just about every summer, and you've all seen dogs left thoughtlessly in the car. This is not to just punish those who are offending, but to save the animals," said Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-San Fernando Valley, who presented the bill Monday.

However, actually breaking into a car to save an animal will be the last resort, said Ed Boks, general manager of Los Angeles Animal Services, the bill's chief supporter. Animal control officers will first try to locate the owner and then try picking the lock to open the car door, he said.

Nevertheless, under the existing law, forcibly gaining entry into a vehicle is illegal for animal control officers, so they must call police to do it, Boks said. In many cases, by the time police officers arrive, it's too late, he added.

There are no statewide statistics on how many pets die each summer, Boks said. However, animal-control agencies across the state get many calls every summer, especially when a heat wave sets in, he said.

But Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Riverside, argued that existing laws against cruelty to animals are sufficient.

"This is criminalizing negligent behavior," he said. "If you intentionally leave an animal in a locked car on a hot day to endanger it, then we already have cruelty to animals laws. But if we're just talking about leaving your dog in a car for a few minutes, that's just negligence."

But Boks said too often pet owners horribly underestimate the amount of time they think they'll spend running an errand while their animal is in the car.

"You go into the store thinking you're just going to buy a gallon of milk, but you run into your friend, have a chat, and it ends up being 15 to 20 minutes," he said.

Boks said most healthy pets could not withstand much more than a few minutes of 107 degrees body heat before suffering brain damage or death.

The LA Times ran the following article today:

State Assembly Approves Bill Aimed at Saving Pets
Measure would make it a crime to endanger animals by leaving them in locked vehicles.

SACRAMENTO — People who endanger their pets by leaving them in cars could face up to six months in jail under legislation approved Monday by the state Assembly.

The measure would bar people from leaving or confining an animal in an unattended motor vehicle with conditions that could lead to suffering, injury or death. Those conditions could include lack of ventilation, extreme hot or cold weather or an absence of food or water.

First offenders could be fined up to $100 if the animal is unharmed, and as much as $500 and half a year in county jail if the pet incurs "great bodily injury." Repeat violators would face the more stringent punishment regardless of whether an animal was hurt.

The legislation notes that even when vehicle windows are left slightly open, a car's interior can heat to as much as 102 degrees within 10 minutes on an 85-degree day. Even a dog in good health can only withstand a body temperature of 107 or 108 degrees for a brief period before suffering brain damage or death, the legislation states.

The bill would allow a police officer, humane officer or animal control officer to remove an animal from a vehicle if they believe it is at risk. It would then be taken to a shelter or veterinary hospital, and the owner could not reclaim it until after paying all costs associated with its care.

The measure, SB 1806, sponsored by state Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont), passed the Assembly, 64 to 7. It previously was approved by the Senate, 31 to 3. Before being sent to the governor, the measure will return to the Senate for final approval of amendments added by the Assembly.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not taken a position on the bill.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

05/06 Fiscal Year and July 06 Report

The following is an excerpt from the July GM Report to the LA Animal Services Commission. To read the entire report, visit and click on GM Reports.

The following information is for the month of July, the first month of the new fiscal year.

Dog and Cat Statistics For 2006 calendar year to date:
· Dog and cat adoptions are up 5% (7752 to 8151);
· New Hope placements are down 19% (4359 to 3598);
· Return to Owners is down 10% (2870 to 2582);
· Dogs and cats placed in Foster Homes are up 203% (75 to 227);
· Dogs and cats euthanized is down 8.5% (11,439 to 10465); and
· The number of dogs and cats taken in by Animal Services is down 5% (27958 to 26587).

If this trend continues Animal Services is on track to euthanize fewer than 18,000 dogs and cats in 2006. This would be an all time low for the City of Los Angeles. But this will be a challenge requiring all our friends, volunteers, and partners to help us get the word out the LA Animal Services is "the" adoption center of choice in Los Angeles and that all pets need to be spayed or neutered and licensed or microchipped.

Dog and Cats Statistics for July 06
· Dog and cat adoptions were roughly equal to July 05 (1366 to 1330):
· New Hope placements were down 19% (591 to 477);
· Return to Owners were up 2.25% (488 to 499);
· Dogs and cats in Foster Homes was up 957% (7 to 74);
· Dogs and cats euthanized was up 4% (2496 to 2593); and
· The number of dogs and cats taken in by Animal Services was up 6.5% (5097 to 5425).

Dog Statistics for July 06:
· Dog adoptions were roughly equal to dog adoptions in July 05 (832 to 826);
· New Hope placements for dogs were up 5% (318 to 333);
· Returns to Owners for dogs were equal to July 05 (466 to 465);
· Dogs placed in Foster Homes were up from 0 to 28;
· Dogs euthanized were up 16% (741 to 863);
· 37% of the dogs euthanized were pit bulls or pit bull mixes (320);
· 45 were orphaned neonates (5%);
· The number of dogs taken in by Animal Services was up 13% (2456 to 2779);
· 22% of the dogs taken in were pit bulls or pit bull mixes (613); and
· 33% were owner relinquished (922).

Cat Statistics for July 06:
· Cat adoptions were down 5.6% (534 to 504);
· New Hope placements for cats were down 47% (273 to 144);
· Return to owners were up 54% (22 to 34);
· Cats placed in Foster Homes was up 557% (7 to 46);
· Cats euthanized were down 1.5% (1755 to 1730);
· The number of orphaned neonate kittens euthanized was down 4% (939 to 903) but this number represented 53% of all cats euthanized; and
· The number of cats taken in by Animal Services was roughly equal (2641 to 2646); and
· 22% were owner relinquished.

37% of all dogs and 55% of all cats euthanized were pit bulls and orphaned neonate cats respectively. This data clearly demonstrates where our limited resources must be focused. LA Animal Services will be announcing more programs to address these critical areas soon.

All Animal Services actual numbers and statistics are available on line for the past five years at Click on Statistics to see break down by dogs, cats, rabbits and others.

Top 10 Reasons for Cat Relinquishment in July:
1. Owner felt they had too many cats.
2. Landlord/zoning problems.
3. Owner was moving.
4. No time for the cat.
5. Family member allergic to the cat.
6. Cat was sick.
7. Cat did not get along with other pets.
8. Owner evicted/homeless.
9. Owner died.
10. Cat did not get along with a new baby in the home.

Top 10 Reasons for Dog Relinquishment in July:
1. Owner moving.
2. No time for the dog.
3. Landlord/zoning problems.
4. Dog was sick.
5. Owner felt they had too many dogs.
6. Owner died.
7. Owner could not afford medical bills.
8. Dog did not get along with other pets.
9. Dog aggressive towards people.
10. Owner cannot contain dog in yard or home.

LA Animal Services' Operation Safety Net will monitor these reasons to study seasonal trends. Strategies and partnerships are being developed to help Angelinos keep their pets whenever possible and appropriate.

The Big Fix Results: The close of Fiscal-Year 2005-206 for the Big Fix Spay and Neuter programs show a dramatic increase in sterilizations compared to the prior year. The two Mobile S/N Vans, and a greater issuance of books and Rescue Organization participation resulted in an increase of 12,255 sterilizations for the Fiscal Year. Last Fiscal Year 26,075 animals were sterilized compared to 38,300 for Fiscal-Year 2005-2006.

This is a 48% increase in spay/neuter surgeries in LA.

The Discount Coupon Program redemptions for FY 2004-2005 were 4023 while FY 2005-2006 redemptions were 4308. Fewer restrictions on the program and an increase in the monthly distribution of Discount Coupon books to participating Rescue Organizations have increased the rate of redemption for the year by 7%. While the increase may not appear to be that significant, it represents 285 more dogs and cats sterilized. An additional number of books were printed due to the demand by rescue partners.

The FELIX (Discount Coupon Feral Program) saw the largest increase of all the Big Fix Programs. FY 2004-2005 feral cat redemptions were 2699 while FY 2005-2006 redemptions were 5887. This is a 118% increase in the number of feral cats the Department and its rescue partners were able to sterilize.

The Free/Senior Citizen Certificate Program redemptions for FY 2004-2005 were 7234 while FY 2005-2006 redemptions were 6948. The Free/Senior Citizen Certificate Program was strongly impacted by the effectiveness of the Mobile Spay & Neuter Vans in Fiscal-Year 2005-2006. Many of the same City residents who now use the s/n vans would have accessed this program in the past. But, despite this offset, there was still only a 4% decrease in the number of sterilizations while the overall number for low-income and senior citizen sterilizations increased 56%.

Across the country and here in LA we are seeing there is no "silver bullet” to solve the problems associated with pet overpopulation. There is no amount of "consulting" or "criticizing" or "condemning from the sidelines" that will make a lick of difference. The only way to solve this problem is for all of us to work together, because it is only by working together that we can make LA the safest community in LA for our pets!

I want to thank all our volunteers, employees, partners and the community for stepping up to focus on helping the animals of LA Animal Services. Together we are making a difference in their lives and we will continue to do so.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

New Hope - The New Frontier

The following letter is from an LA Animal Services New Hope Coordinator:

Dear Ed:
I would like to thank you and the Department of Animal Services for what I like to call "The New Frontier"! It is definitely working!!! Being involved with the New Hope Program has been a real pleasure, in addition to being a valuable learning experience.

The "Old Way" just does not work any more. My relationship with our New Hope partners has taught me I can make a difference. In the old days, when an animal came into our Centers, whatever the situation, in a distressed medical condition there was only one solution, euthanasia. Today, because of cooperation of ACT Supervisor Sergio Rios and the rest of the West Valley Animal Care & Control Center, we have had remarkable happy endings. In the past, these happy endings would not have been possible.

One story was a Golden Retriever puppy hit by a car who needed surgery immediately. Because we can now do transactions over the phone we were able to get the dog placed with a New Hope partner without them even physically having to come to the Center!!! This would have been unheard of last year!!! In addition, the dog was transported to a veterinary hospital in West Los Angeles by one of the ACT's from West Valley, again unheard of in past years.

Another situation was a 6 month old Lab puppy dropped off at the center, it's tail had been chewed off because of infection, imagine the pain and suffering the dog had gone through! In the past, the dog may have been euthanized because of pain and suffering.

My effort to find a nearby veterinarian to do the tail amputation surgery was successful. I was able to locate a vet to do the surgery for two hundred dollars. The dog was delivered to the nearby veterinarian; again by an ACT on duty that day. The dog was picked up later that day and adopted the next Sunday by a really beautiful couple. It was love at first sight! The couple was amazed we had gone through the effort to save the puppy’s life, and that they were adopting a "special case". I am sure that dog is living better then most of us!

There are many other stories of the efforts of myself, ACT Supervisor Sergio Rios, Captain Selder, and most importantly the staff of the West Valley Animal Care & Control Center. Of course, the rescue community has stepped up and created a much better atmosphere for all of us to be fortunate enough to be a part of our life saving efforts.

With, "The New Frontier" we have all realized we can make a difference, even if it is one at a time. By being more flexible and willing to change we are making the image of LA Animal Services much more positive and friendly toward the public and rescue groups.

Hail to "The New Frontier"! I welcome your comments and further cooperation with everyone involved in "Savings Animals’ Lives"!!!! Along with the cooperation, of everybody these situations of transporting animals for New Hope partners is becoming more and more frequent. Dogs that are adopted from South Central Animal Care Center are being transported to West Valley Animal Care Center because it makes adopting easier for New Hope partners. It seems these happy endings are becoming a daily occurrence, which is terrific!!!

Larry Herskovic
New Hope Coordinator
Volunteer Liaison
ACT/ROP Instructor
West Valley Animal Center
20655 Plummer St.
Chatsworth, CA 91311
"It's all for the animals"

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Can Pets Ever Practice Safe Sex?

Overpopulation is the leading cause of death for dogs and cats around the world. Help save lives by developing better ways to sterilize dogs and cats, improve their lives, and prevent the birth of unwanted litters.

The link below is to an important petition. This petition is designed to influence pharmaceutical companies, funders, and regulatory agencies to ask for (or press for) support or advancement of non-surgical spay/neuter solutions.

Because pharmaceutical companies do not see a demand for these products they are in no hurry to produce them. That same perceived lack of urgency and demand has kept funding low. This petition will demonstrate the critical need and the public demand that will help expedite development of these products. Please click on the site below to sign this petitions and help develop these important no-kill solutions:

If you want more information on this important project, please visit the attached website below:

For more information on the important work Los Angeles Animal Services is doing to help LA become No-Kill visist:

Working together we can make LA and the nation safe for all our pets!