Friday, September 29, 2006

California's Pets Included in State Disaster Plans

LA Animal Services Applauds the Legislation to Leave No Pet Behind

SACRAMENTO (September 29, 2006) —Today, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the Disaster Planning for Animals bill, which requires that California’s disaster planners consider the needs of household pets, service animals and livestock in an emergency. LA Animal Services joins the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in applauding this needed legislation as a way of protecting both animals and the families who care for them.

Sponsored by Assembly Member Leland Yee (D-12), A.B. 450 requires the Office of Emergency Services to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the California Department of Agriculture to incorporate the California Animal Response Emergency System program into their emergency planning.

“Pets are a part of our families, and can’t be left behind in an emergency,” said Eric Sakach, director of The HSUS’ West Coast regional office. “With his signature, Governor Schwarzenegger ensures that emergency plans will keep people and pets together in the time of crisis. We thank Governor Schwarzenegger and Assembly Member Yee for their support of this important legislation, which will not only help animal rescue efforts but human relief efforts as well.”

The California Animal Response Emergency System was developed in 2001 to assist the California Department of Food and Agriculture with animal issues during disasters. LA Animal Services is responsible for animals in the City of Los Angeles during a time of disaster.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Americans were struck by the images of pets lost and abandoned because they were not included in disaster plans. Many people refused to evacuate their homes without their pets. Disaster experts say that evacuations would run more smoothly if pets are included in pre-disaster planning. A recent Zogby International poll found that 61 percent of pet owners say they would refuse to evacuate if they could not take their pets with them.

In the months since the hurricane, legislation has passed in nine states, and the federal Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, led by U.S. Rep Tom Lantos (D-CA), has passed in Congress, to ensure that the failure to consider pets and service animals during Hurricane Katrina is not repeated.

LA Animal Services continues to take part in a City Wide disaster planning process that includes participating in a three day disaster response planning session in October. LA Animal Services role is to ensure LA's pets are included in any response to any natural or man-made disaster.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Help Stop The Killing! Adopt and Spay or Neuter Your Pets!


New facility is among the first of its kind to increase pet adoption and address pet over population problem

LOS ANGELES - On Saturday, October 7, LA Animal Services, in a special dedication ceremony, will open one of the most sophisticated animal care centers in the nation, in hopes to ultimately increase the adoption rate of dogs, cats and rabbits throughout the city.

Last year alone, LA Animal Services rescued more than 46,000 lost and homeless pets. Due to the overwhelming number of animals rescued by LA Animal Services, the lack of space in the shelters and a low adoption rate, over 19,000 pets were euthanized. In an effort to reduce euthanasia and increase pet adoption, LA Animal Services, with the support of Mayor Villaraigosa and the City Council, are building six new state-of-the-art animal care facilities throughout Los Angeles, paid for by Proposition F, approved overwhelmingly by voters in November 2000. The North Central Animal Care Center, located on Lacy Street, in Lincoln Heights, is the first of the six scheduled to open in the next six months.

"The new North Central Animal Care Center will provide four times the current shelter space, enough to accommodate the 150 lost, sick, injured, abused or homeless animals rescued by animal services every day," said Ed Boks, general manager LA Animal Services. "Our goal is to make Los Angeles the first major 'no-kill' city in the United States. This upscale facility is one of the most advanced public shelters in the nation - it is truly among the first of its kind."

The enlarged 45,000 square foot North Central Animal Care Center features 176 kennels with spacious aisles, solar and radiant heating to keep the animals warm during cold weather, an outdoor misting system to cool the animals during the hot summer months and veterinary and spay/neuter clinics.

The new facility has earned a prestigious "Gold" rated green building by the United States Green Building Council, Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. This new center maximized the recycling of construction waste; used steel with 25% recycled content and optimizes energy performance. It features nearly 800 solar panels for the generation of electricity and the front wall is made from 100% recycle wood.

Public Grand Opening: On Saturday, October 7, from Noon - 4 p.m. LA Animal Services will open its doors to the public with a "Grand Homecoming" event. The celebration gives the public an opportunity to tour the new facility and visit the animals up for adoption. There will also be complimentary refreshments provided by local vendors, special discounts and coupons from various pet-related sponsors as well as Dog Training & Educational Behavioral Training workshops. This event will be supported by Veterinary Pet Insurance/DVM Insurance Agency (VPI) and the Western Medical Supply, Inc.

About the LA Animal Services: The LA Animal Services cares for more than 40,000 lost and homeless pets per year and more than 5,000 wild, exotic and farm animals. Comprised of six shelters in the greater Los Angeles area, LA Animal Services promotes and protects the health, safety and welfare of animals and people in the city of Los Angeles. They value the integrity of each employee, volunteer and partner contributing to the professional delivery of excellent customer service and the humane treatment of animals, in an atmosphere of open, honest communication, predicated on trust in and respect for each other. For more information on the LA Animal Services, please visit:

Saturday, September 16, 2006

There Really Is An Elephant In The Living Room!

This weekend Los Angeles played host to British artist Bansky’s exhibit "Barely Legal", that included a live elephant painted to blend into the wallpaper of a living room. The exhibit seems an apt metaphor for the awakening consciousness of Angelinos. LA is a community with arguably the most vocal animal rights activists, a strong public and politically supported “no-kill” initiative in our city shelters, an unprecedented Anti-Animal Cruelty Task Force comprised of Police and Animal Care Officers and City Attorneys, and internationally known celebrities who care enough about animal suffering to use their celebrity to speak on behalf of the voiceless.

As a community we are concerned about pet rabbits fed to snakes, dogs on chains, parakeets sold on Santee Alley, the fate of feral cats, and how animals are treated in the movies. But beyond all the conversations, discussions, protests, policy statements, rules, and laws there remains an elephant in the living room that nobody seems to see.

Until this weekend! Looking into Tai’s eyes, I could not help but think of Jeffrey Masson’s book “When Elephants Weep”. Looking into her eyes nearly brought me to tears. Dozens of people came up to ask me, “Is this right?” Somehow we seemed to know intrinsically that what we came to see was wrong, perhaps even profane.

It was as though there were two groups of people in the room. One group could not see past Tai, the other saw into her soul. George Bernard Shaw once said, “The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That’s the essence of inhumanity.” There was an elephant in the living room and most of us could not see her. We saw an oddity, a freak or clever expression of “art”, but we failed to see the very essence of our inhumanity manifested through our indifference.

In 1780 another Brit, an attorney by the name of Jeremy Benthem, wrote a book entitled, “An Introduction to the Principle of Morals and Legislation.” In his book there is what many consider the most quoted footnote of all time: “The question is not, can they reason? Nor can they talk? But, can they suffer?

That was an original question in 1780 when scientists and clergy alike truly felt animals could not suffer as humans do. To answer that question today you only had to look into Tai’s eyes. Animals are a test of our character. How we treat them is the measure of our humanity as a community, and there is no greater sin than to be indifferent.

Los Angeles is a city that has made many people wealthy through the exploitation of animals. We see wild and exotic animals everywhere: in the movies, commercials, TV shows, billboards, ads, art exhibits, and even in the homes and yards of the rich and famous. Dare we admit there is a suffering elephant in our living room? Will we have the courage to ask if our indifference is causing animals to suffer? Can we talk and reason together about how to end animal suffering? Because if we don’t, the elephant won’t suffer alone, we will all surely suffer the loss of some part of our humanity.

Friday, September 15, 2006

When a Community Rallies for the Animals...

We have often heard the adage that it takes a village to raise a child. The same advice holds true for solving our pet overpopulation and animal cruelty problems. Its going to take all of us working together to solve the animal welfare issues in Los Angeles. A few days ago the LA City Council announced their acceptance of a $200,000 donation from Best Friends Animal Society.

Clearly Best Friends Animal Society shares LA Animal Services' commitment to helping end the killing of adoptable animals in Los Angeles. They are funding an independent, professional assessment of the scope, causes and contributors of pet overpopulation in Los Angeles. The independent assessment will be conducted by LA City Controller Laura Chick and a team of professionals.

When this assessment is complete it will be up to Animal Services to orchestrate the implementation of the solutions and recommendations made by these professionals. This assessment will be the basis of a subsequent No-Kill Strategic Plan that will organize the city's resources - both internal and across the community- toward realistic, sustained reductions in the causes and contributors of pet overpopulation.

This is wonderful news, but it doesn't stop here. There is a growing synergy in LA towards achieving No-Kill. Over the past several months an organization of well informed, compassionate LA residents formed a new 501c3 animal welfare charity called SALA (Shelter Animals of Los Angeles). SALA also means “living room” in Spanish and reflects the goal to help find loving homes for all of our companion animals in Los Angeles.

SALA’s purpose is to support, on an exclusive basis, LA Animal Services in a joint mission to save animals' lives and find permanent, loving homes for the thousands of lost, homeless, abandoned, neglected and abused companion animals rescued by LA City Animal Services every year. The ultimate goal of SALA is to assist LA Animal Services achieve “no kill” in all of our city shelters.

SALA believes a functional and efficient city shelter system that receives much needed private funding will ultimately benefit everyone: from pet owners to rescue organizations and, most importantly, the animals themselves.

Through the Big Fix Program, SALA will aggressively invest in spay/neuter with high volume clinics in all of the new Animal Care Centers, funding more mobile spay/neuter vans and offering spay/neuter/vaccine services to low income residents and asking for donations only, rather than charging a low fee that depends on proof of income. We are also partnering with Western University’s Veterinary School on including cutting edge intern and residency programs using LA Animal Care Centers as teaching schools for up and coming veterinarians.

Through the STAR Program (Special Treatment & Recovery), SALA will provide funding to help sick and injured animals rescued by LA Animal Services. Any animal treated in the STAR Program will not be euthanized.

Through Operation FELIX (Feral Education & Love Instead of X-termination) SALA will work with groups and individuals to help maintain feral cat colonies by implementing strong TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return) programs and ultimately create a comprehensive database system that will help track all feral colonies in the LA area.

SALA will establish a Safety Net Outreach Program to help all citizens of Los Angeles including our non-English speaking residents by conveying the importance of spay/neuter, as well as promote adoption and foster care. SALA will also provide outreach programs that will guide the public to resources that will help pet guardians better care for their companion animals. This outreach effort can be achieved in a variety of ways. Articles, stories, ads in newspapers and on local TV and radio, billboard messaging, educational workshops at community centers, and networking community resources to help residents responsibly keep and care for their pets are just some of the ways to get the message to the people who need to hear it most.

Volunteers are the backbone of any organization, and shoring up the LA Animal Services Volunteer Program is an important item on SALA’s agenda. Besides the important work of providing care for the animals in the shelters and at mobile adoptions, volunteers can also work as Adoption Counselors to help people find their new best friend. Volunteers can also participate in the previously mentioned outreach programs that can be conducted in community centers, churches, youth centers, etc. to teach people how to be great pet guardians.

Other projects SALA has under development include:

Shelter Dog Training Program: A partnership with trainers who will assist in socializing dogs in the shelter and prepare them for their forever home. Since behavioral issues are at the top of the excuse list for owner surrender, easy access to accredited trainers while the dogs are in the shelter, as well as help in settling them into their new home, will promote pet retention rates.

A House is Not a Home Without a Pet Program: An alliance with all rental homes, apartments, and senior citizen homes, etc., to provide incentives to encourage landlords to welcome residents with pets. SALA will also provide mediation assistance for neighbor and landlord/renter disputes that involve pet issues, etc.

Teach Love and Compassion (TLC): To promote humane education programs in the LA school district that will ultimately become part of the regular curriculum to be taught in all our elementary and middle schools. TLC will also provide learning opportunities for “at risk” kids by teaching love and compassion for “at risk” animals in our Animal Care Centers.

Animal Services and all of LA is deeply indebted to Best Friends Animal Society, SALA, our New Hope Partners, Volunteers, Employees, and donors for their commitment, dedication and compassion for the lost and homeless pets of Los Angeles. When a community rallies together for the animals we truly demonstrate what it means to be a humane society as we commit ourselves to making LA the safest City in the United States for our pets.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

City Council Motion Today!

Since my coming to Los Angeles Animal Services this past January the LA Animal Services Commission has suggested the need for a service delivery/performance audit. Members of the public have also expressed the need for such an audit. In both Maricopa County and New York City there was an audit conducted at both the beginning the end end of my tenures. I actually asked for the audits at the end of my past posts because I'm a strong believer in the role of an audit to serve as a benchmark for determining past performance and serving as the basis for future strategic planning.

Based on discussions I began and Commissioner Atake reinforced during her spring visit to the Best Friends Animal Society in Utah, we have forged an agreement with City Controller Laura Chick to underwrite a full performance audit (an audit of the operations as well as the finances) of LA Animal Services.

This is a pioneering agreement, the first time a City audit has ever received outside financial support. This makes it possible to add the audit to the Controller's otherwise full schedule for this year, yet the agreement preserves the Controller's full independence and autonomy over the process. The Controller will be working with outside consultants, including experts in the field of animal care.

Because the Best Friends' donation to cover the cost of the audit requires City Council approval, Councilmember Jack Weiss today introduced a motion to accept the donation.

I want to thank the Mayor's office, the City Council, and the Commission for their support of this effort. I especially want to thank Best Friends Animal Society for helping our community rise above the hyperbole to look for positive and lasting solutions to a very complex community problem.

It is my hope LA City will join us in looking forward to this audit as an important learning experience. I am asking for everyone's support not only for the audit but also for our staff whose work will be under very close scrutiny during this process.

What follows is the Motion Council Member Jack Weiss submitted to the City Council today:

The Los Angeles Department of Animal Services appears to have embarked upon an era of positive change. It is revamping its management structure, opening new, state-of-the-art animal shelter facilities and launching expanded programs to reduce pet overpopulation and greatly reduce euthanasia in its shelter system. Both the Mayor and the Board of Animal Services Commissioners have determined that these efforts would be substantially aided by the conduct of a performance audit and the creation of a multi-year strategic plan for the department. LA Animal Services management has agreed to this approach and the Best Friends Animal Society, a non-profit organization based at 5001 Angel Canyon Road, Kanab, UT 84741-5000, has stepped forward to offer the City the funds necessary to underwrite the conduct of this performance audit.

In accordance with the Los Angeles Administrative Code section 5.200.1, any gift exceeding $25,000.00 in cash or in-kind value must be accepted by the City Council.

NOW, I THEREFORE MOVE that the City Council:

1. Accept the $200,000 donation from the Best Friends Animal Society, a non-profit organization based at 5001 Angel Canyon Road, Kanab, UT 84741-5000, for the audit of the Animal Services Department and deposit said funds to Fund 100, Department 56, General City Purposes, Revenue Source Code 4512, Donations, and appropriate therefrom to a new account entitled, "Animal Services Audit;"

2. Authorize the City Clerk, with the assistance of the Controller, to negotiate, execute and handle payment and final close-out of a contract of up to $200,000, for the above purpose, subject to the approval of the City Attorney as to form;

3. Request the Controller to monitor the contractor for contract compliance and authorize payments;

4. Authorize the City Clerk to make any technical corrections or clarifications to the above instructions in order effectuate the intent of this Motion;

5. Stipulate that the role of Best Friends Animal Society in the conduct of the audit is strictly limited to providing this donation, unless the Controller or its designated audit contractor directly requests further counsel from Best Friends;

6. Instruct the City Clerk to notify Best Friends Animal Society of this action and to thank the organization for its generous commitment to supporting the work of the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services and the animals of the city.

Presented September 12, 2006

Thursday, September 07, 2006

More on Safe Sex For Animals

An organization called the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs (ACC&D) has funded a study for a promising non-surgical sterilant. Work on the product is still in the early phases, and this grant will make it possible to take the next step in determining the potential for its use in female dogs and cats. Read the press release

A non-surgical sterilant is the "Holy Grail" of the animal welfare/no-kill movement. If this is a topic that intersts you consider attending ACC&D's Third International Symposium in November to learn more about progress in the field and about how you can help reach our shared goals.

The greatest obstacle to the development of these tools over the past several decades has been a lack of focus and a lack of funding. ACC&D is the only organization solely dedicated to getting these new tools developed and brought to market where they can start saving lives. But they can’t do it alone! Please consider making a donation to ACC&D today. Your tax- deductible contribution makes it possible to advance development of these life saving tools.

ACC&D Gives First Grant
Excerpt from the article:
...ACC&D hopes the grant will help accelerate development of an affordable, non-surgical form of sterilization. “In the long run, we believe this technology could have a profound impact on controlling dog and cat overpopulation around the world and provide a safe alternative to surgical sterilizations,” says Briggs. “Overpopulation results in the death of more dogs and cats than any other disease. We want to help ‘man’s best friends’ by identifying and supporting studies that can help end this suffering.”...
Read the Article