Monday, November 27, 2006

New AGMs Announced

An old proverb states, “The wheels of justice grind slow, but exceedingly fine.” The same thing can be said of some City processes, such as selecting an Assistant General Manager (AGM). Animal Services is fortunate in that we have two such positions, one to oversee administration and one to oversee operations. The ultimate purpose for these two important positions is to help oversee and develop LA Animal Services into a premier animal welfare organization.

The selection process has been long and arduous but I am confident our community will be pleased with the end result. After many months of searching, recruiting, and interviewing I am prepared to announce my selections for these two very important posts.

The Administrative AGM oversees and manages the daily internal operations of Animal Services related to human resources, information technology, budgetary matters, administrative support activities; managing the development of systems utilizing state of the art computer and automation applications and evaluating the acquisition of information processing technology; preparing the annual budget; overseeing the payroll function and the deposit and disbursement of revenues and funds; and handling all personnel administrative matters.

For this position I am proud to announce the appointment of Linda J. Barth as Assistant General Manager, Administration.

Mrs. Barth has worked for the City of Los Angeles since 1984, starting as a junior analyst with the Department of Water and Power, and moving to Recreation and Parks in 1985. After twenty-one-years of increasing responsibility with the Department of Recreation and Parks, Mrs. Barth brings a special portfolio of sharply applicable managerial experience to Los Angeles Animal Services. Throughout her career with the City she has played a key role in nurturing new ideas and navigating complex projects to completion, and has been involved in nearly every aspect of department operations, including budget preparation, personnel and contract administration, business management and Department-wide information technology oversight. From September 2002 through January of 2004, Mrs. Barth served in a chief of staff position to the Recreation and Parks General Manager, and transitioning in February of 2004 to the key position as Project Manager for completion and reopening of the Griffith Observatory, which she helped steer to success in recent weeks. In a wide variety of areas, she has taken opportunities to design and implement positive change, and I expect her experience, optimism, and excellent communications skills to be a valuable resource for Los Angeles Animal Services.

The Operations AGM oversees and manages the daily internal operations of Animal Services field operations in the care and control of animals, the operation of City animal shelters, and the education of the public regarding issues that impact animals and the humans who care for them; enforcing all policies, rules, and regulations in the Department of Animal Services; enforcement of State Codes and City ordinances under the Department’s jurisdiction; managing public outreach and marketing efforts.

For this position I am proud to announce the appointment of Deborah Knaan as Assistant General Manager, Operations.

Ms. Knaan has served as a Commissioner on the Los Angeles Board of Animal Services since 2004, and demonstrated her keen interest in improving Department operations through her interaction with staff at the administrative, operations, and shelter levels. An example of her personal commitment was that shortly after her appointment, Ms. Knaan enrolled in an animal shelter management course. Ms. Knaan’s perceptiveness in oversight of Commission business and her responsiveness to the public have made her a valuable asset to the Department and the constituencies we serve. Professionally, Ms. Knaan is an attorney, with nearly twelve years as a Prosecutor in the Los Angeles County Office of the District Attorney. In that position, she has proven her abilities in managing workload, conducting investigations, and working with community leaders, government officials, and law enforcement personnel. Prior to working for the District Attorney, Ms. Knaan managed a private business, and also has three years experience in the military, achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant. Ms. Knaan has extensive experience in effectively and positively communicating with the public, government representatives, and the media. Those key skills, along with her enthusiasm, drive, personal conviction, and initiative, make her a tremendous asset in making Los Angeles the largest “No-Kill” city in America.

I want to thank everyone who applied for these positions. This was a very difficult decision process given the number and quality of candidates who applied. Clearly there are many individuals both locally and across the United States who share our “No-Kill” goal and want to be part of making it happen. It is my hope that everyone who applied will continue to be involved in some capacity as we all work together to make Los Angeles a model city for the rest of the nation of what it truly means to be a humane society!

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Animal Tree of Life

LA Animal Services will soon be unveiling a stunningly unique sculpture called "The Animal Tree of Life". This sculture came about because of René Baker’s love of animals. When she heard that the West Valley Animal Care Center was seeking an artist to create a work of art for the renovated and partially new shelter, she sought out her sculpture mentor, Robert Cunningham. Cunningham is a well-known sculptor of public projects so, as a team, they were pre-qualified for the first phase in the selection of artists.

When they received notice inviting a proposal, they discussed many possibilities, including interior art. They decided, however, the best solution would be a symbolic work that would have enough physical stature to stand as an identifying symbol of the West Valley Shelter. Their proposal was accepted.

The Animal Tree evolved from totem-pole-like forms to trees covered in animals to the animals themselves forming the Tree of Life. Some of René’s own pets, including a Pygmy goat and a Senegal parrot were models for the life-sized animals making up the sculpture.

The project took about fourteen months from start to completion. There are eight mammals, two reptiles and nineteen birds. All the sculpting, mold-making and casting was created and carried out at Robert and René’s studio in the high desert area, between San Bernardino and Victorville.

The Animal Tree of Life projects an image to the public of uplifted and spirited animals, free from torture, hunger and loneliness. The sculpture is approximately 5 ft. x 6 ft., at the base, and 12 ft. high. Domestic and exotic animals, pets and wildlife, all those that might find their way to LA Animal Services, comprise the Tree of Life. Small and midsized animals form the base, with a large pony, two dogs and a cat forming the trunk of the tree. A Golden eagle stands at the top, supporting the tree’s canopy of birds of many types. The canopy crowns the sculpture in a swirl of avian flight.

The artist wanted to create contours and a pleasing harmony of shapes and forms against the new facility’s roofline. The sculpture’s organic imagery creates a contrast to the adjacent straight lines of concrete and asphalt—a symbol of what the Animal Care Center is all about: the healing and rescue of many animals from the sometimes harsh realities of life.

The sculpture is bronze and weighs more than 2,000 pounds. Its maintenance will be minimal. In summary, the artist wants to motivate and inspire the public to do their best for animalkind.

To view this beautiful work of art click here and then scroll to the bottom:

On behalf of all Animal Services, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving! I want to personally thank all our employees, volunteers, partners, the Mayor and City Council, and the public for your support of Animal Services' efforts to once and for all end euthanasia to control pet overpopulation. Together we are making LA the safest City in the United States for our pets!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Providence is Moving...

Are you noticing all those new LA Animal Services advertisements at bus stops all over town?

I want to announce the launch of an educational print campaign developed by Rachel Paap from RP WORX and the Pet Assistance Foundation, one of the oldest animal welfare foundations in LA. Thanks to Rachel and the Foundation you will now see in bus shelters and on small billboards in targeted areas of the city of LA a series of creative life saving messages. Smaller versions will also be displayed in all the animal shelters and will be used as promotional materials at community events.

The majority of the campaign was paid for by city council members and neighborhood councils. However, the driving force behind this campaign is Rachel Paap from RP WORX. Rachel is magnanomously willing to share the artwork to maximize these messages in other areas.

Rachel is currently working on an anti-cruelty print that is part of a larger anti-cruelty campaign that is intended to be completed by January 07.

LA Animal Services is grateful for the wonderful work that Rachel is doing to help us get the message of responsible pet guardianship and spay/neuter into the LA community. Please visit Rachel's website for other upcoming special projects at

You can reach Rachel Paap at RP Worx Public Relations, Strategic Marketing & Campaign Development for the cause at 323-459-9722 or

As more and more citizens, organizations and companies recognize the importance of helping LA Animal Services the sooner we as a community will be able to achieve our No-Kill Goal!

I also want to thank Scott Sorrentino, President of the Rescue & Humane Alliance (RHA-LA), who joined LA Animal Services in a demonstration of commitment to lifesaving for the homeless animals of Los Angeles this past weekend. Together we declared Veterans Day Weekend, November 10-November 13, a “no-kill” weekend for the North Central Animal Care Center. For this period, LA Animal Services implemented a moratorium on the killing of healthy/treatable animals and focused on saving as many lives as possible through redemption (returning lost animals to their guardians) and adoption.

The result was no animals were euthanized and live placements were four times higher than the same weekend last year. The Rescue & Humane Alliance called the event the 2006 “Pumpkin Festival". It was held on Sunday November 12th at the newly-expanded North Central Animal Care Center located at 3201 Lacy Street in Los Angeles. A dog, a cat and a rabbit named “Pumpkin” kicked off the Festival. The goal was to empty the shelter of available animals. Professional animal trainers and adoption counselors were on-hand throughout the day to assist members of the public, and LA Animal Services offered free microchips for animals adopted at the Festival. In addition, every adopter received a gift bag filled with toys and treats for their new “Pumpkin".

LA Animal Services and RHA‑LA have partnered on several projects since January, and the “No-Kill” Weekend at North Central was another significant effort in the implementation of an overall “no-kill” policy for the City’s animal care centers.

“Progressive ‘no-kill’ animal sheltering is not a myth or an impossible ideal,” said Scott Sorrentino of RHA-LA. “It is first a decision, and then an act of will. Los Angeles has made the decision, so if we can all work together to successfully implement ‘no‑kill’ policies at one shelter, we can create a model to bring this same level of life-saving to all of the shelters throughout the City.”

We at LA Animal Services can’t emphasize enough how much we need and appreciate the public’s support to take this initiative from a special weekend program to a permanent and sustainable policy.

In the words of W. H. Murray, "The moment one definitely commits oneself then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen events, meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come their way."

This is beginning to happen, from advertisements, to events, to donations and grants, to the formation of SALA (Shelter Animals of LA), all sorts of things are occuring to help LA achieve No-Kill that would never otherwise have occurred. And I want to thank all LA Animal Services friends, volunteers, partners, donors and adopters for being a part of providence moving us all toward a more humane society!

Monday, November 06, 2006

October '06 Numbers Are In

LA Animal Services Adoptions for dogs and cats are up nearly 9% in October 06 compared to October 05, and New Hope placements are up 48%. Euthanasia is down nearly 12% from last year's record low. For dogs euthanasia is down over 20% and for cats euthanasia is down nearly 12%

This success is due in large part to our New Hope Partners. New Hope Placements were up nearly 93% for cats and 28% for dogs!

This translates into 1,938 live placements into loving homes compared to 1,605 last October. In addition, nearly 400 lost pets were safely returned to their frantic owners in October. Remember, if you love your pet, you will license and neuter your pet!

LA Animal Services experienced a 60% live release rate in October 06 for cats and dogs combined. That represents a 72% live release rate for dogs and a 46% live release rate for cats! That is truly amazing! But we have a long way to go to achieve No-Kill, although we are getting closer and closer every day!

LA Animal Services wants to thank all our adopters, New Hope Partners, volunteers, and staff for these extraordinary results. Together we are making Los Angeles the safest City in the United States for our pets! Together we are creating happiness by bringing pets and people together! Thank you!

If you would like to make a DONATION to help Los Angeles achieve No-Kill even faster, all you have to do is click Here

Thursday, November 02, 2006

How To Help Save Lives

Everyday people ask me how they can help LA Animal Services achieve its No-Kill Goal. The key to achieving this goal is funding life saving programs, programs we may not be able to afford through our budget. Animal Services has many life saving programs and giving opportunities. And now, making a donation to one of our life saving programs has never been easier.

TO MAKE A DONATION all you have to do is click Here

The two main funds that LA Animal Services accepts donations through. They are:

The Animal Welfare Trust Fund
The Animal Sterilization Trust Fund

Funds may also be donated for specific programs and services and shelter operations.

LA Animal Services has developed and will continue to develop programs designed to reduce LA’s euthanasia rate as we increase our live animal placement rate through adoptions, our New Hope program, returning lost pets to their frantic owners, and by humanely reducing feral cat populations in our neighborhoods.

If you would like to help join Animal Services war on pet euthanasia, please send a tax deductible financial gift to:

LA Animal Services
221 N. Figueroa Street Suite 500
Los Angeles, CA 90012

You can designate your gift to the general Animal Welfare Fund or to any one or more of the specific programs described below:

Big Fix sponsors low/no cost spay/neutering services for pets in low-income households.

New Hope is a network of over 70 of LA’s pet rescue, support and adoption agencies in Southern California who work with LA Animal Services in the process of locating permenant loving homes for the animals Animal Services rescue.

Safety Net helps pets and their families stay together through difficult financial times or relocations.

STAR (Special Treatment And Recovery) program provides medical treatment to severely injured, abused, and neglected animals rescued by Animal Services.

TLC (Teach Love and Compassion) provides at-risk youth with the employment training in animal care. This is an intergenerational program in which our community’s elders work with our youth teach love and compassion through the care and love of animals.

Volunteer Dog Training Program trains Animal Services volunteers to improve the quality of life and adoption rate of sheltered dogs through behavior training provided by our community’s most reputable volunteer dog trainers.

FELIX (Feral Education and Love Instead of X-terminations) provides low or no cost spay/neuter service to feral cats managed by a trained feral cat colony manager trained by one of Animal Services feral cat partner organizations.

Foster Program trains volunteers to provide temporary homes for special needs animals until they are healthy enough for adoption.

If you would like your donations to be used for specific programs and services, please specify.

Please make your check or money order payable to:

Department of Animal Services
221 N. Figueroa Street, 5th floor
LA, CA 90012

Your donations are tax deductible and your generosity will be acknowledged.

Even if you cannot make a financial contribution today, there are other ways you can help. Our Animal Care Centers always need blankets, newspaper, and other items. For more details, take a look at our six Animal Care Centers to understand their specific needs. And of course we always need volunteers.
By working together, we can make LA the safest City in the United States for our pets! Thank you for your support and gifts!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Understanding The New Hope Program

There seems to be some misunderstanding about a fantastic new life saving program in LA called New Hope. New Hope is helping LA become the first major No-Kill city in the United States. New Hope coordinates the efforts of all the non-profit animal rescue organizations to ensure we are maximizing our limited resources to save the greatest number of lives.

This morning I received a disconcerting message that there may be a few folks who don't understand the power and success of this program. The email was complaining about a Craig's List Posting.

"I'm just on Craigs list reading through the posts and it makes me sick! I have forwarded one of them to you and I don't understand why so many of these animals have to be euthanzied.

Is there not enough money to feed them? Didn't you just open up the new shelter with lots of space? THIS IS SICK AND HAS TO STOP.

Why do we have so many animals if no one wants them???? I don't get it. Can't you people come up with ideas to stop this overpopulation...I can't read this anymore since it's ongoing and doesn't seem to stop."

The Craig's List Posting sent to me by the person above was filled with this type of hyperbole:



Because of the popularity of Craig's List this kind of ranting can circle the globe and nobody will ever take the time to find out the truth of the matter. It seems that if it is posted on Craig's List, or for that matter on any website, it must be true. But that is not true! The purpose of this Blog is to help the community understand the importance and efficacy of the New Hope Progam when it is allowed to work as it is designed.

When an animal is placed on LA Animal Services' New Hope Alert THAT IS NEVER a DEATH SENTENCE. That is Animal Services' way of notifying our over 70 New Hope Partners that they can adopt any of these animals at no cost. Not only is there no cost to our New Hope Partners but Animal Services also provides free spay/neuter surgery, a microchip, vaccinations, and some medical treatments as appropriate. Animal Services will even sometimes provide transport to our Partner's location.

All six LA Animal Care Centers are open 24 hours per day and seven days per week for our New Hope Partners. Each Center has a New Hope Coordinator whose role is to provide premier customer service to our partners. New Hope Partners have direct cell phone contact with their Coordinator and the Shelter Director and can put a hold on any animal at any time.

New Hope Criteria:
  1. Healthy animals are placed on the New Hope Alert after they have been up for adoption for at least seven days. We have some animals not on the New Hope Alert that we are still trying to adopt after two or three months.
  2. Sick and injured animals go on the RED New Hope Alert immediately, as do aggressive dogs. These animals are highlighted in RED which means we are asking our New Hope Partners to pay particular attention to them when considering which animals need the most help.
  3. Healthy animals may also find their way to the Red Alert when we have exhausted all our adoption options and feel a New Hope Partner can better place an animal. Healthy animals are typically taken to one or more off site adoption events before being placed on the Red Alert. But again, an animal can be on a Red New Hope Alert for days or weeks giving responsible Partners more than enough time to respond if they are able.
  4. However, animals on the Red New Hope Alert for 45 consecutive days may be euthanized. That means we give the entire community at least 45 days to find a placement for an animal. Rescue groups and the public have adequate time to save lives.
The frantic emails posted on Craig's list suggesting that animals' are at death's door just because they are on the New Hope Alert does not help to save these animals' lives. These frantic, hopeless emails seem to only have the same effect on most people as they had on the person who wrote in today, revulsion. This misguided passion only keeps people from coming to the Centers, and causes animals to die.

The New Hope Alerts are designed to help our rescue partners make decisions based on their available resources. In the past 12 months LA Animal Services has achieved a 42% live release rate for cats, and a 71% release rate for dogs! That is incredible!

Animals are often on our New Hope Red Alert for days if not weeks before being placed. If you are a New Hope Partner and are interested in any New Hope animal all you need do is call our New Hope Coordinator and we will work with you on transfering the animal into your position, even if we have to transport the animal for you. LA Animal Services has removed all obstacles to saving lives. If you want your organization to become a New Hope Partner, please call one of our New Hope Coordinators.

The frantic, hysteric cries that Animal Services can't wait to kill animals and that we even enjoy killing animals is absurd. The euthanasia rate has dropped 11% for cats and 60% for dogs over the past three years. That is the most significant drop for any community in the United States. And we will continue month after month to continue this decline. It is our hope that all LA will come together to help the City and Animal Services achieve our shared No-Kill goal, and stop trying to scare adopters away, either deliberately or otherwise. Let's make people feel welcome to our Animal Care Centers. They are not Death Camps, they are life lines, a safety net, for our community's lost and homeless pets.

I hope this explanation helps everyone understand what LA Animal Services is trying to do through our New Hope Program. If you have a 501c3 rescue organization, I hope you will seriously consider becoming a New Hope Partner of LA Animal Services!

I would be amiss if I did not comment on this concerned resident's last statement, "Why do we have so many animals if no one wants them???? I don't get it. Can't you people come up with ideas to stop this overpopulation...I can't read this anymore since it's ongoing and doesn't seem to stop."

We have so many animals because pet owners don't spay and neuter their pets, we have so many animals in our shelters because pet owners don't license and/or microchip their pets. If you love you pet, neuter and license your pet. Together we can make LA the safest city in the United States for our pets!

See LA Animal Services Life Saving programs at Donations to help fund these programs are tax deductable. Thank you for your help and support!