Monday, August 27, 2007

The Search for Contentment...

In an article by respected LA Daily News reporter Rick Orlov, in the August 27th edition, he stated there are "signs of discontent" with Animal Services. This "discontent" is demonstrated, he claims, by "the number of workers who have left Boks' department. The department has 69 vacancies among its budgeted staff of 300 - a significant gap usually not seen in government agencies."

Mr. Orlov is mistaken. The department actually has 434 budgeted positions. Yes, we currently have 69 vacancies. However, we are extending 20 job offers this week as scheduled to accommodate the opening of our new West Valley and West LA Animal Care Centers in September and October. It would not have made sense to fill these vacancies any sooner. This leaves 49 vacancies to accomodate the new North East Valley Center which is still under construction! It would not make sense to fill these positions at this time either. In fact, there is not a significant vacancy rate within Animal Services and we are on schedule to hire appropriate staffing during a time of unprecedented department growth.

It is curious that the same people who once critized the department for poor staff quality, demanding that certain "people should be fired!" are now using staff departures and turnover as a new way to critize the department. But as usual, they continue to get it wrong. In fact, LA Animal Services experienced a 7.5% turnover rate over the past fiscal year. Low by any standards.

Orlov goes on to cite a "snit" with LA county animal control as a further demonstration of "discontent". The "snit" was the result of LA County animal control providing the City four sets of ever increasing adoption numbers while we conducted our due diligence. Their latest number mysteriously claimed an increase in their adoption numbers by over 6,000. This number was not released until the day after the City’s announcement that LA Animal Services is the number one pet adoption agency in the nation. Lacking any credible documentation to substantiate the County's claim, it was quickly dismissed.

To avoid such confusion in the future, I challenge LA County to post and update their numbers every month as LA Animal Services does. LA Animal Services was recognized in 2006 by the Maddies’ Foundation for "Transparency", i.e., the ready availability of information to the public. Of the over 5200 animal control departments in the United States and the tens of thousands humane societies and animal welfare organizations, Maddie's identified only five organizations for their transparency. LA Animal Services was at the top of the list and was the only municipal program recognized.

One of the reasons for this recognition is LA Animal Services' willingness to post its statistics on-line. Animal Services shares Maddie's philosophy that transparency "will ultimately help save more lives," and that by our example "other organizations will see the true merit of moving in this direction, and that transparency will become commonplace in the very near future."

Lastly, Orlov refers to activists’ suspicions concerning adoption numbers. I can only speak for the numbers achieved by LA Animal Services that are posted and updated monthly. They are incontrovertible and can always be found at: ttp://