Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Grim Puppy-Mill Shipment Makes L.A. Take Notice

By National Public Radio's (NPR) National Desk reporter Carrie Kahn who covers news from Los Angeles. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, and Latino USA.

Morning Edition,
December 30, 2008 · Purebred dogs go for top dollar in pet stores around the country, but buyers of cute, cuddly puppies may not know that some come from unregulated breeding mills overseas. So-called puppy-mill dogs are showing up sick and dehydrated at major airports around the country.

In Los Angeles, one recent shipment of dead and ailing puppies from South Korea got the city's attention. Twenty of the dogs in the shipment seized at Los Angeles International Airport either had died or had to be euthanized after the trip. The 10 survivors were turned over to the city's shelter.

Five months later, those survivors — five miniature Maltese and five tiny Yorkshire terriers — were ready for adoption. Hundreds of animal lovers, many wrapped in blankets to keep warm, lined up on a chilly morning in front of L.A.'s East Valley Animal Shelter for a chance to bid on the dogs.

Ed Boks, the general manager of L.A. Animal Services, is required by City law to hold an auction when more than one person wants an animal.

"I want to begin with a few facts that you won't commonly hear from your local pet store concerning puppies just like these that can often times go for $3,500 or more," he told the crowd.

Boks said the 10 minipurebreds arrived with forged health certificates. The documents put their ages at 5 months, but they were actually only 5 weeks old.

"These puppies are the product of a cruel, factory-style dog breeding operation that produces animals with chronic health problems, temperament issues and hereditary defects, so our message to all of you this morning is buyer beware," he warned.

Overseas Puppy Mills Proliferate

Puppy mills began proliferating overseas about five years ago, at about the same time that U.S. authorities started cracking down on unscrupulous domestic breeders.

Tom Sharp of the American Kennel Club says that's when he started seeing bulldogs arriving from Russia and Yorkies from South Korea. With the help of the Internet, Sharp says, dishonest pet stores and breeders could easily get puppies overseas.

"That way, they don't have to be inspected by the different organizations and the governments here in the U.S., and avoid all the requirements," he says.

Right now, the only federal requirement an importer has to follow is to provide proof of a current rabies vaccine — documentation that is easily forged.

Federal regulators say that rule was written at a time when the only dogs coming into the United States were companion pets. Nina Marano of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Congress just passed a law banning the importation of dogs under 6 months old for resale.

But Marano says it will take at least two years for the ban to be enforced.

"We can try to regulate our way out of it, but another part is, I think, the issue about demand — that there needs to be a lot more public education about the demand that is being created for these puppies," she says.

A Winning Bid

The demand was high for Los Angeles' puppy-mill survivors.

One winning bidder was Debbie Garringer. "I was really lucky, and I'm happy, so happy, and I will take care of it so much and it will have a beautiful home," she said.

All 10 of the purebred puppy-mill survivors got new homes, as did 52 other pets from the shelter. In all, Animal Services raised more than $20,000 and got its message out: Adopt, don't shop.

To listen to this NPR report, click here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Tribute to Dogs

George Graham Vest (1830-1904) served as a United States Senator from Missouri from 1879 to 1903, and became one of the leading orators and debaters of his time. This delightful speech is from an earlier period in his life when he practiced law in a small Missouri town. It was given in court in 1855 while representing a man who sued another for the killing of his dog.

During the trial, Vest ignored the testimony, but when his turn came to present a summation to the jury, he made the following speech and won the case.

* * * * *

Gentlemen of the Jury:

The best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us, may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads.

The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog. A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer. He will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

If fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Operation Safety Net Announced

I was joined today by LA City Council Member Herb Wesson to announce the implementation of a wonderful new life saving program called, "Safety Net."

2008 will be remembered as a very difficult year for many Angelenos, especially those who felt coerced by the economic downturn to surrender their beloved pet to a shelter. Over the course of the past year, LA Animal Services has seen a 20% increase in animals coming into our Animal Care Centers.

Dog owners relinquish their pets for many reasons, but we were finding that many of those reasons did not seem reason enough to give up on a beloved member of the family.

So two weeks ago we started asking the question, “What would it take to keep your dog from entering a shelter?” That one question saved seven dogs from entering the South LA shelter over the past two weeks. While that may not seem like a lot, it represented the birth of "Operation Safety Net".

Safety Net is a public/private collaboration involving LA Animal Services, Downtown Dog Rescue, Karma Rescue, and Paw'd Squad; three extraordinary organizations with tremendous experience working with large breed dogs, the very types of dogs more frequently relinquished and euthanized at our shelters. LA Animal Services is thrilled to be working with them on this life saving program.

Safety Net is officially starting today in our South LA Animal Care Center. A sign is prominently displayed in our Center lobby informing dog owners how they can keep their pet despite the fact that they may feel as though they have run out of options.

Dog owners sometimes feel forced to surrender their dog because they can’t afford to feed, vaccinate, spay/neuter, treat a minor medical issue, get basic obedience training, or even pay for a $15 dog license. With Safety Net, LA Animal Services staff and volunteers encourage the dog owner to take his beloved pet home and call the Downtown Dog Rescue phone number on the postcard given to them. Safety Net is a wonderful program that enables a community to work together to solve one of the most basic and traumatic problems a family might face.

When the dog owner calls the Downtown Dog Rescue Hotline Phone Number a volunteer will return the call within 48 hours to help address the situation that brought the dog owner to the shelter. Often, ‘the problem’ is a combination of issues. Many dogs need to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, licensed, or trained. Sometimes it's just not having enough dog food to get through a difficult time. But surely, none of these reasons are good enough to give up a family member. Operation Safety Net is designed to help keep pets and families together.

Safety Net is designed to help dog owners who really want to keep their dog if only they had the resources to do so. The program is modeled after Downtown Dog Rescue’s successful 13 year-old Skid Row program to help homeless dog owners.

For more information on how to keep your pet visit Safety Net.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

LA Animal Services Makes Overseas Puppy Mill Survivors Available for Adoption But Cautions "Buyer Beware"

This morning LA Animal Services hosted a well attended Press Conference at our East Valley Animal Care Center where we discussed a very troubling reality, the horrors of the “puppy mill” industry in both the United States and abroad.

The term “puppy mill” is perhaps an unfortunate expression. Many who do not understand this cruel industry may think a “puppy mill” refers to a wonderful place to buy a puppy. In fact, puppy mills are cruel, factory-style dog-breeding operations that produce puppies with chronic health problems, temperament issues, and hereditary defects.

These puppies come from female dogs who are bred over and over again until they sometimes die from sheer exhaustion. These animals are forced to live in crowded, filthy cages with little or no human contact. Their sick and under-aged offspring are shipped around the world to pet stores who, for profit, are compelled to satisfy the public’s seemingly insatiable demand for purebred puppies.

It is important for the public to know, that with rare exceptions, when you buy a puppy from a pet store there is a strong likelihood that you are supporting the puppy mill industry just as surely as you are supporting an illegal drug cartel when you purchase drugs from a pusher on the street.

That is why we say “Buyer Beware” and encourage the public to adopt a pet from a shelter, and save a life, rather than buy a pet from a pet store, off the internet, or from a newspaper ad which leads to the incalculable suffering of untold thousands of animals.

I was joined by Los Angeles City Councilmember Tony Cardenas' Chief of staff Jose Cornejo, LA County Public Health Senior Veterinarian, Dr. Karen Ehnert, film and stage actor and Chief Advisor to Congressman Dennis Kucinich's Animal Welfare Program, Mariana Tosca, and Senior Director of the Hollywood Office of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Beverly Kaskey. Together we introduced ten fortunate survivors of one South Korean Puppy Mill and discussed their significance to our local pet overpopulation problems, international trade, public health, and homeland security.

In June of this year, three shipments of puppy mill dogs were flown into LAX from the Far East on Seoul, Korea-based Asiana Airlines. They were intercepted and confiscated by LA Animal Services and LA County Public Health officials. Ten dogs survived: five underage Yorkies and five eight week-old Maltese puppies; accompanying health certificates falsely claimed the puppies were four months old and ignored serious health issues. These 8 week old animals arrived at LAX ill and seriously dehydrated, having just survived over 14 hours of transport in tiny carriers with no food or water.

These puppies represent an all too typical example of how the demand for purebred puppies has created a situation ripe for abuse.

The interception and rescue of these puppies prompted the formation of a multi-agency animal cargo task force to conduct a three-week survey of incoming animals at LAX. The goal of the survey was to determine the volume, types and condition of animals entering the country via international air carriers.

The Task Force, led by LA Animal Services, LA County Public Health, and the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority, also included the Los Angeles World Airports, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Transportation Security Administration, and several local animal control agencies including the Humane Society of San Bernardino Valley, Inland Valley Humane Society, Long Beach Animal Control, Santa Ana Animal Control, Orange County Animal Care Services, Pasadena Humane Society, Riverside Animal Services, and SPCA-LA.

The findings of the Task Force demonstrated the fact that puppy mills are not a U.S. problem alone. Overseas commercial mass dog-breeding facilities - that put profit above the welfare of dogs - are attempting to flood the U.S. market.

That is of particular concern to the City of Los Angeles, and all U.S. communities, because it undermines our efforts to increase shelter adoptions, fight pet overpopulation, and ultimately end euthanasia as a pet overpopulation methodology. Also of great concern is the fact that imported animals can carry disease (including rabies) or be used in outlandish smuggling schemes representing both public health and homeland security threats.

The magnitude and impact of this industry highlights the need for domestic law enforcement officials to focus more collaborative attention on both the domestic and the international “puppy mill” industry. I want to thank all the members of the Task Force in helping us uncover this cruel attempt to flood the U.S. market with puppy mill puppies.

However, in these dire fiscal times, enforcement alone cannot be the only answer, the best response to this insidious industry is “Don’t Shop, Adopt!” There are hundreds of thousands of puppy mills around the world (over 720,000 in South Korea alone) that produce untold millions of puppies annually, while at the same time more than 4 million pets die in U.S. shelters each year. The puppy mill industry exists because of public demand. Only the public can end it. I encourage all Americans to follow President-Elect Obama’s example and Don’t Shop, Adopt a Shelter pet and save a life.

NOTE: The ten puppies rescued in June will be available for adoption on December 20th, at our East Valley Center. With interest in them running high, LA’s Municipal Code Article 3, Section 53.11 requires that each one be made available through an auction if more than one party wants to adopt the animal.

While these puppies are more fortunate than many puppy mill survivors, having been in the loving care of LA Animal Services for five months, the Department is still concerned that these survivors could develop other types of physical or behavioral issues as a result of improper breeding and poor living conditions during their formative first weeks of life. LA Animal Services is utilizing the City ordinance required adoption-auction process to help ensure that the new owner/guardians of these puppies will have sufficient financial means to afford the medical costs they are likely to incur over the lifetime of these animals. These are Puppy Mill puppies; Buyer Beware. Click here for more information on the Puppy Mill Survivor Auction.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Don't Shop: Opt to Adopt!

As the Holidays approach many consider purchasing a puppy from a pet store. The intent is to place a cute bundle of joy under the tree to be found on Christmas morning to the delight of a child. This is understandable; a puppy does bring a tremendous sense of warmth and love into a home any time of the year, but especially, it seems, during the Holiday Season.

But Buyer Beware!

If you want a dog in your life, please don't buy a puppy mill puppy. Unfortunately, avoiding them requires tremendous discipline and awareness. Pet store clerks and other sellers never willingly admit their dogs come from puppy mills, despite laws that require retailers to clearly and accurately identify the source of the animals they have for sale so that customers can be aware that their purchase supports a horrific and cruel industry.

An edition of “Oprah” earlier this year focused national attention on the “puppy mill.” A puppy mill is a dog-breeding operation intended to provide a non-stop supply of often purebred puppies to a public that seems to have an insatiable appetite for them, an appetite that has created a situation ripe for abuse.

Puppy mills force dogs to produce litter after litter just for profit. These dogs and their puppies are often plagued with suffering, resulting from disease, malnutrition, and loneliness. Oprah Winfrey’s intrepid investigative reporter found bitches who, when rescued from these unconscionable conditions, could barely walk after living a life of immobilized confinement. Most people don't know that when they buy a puppy from a pet shop, a newspaper ad or from the internet, they are often supporting a cruel and inhumane industry.

We owe these dogs the favor of educating ourselves and others about the reality of puppy mills. No matter what kind of dog we desire, we can’t let ourselves be duped. We must resist buying a puppy from a pet store, newspaper ad or website, where dogs from puppy mills are typically sold. Still, the temptations are difficult ones.

It’s easy to gaze into the sad eyes of the puppy in the pet store window and want to "rescue" the lonely pooch...

Or you read an ad in the newspaper, and the couple seems so trustworthy, with their decades of experience breeding dogs...

You find a website with photos of green hills and beautiful puppies that insist the "little darlings" and "bundles of joy" were born in paradise and will only be sold to "loving families"...

But watch out! A cruel, mass dog-breeding facility could hide behind each of these scenarios. Even if you missed Oprah’s exposé, most likely you've heard about these puppy factories. Puppy mills frequently house dogs in shockingly poor conditions, particularly for the "breeding stock" animals who are caged and continually bred for years, without human companionship, and then killed, abandoned or sold to another "miller" after their fertility wanes.

These adult dogs are bred repeatedly to produce litter after litter, without the prospect of ever becoming part of a family themselves. In addition to an abused mother (and we’ve occasionally seen heartbreaking examples of abandoned overbred females come into the City shelters), the result is hundreds of thousands of puppies churned out each year for sale at pet stores, over the internet, and through newspaper ads. This practice will end only when people stop buying these puppy mill puppies.

How do you separate fact from fiction?

1. Pet stores cater to impulsive buyers and consumers seeking convenient transactions. Unlike responsible rescuers and breeders, these stores don't interview prospective buyers to ensure responsible, lifelong homes for the pets they sell, and the stores may be staffed by employees with limited knowledge about pets and pet care.

2. Puppy mill puppies often have medical problems. These problems can lead to veterinary bills in the thousands of dollars. But pet retailers count on the bond between families and their new puppies being so strong that the puppies won't be returned (though the law requires them to accept returns). And guarantees are often so difficult to comply with that they are virtually useless. In addition, poor breeding and socialization practices at many puppy mills can lead to behavioral problems throughout the puppies' lives. In the event a puppy purchased from a store does experience medical problems, the buyer should file a Pet Seller Complaint Form.

3. A "USDA-inspected" breeder does not mean a "good" breeder. Be wary of claims by pet store staff that they sell animals only from breeders who are "USDA-inspected." The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) enforces the federal law called the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which regulates commercial breeding operations. But the act doesn't require all commercial breeders to be licensed, and the USDA establishes only minimum-care standards in enforcing this law and its inspection team is chronically understaffed. Breeders are required to provide food, water, and shelter, but not love, socialization, or freedom from confining cages. Sadly, many USDA-licensed and inspected puppy mills operate under squalid conditions with known violations of the AWA. But federal law constrains state and local authorities from blocking the shipping and sale of these animals across state lines, and current efforts to regulate their importation from overseas leave something to be desired, placing that much more of a burden on the customer to make the right choices.

4. Many disreputable breeders sell their dogs directly to the public over the Internet and through newspaper ads. They often sell several breeds of dogs, but may advertise each breed in a separate place and not in one large advertisement or website. These breeders are not required to be inspected by any federal agency and, in many states, are not inspected at all.

5. Reputable breeders care where their puppies go and interview prospective adopters. They don't sell through pet stores or to families they haven't thoroughly checked out.

6. Purebred "papers" do not guarantee the quality of the breeder or the dog. Even the American Kennel Club (AKC) readily admits that it "cannot guarantee the quality or health of dogs in its registry."

I can’t say this enough: If you’re looking for an animal to join your family, you should not buy from a pet store, and you should be very wary of websites and newspaper ads. Above all, don't ever buy a dog if you can't physically visit every area of the home or breeding facility where the seller keeps the dog.

Puppy mills will continue to operate until people stop buying their dogs. Putting them out of business should be a goal of every dog lover (and we should be so fortunate as to be faced with the dilemma of what to do with the remaining mothers and puppies if and when we succeed). We urge you to visit your local shelter or to do business with a respectable rescue individual or organization. You are likely to find a wide selection of healthy, well-socialized puppies and adult dogs—including purebreds—just waiting for that special home—yours.

For more information on the insidious puppy mill industry click here.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hold the turkey...

The Thanksgiving edition of the Los Angeles Times included a huge article on the front page of the California section, titled, "Hold the turkey please. A vegan Thanksgiving -- where the birds are friends, not feast." The article, by Carla Hall, included interviews with many vegan animal advocates.

Karen Dawn was one of the activists interviewed, thanks to her having invited two turkeys to dinner, Bruce and Emily, who she is fostering until they are retired to Animal Acres as part of a "Thanking the Monkey" event there on December 14. Learn more about that event by visiting www.ThankingtheMonkey.com and clicking on "events."

The turkeys are named after actors Bruce Greenwood and Emily Deschanel who will be reading with Karen while helping to retire their namesakes.

The article opens with, "At Karen Dawn's Thanksgiving feast, there will be yams and stuffing with cranberries and a dessert of pumpkin-pecan pie, all set out on a table for eight.

"And there will be turkeys, two of them actually -- Emily and Bruce (or possibly Brucilla -- it's a little unclear). The two 20-pounders will have most of the privileges of Dawn's other sentient guests -- a Pacific Palisades patio, a view of the ocean and vegetarian nibbles.

"At Dawn's vegan holiday dinner, guests will ooh and aah over live birds. The only turkey plunked down on her table will be Wild Turkey bourbon.

"'It goes beautifully with the hot apple cider,' Dawn says brightly."

Hall offers some serious and important information in her article. She tells us, "Turkeys are smart -- contrary to popular opinion -- companionable and affectionate, animal advocates say."

And we read, "To animal welfare advocates, the process of raising, then slaughtering animals for food is a torturous one. The federal Humane Slaughter Act, which governs how animals are killed, does not protect poultry -- which constitute 95% of animals killed for food."

You'll find the whole article, including a fun picture of Bruce and Emily Turkey watching dining room preparations, on line at: http://tinyurl.com/5w9huu

Speaking as a grateful guest at Karen’s Thanksgiving Feast, I can only add that the experience was remarkable. I hope that such a life-affirming tradition will soon transition from anomaly to the norm.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to feature Tamar Geller at LA Animal Services!

Be sure to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS. Tamar Geller, best selling author of "The Loved Dog" and dog trainer to the stars, will be appearing at LA ANIMAL SERVICES West LA Center to discuss such holiday-themed subjects as keeping your dog from begging at the table, keeping your dog from jumping on guests, and what to consider when adopting a dog as a gift?

Tamar can be seen during the Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcast on CBS, from 9 a.m. to Noon EST, on Thursday, November 27th.

In the meantime, consider adopting a pet from LA Animal Services to share the holidays with so you can put this great advice to work!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Looking for some love in your life?

LA Animal Services had a fantastic adoption event at our East Valley Animal Care Center last weekend thanks to the Found Animals Foundation.

While nearly 70 animals went to new homes as a direct result of this fabulous event, a few of the Found Animals' favorites are still with us. These wonderul dogs have all been assessed and have started on basic obedience training by our good friends at K9s Only. Plus, if you adopt one of these sweethearts you'll get great support and resources from Found Animals.

Found Animals is on a mission to get these dogs into homes for the holidays, so please consider them if you have room in your life for a new friend - and forward this message on if you know anyone who needs some licks and wags this holiday season.

If you've never been loved by a bully you are missing out!

Please feel free to contact Found Animals if you have any questions or want a personal introduction to one of these dogs.

You may have to click on the pictures of the dogs at this site to enlarge them and make the legible.

Many thanks,
found animals foundation ([p] 310.566.7373)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

How a 3-legged dog inspired our next President to make history … and got a Congressional bill proposed in her name

The following Op-Ed is by Jana Kohl, Psy.D., a psychologist, animal welfare advocate, and author and is posted with her permission.
During the campaign, then-Senator Obama and his wife promised their daughters that they would get a dog after the election. This made lighthearted news after the President-elect mentioned it in his acceptance speech, but there is a tragic side to the story, due to a special 3-legged dog named "Baby" who found her way into Barack Obama's arms when he was a newly elected Senator.

The public promise to adopt a rescue dog is unprecedented for a First Family, and has the potential to strike a crippling blow to one of the cruelest industries imaginable- dog breeding- an industry that costs taxpayers billions. Most Americans aren't aware that their hard-earned tax dollars are squandered to the tune of billions a year on animal control due to pet overpopulation, an epidemic perpetuated by the dog breeding industry. The economic crisis we now face demands that every sector be scrutinized for greed, mismanagement, and deception-not just Wall Street.

The houses-of-horror known as "puppy mills," where breeding dogs are locked in cages 24 hours a day, spinning endlessly in circles as they go insane from lifetime confinement, never allowed to walk on solid ground, covered in their own feces and that of the dogs stacked in cages above them, maimed or diseased yet still forced to breed every heat cycle, is an industry that has gone unchecked and is nothing short of legalized torture.
The scores of puppies churned out of these mills each year mean a death sentence for millions of homeless shelter dogs, who wait in vain for someone to adopt them, only to be dragged to the gas chamber. Every time someone buys a puppy from a dog breeder instead of adopting one of those deserving critters, it not only seals their sad fate, it costs you and me a bundle. And yet the dog breeders continue to churn out their cruel cash crop, an income that many brag is easily hidden from the IRS.

One survivor of these hellholes is a dog named "Baby" who found her way into the spotlight with then-Senator Obama. Known previously by a number, "94," tattooed in her ear, this gentle creature had her vocal cords cut by the mill owners so they wouldn't have to hear her cries to be let out of her cage, and after her rescue had her leg amputated as a result of osteoporosis that is common among breeding dogs.

When I learned the shocking truth about the dog breeding industry, I vowed to adopt rather than buy a dog from one of these animal abusers, and to tell the country their dark secret. I enlisted my new Senator, Barack Obama, to help tell Baby's story to the world, and several of his colleagues, Republicans and Democrats alike, as well as celebrities from all walks-Judge Judy, the New York Mets, Steven Tyler, Bill Maher, even rabbis and priests who I contacted to weigh in on animal cruelty from a religious perspective.
Those essays and portraits comprise the book, A Rare Breed of Love: The True Story of Baby and the Mission she Inspired to Help Dogs Everywhere (Fireside, an imprint of Simon & Schuster), which has sent Baby and me on a grueling cross-country tour the past several months, culminating in a proposed bill named for her that would ban lifetime confinement of breeding dogs. "Baby's Bill" (H.R. 6949/S. 3519) is co-sponsored by Representatives Sam Farr (D-CA), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Lois Capps (D-CA), Terry Everett (R-AL), and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), and would require that breeding dogs be let out of their cages for 60 minutes of exercise a day-a baby step as far as I'm concerned, yet one that's likely to be opposed by dog breeders, "Cruella de Villes" that they are.

I remember the photo shoot we did with then-Senator Obama, when he held Baby close, snuggled and kissed her, distressed to hear of her abuse, and an email he later sent to his Illinois constituents, telling them about her and his commitment to stopping all forms of animal cruelty.
President-elect Obama has made history in so many ways, and now the incoming First Family has achieved another first that could not only end a cruel industry, but would also save taxpayers billions. The simple act of acquiring a family pet through adoption will undoubtedly inspire millions of Americans to follow their lead, meaning that millions of homeless dogs slated for death may instead find loving homes, drastically reducing the cost of animal control. The dog breeding industry will see their sales drop dramatically, and countless victims like Baby, locked away at this very moment, prisoners condemned to life behind bars, will be spared that nightmarish existence.

Like all the members of the House and Senate who posed with Baby for the book, Barack Obama understands that this kind of legalized cruelty must end. What the Obamas also see is a wonderful opportunity to teach their daughters a lesson in compassion and mercy by bringing a homeless pet into their family. One of the greatest ways to build character in our children is to encourage compassion toward animals, as the National Parent-Teacher Association states.

It was fitting that we chose the Lincoln Memorial as the backdrop for President-elect Obama's portrait with Baby. President Lincoln himself was an animal lover who once saved the life of a dog, a poignant story recounted in Baby's book. I believe the 16th President is looking down in approval upon our 44th, for so many reasons.

And little does a voiceless, 3-legged dog know, she has helped make history, too.

Jana Kohl, Psy.D. is a psychologist, animal welfare advocate, and author of A Rare Breed of Love: The True Story of Baby and the Mission she Inspired to Help Dogs Everywhere (Fireside, an imprint of Simon and Schuster). Having worked for the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies for many years, she has long been concerned with how cruelty becomes legally sanctioned by society. She is a member of the board of HumaneUSA.

ED: Like the idea of a rescued dog in the White House? Check this out:
Jana Kohl's comment is on the page with the Obama and Baby photo.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Boks' Unedited Response to LA Daily News Op-Ed

A recent Daily News op-ed piece asked, “Where was Boks during fire crisis?” The short answer is that I was on a prescheduled vacation with my children in Mexico that began before the fires broke out.

The General Manager of Animal Services has many responsibilities and is expected – rightly or wrongly - to know the details concerning every aspect of the department’s operations, as well as all the details surrounding every animal in each of the City’s seven shelters at any given moment. So it seems the question, “Where was Boks during the fire crisis?” was inevitable.

For more than a decade this department could do little right in the view of its vociferous, media-savvy critics, and the fault for every shortcoming was always attributed to one person, whichever General Manager was presiding at the time.

So it should be no surprise when the department performs brilliantly as it did in response to the fires (expertly rescuing, sheltering and eventually reuniting over 450 animals with their grateful guardians) the attention of an old school critic is not on the heroic actions of the staff as it should be, but rather on my absence.

I am proud of the employees and volunteers of LA Animal Services who performed so admirably during this crisis. They earned well-deserved plaudits from both the public and their colleagues on the City’s emergency response team, and I am pleased to add my voice to the chorus. That someone feels my temporary unavailability mattered diminishes the expertise of staff and fails to give credit where credit is due: to the chain of command we worked so hard to establish so the department would function as the public expected it to.

It has not been easy and there is much work yet to be done. It has taken over two years to assemble an executive management team capable of responding to the department’s many challenges in a methodical and professional manner. The bringing together of performance-based managers with knowledgeable, experienced long-time employees signals a certain coming of age; for the first time in recent memory LA Animal Services can begin to focus on better meeting the needs of the animals and the demands of our human constituency.

The finger-wagging of the earlier article misses the point that the successful response to the Sesnon/Marek fires exemplifies what our experienced staff is capable of doing and that where I was at that particular moment was irrelevant.

Distractions will no doubt continue and resistance to progressive change may increase before it decreases. But I am confident that LA is on its way to becoming the most humane city in the United States and LA Animal Services is playing a leadership role in accomplishing that.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rabbi Freehling's pet project

The following article appeared in The Jewish Journal - Los Angeles and was written By Rachel Heller

Daylong synagogue attendance is rare among most Reform Jews. It's even rarer for their dogs.

For almost 12 years, Lucy traveled each day to University Synagogue in Brentwood with her owner, Rabbi Allen I. Freehling, then the synagogue's senior rabbi. The golden retriever mix soon became one of the most popular members of the Reform congregation.

"The kids coming in for Hebrew school used to arrive early, come to the rabbi's study, and hope that they would be the ones to take Lucy for a walk before going to class," Freehling recalled. "She was delighted to spend the whole day in my office. If there wasn't someone to pay attention to her, she would usually just sleep under my desk."

Freehling, now the executive director of the City's Human Relations Commission, found Lucy at a city-run animal shelter in the San Fernando Valley. Through a series of community workshops he is helping to facilitate for Los Angeles Animal Services, Freehling is urging other local residents to seek pets from city shelters, too.

L.A. Animal Services has been sponsoring its "Humane L.A." workshops -- a series of 11 free, public panel discussions -- every other week since August to educate Angelenos about what they can do to help make the city a "no-kill" haven. The workshops, which will continue through mid-December, focus on different facets of the agency's "no-kill equation," such as low-cost spay and neuter, rescue groups, foster care and adoption programs. Common-sense factors like these, the agency believes, can, in time, reduce the number of unwanted animals euthanized at city shelters.

"We do have a responsibility in terms of taking good care of the animals that are a part of our population," said Freehling, who is sharing the role of facilitator with three other members of the Human Relations Commission. "Spay and neuter has to become something that is accepted by everyone, because the only way to curtail the population of animals is if they are not reproducing on a regular basis. For people who wish to have animals, for them to consider adopting as opposed to purchasing would also be a step."

The senior rabbi at University Synagogue for 30 years, Freehling and his wife, Lori, adopted Lucy with social interaction in mind.

"Not wanting to leave Lucy home by herself, we purposely found an animal that would be good with adults and children," he said. "An animal is a marvelous provider of comfort. That was the role that she played at the synagogue. Being greeted by her was, more often than not, a comforting experience."

Lucy eventually died of cancer, and the Freehlings adopted Pearl, a black lab and pit bull mix, from an animal rescuer in Riverside. Pearl hasn't had the same opportunity to follow Freehling to work since he was appointed to the commission in 2002.

"Here at City Hall it's less likely that someone would bring an animal to the office on a regular basis," he said.

Asked if it's possible to make Los Angeles a no-kill city, the Chicago native does not hesitate before saying, "Yes." But profound changes must first occur in the local population's attitude toward its four-legged neighbors.

"I hope people will begin to understand what a no-kill city is all about and what our responsibilities are as part of that community, and not simply leave it up to a particular department within the city to solve the problem by euthanizing an extraordinary number of animals," Freehling said. "It's something we're all in together."

For dates and locations of the remaining "Humane L.A." workshops, visit www.laanimalservices.com/humanela.htm

Friday, September 05, 2008

Landlords Should Consider the Benefits of Allowing Pets

The City of Los Angeles has a noble goal: To be the first major metropolitan city in the United States to end euthanasia as a tool to control pet overpopulation. Achieving this difficult goal requires robust community participation.

During this time of economic uncertainty, we especially need the help of an important constituency in our community, our landlords.

According to the 2000 Census LA has 1,275,412 households. Of these, 63% or 803,510 households are rentals. According to a report issued by The Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare in 2005, 50% of all rentals nationally prohibit pets.

Consider these other report findings: 35% of tenants without pets would own a pet if their landlord permitted; tenants in pet-friendly housing stay an average of 46 months compared to 18 months for tenants in rentals prohibiting pets; the vacancy rate for pet-friendly housing was lower (10%) than “no pets allowed” rentals (14%); and 25% of applicants inquiring about rentals in non-pet-friendly housing were seeking pet-friendly rentals.

The report observes: “With such a sizable potential tenant pool it would seem there would be enough pet-friendly housing to meet the current demand. In fact, according to economic theory, in perfectly functioning markets [where people make rational, profit-maximizing decisions, with full information and no significant transaction costs] pet-friendly housing should be available to renters willing to pay a premium to cover any extra costs to landlords.” Begging the question, “Do landlords overlook opportunities to increase profits by not adding to the pool of pet-friendly housing?”

With nearly half of American households having companion animals and over half of renters who do not have pets reporting they would have one or more pets if allowed, why are there so few pet-friendly rental units available?

Well, among landlords who do not allow pets, damage was the greatest concern (64.7%), followed by noise (52.9%), complaints/tenant conflicts (41.2%) and insurance issues (41.2%). Concerns about people leaving their pet or not cleaning common areas were rarely cited (5.9%).

Although 85% of landlords permitting pets reported pet-related damage at some time, the worst damage averaged only $430. This is less than the typical rent or pet deposit. In most cases, landlords could simply subtract the damage from a pet deposit and experience no real loss. In fact, the report finds landlords appear to experience no substantive loss, and further, there is little, if any, difference in damage between tenants with and without pets.

Other pet-related issues (e.g., noise, tenant conflicts concerning animals or common area upkeep) required slightly less than one hour per year of landlord time. This was less time than landlords spent for child-related problems and other issues. Whatever time landlords spent addressing pet-related problems was offset by spending less marketing time on pet-friendly units by a margin of 8 hours per unit.

While the study finds problems arising from allowing pets are minimal, the benefits frequently outweigh the problems. Landlords stand to profit from allowing pets because, on average, tenants with pets are willing and able to pay more for the ability to live with their pets, (especially in unregulated rent situations such as all market-rate apartment units built in Los Angeles since 1978, which are exempt from rent control).

In the City of Los Angeles nearly 17,000 pets were euthanized over the past twelve months. This is an increase over previous years, reversing many years of steady decline. The increase is attributed to the large number of pets surrendered to City shelters this year because of the housing foreclosure crisis. Imagine if just twenty percent of the 400,000 pet restricted households in LA permitted pets. That could create a demand far greater than the number of homeless pets dying in our shelters, allowing LA to finally achieve its goal.

Landlords have been hearing from their own colleagues and professional journals recently that permitting pets makes good business sense. Nonetheless, the lack of available pet-friendly rentals reveals there is a long way to go to meet current demand. The report reveals many landlords may be overlooking an opportunity to increase revenue and tenant pools/market size by allowing pets. While there are some costs to allowing pets, these costs are relatively low and the benefits appear to be even greater for landlords.

The benefits to the thousands of homeless pets who are dying for lack of a home each year cannot be overstated. Landlords can make a profitable, life saving choice by permitting pets. After all, a house is not a home without a pet.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

LA Animal Services Announces New Pet Store Permit Requirements

LA Animal Services is issuing new Rules and Regulations for Pet Store Animal Care, launching a new era of more rigorous oversight of pet shops in the city. Compliance with these Rules is a prerequisite to obtaining a Pet Store Permit from the Department.

Under Section 53.50 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code, all pet stores are required to obtain an operating permit from the Department. As it renews and updates these permits, LA Animal Services will enforce standards for the care of animals in pet stores established by Section 122350 et seq. and Section 122125 et seq. of the California Health and Safety Code, in order to ensure the humane treatment of animals and safeguard the public interest. These new standards were established by the passage of AB 1347 (Caballero) signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in October 2007, and become binding state law on January 1, 2009.

The combination of a strong state law and increased local enforcement should make a difference for these animals. I urge every pet shop to use the time between now and New Year’s Day to bring its facility into compliance.

The Department this week sent out a letter notifying all permitted pet store operators that these new requirements will become effective as of January 1st, 2009, and will work to inform those operating without current permits as soon as possible. The Department’s Pet Store Permit Inspectors are increasing efforts to inspect and assist pet store operators to come into compliance. It is the responsibility of pet store operators to ensure their store is in compliance by January 1st, 2009.

Visit LA Animal Services website to review the new Rules and Regulations. If you know of a pet store that is not in compliance with these Rules and Regulations you can let the Department know at 213.485.1135.

The Rules and Regulations can be accessed at http://www.laanimalservices.com/ under "Services/Permits.”

Monday, August 25, 2008

A House is not a Home without a Pet!

LA Animal Services is proud to announce an innovative program proposed by Keller Williams Realty to help our community’s homeless animals. The foreclosure crisis in Los Angeles has resulted in a 28% increase in the number of pets surrendered to LA Animal Service since the beginning of 2008. This has led to the first increase in pet euthanasia in over six years. Keller Williams has decided to do something about that and to challenge all Los Angeles Realtors to help.

The program encourages real estate agents to purchase a $100 Gift Certificate from LA Animal Services to present to their clients at the close of escrow of their new home. The Certificate becomes effective 30 days after the close of escrow and is effective for one year. The Certificate is good towards the adoption of a dog, cat or two bunnies.

Keller Williams Realty of Beverly Hills is spearheading the program pioneered by Keller Williams Realtor Adele Langdon. The Beverly Hills Office encourages other Keller Williams Offices and Real Estate companies to get on board.

“Keller Williams is delighted to partner with LA Animal Services on this life saving program,” said Rob Aigner, Team Leader of the Beverly Hills Office. “’A House is not a Home without a Pet’ provides our agents and clients a wonderful opportunity to play a meaningful role in helping homeless pets, the silent victims of the housing crisis. It is our hope that all the real estate offices in Los Angeles will join this noble effort.”

“Finding good homes for our shelter animals is a top priority,” added Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, “and ‘A House is not a Home without a Pet’ is a great example of a public-private partnership that benefits those animals and homebuyers alike.”

“Foreclosure pets are a societal problem,” said Tony Cardenas, City Council Member for District 6 and a former real estate agent himself. "We have a responsibility to help solve this problem and I applaud Keller Williams for taking a compassionate lead. It is my hope that real estate offices everywhere will follow this example.” Tony Cardenas is the originator of the City’s Animal Cruelty Task Force and the co-author of the City’s new spay/neuter ordinance that goes into effect on October 1st.

Keller Williams is announcing the program with a full page ad in this week’s MLS Caravan magazine received by all LA real estate agents.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Boks Provides Instructive Responses to Anonymous Attack

Another nasty e-mail is circulating the internet. The anonymous author seems intent on squashing any public dialogue in Los Angeles that would help lead our community to achieving its No-Kill goal and transform LA into the most Humane City in the USA. My responses to this anonymous person’s allegations are in bold. Anonymous is in italics. Please note that “anonymous” has no suggestions or recommendations to offer.

Anonymous: Tomorrow Wed August 20th, Ed Boks will be presenting one of his seminars on "RESCUE GROUPS".

There is NOTHING that Ed Boks can teach us about rescue that we do not already know.

ED: If you are a rescuer, I would largely agree. But these workshops are not for rescuers alone. They are for the entire community, most of whom don’t have a clue about the needs or our animals, our rescuers, and our department. These workshops are designed to help us think out side of the box (or the Boks, if you prefer) and come up with some new ideas, strategies and alliances to help save more lives.

Anonymous: If you know Boks and have worked with him, you know that the one value of attending any of his so called seminars is to support Ed Boks since he will use the attendance as evidence of his "success" in getting people to show up.

ED: Actually, my role in these workshops is that of a secretary, to document the ideas and suggestions of the community. A panel of rescuers and other experts will be present to engage on the topics being discussed.

Anonymous: The only possible value of attending would be to use it as a chance to get Boks/Barth to reverse the recent negative changes they made in the New Hope program.

ED: The purpose of tonight’s workshop is to discuss program enhancements, so we welcome discussion on this topic. To put the above allegation into context it is important to understand that there were only two significant changes in the New Hope program. One was reinstituting the $28 spay/neuter fee. This is a fee that rescue partners had routinely paid until the advent of the New Hope program in 2006. The department waived that fee for one year and there was no increase in the number of animals saved through New Hope. The fee was waived to help New Hope partners rescue more animals.

It was difficult to justify waiving the fee a second year when it had no measurable impact the first year. Nonetheless, the department secured a $160,000 grant from the Found Animal Foundation so we could waive the fee a second year. Unfortunately, there was still little increase in the number of animals saved and the grant money was spent. So the department had to reinstitute the fee this fiscal year to help off-set a 15% budget cut.

It would be great if the rescue groups would work together to obtain a grant to cover this fee, as the department did for the rescue groups in 2007.

The second change was asking New Hope partners to share adopter information with the Department so we can follow up on licensing. The Department is rightfully under a lot of pressure to increase licensing and we would appreciate our New Hope partners understanding this new requirement - and that it will lead to saving the lives of any licensed and tagged dog brought to any of our Centers.

Anonymous: However, remember that Ed Boke is famous for his lies and empty promises. He will charmingly agree to take your opinions under consideration but no change for the animals will take place unless it serves him personally.

ED: Serving as the general manager of LA Animal Services is a difficult job, particularly when personally criticized by anonymous mudslingers. However, every effort I make is dedicated to doing the best job I can for the City and the animals in my care.

Anonymous: Ed Boks has already agreed to form several "committees" in the past ostensibly working to improve the New Hope program, improve conditions at the shelters and implement public educational programs. Nothing these committees brought to the table was ever implemented. All of the committees dissolve because Ed Boks not only refused to take recommendations and input for positive change but actually falsely claimed that these committees approved changes when they did not.

ED: Actually, the New Hope program we are discussing tonight is the result of the work of two separate committees, one in 2006 and one in 2007. The department is also working with a committee on the formation of a marketing strategy for the spay/neuter ordinance, with remarkable results you will soon all see. The department has a track record of working productively with committees. Not perfect, as some committees have gone astray from staying focused on the business of saving lives and improving procedures and practices, but we are determined to continue working with the community and individuals committed to developing and implementing life saving strategies!

Anonymous: If you do choose to attend the seminar I ask you to challenge Ed Boks on the following:

Why is the Northeast Valley animal shelter not open to rescuers without the need for an advance appointment during very restricted hours?

ED: The Mission (Northeast Valley) Animal Care Center is not open to the public with the exception of our New Hope partners. The Center has very limited staffing, so we have no choice but to meet New Hope partners there by appointment.

Anonymous: If he blames a poor economy read further and ask him the following: Why did he, while our economy is failing, hire a second Assistant General Manager?

ED: Hiring an Assistant General Manager for operations has been a two year process that obviously began long before the current economic slowdown. This position is critical to the success of the department and I make no apologies for filling it with the most qualified person I could find. Improving the direct oversight over shelter and field staff is a critical function in a department with our history.

Anonymous: No General Manager in the history of LAAS ever had two AGM. The cost of these AGMs is approximately $200,000 in salary and benefits a year?

ED: For years before my coming to LA, the local animal welfare community insisted the City find a General Manager who would hold the department accountable for results. The three cardinal principles for success are Leadership, Focus, and Accountability. You cannot hold the Department accountable for results if you don’t allow for leadership. One person alone cannot effectively manage an organization with eight locations, seven of which are open 24/7, with officers in the field 24/7 covering over 490 square miles that is Los Angeles, and taking in 150 animals a day. All one has to do is look at the stream of General Managers who have graced the revolving door known as LA Animal Services over the past few years to know this is true.

For any organization to be successful the first rule is to get the right people on the bus and then to get the right people into the right seats on the bus. That is not an easy task in LA, and it took time, but the results are the only way to evaluate success. I believe you will see the type of leadership and results the LA community has been demanding.

Anonymous: Why does Ed Boks need 2 Directors of Fields Operations at the approximate cost of $230,000 in salary and benefits a year? Why does Ed Boks need 4 new District Supervisors of Operations at the cost of approximately $407,000 in salary and benefit per year?

ED: See the above answer. LA Animal Services is sometimes viewed very simplistically, as a company of dog catchers and kennel workers who operate on autopilot. However, Animal Services it is a very complex and dynamic organization. The District Supervisor positions are positions that were mistakenly eliminated several years ago as a budget saving measure. What that did was eliminate any opportunity for Center Managers to grow into executive-level positions. Through the reinstitution of these positions we will establish a well run, accountable department that will be able to select its future GMs and AGMs internally and not from out of state.

Anonymous: All at a time when LAAS' budget has been cut to the point that the department is slated to lay off 28 ACTs and the animal food budget has been reduced starting in Sept 2008 from $7,125 per shelter per month to $4,750 per shelter per month. That is a reduction of approx $100,000 a year in the food budget while the number of animals under his care continues to increase.

ED: The food budget was over budgeted in the past and we never spent the entire line budget allocated for food. The layoffs are the result of authorized hiring done specifically to prepare for the opening the new Mission (Northeast Valley) Center. If the City continues in its decision to not open that Center and to reduce operating hours, then, under current circumstances we have no choice but to lay off the extra Animal Care Technicians we hired to staff it. Efforts are being made by members of the City Council and others to remedy the situation, but the results are not yet known.

Anonymous: The following is documentation we have that illustrate how Boks/Barth report their killing, and it is very disturbing. It appears that this is one way he can deliver his false no-kill claims. The numbers below came for LAAS documents.

Ed Boks declared March 2008 as a "No-Kill Month". That month one LAAS district shelter euthanized approximately 271 animals. All but 21 were killed for behavioral, medical and unweaned. So that means that 250 in one shelter in one month were so ill and aggressive that they had to be killed.

In April of 2008 two of the highest kill LAAS district shelters euthanized approximately 898 animals. All but 38 were killed for behavioral, medical and unweaned. So that means that 860 animals in 2 shelters in one month were so ill or aggressive that they had to be killed.

In June 2008, 223 animal were euthanized in one of the district lowest kill shelters and NONE were reported as being killed for time and space. So here again, 223 animals were killed in one shelter in one month due to illness and aggression.

In July 2008; 165 animals euthanized in another low kill LAAS district shelter, again, NONE for time and space.

Since "no kill" accepts euthanasia for the medically and behaviorally unadoptable animals, these euthanasia rates lead one to believe that the killing was only 5% of the animals actually killed in LAAS.

ED: The recent increase in animal impounds has led to an increase in the number of animals euthanized. This is the first increase in pet euthanasia in the past six years. The Department successfully reduced pet euthanasia over 50% in the past six years, and 22% in 2007. YTD 2008 has seen a 37.38% increase in euthanasia (10,217) compared to 2007 YTD (7,437). However, when the numbers are normalized to account for the increase in impounds, the euthanasia rate is up only 3.49%.

So, what does that mean to achieving No-Kill?

Phase I of No-Kill is achieved when no healthy animal is killed due to a lack of space or resources.

Phase II is achieved when we end the killing of animals in need of medical treatment.

YTD 118 cats and 384 dogs were killed due to insufficient holding space and/or resources. These healthy pets represent the challenge to achieving Phase I of the City’s “No-Kill” Goal.

YTD, the Department is over 95% on its way to achieving Phase I of No-Kill.

The Department has always welcomed and invited the closest scrutiny to how these numbers are collected and reported. To date, no one has taken us up on our invitation. But the numbers are what they are…

Anonymous: However, in closely reviewing these numbers, it begs the question how could it be that 95% of animals killed in LAAS are killed because they are unadoptable. How does Ed Boks define "behavioral, medical or IRS"? Any of us that have adopted or rescued out of LAAS know that those are impossible odds. As a matter of fact, most of the animals labeled aggressive or sick are not. However, without using such tactics Boks/Barth team cannot show the mayor that they have created any positive change in LAAS.

ED: I know, the animal welfare community finds this type of success impossible to believe. That is why the department has always shied away from reporting on this and has only reported its numbers in terms of “beating hearts in” and “beating hearts out”.

Our staff doesn’t evaluate animal’s behaviors, by directive of our Commission. But we do evaluate them by observation. Animals that demonstrate dangerous behavior are not placed for adoption BUT THEY ARE MADE AVAILABLE to our New Hope Partners. So no animal is arbitrarily euthanized for behavior without having an opportunity to be considered and evaluated for seven days by our 140 New Hope partners.

Anyone who truly works with the Department knows that we have animals in our Centers for half a year or more, you know that we perform some of the most amazing life saving surgeries, we go to tremendous lengths to save lives, more so than any other municipal shelter system in the country. In the last year, our veterinary team expended over $300,000 in medical supplies and medicines. So yes, only around 5% of the animals euthanized are healthy, sound animals.

The Mayor’s office pays close attention to the work of the Department as well as to the concerns of the humane community regarding our operations and our results and is well aware of the progress we are making in a number of areas as well as of the challenges we continue to face.

Anonymous: The numbers above are not to illustrate the euthanasia rate. We are all aware the "no kill" will take time and planning to achieve. These numbers prove that Boks/Barth have failed to create a viable no kill solution but have succeeded in reated a way of misleading the city of Los Angeles and its mayor.

ED: If anonymous wants to work with the Department in identifying just how we are deceiving ANYONE, I welcome them to come forward. Notice that anonymous provides no solutions or recommendations, only personal attacks. If anonymous – or anyone else – thinks they have something constructive to recommend regarding achieving “no kill” apart from promoting certain personalities who are either unqualified for or show no interest in working here, I welcome those ideas. I believe we are employing viable no kill solutions to the best of our abilities in a difficult environment, and they form the basis of the workshop series. Also, once again, the Mayor’s office is completely familiar with everything that is going on.

Anonymous: Another method they use to provide false numbers is warehousing the animals.

In July of this year Ed was accused of warehousing the animals to improve his numbers. To achieve the appearance of less killing, Mr. Boks warehouses the animals until they develop behavioral and/or medical issues and then euthanizes
them for being medically or behaviorally unadoptable. In so doing the time and space numbers remain minimal.

ED: This is not an easy task; and it does point to the already-mentioned need for a more accountable management structure. The Department is committed to achieving “No-Kill”. Yes, we keep animals a long time in an effort to find them homes. Our Centers have a cadre of dedicated volunteer dog trainers who work with the animals to make them more adoptable while they are with us and to help them stay as sociable and healthy as possible. As mentioned above, we have an improved - and remarkable - veterinary program dedicated to fighting the constant threat of disease and treating animals as quickly as possible as needed.

Are we slow to euthanize animals? Yes. And I am in the process of implementing a program to make the process even slower. Each Center has what we call a “Heart-to-Heart” Team. They are charged with evaluating the animals before deciding if they should be euthanized. The team is made up of the Center Manager, the Animal Care Technician Supervisor, the Veterinarian, and the New Hope Coordinator or their designees. They review the length of time the animal has been with us, the health of the animal, the behavior of the animal, and our New Hope and adoption options. Only when this team feels we have exhausted every live saving option for a particular animal is that animal euthanized.

5% of the time this difficult process leads to the death of a healthy animal to help alleviate overcrowding.


Some of you may not know that the LAAS shelter staff is extremely unhappy with Mr. Boks. performance and would like a change to be made. The staff is behind the humane community 100% and will support all rescue groups in every effort. For the first time in the history of LAAS the staff and rescuers are on exactly the same page.

ED: I am well aware of the concerns of some staff and I try to be available to discuss them. I am absolutely confident in saying I know these statements about total unity between the staff and humane community are inaccurate. Complaints from rescuers and others about incidents involving staff have not disappeared into thin air as anonymous apparently would have us believe.

I try to support both my staff and the rescue community and doing so sometimes raises the ire of one or the other when conflicts arise. Those conflicts arise because staff and the rescuers are NOT always on the same page. The Department’s management team spends too much time working on solutions to these issues for this “unity myth” to be credible. Finding solutions to these challenges is the purpose of tonight's workshop.

If someone has a better approach to managing these situations, I’m open to discussing. I want what is best for the Department.

Anonymous: Do you really want to take out time and attend this seminar or any other of Boks' seminars? The only result will be that Ed Boks can show that someone showed up to support him and will continue to ignore what we tell him we need to help save the lives of our city animals.

ED: I cannot imagine what the value of squashing dialogue is. What is this anonymous person afraid of?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ten Tips To Help Your Dog Beat The Heat

NY Daily News, 11 August 2008

By Nicole Lyn Pesce

Dogs need protection from the heat, too.

The dog days of summer are just as miserable for our four-legged friends.

"Anything that feels uncomfortable to you is definitely going to feel uncomfortable and unsafe to your pet," says Tod Schadler, veterinarian and associate dean at Ross University's veterinary school.

Common sense can soothe cats and dogs begging to beat the heat. "What you would do to protect your child in the summertime is basically the same thing you would do for your pet," says Rashell Cooper of PetSmart.

Check out these expert tips for a safe summer with your pets.

1. Never Leave Pets Alone In Parked Cars. Even parking in the shade or cracking the windows isn't enough to keep your vehicle from becoming a 120-degree deathtrap in minutes.

2. Don't Overexert Your Pet. "If you're going to exercise your pet, don't do it when it's blazing hot in the middle of the day," says Schadler. Walk in the morning, late afternoon or evening, when temperatures are cooler.

3. Carry Water On The Go. "Just like a jogger takes some water along for themselves, take some water along for your pet, too," says Schadler. Signs of dehydration include dry tongues and noses.

4. Stick To Shade. Outdoor pets need shady spots in your yard. "It's always good in a grassy area," says Cooper. "It's cooler than being on concrete or dirt."

5. Have Backup Water Bowls. Scatter extra bowls around. "If they knock one over, there's always a fallback dish," says Schadler. Or fill a bowl with ice: "They can lick the ice cubes and the melting water stays nice and cool."

6. Keep Them Groomed. Brush and trim mangy or overgrown coats. "We recommend a professional groomer help you determine the length and what's going to keep them cool, but also protected from the sun," says PetSmart's Michelle Friedman.

7. Pets Need SPF. "If they're exposed to the sun a lot, they're susceptible to sunburns and skin cancer," says Cooper. There are pet sunscreens, but ask your vet about safe brands . "If dogs can get their tongue at it, they're gonna lick it off," Schadler says.

8. Protect Paws. Scalding sidewalks can cause serious burns. "You don't want to walk barefoot, and it's no different for your dogs," says Cooper. Try protective booties or walk on grass.

9. Watch Pets In Water. Some dogs aren't good swimmers. "Have them wear a life jacket for extra protection if they get tired," says Cooper. Don't let pets drink from chlorinated pools or from creeks and rivers crawling with microorganisms.

10. Know Heat-Stroke Signs. Look for excessive panting, disorientation, weakness, vomiting and very hot skin. "Call your veterinarian," says Schadler. "Describe what you're seeing. They'll let you know how much of an emergency it is.”

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rottie pair abused by con man need help

In the last day or two, e-mails with the above subject line have been circulated on the world wide web. Here is an update on the situation:

On August 3, 2008, LA Animal Services West Valley Center contacted the LA Police Department regarding a serious incident involving one of our pets. Citizens visiting our Center alleged that they saw a man taunting and agitating a dog named Cesar, an adult Rottweiler, with an unidentified object. The witnesses also alleged that they saw him stomp on the dog’s paw in retaliation to a small bite he received during the taunting incident.

Cesar was found to have a cut along the top of his muzzle, which was immediately treated by our medical team. Fortunately, the cut was not serious and required no sutures. The individual was instructed by LAPD that he was not permitted inside any of our Centers and a report was filed and the matter has been referred to the Animal Cruelty Task Force (ACTF) for investigation.

We, at LA Animal Services, are deeply saddened by this serious incident and are thankful that Cesar is making a full physical recovery. We applaud the brave witnesses who came forward and recounted the facts to the Police. We are confident that the matter will be fully investigated and justice will be served on Cesar's behalf.

We appreciate your inquires regarding Cesar's well being. It is our fervent hope that Cesar and his best buddy, Cleo (also an adult Rottweiler), will soon have warm and loving homes available to them. Cesar and Cleo can be viewed on our website at http://www.laanimalservices.com/animalidsearch.htm. Just type in A0934326 for Cleo and A0934327 for Cesar. Our Best Buddy program allows you to adopt one animal for the full adoption fee and his/her buddy at one half the adoption fee.

Both Cesar and Cleo came into our Center on March 17th, five months ago, as lost pets without licenses or microchips. 100% of the lost animals that come into LA Animal Services with current identification go home. Unfortunately, 99% of the animals that come into LA Animals Services have no identification, and never go home again.

Cesar and Cleo are on our Green Alert which means any New Hope partner can rescue them and they are available to the public for adoption.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Basic Ocean Etiquette

The following guidelines were developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They are intended to help you enjoy watching marine wildlife without causing them harm or placing your personal safety at risk. Keep in mind that these are general guidelines, and it is best to follow location or species-specific guidelines if they are available.

Learn before you go. Many marine wildlife species have specific habitat needs and sensitive lifecycle requirements. Use the internet, guidebooks, and knowledgeable people to learn how to observe wildlife responsibly where you plan to visit them.

Keep your distance. Getting too close to animals can be harmful to them and to you. Take precaution and use binoculars that let you view animals from a distance where they won’t be disturbed.

Hands off. Touching wildlife, or attempting to do so, can injure the animal, put you at risk, and may be illegal for most protected species.

Do not feed or attract marine wildlife. Feeding or attempting to attract wildlife may harm animals by causing sickness, death, and habituation to people. Animals that are accustomed to humans become vulnerable to injuries and can be dangerous.

Never chase or harass wildlife. Do not surround, trap or separate animals, approach them head on, or approach them directly from behind. Make sure they know you are there before they see you.

Stay away from wildlife that appear abandoned or sick. Animals that appear sick may not be. They may be resting or are young awaiting the return of a parent. If animals are approached, their behavior may become aggressive. If you think an animal is sick or injured, contact local authorities.

Wildlife and pets don’t mix. Wild animals can injure and spread diseases to pets, and pets can harm and disturb wildlife. If you are traveling with pets, keep them leashed and away from wildlife. Please help us get the word out that it is against the law to let your dog on any LA City or LA County beach on or off leash at any time!

Lend a hand with trash removal. Human garbage and fishing debris are some of the greatest threats to marine wildlife. Carry a trash bag with you and pick up litter found along the shore.

Help others to become responsible wildlife watchers and tour operators. Lead by example. It’s up to you! Obtain and carry a few copies of these guidelines on your travels and share them with others. Patronize businesses that follow these guidelines. Protecting and conserving is everyone’s responsibility.

How you can help:

  • Become Ocean Literate.
  • Treat our coasts, oceans, and the animals that live there with care.
  • Actively participate in local, state and federal efforts to protect and manage coastal and ocean resources.
For marine mammal strandings and violations call NOAA Enforcement Hotline at 1.800.853.1964.

Federal Laws Protecting Wildlife

Marine Mammal Protection Act: The MMPA prohibits the “take” of marine mammals. “Take” includes actions such as hunting, harassing, killing, capturing, injuring, and disturbing a marine mammal. For more information consult the text of the MMPA at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr.

Endangered Species Act: The ESA prohibits the “take” of a threatened or endangered species in U.S. territorial waters. “Take” under the ESA means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. For more information consult the text of the ESA at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr.

National Marine Sanctuaries Act: The NMSA provides authority for comprehensive and coordinated conservation and management of national marine sanctuaries, and activities affecting them, in a manner which complements existing regulatory authorities. NOAA develops regulations for each sanctuary that are responsive to their specific issues, needs and goals. For more information visit www.sanctuaries.nos.noaa.gov/protect/regulations/welcome.html.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act: The MBTA prohibits the pursuit, take, capture, kill, sale, purchase, or transport of migratory birds and their parts (including eggs, nests, and feathers) or attempt to engage in such conduct. For more information consult the text of the MBTA at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/intrnltr.html.

Contributors to these guidelines include NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program, NOAA Fisheries Service Office of Protected Resources, National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife, Watchable Wildlife, Inc., International Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Wildlife Conservation Society, and a number of state and regional agencies, organizations, and institutions.