Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thinking Outside the Boks...

Since announcing my resignation (effective June 30th) as general manager of LA Animal Services, I have received a tremendous response from the community and I thank all of you who took the time to contact me with your comments and support.

Even some of the Department’s (and my) most resolute critics expressed their regards. Many thanked me for my years of service, many expressed regrets over my leaving, and some expressed concern for the future of LA Animal Services and the many lost and homeless animals who find their way into our shelters.

While the past several years have been some of the most progressive in the agency’s one hundred year history, I am convinced that its best years lay ahead.

The reason for my confidence is the foundational work we accomplished over the past three-and-a-half years. During this time we built the highest volume pet adoption program in the nation while achieving the lowest pet euthanasia rates in the Department’s recorded history. We opened and staffed six LEED Certified state-of-the-art animal care centers and increased staff size 100%.

We enhanced our training programs and developed the Department’s first Strategic Plan. We updated and standardized all the Department’s policies and procedures. We recruited and managed a record number of volunteers, including a spirited group of professionals to spearhead our historic and effective Spay/Neuter PR campaign.

We firmly established the Animal Cruelty Task Force, partnering with LAPD and the City and County Attorney. We improved the Pet Shop Permitting Rules and Regulations. We built a coalition of over 140 animal welfare organizations. We developed two animal welfare television programs; The Home Shopping Petwork on City Channel 35 and another to be unveiled soon.

We implemented many innovative, life saving programs and partnerships. We built and fully staffed an exceptional shelter medical program. We modernized our website, and developed a culture and respected reputation for transparency.

But most important to the Department’s future success, we established a compassionate performance-based executive team comprised of two exceptional Assistant General Managers, an outstanding Chief Veterinarian, an effective, experienced Volunteer Program Manager, a capable Human Resources Director and a remarkable budget team - all of whom have shown their mettle in a difficult multi-year City budget crisis.

This was all accomplished as the Department experienced its largest, fastest, most historic growth while at the same time sustaining severe budget cuts and staffing shortages.

As I said in my letter of resignation, I am proud of the Department I leave behind. I leave the City of Los Angeles an Animal Services Department committed to improving accountability, effectiveness and correcting long-term organizational empowerment and accountability issues. LA Animal Services is uniquely positioned to help establish the City of Los Angeles as the most humane city in the nation.

While some choose to focus on a spay/neuter fundraising event proposed by Hooters, a worthwhile Pit Bull Academy effort and our wanting to ensure funding existed for ongoing spay/neuter programs, the most important accomplishments went largely unseen and unrecognized. But these accomplishments will be the longest lasting and most telling. LA Animal Services now has a stable infrastructure, an able management team, and a solid foundation on which to truly build a world-class animal welfare organization.

Concerning my resignation, Mayor Villaraigossa kindly said, “Ed deserves our gratitude for his efforts and our best wishes in the years ahead.” For this I am grateful. He then acknowledged not only what was accomplished but what can yet be accomplished: “We look forward to building on his legacy and continuing to make the Department of Animal Services the gold standard for pet protection.”

There is still much work to be done and I trust the entire LA humane community will pull together to keep making things better for the animals. That hope is why I am convinced the Department’s best years are yet to come.