Mary Cummins Animal Advocates Los Angeles California Wildlife Rehabilitation Real Estate

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Some animal activists are protesting Brenda Barnette the General Manager of Los Angeles Animal Services

I've been closely following Los Angeles Animal Services for the past 15 years. I used to go to all the commission meetings. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wanted to appoint me as a commissioner but I declined because of the nasty activists.

For almost ten years straight Animal Defense League (ADL) run by actress Pamelyn Ferdin and her husband Dr Jerry Vlasak the spokesperson for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) protested Los Angeles Animal Services. They would demand a new General Manager by protesting at the Mayor's house, Mayoral house, Mayor's sister's house, ex-wife of Deputy of Animal Services... That is how we got Don Knapp, Jerry Greenwalt, Guerdon Stuckey, Edward Boks and now Brenda Barnette.

What's very interesting is during all that time the euth numbers went down steadily. The numbers have been going down steadily since the 1970's with or without protesters. Euth and intake went up a little after Boks left before they hired a new GM. That is because Boks fudged the books, juggled the numbers and refused the animals most likely to be euth'd. Those same animals were also animals most likely to procreate. Boks refused feral cats, kittens and large dogs which increased in numbers as they were dumped on the streets. This was also the time of the real estate bust where people lost their homes and relinquished their pets in droves.

Brenda Barnette was hired after a long and exhausting search for a new GM. The search was long and exhausting as few people who were capable of the job wanted it. There were some local animal activists who'd never run a shelter before who wanted the job. There were also people in the department who wanted to run the shelter. Choosing someone from local animal activism rescue or current department employee would not have been the best idea for many reasons. Some local rescuers and some in the department have been at each other for years. An outsider made the most sense. Most outsiders were not interested in the position because they knew they'd be viciously attacked and their career, life destroyed by ADL and ALF. Then along came Brenda Barnette.

Barnette had years of experience running shelters and an SPCA. The only negative was that she and her daughter once owned and bred dogs for show I believe. Any animal lover should only adopt animals and spayneuter any animals they own. Considering the lack of experience, lack of knowledge, tons of baggage and legal liability of past GMs this was a non-issue for me. None of us started our careers with all the knowledge and wisdom we have today.

Barnette continued with all the positive programs of the past and added new programs. She worked with Best Friends, Fix LA, Found Animals Foundation and others. She had to weather through the years as Los Angeles crawled out of the great recession. People lost their homes, had to double up with friends or rent places which would not accept pets. Many animals were relinquished at the shelters. This caused a large increase in intake. The increase in intake caused an increase in euthanasia.

This actually started during Ed Boks' last years but he covered it up by just plain refusing animals. Boks was not allowed to refuse animals as LAAS is a public open intake facility. Boks had no problem breaking the law while he was GM. His fudging of the books before Barnette caused the increase in intake to appear larger in comparison after Barnette because he'd kept it artificially low. Barnette had to deal with the past fudged books, a horrible economy and getting up to speed with the many problems facing LA Animal Services.

I will now take a look at the most recent cat/dog numbers I found on the Department website. They are linked below for this month June 2015. This file changes monthly so save it.

Intake is down considerably. Adoptions, Best Friends, New Hope are about the same. Returned to owners is up. Died is down. DOA is the same. Euthanasia is down by a large amount. It's down 25% from 2013 to 2014. It's down even further so far this year but we have one more month to go in the charts.

My question here is why are activists demanding that the Mayor fire Brenda Barnette? Just because she used to breed dogs? I would not care if she was a backyard dragon breeder if she can get the euthanasia rate to as low as it is today. Barnette has made great progress by the numbers. I think this call for Barnette's head is caused by a few unhappy employees and rescuers who have banded together in this attack.

p.s. The LAAS wildlife numbers have not been that good in the last few years because of a major distemper outbreak, the drought causing more animals to be ill and orphaned and we've lost a few rehabbers around LA City who used to take from the shelter. It's also my fault because I injured my back and can't take in as many wild animals. I used to take all mammals from a few shelters but I can't now until I have surgery. I will say that Barnette reached out to me to improve the wildlife numbers. We shared some ideas and she offered help. I was just not well enough to help. As soon as I have surgery and raised funds for our non-profit I will get back to taking in more wildlife.

I just posted the below on Facebook.

First off no one ever said that Los Angeles Animal Services is "No Kill." They obviously are killing just like Los Angeles County and Pasadena which have higher euth rates than LA City. "No kill" means all adoptable animals are adopted. Very ill, very injured, neonates with no mother or bottle feeders and very aggressive animals are euthanized. I will start with most important numbers first, Intake and Euthanasia. 

Intake: Decrease in intake shows mandatory, free and low cost spayneuter of shelter and owned animals is working. People are also not dumping their pets because of the economy. This again is only for cats, dogs.
2012/13  54,825
2013/14  50,239 -8% from previous year
2014/15  44,734 -9% from previous year at this rate

Euthanized: Euthanasia is down because intake is down, adoption, New Hope, Best Friend are the same and returned to owner is up. 

2011/2012  21,620  37% euth rate (euth/intake)
2012/2013  17,069  -21% from previous year, 31% euth rate
2013/2014  12,683  -25% from previous year, 25% euth rate
2014/2015  11,579  at this rate -9% from previous year, 23% euth rate

Returned to Owner: RTO is up because all shelter adopted pets are microchipped, so are rescue animals and the economy has improved. Before owners would be called but they didn't want their cat or dog.

2012/2013  4,671 
2013/2014  4,732  +1%
2014/2015  5,300  +12% at this rate

Adoptions: Same
Best Friends: Same
New Hope: Same
Released: Same
Died: Same
Dead On Arrival: Same
Stolen: Neglegible 
Escaped: Neglegible

Here's a link to an article I wrote February 14, 2011 about Barnette's first six months.

Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game and the USDA. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.

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