All About the Animals in L.A. County Shelters
By Terry Miller
As the Board of Supervisors investigates the living conditions for homeless dogs and cats at the county’s six animal shelters, the animal welfare advocate who exposed dogs living in their own excrement at the Downey animal shelter — which led to the county inquiry — organized an online survey for animal rescuers and volunteers to voice complaints or concerns about the shelters.
Laura Jones held a press conference Thursday afternoon in Pasadena to discuss the findings.
Disturbing allegations have been made by the rescue community against the LA County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC), spanning their network of six shelters, following the inception of a survey by grassroots animal welfare and rescue network All About the Animals. More than 100 complaints were submitted via the survey from the local animal rescue community, (rescuers, volunteers and “networkers”) of which 36 claim to be official LA County DACC pulling partners, or able to “pull” animals out of the county system at will, except in extreme cases (Visit http://file.lacounty.gov/dacc/cms1_195545.pdf for complete information).
“There appears to be inherent issues with the operation of the LA County shelter network,” said Laura Jones, Co-Founder of All About The Animals, after reviewing the survey responses.
“There have been reports of failings with the provision of basic sanitary and humane care, animals receiving inadequate vetting, policies and procedures in place that do not give the animals the best chance of adoption, killing animals despite rescue holds, and even killing an owned animal where it was made very clear that the animal was to be reclaimed. Staff apathy and lack of compassion is also a key theme from the survey.”
“We are looking for complaints or concerns from the last three years,” said Laura Jones, the animal welfare advocate who visited the Downey animal shelter Aug. 5 and posted an online video that went viral of dogs living in feces-filled kennels.
Jones submitted the survey results during a Sept. 3 meeting with Supervisor Don Knabe’s office.
Jones first launched the controversial campaign for major reform in the DACC early last month after capturing and sharing via social media shocking images of dogs wallowing in their own excrement at the Downey Animal Care Center.
“Our survey results show that the issues are indeed systemic, cultural, and sustained; not one-time issues due to staffing, scheduling, or seasonality as expressed by the DACC Director Marcia Mayeda,” continued Jones.
Gwenn Vallone, Board Director of the rescue group Pug Nation LA, a DACC approved rescue partner, reported an example from as recently as last month when the rescue offered to administer medical treatment for a sick dog which was denied by the Downey shelter. The dog subsequently died while in the care of the shelter, despite shelter staff claiming “he’s just a little dehydrated.”
“The LA County shelters seem obstructive to working together with rescues to save lives,” said Vallone, who also spoke at the Thursday press conference. “Other local shelters are much easier to work with.”
A clear message from the animal rescue community gleaned from the survey is that rescuers are petrified of speaking up against the wrongdoings witnessed within the LA County shelters, for fear of retaliation against rescue groups.
“We are afraid to lose our pull rights and would be afraid to submit any complaints. We have never filed a complaint and never will,” added the founder of a 501c3 Rescue Group who wishes to remain anonymous. “This is strictly due to fear.”
Jones shared the survey results with Supervisor Knabe’s Office during a meeting early Thursday morning.
“It seems apparent to us that there needs to be an overhaul in the management of LA County shelters, with radical change needed starting from the top,” continued Jones. “A management that proactively works with, instead of against, rescue groups could make the world of difference to the lives of the defenseless, voiceless animals at the mercy of the LA County shelters.”
The survey and Press Conference coincide with the conclusion of the government sanctioned DACC I CEO investigation ordered by Supervisor Knabe after Jones addressed the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 18 with her complaint and presented them with a petition signed by more than 5,000 people.
The report is now available for review at http://www.allabouttheanimals.org/#!shelter-reform/c1sit.