The director of Animal Care Services in Long Beach was nominated Thursday to become the new head of the Los Angeles Animal Services department, which has had a vacancy in leadership since April 2021.
Staycee Dains was chosen by Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass to fill the position, replacing former LAAS General Manager Brenda Barnette, who retired.
Dains will build the department into a “model for humane and compassionate animal care and constituent services,” the mayor said in a statement. Bass and the City Council recently approved an 18% increase to the department’s budget that will be used to “protect the welfare of animals” in the city.
“I am honored and humbled to be selected to serve the city of Los Angeles as general manager for animal services,” Dains said. “I am eager to work closely with staff, volunteers and the community to find common ground, and to expand and build programs that both save lives and safeguard the public.”
According to the mayor’s office, Dains has more than 20 years of experience as a leader in animal welfare. She has successfully increased adoption rates and lifesaving rates “everywhere she has gone.”
During her years with the city of Long Beach, Dains led the development of Long Beach Animal Care Services’ “Compassion Saves” operating model — intended to reduce euthanasia and increase pet adoption rates through various programs.
LBACS reached its highest adoption rate ever in 2022, placing 1,968 pets into homes and increasing placement of animals by 194% since 2018, according to Long Beach city officials.
Dains also developed and implemented programs that improve staff and volunteer morale and involvement, according to Bass’ office.
“I am confident that she will establish a clear and shared vision guided by industry standards and best practices to continue developing L.A. Animal Services into a 21st Century model for humane and successful animal care and resident services,” Bass said in a statement.
Long Beach City Manager Tom Modica announced Melanie Wagner will be appointed interim director of Animal Care Services for the city of Long Beach as Dains prepares to leave for the city of Los Angeles.
“Staycee has been a phenomenal advocate for our animals here in Long Beach and for our community and partners,” Modica said in a statement. “Although she will be missed, she has set us up for success well into the future.”
Wagner has years of experience caring for the welfare of animals, Modica said, and she would do an “excellent job” continuing on the success that LBACS has made over the last few years.
Dain’s last day with the city of Long Beach will be June 30.
In a statement, Bass said Dain’s nomination demonstrates her commitment to “protect the welfare of animals in Los Angeles.”
In October 2022, former City Councilman Paul Koretz — who chaired the council’s animal welfare committee — released a 46-page report in which he said the department has been the victim of a “chronic budget issue” and is in need of “much more personnel and a drastic increase of its funding.”
City shelters have reached critical levels of overcrowding due to a combination of factors, including continued chronic pet overpopulation, the aforementioned staffing issues and increased owner surrenders brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Long Beach and former Long Beach mayor, called Dains a “great fit” for the role.
“Staycee’s commitment to excellence has shone through in her previous work in Long Beach, and L.A. is lucky to have her as they continue to serve the city,” Garcia said. “I have had the pleasure of seeing Staycee in action myself, and I look forward to seeing her succeed.”
Jennifer Naitaki, senior director of programs of Michelson Found Animals Foundation, a national nonprofit, said in a statement that Dains’ appointment is a “big win for Angelenos and their pets.”
Bass’ appointment will be referred to the council’s Neighborhoods and Community Enrichment Committee, followed by a vote of approval by the City Council.
“I believe we can realize much more of the vast potential for animals and humans to improve each other’s lives,” Dains said in a statement.