Kudos to the Signal Tribune Newspaper for balanced journalism. They have released the second installment in their two-part coverage of the Long Beach Animal Care Services Audit - the watchdog group they talk about is Stayin' Alive Long Beach.
In the article, we see Marie Knight, Director of Parks, Recreation and Marine, backpedaling, as a brilliant Huffposter once said, "faster than Wile E. Coyote off a cliff" when it comes to the audit's clear identification of a clear problem between LBACS and SpcaLA: the lack of a formal operating agreement.
From the Signal Tribune article:
"Marie Knight, who has served as director of Long Beach Parks, Recreation & Marine for almost a year, concurred that there is indeed an operations agreement but that the auditors are calling for clarification on the working relationship between the two entities– not necessarily a new agreement."
Hold onto your hat.
The fact is, there is NO operating agreement between LBACS and SpcaLA -- only a lease-back agreement. And the audit says so: "[t]he lease-back agreement does not contain terms related to key operating functions, such as animal adoptions, for which both organizations are responsible."
The audit also fully recommends a formal operations agreement between SpcaLA and LBACS, not just "a clarification," as Ms. Knight erroneously states.
So what we're seeing here is:
1) SpcaLA saying that there is an operational agreement between SpcaLA and LBACS, when there's not (a verbal agreement or a working agreement is not a formal agreement). The truth -- that the audit clearly states -- is the only agreement that exists is a lease/lease-back agreement (we have obtained it through the California Public Records Act and posted it on our website. You can find it here: https://www.stayinalivelongbeach.org/acs-and-spca-la-whos-w…)
2) Marie Knight folding to SpcaLA and then misstating the actual audit by ignoring the fact that the shelter consultants recommends specifically on page 6 of the audit that the City "work with SpcaLA to develop a formal operations agreement."
3) An "alternative fact" being created right before our eyes, as Marie Knight and SpcaLA attempt to erase the clear fact stated in the audit that there is NO operational agreement between the two organizations by saying that there IS one. It is precisely this loosey-goosey operational chaos at LBACS that prevents SpcaLA from being accountable to LBACS in any way, shape or form, and it is this lack of sound city management that is hurting our shelter animals.
The good news is - people can change this by going to City Council, writing letters to their City Council person or even simply educating people by sharing on Facebook as a first step.
We have the power to help our shelter animals. We just have to use it. The shelter animals are depending on us to be their voice.
Read the Signal Tribune article here:http://www.signaltribunenewspaper.com/?p=36407
The following is an annotated list of the recommendations that the recent audit make that point toward more euthanasias. Each recommendation is followed by commentary by Stayin' Alive Long Beach.
Animal Intake and Flow – Short-term Recommendations (Audit, Page 7)
If LBACS had a viable adoption and foster program that moved healthy animals out of the shelter, they would be able to treat many of these animals. Sacramento ACS, a comparable shelter, does not choose euthanasia for its treatable animals and instead garners community support to get prompt and competent medical care for their animals with medical needs. They do this because they are committed to meeting the Sacramento community’s expectations that they will have a humane, proactive, city-run shelter. You can see an example here: https://goo.gl/Y4ZoGz.
Animal Intake and Flow – Long-term Recommendations (Audit, page 10)
As Long Beach reels from the results of an audit that show an animal shelter in crisis, a shelter that can't even assure basic shelter operations, animal care and veterinary care, we have to ask: where is Mayor Garcia in all of this?
The audit was released nearly 3 weeks ago, and still...crickets coming from Mayor Garcia's Mayor and "public figure" Facebook pages. No comments, no posts, no explanation to the animal-loving community that came together and elected him in 2014 based on his promises to improve the Long Beach shelter. His silence is even more noticeable knowing that this is a man who reports his every move on his Facebook page, no matter how trivial.
Let's step back for a moment in history and remember the animal-friendly campaign Mayor Garcia ran back in 2013 and 2014, when he ran on a platform using upbeat, happy animal-themed materials saying, "He loves puppies and kittens" to garner the vote of Long Beach's animal-friendly voters.
Let's remember the packed Town Hall Meeting back in 2014 where promised upwards of 200 animal advocates that he would increase adoptions at LBACS and learn about how Sacramento does such a phenomenal job at adoptions in their shelter (he eventually went to Sacramento, as is typical, only after Stayin' Alive held him to his promise repeatedly on our Facebook page and through a year-end report card. Amazingly, and to the dismay of animal advocates across town, he told not a soul about his visit.)
Instead, Mayor Garcia handed more of the adoption responsibility over to SpcaLA, ignored adoptions, which barely crept up over where they were before he was elected, and touted bogus shelter statistics that only told half of the story and were designed to show LBACS in the best possible light, rather than to find out what truly needed to be done to help our shelter animals.
And while he was doing this, our shelter animals suffered:
Thor - killed illegally with a rescue and an adopter waiting and asking for him.
Sumo - burnt severely while under LBACS care.
Blue - a sweet and friendly tail-wagging dog, left to languish in the shelter for 71 days with no offsite adoption events and then killed for "moderate behavior."
And literally thousands more who were killed under his watch.
The list goes on and on, in a shelter with unqualified leadership that now we are finding has difficulties with assuring even the most basic of shelter operations.
And with this echoing silence from Garcia, what we're seeing, once again, is a Mayor not caring about shelter animals, not taking the animal-loving community seriously, and not being accountable to one of the most powerful voting blocks in the City.
Our shelter animals deserve better than silence. The animal-loving community who has been doing LBACS' work for it deserves better. And Mayor Garcia has done nothing but serve up empty promises and heartache.
It's time for a change.
An initiative to make Long Beach a No Kill community.