Tomorrow is Long Beach Animal Care Services' annual Open House. For at least the past five years, LBACS and the City have used this as a vehicle for "putting one over" on the people of Long Beach, trumpeting small achievements and, unfortunately for the animals, sweeping under the rug the many unnecessary killings of animals at the Long Beach shelter, multiple chaotic management and personnel issues (recently documented in the city audit of LBACS), and what we now know are poorly managed animal welfare practices and, at times, inhumane treatment of animals at our city shelter.
For those who go to the Open House this Saturday, though, many of whom have supported the shelter animals through thick and thin over the years, you deserve much better than a cavalcade of thin excuses, feel-good celebrations and trumped up achievements that ignore the deep problems that plague our city shelter.
You deserve: A genuine, honest and transparent explanation of the audit's conclusions and why LBACS has "very limited standard operating procedures," and why management engages in "inconsistent decision-making and conflicting shelter practices, as well as in changes being implemented without proper direction and explanation." These things hurt our shelter animals immensely. You deserve to have that acknowledged.
You deserve to have Ted Stevens, Marie Knight and Mayor Garcia tell you, in PRECISE terms, what the City intends to do as a result of the audit, rather than trotting out the tired old "everything's just fine - we're doing great" message they've conveyed for the last 5 years as they've faced public scrutiny.
You deserve to be told that the PRECISE things the City plans to do are: To run a humane, No Kill shelter that is free of the influence of SpcaLA, that has its own adoption program and foster program, that sets goals for performance and sticks to them and that:
SAVES EVERY HEALTHY AND TREATABLE ANIMAL AT THE LONG BEACH ANIMAL SHELTER.
If you don't get that, if instead you get feel-good reports about minuscule changes in the euthanasia numbers, new play areas for dogs that serve only to keep them from spiraling into desperation until they are killed, and thanks for performing services our city taxpayer dollars are paying LBACS to do and that LBACS lays on the backs of under-resourced, hard-working rescues that Mayor Garcia is more than happy to transfer the work of saving lives to - if that's what you get, you'll know that it's business-as-usual at LBACS, animals will continue to be killed, and Long Beach is no closer to becoming a no kill city than it ever was.
We hope the City will take the high road and start to see how misguided the current sheltering model is.
We hope the City will stop the suffering of shelter animals and the people who care about them.
The good people of Long Beach deserve a city-run animal shelter that is run in accordance with their compassionate and humane values.
Let's hope we get that tomorrow.
The numbers for 2017 are in, and while there has been some small improvement, LBACS still lags far behind progressive shelters in lifesaving, killing nearly 1,100 cats, dogs, puppies and kittens in 2017.
These are the numbers you will never see or hear from Mayor Garcia or LBACS.
Typically, Mayor Garcia likes to talk about decreases in impound and euthanasia numbers, and he completely leaves out adoptions, fosters, the missing, or even the numbers transferred to SpcaLA, which remains unaccountable to the public and firmly against No Kill.
This year, Mayor Garcia, in a display of bravado that is shocking even to those of us accustomed to his lack of genuine concern for shelter animals, said during the State of the City speech that adoptions had increased since he came into office. He offered no numbers, no proof to show what that means. That is because adoption numbers have barely crept up (from 403 adoptions in 2014 to a heartbreakingly-low 682 adoptions in 2017, while Sacramento did over 5,600 adoptions in 2017.)
Here are the numbers Mayor Garcia doesn't want to talk about:
To reiterate, LBACS did only 682 adoptions and had only 4 animals in foster for all of 2017. With a shelter that is killing nearly 1,100 animals, a strong and viable adoption and foster program are absolutely VITAL to lifesaving. We still have not seen a statement by the City saying they are committed to a strong adoption and foster program.
If LBACS did even a fraction of the 5,600 adoptions Sacramento did, our shelter would be saving all of the healthy and treatable animals in Long Beach. It would also have the capacity to take in animals from nearby higher-kill shelters like Downey and Carson.
Nearly 1,100 animals were killed at LBACS in 2017. They were named Mopsy, Thor, Charlie, Pumpkin Spice, Buda, Thaddeus, Blueberry, Beau, Bella, Zeus and so many more.
There's literally no excuse for not having a strong adoption program in Long Beach - ours is a city full of animal lovers. A mobile adoption van was generously donated to the City last year - and only 103 more adoptions were done as a result.
That's not a shelter that has "not enough money." That's city management Pat West, Marie Knight, City Council and Mayor Garcia remaining indifferent to our shelter animals, not caring that rescues are working every waking hour to save animals and not looking at the answer that is staring straight at them:
A strong adoption and foster program.
Our shelter animals and the people of Long Beach deserve better.
An initiative to make Long Beach a No Kill community.