So...why does a city-operated shelter need to advertise adoptable pets on its own Facebook page (in addition to any other pages run by shelter volunteers or anyone else?).
1. City pages attract more people. People go to the City shelter for information about adoptable animals. They'll look up the City shelter page on Facebook, not a page that is not the official City shelter page. If the City page doesn't have animals, you've lost a ton of potential adopters right there.
2. Unofficial pages are harder to find. As a corollary to #1, unofficial pages put up by shelter volunteers are harder to find than official pages run by City shelters. Pages that are hard to find obviously attract fewer adopters, and this is not good for animals. Volunteer pages in ADDITION to the City shelter page posting adoptable animals are great. Volunteer pages that REPLACE the City shelter page are a sign that your City shelter does not take its lifesaving mission seriously.
3. Cities that don't post animals are clearly not publicly committed to lifesaving. Not posting animals on your Facebook page as a City shelter shows that you are not publicly invested in adopting shelter animals out. The fact that the City of Long Beach Animal Care Services shelter now apparently doesn't put adoptable animals on their Facebook page is a HUGE red flag that shows that LBACS (and the City Manager, Council and Mayor) wants to "fly under the radar" with regard to adoptions, and be completely divorced from any appearance of networking the animals.
4. As a corollary to #3, cities that don't post adoptable animals on their Facebook pages don't want to be accountable to the public in terms of lifesaving and adopting out animals, and their JOB is to be accountable to the public. The fact that LBACS has started shifting its facebook-networking to a volunteer-run page is a HUGE indication that LBACS has no intention of being accountable to the public.
5. City shelters have larger followings than volunteer-run pages. This is usually because they are a CITY entity. It may also be because they can afford to spend more on boosting their Facebook posts (though there's no evidence that LBACS has ever done that, in spite of having a large budget and bringing millions of dollars in through license canvassing).
6. City shelter that put all the networking responsibility on volunteers and then stifle their free speech are a particularly heinous form of shelter that kills. We have heard that LBACS interferes with the postings on one of the volunteer-run pages and that people who don't comply with their posting "preferences" can be retaliated against by being dismissed from the volunteer program. Shelter volunteers' speech is protected by the First Amendment and a recent Maryland court case recently held that "a volunteer, rescuer, or any other member of the public cannot be banned from a government shelter simply because he or she has criticized shelter management, complained about the policies and practices of the shelter, or posted information online that officials believe is unflattering to the shelter." The fact that LBACS places restrictions on how volunteers talk about the shelter is a violation of their First Amendment rights and it's not okay.
It is an enormous step backward to put all networking off on a volunteer-run page in terms of adopting out animals, in terms of being accountable and in terms of furthering humane treatment of animals in the community (hint: if your shelter doesn't want people to know its doing adoptions, that is a GIANT red flag that animals aren't valued by your city government. People hear that message loud and clear.)
So we think it's GREAT that there are volunteer-run shelter pages. We applaud them; we value the work of those volunteers and we're grateful that they're there, working in a broken shelter that still kills animals for no good reason.
But LBACS needs to take responsibility for what they have been charged to do by the animal-loving public -- not run away from it at every turn.
Mayor Garcia is busy revising history on his Facebook page, saying in the last election, he promised to lower euthanasia rates at the shelter. That's not exactly it. At all. He actually promised to increase adoptions. If Garcia is trying to be an underachiever, he's really nailing it. In the year after he made that promise, the progress in adoptions was glacial. You almost have to TRY to not to do adoptions to do the lamer-than-lame job he has done on increasing adoptions. We responded to this on his page with the open letter below.
So far, no response. Shocker.
With all due respect, Mayor Robert Garcia, you didn't just promise to lower euthanasia rates - as lbreportdotcom reported back in 2014, you promised to build a strong adoption program, which to most folks means you'll increase adoptions.
Specifically, you said: "..One thing that Ted and I discussed, I'm really happy that the shelter is doing, is we're hiring this full time adoptions coordinator for the shelter, which I think is great...This person and their job is going to be first of all to view how do we build a strong adoptions program...We have obviously on the SPCA side is we have the adoption work that they're doing every single day, and we also have some adoption work that's being done currently at the shelter through our volunteers and the great staff we have there. But this person is going to be tasked also in how do we strengthen, grow and develop this adoptions program so we have a really strong adoptions program at the shelter. I'm really excited about that and I hope you guys are all excited about that too because I think it's going to make a difference..." http://www.lbreport.com/news/oct14/nokill.htm
Yet, in 2015, the year you said adoptions would increase, LBACS only adopted out 68 more animals than it did the prior year.
The "full-time adoption coordinator" position fell flat - how is it that with a full-time adoption coordinator on staff, LB's shelter only did 471 adoptions in 2015 while Sacramento's did more than 4400?
Instead of making changes to put animals into good homes, you've moved toward band-aid like strategies that put the animals into other shelters, which is just passing the buck, and it's harmful to the animals, who should be going to homes, rather than to longer stays in shelters and rescues. You might not be aware of this, but longer lengths of stay in shelters correlate highly with higher mortality rates. This is because animals often get sick in the shelter. They shouldn't be shuttled around - they need to be adopted into homes, like many other city shelters do.
When our shelter is killing 2400 animals a year, we can't afford to ignore adoptions. We can't afford to ignore any positive solutions.
I hope you'll reconsider the direction you've taken on this issue, especially since you promised more than 200 animal advocates in that Town Hall Meeting back in 2014 to "build a strong adoption program." People who voted for you for this issue deserve better representation, and our shelter animals deserve a better chance.
An initiative to make Long Beach a No Kill community.