Today, we'd like to talk about Huey. He was a 7-month old kitten who, along with 1,070 other kittens, have been killed in our shelter since January.
Today Huey is kitten #1,071. Here is his story: Huey entered the shelter on August 9. His medical record says he was Bright, Alert and Responsive. He had no signs of illness, but his medical records say he was kenneled with a cat that had possible signs of a cold, so he was watched for illness.
(If there had been a foster program at LBACS, he wouldn't have been kenneled with a sick cat.)
He held strong for 9 days -- an eternity for a little kitten -- and on August 18, his medical notes say that he was quiet and had some sneezing.
(If there had been a foster program, his illness could have been completely prevented or nipped in the bud.)
He held on for 10 more days and seemed to improve a bit - no runny nose, but by this time, he had gotten a cold-related ulcer on his tongue and the vet said: "May not be the best adoption/rescue candidate due to long course of URI [cold]."
(His illness was predicted. They knew it would happen and yet no foster program is in place to help kittens like Huey.)
In the end, Huey was killed "due to illness and time/space" on September 2 after coming in healthy but then languishing in the shelter for 3 weeks. We can only imagine how lonely and sad life was for Huey in those 3 weeks.
What can we learn from Huey's story?
Huey was killed because he had a cold. He came in healthy and it was life in the shelter that made him sick.
Huey was killed because there was no foster program to get him to safety (remember -- Sacramento has over 200 animals in foster care every month).
This is the story of thousands of cats and dogs at our shelter every year.
But today, it's Huey's story and he deserves to have it told.
If you are upset about Huey's story, please know that only YOU can save cats like Huey from the shelter. No magical person is going to come in and do it for you. The Mayor and City Hall need to hear from YOU, personally and repeatedly, because they are fighting change and they think they can put a happy face on the shelter and sweep Huey and the 1070 other kittens that have been killed so far under the rug.
How you can help: http://www.stayinalivelongbeach.org/how-you-can-help.html
There's a sample letter there and other ideas to help you get started advocating for shelter animals in Long Beach.
Please don't let Huey's death be in vain. Take Action Now. Share this post, write a letter, tell a friend about what's going on at our shelter. Post this to the Mayor's Facebook page or the page of your City Council member (see below for their links).
Because our shelter pets are dying and the people in charge are not doing their jobs. And they're using YOUR money to do it.
Mayor Robert Garcia
District 1: Lena Gonzalez
District 2: Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal
District 3: Suzie Price
District 4: Daryl Supernaw
District 5: Stacy Mungo
District 6: Dee Andrews
District 7: Roberto Uranga
District 8: Al Austin
District 9: Rex Richardson
Do it today. Do it for Huey.
The ASPCA has released a "Position Statement on the Responsibilities of Animal Shelters." It is a call to "elevate the expectations we have of shelters." Many of the things the ASPCA now advocates for are the things Stayin' Alive advocates for at the Long Beach animal shelter.
Here's a short statement from the ASPCA President: "This call to elevate the expectations we have of shelters—and of one another—means setting baseline standards on housing, sanitation, medical treatment, disease control, socialization protocols, and other behavior interventions.
It means removing delays to making surrendered animals immediately eligible for adoption. It means acting without prejudice against people—based on economic, social, racial or cultural reasons. Likewise it means not acting against animals based solely on breed.
It means ensuring shelters have the flexibility to reduce or waive adoption fees. We simply can’t afford to put barriers between suffering animals and safe homes.
It means continuing our efforts—with the highest standards—to transfer shelter pets to rescue groups or to areas where they stand a better chance of adoption, and doubling down on efforts to reconnect owners with their lost pets.
It means legally requiring ID tags for all owned dogs and cats living or venturing outdoors, and ending any use of hold times as a reason for euthanasia.
Finally, it means shelters committing to transparency—releasing data on intake and outcomes, including euthanasia. Transparency is one of the most effective ways to build community trust and support; secrecy is one of the fastest ways to lose it."
ong Beach Animal Care Services fails to maximize the opportunities it has to save lives by not following many of the recommendations here, particularly this one, which is contained in the statement itself:
"[A]nother critical responsibility of all shelters is finding homes or placement options for the animals in their care. Shelters should be required to take all steps necessary to ensure the placement of as many animals entering their facilities as possible, whether they arrive as owner surrenders, strays or through other means."
No Kill is quickly becoming the mainstream view -- only out of touch shelters will continue to follow the traditional control-oriented model of sheltering. Out of touch is what we are in Long Beach. More than 3,000 animals have been killed since Mayor Garcia took office. How many more animals need to die before our City acts?
Read more here: http://www.aspcapro.org/…/message-president-aspca-position-…
Can Long Beach Lead in No Kill? Yes, we can
– Patricia Turner, Ph.D.
Mahatma Gandhi famously said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” This quote is compelling because it contains a truth – how we treat animals is important, and no California city believes this more than Long Beach.
Last week, P-T columnist Tim Grobaty asked whether Long Beach can become a No Kill city – his response was a resounding “no.” As an animal welfare group that advocates for lifesaving programs at our shelter, we have to say we respectfully disagree.
But first – let's talk about where we do agree.
We agree that people should spay and neuter their pets, should adopt, rather than buy, and shouldn't breed. We agree that irresponsible people contribute to the problem of animal homelessness. If there's any disagreement, it's on how to deal with the problem.
It has become an unquestioned truth in animal welfare that the “irresponsible public” is to blame for shelter killing and that little can be done to stop it until the public has fully embraced spay/neuter. Unfortunately, irresponsible pet owners will always be with us. That doesn't mean we can't and shouldn't educate, but blaming people rarely changes hearts and minds. It simply alienates the very people we in the animal welfare community most need to reach.
To be sure, blaming the public is easier than rolling up our sleeves and solving the problem, but in no other area of civic life do we do this. Imagine if all neglectful or abusive parents were required to become model parents before we could help the children who suffer neglect. The results are unthinkable. So we put programs and laws in place to protect children. Yet in sheltering, we blame rather than help. And it's the animals who suffer.
In our lifetimes, we will not see the complete elimination of irresponsible pet ownership.
Realizing this, we have to take a different approach - our shelter has to be a place where animals can have a real chance to be placed in homes. This chance is provided through planning, programming and policies that save lives. No Kill's approach is to put effective programs in place at the shelter that reduce intake and increase placement of animals into good homes. Mr. Grobaty says it's about keeping animals for long stays in the shelter – a common misunderstanding. Instead, it's about reducing the time an animal spends in the shelter and engaging in problem-solving to get animals into homes. Programs that do this are low-cost spay/neuter, but also a strong adoption and foster program, medical and behavioral rehabilitation, community outreach (like a help desk to help people solve the problems that lead them to surrender their pets to the shelter), and public-friendly adoption policies.
We advocate for these programs at the Long Beach Animal Care Services animal shelter because many of them don't exist now. This month, Sacramento Animal Care Services adopted out 200 animals during a 4-day adoption event. Long Beach took 6 months to adopt out that many last year. We believe if Sacramento can do it, Long Beach can do it, too. But it will require changes to the policies and programs at our shelter.
Over 3,200 animals were killed in our shelter in 2014; most were healthy or treatable. Many could be saved if we had a strong adoption and foster program at the shelter. This is what Stayin' Alive advocates for. We think that Gandhi had it right – and Long Beach can be great.
Patricia Turner is the spokesperson for Stayin' Alive Long Beach, an initiative that advocates for lifesaving programs at the Long Beach Animal Care Services animal shelter. She worked in animal welfare in Long Beach for over a decade and holds a professional certificate in Animal Shelter Management from the University of the Pacific.
Today we are officially letting you know that we no longer believe that Mayor Garcia is willing to do what is necessary to make Long Beach a No Kill city. We have thought about and discussed this at length, so the decision is well-considered, and it's not without regret that we must come to this conclusion.
However, if our goal is to save animals by advocating for change in harmful policies and programs at LBACS, we have to admit that over the past year, Mayor Garcia has failed to bring meaningful change to the LBACS animal shelter. We base this observation on the following:
** One year after the Animal Care Town Hall Meeting, Mayor Garcia has done little to improve the culture, programs and policies at LBACS. Although he committed last October to hiring an adoption coordinator, the reality is that that position already existed, and he merely added 20 hours to that position's work week. This is the absolute minimum that he could have done, and since the new coordinator was hired in April, we have seen virtually no improvement in adoption numbers. Substantial changes must be made to make LBACS a progressive shelter, and this is not happening under Mayor Garcia's leadership. You can read our full One Year Report Card for Mayor Garcia by clicking on the link at the end of this post.
**Mayor Garcia promised during last year's mayoral campaign to visit the Sacramento Animal Care Services shelter, which has a strong record of doing adoptions – adopting out thousands of animals per year. As of our last communication with the Mayor's office, he had not visited the Sacramento shelter. This is in spite of the fact that he had originally promised to do this within the first four months he was in office. He then extended it to a year. More than a year later, he has not gone.
**In June, we sent Mayor Garcia a letter asking him to publicly commit to making Long Beach a No Kill city. Specifically, we asked him to publicly request that the City Manager prioritize adoptions and put in place adoption goals at the shelter. We also asked him to implement a foster program. Mayor Garcia declined to respond, though he was given ample opportunity to make his position known. You can read the letter we sent to Mayor Garcia at the link below.
**We also asked Mayor Garcia to consider a lifesaving plan for increasing the save rate at LBACS. He never responded. You can find our lifesaving plan at the link below. **Rather than work to improve programs and policies at LBACS, the Mayor has adopted LBACS' practice of cherry-picking euthanasia statistics to make LBACS look like it's making more progress than it actually is. We alerted Mayor Garcia to LBACS' practice of publishing limited statistics and manipulating the numbers more than a year ago. He said at the time that he would look into it, but never addressed the issue subsequent to our request. More than a year later, he himself is using these numbers to make our low-performing shelter appear to be doing a better job than it really is. This is not only bad for shelter animals; it is a betrayal of the public trust.
Mayor Garcia's cat adoption event at City Hall, while it showed what he's capable of, was essentially a “one-off” – an isolated event not part of any systematic approach to changing the LBACS policies and lack of programs that are detrimental our shelter animals. An adoption event here or there will not lead to saving 90% of the animals in our shelter. It will take the reversal of a number of bad policies and the implementation of many good programs to make Long Beach a No Kill city. Mayor Garcia, by his actions, is telling us that he is not the man to lead this change.
No Kill is about saving animals' lives not five years from now, not ten years from now, but NOW. You can get to No Kill in two ways: one way is to take the super-highway using good programs, good policies and good management, much like any high-performing company would. The other way is to take a meandering route, slowly adding a program or an adoption event here or there. No Kill takes the super-highway. Mayor Garcia is apparently on the meandering route, much to the detriment of our shelter animals.
Working with city government is always the preferred route in animal advocacy. However, we have seen Long Beach City government resist change at all levels. We will continue to advocate on behalf of Long Beach's shelter animals, but it is unlikely that any change will occur except very slowly by small steps. In the meantime, thousands more shelter animals will be killed by our shelter using our taxpayer dollars in our names.
We have come to believe that the only way real change will occur at the LBACS animal shelter is when a large group of people come together to peacefully protest the way things are done at the LBACS shelter.
The shelter animals need YOU to be their voice.
Stayin' Alive's letter to Mayor Garcia:http://www.stayinalivelongbeach.org/salb-news
Stayin' Alive's Lifesaving Programs Plan sent to Mayor Garcia:http://www.stayinalivelongbeach.org/model-no-kill-resolutio…
Stayin' Alive's Animal Welfare Report card for Mayor Garcia:http://www.stayinalivelongbeach.org/mayor-garcias-2015-repo…
In June of this year, we wrote to Mayor Garcia asking for clarification of his stance toward bringing lifesaving programs to the Long Beach Animal Care Services Animal shelter. In particular, we asked him to publicly request several things that are key to improving lifesaving at LBACS.
Mayor Garcia declined to respond to our questions. The Mayor's lack of response shows that Long Beach's shelter animals are not the priority for him that he led us to believe they were during the election. We addressed the letter to Mayor Garcia's Senior Administrative Deputy, Tim Patton, who, soon after the election, we were asked to contact for all things shelter-related. Here is our June 15, 2015 letter to the Mayor which the Mayor never responded to.
Letter from Stayin' Alive Long Beach to Mayor Garcia asking him to commit to key actions to make Long Beach a No Kill city
June 15, 2015
Thank you for your response to our e-mail of March 20 regarding the status of our shelter animals in Long Beach. We appreciate the Mayor’s interest in increasing the live release rate at LBACS, and we were very happy to see that you attended the meeting about helping homeless pets in Long Beach that was held in Belmont Shore last month.
We have several follow-up questions about the Mayor’s views on adoption programs and foster programs – two areas of growth in sheltering best practices that are proving to be both lifesaving and cost-saving at many shelters nationwide.
Our questions are:
1. What action, if any, is the Mayor willing to take to make adoptions a priority at LBACS? Although the Mayor has stated that he is in favor of any program that helps to decrease the euthanasia rate at the shelter, all programs are not equal. Flying animals out of Long Beach to shelters hundreds of miles away, which is the transport option mentioned in your last e-mail, is very stressful for the animals, and such transports save only a small number of lives. It is much more efficient to promote adoptions locally, for example, by taking animals to local off-site adoption events and including “after 5 pm” adoption hours at the shelter. Is the Mayor willing to publicly request that the City Manager prioritize local adoptions as a method of live release at the shelter?
2. Is the Mayor willing to publicly request that the City Manager establish quarterly adoption goals for LBACS? As you know, all organizations, including government agencies, must establish performance goals in order to assure success. We have not seen such goal-setting at LBACS. Stating goals for adoptions would mobilize the animal-loving public in Long Beach to increase support of LBACS, thus decreasing the funds the city currently spends to house animals, while saving more lives. We follow the Mayor's activities closely and have seen him publicly commit to many other worthy and progressive goals for Long Beach. Is he, or is he not, willing to add increased adoptions to his list of goals for Long Beach?
3. Does the Mayor support a foster program for LBACS? A number of cities, including Los Angeles and Sacramento, use foster programs extensively to increase the shelter’s cage space. Foster programs also increase permanent placements for animals because the animals are cared for in private homes rather than in a shelter environment. They are therefore healthier, and more fully socialized. This increases their adoptability. Is the Mayor willing to publicly request that the City Manager officially implement a foster program on an ongoing basis at LBACS?
4. When we last met with the Mayor, we submitted a proposed ordinance that would help Long Beach become a No Kill city. A copy has been attached to this e-mail. Has the Mayor reviewed the ordinance? Is the Mayor willing to publicly recommend that such an ordinance or key elements of the ordinance be introduced at City Council?
5. The policies referenced above are key to the No Kill approach to animal sheltering, an approach that the Mayor once supported when our organization was campaigning on his behalf. Does the Mayor publicly support making LBACS a No Kill shelter? If he does support the concept of a No Kill City, a concept that many California cities are now adopting, in what time frame does he think this could be accomplished?
6. Finally, we have noticed a disturbing trend in the past five months in which LBACS is turning more animals over to spcaLA with no increase in accountability, indeed, no accountability at all that we know of. SpcaLA is not a No Kill shelter, and their organization has actively opposed lifesaving policies advocated in a white paper authored last year by the ASPCA, Humane Society of the United States, the San Francisco SPCA, Found Animals and Maddie's Fund. We feel that increasing the number of animals sent to spcaLA, with no increase in accountability as to the outcomes those animals experience, is irresponsible. What specific action will the Mayor take to ensure that there is transparency and accountability as to the animals released from LBACS to spcaLA so that these animals' outcomes are public knowledge? We appreciate your interest in this issue, and thank you again for your response to our previous correspondence. We look forward to hearing from you again.
Stayin’ Alive Long Beach
Cc: Daniel Brezenoff, Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Garcia
Sharon Weissman Senior Adviser to Mayor Garcia
An initiative to make Long Beach a No Kill community.