Although we talk about dogs a lot here, we at Stayin' Alive are equally concerned about the high kill rate of cats at the Long Beach animal shelter. Cats are wonderful companions: Cats are affectionate, they're playful, they show gratitude, they comfort us, they provide us with moments of joy and contentment, and sometimes they are elegantly reserved. As the writer Jean Cocteau famously said, cats are the home's "visible soul."
***Kitty Hall Comments Bad for Cats***
That's why were dismayed to see how cats were characterized by Long Beach Animal Care Services Manager Ted Stevens at the Kitty Hall on Friday. At a cat-centered event, Mr. Stevens should be explaining the positive attributes of cats and educating people about how to care responsibly for them. Instead, captured on video at Kitty Hall by the Press-Telegram, Mr. Stevens said this:
"Cats are great pets, especially for people that have to work all day. They're really good. They take care of themselves, you know, they can use litter boxes. They make great pets for working people. They're just great all around."
This might sound like no big deal, but this is the Manager of the Long Beach shelter – a facility that kills animals, most of them healthy or treatable.
***LB Shelter Animals Need a Manager who Doesn’t View Animals as a Burden***
Mr. Stevens’ comments are an example of exactly what our shelter animals DON’T need. Our shelter manager needs to be someone who actually likes animals, who believes in the joy of the human-animal bond, and who knows how to advocate for animals and whole-heartedly promote them so that they can find good homes.
These comments read to us like someone who views animals as a burden, saying essentially that cats are great, not because they are affectionate or good companions, but because they don't require a lot of work or attention.
***How Negative Views by Management Hurt Our Shelter Animals***
This is a negative view of animals, and of cats in particular, and it hurts our shelter animals in three ways:
1) It's a terrible way to promote adoptions. Who wants to adopt an animal whose only positive trait is that it takes care of itself? Cats have many positive attributes. If Mr. Stevens doesn't know what they are and can't articulate them to the public, he should be in another line of business.
2) It endorses indifference to cats at best and neglect of cats at worst. Cats enjoy and need interaction. While it's fine to have one cat and go to work during the day, many cat guardians have more than one cat to provide for the social needs of their cats. Or they make sure their cat has appropriate enrichment during the day. These comments are not aimed in that direction. We find that troubling.
3) If this is the way the manager of a facility that kills animals talks about animals, then there is no doubt that this attitude colors the culture of the shelter and makes it more difficult for lower level staff, who want to help animals, do their work well. The manager sets the culture of the workplace. Portraying animals as desirable because they are not a lot of work is not an attitude that helps our shelter animals get adopted.
Mr. Stevens said at the LBACS Open House this year that his goal in 2017 is to kill under a thousand animals. We remind you that this is a goal for killing, not a goal for lifesaving.
We maintain that this is an inappropriate disposition for a shelter manager to have.
Please continue to advocate for our shelter animals. We need REAL change at the Long Beach animal shelter. If not:
Thousands of animals will continue to be killed every year.
For no good reason.
And that is NOT okay.
Today there will be a cat adoption event at City Hall -- Mayor Garcia bills it as Kitty Hall. Local media are reporting that a TV film crew from a PBS television show will be filming there today, no doubt at Garcia's request in an attempt to deflect the criticism levied against him by animal advocates in Long Beach for the Long Beach shelter's dismally low adoption numbers.
While we could not be happier for all the cats who are saved at Kitty Hall, it is clear Mayor Garcia is doing it for himself, and the publicity PBS will give him, and not for the cats.
Because if Mayor Garcia truly cared about cats, he would do more. Indeed, the animals and good people of Long Beach deserve more than what Mayor Garcia is willing to give them. LBACS has done 285 adoptions this year (compared to Sacramento's 2,274) and the Mayor has stonewalled more lifesaving at every turn.
The only thing Mayor Garcia has ever done is two Kitty Hall events in two years that have saved about 53 cats total, while LBACS has killed more than 6,000 animals since Mayor Garcia was elected.
And now PBS is a pawn in Garcia's reelection campaign.
Because this much is clear: if he gets reelected, he'll once again turn his back on the cats (dogs, and other animals) being slaughtered under his watch by the thousands - unless people speak out.
Kitty Hall will happen from 11-3 at 333 W. Ocean Blvd today. Adoptions are $20. Please go and save a life. LBACS is still one of the worst possible places for an animal to be in Long Beach.
We hope that having a third isolated experience with an adoption event -- when offsite adoption events should be the norm and happening at a much, much greater rate -- will help Mayor Garcia see that adoptions to the loving people of Long Beach are the best way to increase the save rate at our shelter.
But hoping isn't a plan. We urge people to continue to speak out about what is happening to our shelter animals.
The animals need YOU to be their voice.
As we await the results of the city audit of Long Beach Animal Care Services, we would like to share with you another point we discussed with the third-party shelter consultants hired by the Auditor's office.
It's the issue we've all been focused on for the past few days, regarding Mayor Garcia's and the City's inaccurate methods for reporting progress in lifesaving.
Stayin' Alive wrote a report in February of this year documenting the problems with the City's, LBACS' and the Mayor's method for calculating progress in lifesaving at our shelter.
The report was submitted to the Auditor in the hopes that she will examine the unorthodox and non-transparent methods the City uses to exaggerate progress at the LBACS animals shelter. It was also featured in the Press-Telegram article that came out last week.
The problem with inflating the numbers is that it is dishonest, for one thing. And that should be enough for us as a city to call out the Mayor on this practice and demand true transparency AND shelter reform.
But specifically in the context of animal sheltering, it's an enormous problem because it's basically a condescending "pat on the head" to concerned community members and an attempt to dismiss their requests by sweeping LBACS' NOT insignificant problems (which include the illegal killing of the dog, Thor, who had an adopter waiting for him) under the rug. Instead, the City should be engaging with the public in an authentic and honest way that leads to positive, implementable programs and solutions that save shelter animals' lives.
You can read the report here: https://goo.gl/sDgNZP
More Irresponsible Number-Wrangling from Long Beach Animal Care Services, Mayor Garcia and The City of Long Beach
Today we're reporting on more irresponsible number-wrangling from Long Beach Animal Care Services, Mayor Garcia and the City.
In a press release sent out yesterday, LBACS and the City, with Mayor Garcia’s full endorsement, are once again attempting to mislead the public about progress at the Long Beach animal shelter by significantly inflating LBACS’ live release rate. Using bogus methods for reporting live releases and partial mid-year numbers that inaccurately represent LBACS’ yearly performance, the press release trumpets a live release rate of 95% for dogs in the first six months of 2017, up from 89% in 2016, as well as overstated numbers for live releases for cats.
This is a clear example of what is known in animal advocacy as “shelter math.” It's what we've come to recognize in this day and age as "fake news." Bottom line -- It’s what bad shelters do when they want to keep their killing out of the public’s view.
When reputable shelters report live release rates, they do so for the entire year, not just for part of the year, as Long Beach routinely does. Why do Long Beach bureaucrats (read: Mayor Garcia, City Manager and LBACS Manager) do this? To maintain the myth that has endured for more than a decade in Long Beach: the incorrect belief that LBACS is a no kill shelter (it’s not) and is doing much better than it really is. In this way, the City hopes to deflect public criticism of the needless killing that goes on in our city shelter.
Here are some facts you need to know in order to evaluate the bogus numbers recently put out by the City:
*** LBACS has never in its history had an actual live release rate of 89% for dogs. In 2016, the year-end live release (save) rate was 85% - that is a full 4 percentage points lower than the number cited in the press release. The year-end rate is the only accurate method for reporting live release rates – mid-year press releases distort the true numbers and are used by the City as a smokescreen to inflate the numbers and deceive the public. With Mayor Garcia running for re-election and scurrying to curry favor with the animal-loving community to win its vote, it’s no surprise to see the renewed zeal with which LBACS is reporting the numbers this week.
*** The inflated and grossly inaccurate figure of 95% for 2017 the City reports completely leaves out the high-kill months of July-November, which are the worst months of the year for dogs at LBACS. When those months are finally factored in at the end of this year, it is highly likely that LBACS’ actual save rate for dogs will be significantly lower.
*** The City’s claim of a 76% save rate for cats is as misleading as it is heartbreaking: we are in the middle of kitten season, the deadliest season for kittens at LBACS. LBACS has killed over 250 kittens so far this year, and with several months of kitten season remaining, that number will only increase. It is impossible for the City or anyone else to accurately say at this point what LBACS’ save rate for cats and kittens will be by the end of this year, but we do know the numbers from last year – more than 800 kittens and 400 cats were killed in 2016. In other words, the killing season at LBACS has only just begun, and calling out live release rates at this point of the year is both irresponsible and inaccurate.
*** The double-digit decreases in euthanasias that the City cites are not only inaccurate; they're also dishonest because they intentionally utilize a method for reporting decreases that is not the industry standard and is clearly utilized to deceive the public. Stayin’ Alive has written a report detailing the inaccuracies in these reports of progress, which you can read here: https://goo.gl/sDgNZP
All that said, consider this: If the City can get you to remember these inflated and grossly inaccurate figures, they have a chance at making you forget about the more than 1660 animals they killed in our shelter last year, many of whom could have been saved.
Note that the only numbers these press releases ever mention are numbers of impounded animals and euthanized animals – the number of adoptions, fosters or other outcomes are never mentioned. So here are the numbers the City and Mayor Garcia DON’T want you to see:
***Let’s start with 285. That’s the number of adoptions LBACS has done so far this year. In the first six months of 2017, LBACS adopted out only 285 cats, dogs, kittens and puppies. These numbers are extremely low when one considers that Sacramento adopted out nearly 10 times that number of animals in the same time frame. From January to June of this year, Sacramento has adopted out 863 cats and kittens and 1411 dogs and puppies for a total of 2274 adoptions. Sacramento continues to literally run circles around Long Beach in terms of adoptions. Mayor Garcia knows about Sacramento and got elected by promising to increase adoptions, and yet he has done almost literally nothing to increase the number of adoptions done by LBACS since he was elected. (Two Kitty Halls do not an adoption program make).
***Next is the number 3 (yes, THREE). That’s the number of animals that have gone into foster homes in the past six months at LBACS. Sacramento routinely has 200+ animals in foster homes during any given month. Foster programs are a key part of shelter lifesaving. The fact that LBACS still does not have a robust foster program is beyond outrageous, given the fact that LBACS boasts a huge animal-loving community that would no doubt be willing to foster animals for a City-run program.
*** The next number is 36. That’s the heartbreakingly-low number of kittens that have been adopted out by LBACS since January. During the same period, LBACS killed over 250 kittens, and the number is rising. If LBACS had a proper foster program, the majority of those lives could be saved, but LBACS continues to resist taking responsibility for having its own foster program, preferring instead to foist the task off on overworked, under-resourced rescues who don’t have the reach and influence that a city shelter has and are left to flail under the weight of doing the job that the animal shelter in the 7th largest city in the 6th largest economy in the world should be doing.
As we have noted elsewhere, if Long Beach had a strong adoption and foster program, a medical and behavioral rehabilitation program, and other progressive programs, we would be No Kill by now. If LBACS did just seven more adoptions per day, we’d be saving more than 90 percent of our shelter animals. However, because of a lack of any genuine interest in saving lives and because of a lack of action on the part of Mayor Garcia and City Council, Long Beach will slowly weave and stumble toward a save rate that could have been achieved years ago. And more animals will die.
Since Mayor Garcia was elected, more than 6,000 dogs, cats, kittens and puppies have been killed at LBACS. Since City Manager Pat West was hired and then retained in his position by Garcia, more than 46,000 of our beloved companion animals have been killed at LBACS – 46,000 animals. That’s enough to fill a small city.
Yet the City and our elected officials continue to deny, deflect and evade responsibility for their lack of caring and lack of action.
Please share this post – our shelter animals need YOU to be their voice.
One of the first things people think when they hear that LBACS is not doing as many adoptions as Sacramento is this: "LBACS doesn't have enough money."
We thought that, too. And then we did some research.
And we found out it's not about the money. It's about a change in the culture at LBACS away from its current old-school animal control-oriented "we've always done it this way," "blame the public" mentality to a progressive, lifesaving, positive, think-outside-the-box mindset that is taking over the sheltering field.
This progressive mindset is the approach of the Director of ACS in Sacramento. And it shows in Sacramento's numbers.
Sacramento: Less money than LB, but still more adoptions.
Sacramento: No "help" from a so-called "partner" shelter; still more adoptions.
No more excuses. Adoptions and positive programs save lives.
Today we're going to address the "don't criticize the rescues" issue that raises its ugly head every so often.
This is the third wave of rescues that has taken on the problem of the shelter in just my 13 years of animal advocacy for Long Beach animals, 10 of which I spent rescuing Long Beach animals. Sadly and naively, every rescue wave thinks they're going to be the ones to change the shelter, if they can just get Ted/the Mayor/Marie Knight/ to listen when they ask nicely.
Anyone who really and truly cares about our shelter animals has to come to the understanding that remaining silent or trying to gently persuade the City on this issue is the same as opposing reforms at LBACS. And opposing reforms at LBACS means supporting the killing of animals.
Why is this? Because Mayor Garcia uses rescue groups who don't speak up and demand change as a shield to deflect criticism for not reforming LBACS. As long as rescues don't speak up, don't complain, don't loudly and repeatedly tell him and City Council that the adoptions need to happen and the killing needs to stop, Mayor Garcia will continue to allow LBACS to continue killing. The silence of these rescues provides Mayor Garcia with a safety net, his psychological justification for believing that he's not a bad person for letting these animals continue to be killed. And some of these rescues are apparently okay with that as long as they can save this one, two, twelve or 20 dogs in front of them and ignore the fact that since City Manager Pat West was hired, more than 46,000 dogs, cats, kittens and puppies have been killed. And also ignore the fact that between now and 2053, which is when the contract with SpcaLA expires, another 40,000 animals will be killed.
It is a spectacular case of not seeing the forest for the trees. And it's killing our shelter animals.
So Long Beach will slowly weave and stumble toward a save rate that could have been achieved years ago.
Since Mayor Garcia was elected, nearly 6,000 animals have been killed. The unnecessary killing could stop with just 7 more adoptions a day. With a strong adoption program, a viable foster program and appropriate behavioral enrichment and rehab programs, this could happen. But until folks start speaking up, Garcia will just let the killing continue.
Find Your Voice, Long Beach. Speak up!
Since Mayor Garcia was elected, nearly 6000 dogs, cats, kittens and puppies have been killed at the Long Beach shelter. Here’s what you need to know about the soon-to-be released results of the audit of the LB shelter.
This past January, Mayor Garcia requested an audit of Long Beach Animal Care Services. This came about largely in response to advocates' repeated calls for changes at the Long Beach animal shelter, while Mayor Garcia has steadfastly maintained that LBACS is doing a great job in spite of many, many complaints that have come from the community about the city agency, including the illegal killing of a dog named Thor last year.
We expect the audit to be released soon, just in time for Mayor Garcia to manipulate it as a tool for re-election in 2018, once again using Long Beach's shelter animals as a campaign gimmick to get re-elected, as he did back in 2014.
Stayin' Alive participated in the audit, presenting research and data to the shelter consultants the City hired. Here are a few things folks need to know as the release of the audit results approach.
The first is this: Regardless of the results of the audit, Mayor Garcia stands to benefit politically from its release, and that, rather than any true concern about our shelter animals, is the likely reason for his request of the audit. Why? If the audit says LBACS is doing great and needs only minor changes, all of Mayor Garcia's grandstanding, dishonest reporting practices and lack of action over the past 4 years will appear justified. This is absolutely the worst-case scenario for our shelter animals because it will mean that NO substantive change will happen for them, and our city's dogs, kittens and cats will continue to die NEEDLESSLY in a shelter that is a relentlessly animal CONTROL organization masquerading as an animal CARE shelter. But it will be great news for Garcia.
If the audit comes back outlining significant programmatic and other changes needed at LBACS, including an adoption and foster program and a medical and behavioral rehabilitation program, AND Mayor Garcia actually acts to make these things happen, he will also benefit politically from the audit, which is not a problem because it would mean that he is doing the right thing. This would be a potentially good outcome for our shelter animals if handled competently, though we believe it is a highly unlikely outcome, given Mayor Garcia's blatant disregard for our shelter animals' welfare over the past 3 years. Nearly 6,000 Long Beach dogs, cats, kittens and puppies have been killed since Mayor Garcia was elected.
A second thing to keep in mind is that the City is not required to follow any recommendations the audit produces. So even if the audit report finds that significant changes need to be made at LBACS, the City does not have to implement them. This would put us right back where we currently are: a city-run shelter with an inefficient and disorganized organizational culture, weak and insufficient adoption and foster programs, and non-existent medical and behavior rehabilitation programs.
A third thing to know is that the shelter consultants that the Auditor hired are not experts in lifesaving/No Kill shelter management. A look at their website shows a list of their services: consultations on the euthanasia process, sanitation protocols, nutrition guidelines and veterinary services are listed, but there is NO mention of adoption program protocols, fostering programs, medical and behavioral rehabilitation for lifesaving or adoption marketing and community outreach. We are unsure why these particular shelter experts were contracted, rather than an expert in lifesaving/No Kill animal sheltering. Stayin’ Alive contacted the Auditor’s office, specifically asking that the consultants selected be experts in implementing the lifesaving programs that we’ve been advocating for for the past 5 years. And we know that at least one consultant with a proven track record for saving shelter animals using No Kill equation programs submitted a proposal to do the work, yet they were not selected.
Given that the consultants used in the audit were not aligned with No Kill, there is no reason for us to believe that the audit will make recommendations designed to save animals' lives using the progressive, No Kill programs Stayin’ Alive has been advocating for over the past 5 years and that have been proven to work in progressive cities like Austin and Washoe County, Nevada. However, there is always hope. We’ll have to wait for the Auditor’s report to see what the consultants had to say.
One finding the audit will certainly come back with is that LBACS is doing better than it did in the past. And Mayor Garcia will certainly make sure that this news is indelibly stamped on the mind of the public. But it is important to keep these two points in mind: ONE: any improvement has only happened because Stayin’ Alive and our supporters have put PRESSURE on LBACS – not because LBACS and the City have willingly made improvements on their own. And TWO and more importantly, this improvement is NOT SUSTAINABLE because it does not represent a real change in the commitment of LBACS to lifesaving.
Improvements have indeed only come about as the result of pressure. The increase in the save rate we have seen over the past 5 years, since Stayin' Alive began advocating for lifesaving programs and exposing the inhumane and inefficient practices at LBACS, has largely come as the result of continuous, ongoing political pressure placed by Stayin' Alive and our supporters on the City. The City's undemocratic response has been to spin the numbers and put in place only the most minimal of reforms, many of which have simply offloaded the burden of lifesaving from a multi-million-dollar city agency onto overworked and underfunded rescues.
As taxpayers in the 7th largest city in the 6th largest economy of the world, we should NOT have to work this hard to get the shelter to stop killing in our name using our taxpayer dollars. Read here about how the City has fought reform in the face of evidence presented by advocates in LBreport.com articles that can be found here and here:
More importantly, the decreases made in the kill rate are not sustainable -- rescues can't continue to do the work of LBACS forever. As Stayin' Alive has consistently argued over the past 5 years of our advocacy, Long Beach needs a city ordinance similar to the one enacted by Austin, Texas, that will explicitly state the duties and obligations of LBACS, including the implementation of a vigorous adoption, foster, and medical and behavioral rehabilitation programs. You can find the ordinance we gave to Mayor Garcia and which he ignored here.
And progress has been made, but the question remains: Is it enough? Last year, LBACS killed 1662 dogs, cats, kittens and puppies. As long as ANY healthy and treatable animals are being killed, it is NOT enough. This is one point that animal advocates and those of us who care deeply about the animals that are part of our lives universally agree upon.
Finally, the most important point is this: Even if the audit comes back saying that LBACS is doing great, or even simply “better than before,” this is virtually meaningless unless the data bears it out. The hard evidence -- the numbers of animals euthanized -- is the only true and valid measure of the performance of our city shelter. Reports and commentary from so-called experts can come in praising LBACS to the ceiling, but the truth is: If the numbers don't show real, sustainable progress, it doesn't matter what the audit says. The number of animals killed and the treatment they receive while at LBACS are the bottom line: As long as animals are being unnecessarily killed at LBACS, LBACS needs reform.
We hope the audit returns with recommendations that will truly change the landscape for Long Beach's shelter animals. If it doesn't, it will be a clear case of mismanagement of taxpayer funds and clear evidence of the lack of ethics of our elected officials, namely Mayor Garcia, but also the many city council members who have sat by for 3 years and done nothing to help the animals.
Let's hope, for the sake of our shelter animals, that the audit comes back with substantive recommendations for the types of changes that Stayin’ Alive has been advocating – a strong adoption and foster program, a medical and behavioral rehabilitation program and a general overhaul of the policies and practices of LBACS. Only these things will bring LBACS out of the dark ages and into the 21st century with progressive animal sheltering.
If not, our fight for our shelter animals will go on.
Note: The comments which Mayor Garcia supported the deletion of can be found by scrolling down.
One of the most important duties of an elected official is to uphold the freedoms of our country. Included among these duties is the commitment to uphold the rights of citizens to engage in free speech.
In a recent social media exchange, Mayor Garcia endorsed defamatory statements made about me and gave his personal stamp of approval to the suppression of free speech. The Mayor’s impropriety in this situation has prompted the following letter, which has been sent to Mayor Garcia.
OPEN LETTER TO MAYOR GARCIA
April 15, 2017
Dear Mayor Garcia,
In a recent social media exchange, a local rescuer made defamatory comments about me pursuant to my providing factual data about Long Beach Animal Care Services’ first-quarter performance. I was then blocked from correcting her untrue allegations. You subsequently commented positively on the action, effectively endorsing the untrue statements and supporting actions to silence those who pursue transparency and accountability in Long Beach government.
It is beneath you as the Mayor of Long Beach to embrace defamatory statements against citizens.
Your deployment of such undignified tactics to suppress discussion of factual data around the Long Beach animal facility is unbecoming of any elected official, let alone the Mayor of the seventh largest city in California. It is particularly egregious, however, given that you ran on a pro-animal advocacy ticket in the last election.
Your behavior is unethical and falls far short of the standards Long Beach should be able to expect from its Mayor.
Patricia Turner, Ph.D.
Stayin’ Alive Long Beach
Mayor Garcia's actions in endorsing defamatory statements and encouraging the suppression of actual data from Long Beach Animal Care Services show that he is committed to perpetuating the myth that LBACS is "doing great" and thus does not need reform. The result: Our shelter animals continue to be firmly locked up in a system mired in inefficiencies that results in LBACS' relentless continued killing of animals.
It is a troubling thing when an elected official shuts down free speech and disallows public discourse. That is bad for our democracy, and it is, beyond a doubt, bad for our shelter animals.
We encourage all of you to continue to use your voices to speak for shelter animals. Under Mayor Garcia’s administration, now, more than ever, they need us to be their voice.
The comments which Mayor Garcia supported the deletion of can be found below.
First deleted post
Patricia Turner: It's interesting that these statistics never include the number of adoptions that LBACS does because that would allow us to see the number of adoptions that LBACS DOESN'T do. Here are some additional statistics to provide a little context:
**LBACS killed 54 dogs/cats in Jan-March, many of them healthy and treatable. Even ONE healthy/treatable life killed is unacceptable.
**This is especially unacceptable when you see that Sacramento ACS adopted out 695 animals during the same time period (Sac did 1,011 adoptions if you include March).
**In Jan/Feb, LBACS adopted out only 91 animals. That is a pitifully small number when you look at Sacramento's number of 695 (that's more than 7 times the number of animals adopted out).
**LBACS adopted out 45 cats from Jan-Feb 2017.
**Sacramento adopted out 251 cats in the same period.
**If LBACS did 7 adoptions more per day, we'd be saving more than 90% of our animals.
**If LBACS did just 10 more adoption per day, they'd be able to be a receiving shelter for animals from the horrific LA County shelters and save a significant number of animals there until those shelters undergo much-needed reform.
All of this is because LBACS and the City refuse to have a viable adoption program, viable foster program, medical and behavioral rehab programs and instead let overworked rescues do their work for them.
A strong shelter with competent leadership could take some of the burden off the rescues. Instead, the City digs in its heels and distributes stats that only tell half the story.
I encourage folks to be responsible consumers of shelter statistics and inform themselves fully about what's going on at the shelter, rather than blithely accept the spun numbers that LBACS puts out in an attempt to pull the wool over the rescue folks' eyes.
Our shelter animals need US at least, to see the truth.
Second Deleted Post
Patricia Turner: If I'm not yet blocked from this page, I'd like to respond to a few of these comments. Anna Wong, thank you for going to the Sacramento website. It's important to start looking at their stats, and to do so all year (not merely during the first quarter) to see how their stats look even after kitten season, even after the 4th of July.
That said - the first quarter kill rate at LBACS is always low. It gets higher over the year, as you know. Yet the City reports these numbers in exactly this fashion (by the quarter) so that people think that they're at a 90+% save rate for dogs, and 80+% save rate for cats.
But they're not. It just looks that way during the first quarter. Because of seasonal ups and downs in the numbers, you have to consider the entire year, not just the look at it by the quarter. LBACS finished out the year last year with a live release rate of only 74%, compared to Sacramento's 84%. The year before, LBACS was again behind Sacramento by 10 percentage points, with a live release rate of only 68% compared to Sac's 78%. (By the way, the live release rate for dogs, Anna, is only as high as it appears to be because LBACS lumps puppies AND adult dogs together into their live release rate number. 90% of puppies are taken in by SpcaLA. That artificially increases the save rate for dogs. It's actually lower than that for adult dogs when you take the puppies out of the equation.)
Sacramento's higher live release rate is largely due to the fact that they have an extremely strong adoption program. It is obscene to see that LBACS has only done 135 adoptions in the first quarter when Sacramento has done nearly 8 times that in the same time period. Adoptions are an **absolutely essential** element of lifesaving - just as important as low-cost, high-volume spay/neuter. The fact that LBACS is still only doing a mind-boggling 1/8 of the adoptions that Sac has means just one thing and here it is:
Animals at LBACS are being killed for absolutely no valid reason.
And that's not just Long Beach animals. That's animals from all around the area because as I said, if LBACS learned from Sacramento and did 10 more adoptions per day, Long Beach could be a transfer-in shelter and save animals from other high-kill shelters that are not in reform mode.
As for the demographics of Sacramento, Claudia, Sacramento has almost exactly the same population numbers, ethnic make-up and median income as Long Beach. Demographics is really no excuse for the killing in Long Beach. I encourage you to do your own research on the numbers.
Regarding your question about "should we start with impound numbers." The answer to that is a resounding no. Starting with impound numbers is a "neuter and spay is the only way" approach to saving lives. Relying massively on neuter and spay and ignoring other programs means that animals in the shelter today, who need our help, are being killed. Start with designing a roadmap for getting every healthy and treatable animal out of the shelter. Then, use proven programs -- adoption, foster, rehab, volunteer to do it. LBACS is extremely weak in all of these areas. Spay/neuter is ONE way to do it, and your group does a great job - but it can't be the ONLY angle for attacking the problem. You have to work at it from all angles.
As for my qualifications for commenting on the situation in Long Beach, Claudia, and specifically, as to whether I've rescued in Long Beach, "boots on the ground," as some like to say, I lived and paid taxes in Long Beach for 10 years. During that time I worked with a rescue group that rescued hundreds of animals per year, and I personally fostered and rescued a large number of those. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars of my own money on rescuing animals, specifically Long Beach animals. I have literally stopped my car, parked on the side of the road and run through Compton chasing a dog that an LBACS truck was watching and then drove away from. And I rescued that dog, got her spayed and found a home for her. I also hold a professional certification in Animal Shelter Management. Claudia, believe me. I am MORE than qualified to comment on the situation in Long Beach.
But none of that matters. Anyone who knows that a shelter is killing unnecessarily (and even illegally in some cases at LBACS) needs to speak up. It doesn't matter where you live or what you do. We ALL need to be their voices.
Mayor Garcia uses rescue groups who don't speak up as a shield to deflect criticism for not reforming LBACS. As long as rescues don't speak up, don't complain, don't loudly and repeatedly tell him and City Council that the adoptions need to happen and the killing needs to stop, he will continue to allow LBACS to continue killing.
And Long Beach will slowly weave and stumble toward a save rate that could have been achieved years ago. Since Mayor Garcia was elected, more than 4,000 animals have been killed - it's probably more like 5,000 now. The unnecessary killing could stop with just 7 more adoptions a day. With a strong adoption program, a viable foster program and appropriate behavioral enrichment and rehab programs, this could happen. But until folks start speaking up, Garcia will just let the animals die.
The shelter animals need us to know the facts (not just the half of the story Garcia wants us to know) and demand change.
The chances that anyone who is angry at me will read this post are unlikely. I hope that folks who have read this far will consider what I've said with an open mind and truly consider all of the facts.
WE are the animals' only hope.
Someone made a misleading statement on our Facebook page the other day, and I'd like to set the record straight. This page has been known to say that Long Beach could be No Kill in 3 months if the right programs were in place. Don't get us wrong - we don't mean half-heartedly put in place, done in half-measures or done only here and there. (That's the current practice). We mean FULLY put in place, vigorously pursued with a STRONG and KNOWLEDGEABLE leader, using data that is readily available or gatherable to inform staff practices.
We stand by that claim. Here's why:
LBACS killed 1662 animals last year. That means that in order to save all of those animals, LBACS would need to do approximately 7 more adoptions per day each day that the shelter is open than they currently do.
That number may even be slightly lower since some small percentage of the animals at LBACS are truly incurable or unable to be helped medically.
Now - let's look at the population of Long Beach. Approximately 500,000 people live in Long Beach.
In a city the size of Long Beach, it is absolutely, beyond the shadow of a doubt, completely feasible for a City agency with more than $4 million budget at its disposal to do 7 more adoptions per day than they are currently doing.
LBACS doesn't have an animal INTAKE problem; it has an animal ADOPTION problem. LBACS simply does not maximize its ability to do adoptions. It doesn't have a lifesaving culture at the higher levels of management, and the lower levels of staff and volunteers are left scrambling.
Sacramento has a lifesaving culture with a knowledgeable leader who makes lifesaving a priority and pushes hard for it each and every day she wakes up and goes to work.
Austin has a lifesaving culture - same situation as Sacramento, but their lifesaving plan is codified by a city ordinance (Bravo, Austin - that will save animals' lives for decades to come).
Washoe County, NV has a lifesaving culture -
Petaluma, CA has a lifesaving culture -
Pike County, KY has a lifesaving culture -
Jefferson County, OH has a lifesaving culture -
The list goes on and on.
So - don't let it be said that we can't go No Kill in LB and do so immediately.
But we don't. And Ted Stevens has set as his goal for the coming year to "shoot for under a thousand" euthanasias. That is NOT the mindset we need in our city shelter. Life-affirming is what we need. We need to shoot for 1662 lives SAVED, not lives killed.
That's why people need to raise awareness of what's going on at the Long Beach shelter. Even as we wait for the Audit to happen, there is no guarantee that it will result in change (more on this in a later post).
Please write to your city council member and tell them you want a STRONG adoption program that is separate from SpcaLA at the Long Beach shelter.
Contact info for LB City Council is here: https://goo.gl/y7QqpF
They NEED our help.
As a reminder of what needs to change at Long Beach Animal Care Services - today, we’re telling Mopsy’s story.
Mopsy was a 5-year-old brown and white pekingese who arrived at LBACS last October 16 as a stray. LBACS records indicate that on arrival, Mopsy’s fur was matted, she had overgrown toe nails and she had crust on her eyes. She was itching due to a suspected skin allergy, and she had crust on both ears, likely from an ear infection.
Mopsy must have felt awful going into the shelter, feeling sick and rundown in a loud, scary shelter environment. However, all of her issues were treatable, so in a humane shelter with an adoption/foster safety net in place for animals, she should have been saved.
But at LBACS, Mopsy had to wait, feeling uncomfortable and sick, until her second day in the shelter to be examined. When she was finally seen by a vet, her medical notes say that she needed a medicated bath and an ear-cleaning. However, instead of getting that much-needed medical attention, Mopsy sat languishing in a kennel for FOUR FULL DAYS after arriving at LBACS to get that bath and the ear cleaning she needed. She must have felt terrible. On top of it all, her eyes were most likely red and painful. Her medical notes say that she diagnosed her with dry eye – a painful but treatable condition.
Not surprisingly, Mopsy caught a cold on her 10th day at LBACS. This isn’t surprising, since LBACS doesn’t have a strong adoption program or foster program to get animals out of the shelter quickly. Mopsy’s medical notes say she had “honking cough and sneezing.” She was put in isolation and apparently recovered after 5 days. Her medical notes say “prognosis good.”
And then, just 2 days later, on November 3, after enduring 18 DAYS in a noisy, scary shelter environment, fighting a cold and doing her best to hold on and stay alive, Mopsy was killed by LBACS. The reason given for her death on her euth record was “moderate illness.”
Mopsy’s medical issues were minor. There was no reason for her to be killed. But because our shelter does not have a strong adoption and foster program, she suffered at the shelter for 18 days only to be killed in the end.
LBACS needs a strong adoption and foster program and proper medical protocols to prevent the unnecessary and heartless killing of animals like Mopsy.
The Mayor has asked for an audit of LBACS, but as his behavior has shown over the past 2-1/2 years, he is a consummate politician who is willing to use our shelter animals to get elected. He has spread “alternative facts” about the shelter’s progress, and he no doubt he has re-election on his mind, with the mayoral election only 14 months away.
More than 4000 animals have been killed at LBACS since Mayor Garcia was elected.
If he truly cared about our shelter animals, Mayor Garcia could have used his considerable influence to ask a member of City Council to pass a resolution making Long Beach No Kill. It would have been faster and it would have saved lives.
Instead, Garcia requested an audit that will take MONTHS to complete while animals continue to be killed.
The Mayor has encouraged the public to reach out to the Auditor about this issue. Please take him up on his suggestion and respectfully let the Mayor, your City Council member and the Auditor know that you are concerned about shelter animals like Mopsy and want to see a strong adoption and foster program in place at our City shelter.
Giving the job to SpcaLA is not working – we NEED a strong adoption and foster program in place on the City side of the shelter.
Please be Mopsy’s voice. Our shelter animals need US to be their voice TODAY. Please SHARE.
An initiative to make Long Beach a No Kill community.