We are finally seeing some of the results coming out of the last two audits of Long Beach Animal Care Services, which revealed the LBACS shelter to be a chaotic, disorganized shelter, lacking the ability to provide humane care for Long Beach’s animals and deficient in nearly every lifesaving program that a humane, well-managed shelter needs to have.
According to a November 15 city memo, in December, City Council will consider two measures that will allegedly increase lifesaving at LBACS. The memo further states that LBACS will work to “negotiate” an agreement with SpcaLA, which was recommended in last year’s audits.
Here’s what you need to know about these possible actions:
1. 𝗔𝗻𝘆 𝗮𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗦𝗽𝗰𝗮𝗟𝗔 𝗠𝗨𝗦𝗧 𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗶𝘀𝗵 𝗟𝗕𝗔𝗖𝗦' 𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗦𝗽𝗰𝗮𝗟𝗔 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗶𝘀𝗵 𝗟𝗕𝗔𝗖𝗦 𝗮𝘀 𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝘄𝗻, 𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗹𝘆 𝗰𝗶𝘁𝘆-𝗼𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗺𝗮𝗹 𝘀𝗵𝗲𝗹𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆. Anyone who has followed the issue of the LBACS shelter or read a news article about the issue knows that the main problem with SpcaLA is that SpcaLA leadership has put a stranglehold on LBACS adoptions. SpcaLA has said in the press that they believe that LBACS should fulfill the responsibilities ANIMAL CONTROL and SpcaLA should be the primary agency responsible for adoptions. Because the City of Long Beach has historically hired managers at LBACS who have had no experience in animal shelter management, SpcaLA has become the de facto expert in sheltering and in effect, over much of the past two decades, “what SpcaLA says, LBACS does” has been the way LBACS has operated. This means that SpcaLA has had inappropriate control over LBACS’ operations for nearly two decades. In fact, the prior manager of LBACS told multiple advocates during his tenure that SpcaLA does not want LBACS to do adoptions. This state of affairs has been devastating for Long Beach’s animals.
Let’s look at how this plays out. Because of its inappropriate control of LBACS, SpcaLA has first choice of the animals at LBACS, and even when an adopter is standing on site, ready to take an LBACS animal home, adopters have been rejected, told by LBACS staff that the animal first has to be rejected by SpcaLA. Citizens report that SpcaLA has referred people out of the city for adoption when they decline an adopter, rather than referring them next door to LBACS. City records reveal that this has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of animals at LBACS since the partnership with SpcaLA began in 1998.
And this is only ONE of the problems with the toxic, unregulated relationship with SpcaLA. Struggles have existed over signage (LBACS is not “allowed” to advertise its own animals for adoptions by putting up a sign or directing people to anything but animals already rejected by SpcaLA for adoption – even if SpcaLA shows no interest at the time in taking the animal in and later rejects him – another life lost because of administrative chaos and mismanagement.) At a large clear-the-shelters type event this year, multiple residents and volunteers reported that LBACS had to take cats over to another area of El Dorado Park in order to do LBACS adoptions, rather than affect the SpcaLA’s adoption bottom line. This is beyond inappropriate. LBACS should not be a second class citizen in its own city on city land, bending to the dictates of a private organization with no accountability to the public.
In addition, SpcaLA has been using LBACS as a de facto puppy mill, taking only the most adoptable animals (including nearly 100% of the puppies) and regularly leaving the ones with even mild medical or behavior issues at LBACS, according to city records. The rest of the animals are therefore left to languish on the LBACS side, with no serious adoption program to speak of (LBACS’ Nov. 15 memo touted the fact that they did 677 adoptions in 2018, calling it an unprecedented increase. Sacramento’s city shelter did over 5,000 during the same period – so 677 is unprecedented how, we wonder.) To make matters worse, and more troubling than anything else we have ever heard from the City is this: We have been told by city staff that SpcaLA has let LBACS know that SpcaLA will not spay/neuter any LBACS animals if LBACS embarks on a strong adoption program. In a City Council meeting this past spring, LBACS said that they could not do all of their own spay/neuters and therefore could not have a full-service adoption program. The City has ALL the power in the world to remedy this, and if what the City has said is true, this is beyond unacceptable.
If and when an MOU is established with SpcaLA, it must declare LBACS and SpcaLA completely separate entities and fully separate their operations so that LBACS can operate at the scale necessary to meet the needs of the people of Long Beach. It must also be written such that the City of Long Beach requires SpcaLA to be completely transparent in ALL of its outcomes for animals, and submit to regular inspections by LBACS of its records and facilities, given that SpcaLA is located on city-owned, taxpayer funded land. Anything less would be a dereliction of duty on the part of the City to be a responsible steward of the city’s homeless animals.
2. 𝗟𝗶𝗺𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗻𝘂𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝗳 𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗺𝗮𝗹𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗯𝗲 𝗯𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗼 𝗟𝗼𝗻𝗴 𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗰𝗵 𝗽𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘀𝗵𝗲𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗰𝘂𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗱𝘂𝗮𝗹𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗱𝗼𝗲𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗮𝗱𝗱𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗽𝗰𝗮𝗟𝗔 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗯𝗹𝗲𝗺. In December, the City will consider an ordinance to limit the animals that can be brought into Long Beach for adoption. According to the Nov. 15 memo, this will apply to both individuals and organizations. This is overkill and a bad idea for animals for many reasons. First of all, this law will apply to rescues as well as individuals, without specifically requiring SpcaLA to adhere to this rule. The problem is not that SpcaLA brings animals in from other cities (which we understand it does) – it’s that LBACS does not have full programs in place (especially an adoption, foster and medical/behavioral programs) to save animals. If this proposed law is designed to place constraints on SpcaLA, it should say that explicitly in the language. Further, a law is not required because this could be covered by an MOU between LBACS and SpcaLA. This does not address the problem of logic embedded in this proposal, however.
The logic behind this soon-to-be-considered law is ostensibly that if, by chance, SpcaLA is included in this ordinance, SpcaLA would then be able to take more animals from LBACS. This should, we can say with clarity, NEVER happen. The enormous and unrelenting problem with this is that SpcaLA does NOT publicize its outcomes and has no accountability to the public. People in Long Beach have NO IDEA what happens to the animals that go into SpcaLA. SpcaLA has come out vehemently against No Kill, and reserves the right to kill animals at their and only their discretion.
It should be clear by now that this proposed law suffers from fatal over-reach. For one thing, it will restrict the right of animal rescues to help an animal if they encounter it in a neighboring community. For individuals, that means if you find an animal in Lakewood, you can’t adopt that animal out in Long Beach. If you find an animal in Torrance, but you’re a rescue in Long Beach, you would not be able to adopt that animal out at your Long Beach adoption event. This is completely unnecessary and does nothing to help animals: LBACS needs to get out from under the thumb of SpcaLA so that it can put in place a strong adoption program, foster program and other programs. THAT is what is necessary. Not additional restrictions on already-overburdened rescuers and good Samaritans who already struggle while they do the work of LBACS for LBACS.
3. 𝗜𝗻𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗻𝘂𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝗳 𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗺𝗮𝗹𝘀 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗸𝗲𝗲𝗽 𝗶𝘀 𝗼𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗮 𝗯𝗮𝗻𝗱-𝗮𝗶𝗱 𝗱𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗰𝘂𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗟𝗕 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗻𝘂𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗱𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗷𝗼𝗯 𝗼𝗳 𝘀𝗮𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘀𝗵𝗲𝗹𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗺𝗮𝗹𝘀. The City will seek to increase the number of animals people can keep to 6, up from the 4-animal limit that currently exists. This is the one proposal we agree with, and only provisionally. We propose the number be increased to 8. LBACS has noted in the memo that Sacramento allows people to keep 10 animals. The fact is – limits on the number of animals in a household have no demonstrated impact on animal welfare. For some people, one animal is too many. For experienced foster families, more animals is not a problem and we know many who maintain their animals in exemplary conditions and health. The fact is this: Hoarders will find a way to hoard animals regardless of the law. People who are responsible and who are the best prepared to care for more animals will adhere to a limit, and this limits the number of animals that responsible people will take into their homes because the responsible folks don’t want to break a law. An 8 animal limit, combined with the current laws in existence at the state and local level that require humane care and treatment of animals kept in the home, may help to save more animals at LBACS, but we have to remember: This is nothing more than a band-aid – a way for the City to avoid directly addressing the SpcaLA problem. Once again, the City is foisting its duty to shelter Long Beach’s animals on the general public, the same public it blames when they kill animals in the Long Beach animal shelter and the same public that pays their salaries.
People who want a No Kill shelter need to get out and educate City Council on what they want to happen at the shelter. This especially includes independent No Kill advocates, but it also includes anyone and everyone who wants the killing to stop at the LBACS animals shelter.
Get informed. Inform your neighbors, friends and family and then get out there and advocate. The animals are counting on YOU to be their voice.