This week, Mayor Garcia released a very selective set of statistics that give the impression that Long Beach Animal Care Services is doing great, while keeping the public in the dark about the reality of what is going on with our shelter animals here in Long Beach.
Mayor Garcia’s press release this week went on and on about increased adoptions and the supposed success of the ‘compassion saves’ model. Here are four things Mayor Garcia won’t tell you about what’s happening to our shelter animals.
1. The truth is that LBACS is entering its third decade of killing healthy and treatable animals. LBACS is still killing 16% of cats and 20% of kittens in the shelter. And it still kills healthy and treatable dogs – dogs that could be safely placed in homes if LBACS had an active foster program or adequate medical and behavioral rehabilitation programs. When other shelters, like Austin’s, are saving 98% of their animals, Mayor Garcia’s self-congratulatory claims about an increase in the save rate to just 88% fall flat. LBACS could have been saving 90-95% of animals five years ago, when Mayor Garcia was first elected and promised to put an adoption program in place at LBACS. Instead, he failed to deliver on his promise, and as of now, nearly 10,000 animals have died needlessly on Mayor Garcia’s watch.
2. Adoptions may be up, but they’re still at a pitifully low level. Mayor Garcia trotted out his usual “adoptions are at an unprecedented level” rhetoric, noting that LBACS did 995 adoptions in 2019. This may sound like a large number until you take into account the fact that Sacramento, with similar population, demographics and median income, did nearly 4800 adoptions just from January to November last year. 995 is only the “highest number of adoptions in a decade” because every other year of the decade was so painfully low. If LBACS had a strong adoption and foster program, LBACS would be well on its way to saving all healthy and treatable animals. But it’s not, and healthy and treatable animals continue to be killed for no valid reason.
3. Mayor Garcia’s much-touted live release rate could actually be much lower. There is no guarantee that LBACS animals released to SpcaLA are finding homes because SpcaLA is openly against No Kill, according to its various websites. SpcaLA took nearly 1200 animals from LBACS last year, and what happened to them? We have no idea. the City has not required transparency from SpcaLA, even though it could require SpcaLA, which profits from basically free rent on taxpayer-owned land worth millions of dollars in El Dorado Park, to post its outcomes and give LBACS access to its records. Animal shelters that have embraced a lifesaving No Kill mission have nothing to hide and publish their outcomes for the public to see. Yet SpcaLA keeps their numbers hidden from the public and from the City. The public is massively subsidizing SpcaLA’s bottom line. They have a right to know what is happening to their shelter animals, and the City does not support that.
4. LBACS still doesn’t have a viable, robust adoption program because the City, and specifically Mayor Garcia, won’t stand up to SpcaLA. It’s no secret that SpcaLA doesn’t want LBACS to do adoptions – they’ve said in the Press that LBACS’ goal should be the best animal control, and it should leave animal care to SpcaLA. This has had a disastrous effect on Long Beach’s shelter animals over the past 20 years. Since 2007 alone, LBACS has killed over 40,000 animals because the City won’t let it have an adoption program to avoid upsetting SpcaLA. The City has done a formidable job of covering this up, and it’s only in recent years that it has become common knowledge, by way of the two audits done over the past two years, that there are problems at LBACS due to the “challenging” involvement LBACS has with SpcaLA. But to date, not one City Council member, nor Mayor Garcia, has spoken honestly about the mess at LBACS that exists because the City has allowed SpcaLA to call the shot at LBACS and hobble its operations.
Mayor Garcia and the City staff, as well as some members of City Council, have been pulling the wool over the eyes of the animal-friendly folks in Long Beach for years now because the City doesn't want to rock the boat with spcaLA. This announcement is, unfortunately, just another attempt to spin the fact that LBACS is still killing healthy and treatable animals when they don't have to.
We're always happy when fewer animals are being killed, but when you know how hard the City has fought and continues to fight against implementing No Kill policies, it's clear that we still have a Mayor, a City Council and a city shelter in Long Beach that are not committed to saving all healthy and treatable animals, and as a result, animals are still dying needlessly. The good news is that people can use their votes to help the animals. We hope you'll do that in the next election.
We encourage you to share this post to let as many people as possible know about what the actual situation is surrounding shelter animals in Long Beach. Thank you for all who continue to advocate for a No Kill shelter in Long Beach.
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An initiative to make Long Beach a No Kill community.