In a stunning display of shameless insincerity, Mayor Garcia continues to mislead the public about what’s going on at the Long Beach animal shelter.
In an e-mail to Long Beach residents yesterday, Mayor Garcia reported Long Beach Animal Care Services’ (LBACS) statistics for the first 6 months of 2016, saying that the news -- specifically the news about adoptions -- at LBACS was nothing short of great.
He then went on to discuss the number of animals impounded and the number of animals euthanized by LBACS.
Actual numbers of adoptions were not mentioned.
Stayin’ Alive Long Beach has been reporting on LBACS’ statistics since 2013, acting as a monitor on the public’s behalf of a city agency that has largely kept the public in the dark about what happens to shelter animals in our city shelter.
At Stayin’ Alive, we know that the public is smart enough to understand the difference between a real adoption into a loving home and a shelter simply pushing animals off to another shelter or rescue. We know that LBACS also knows the difference because they log adoptions, rescues and transfers to other shelters as very separate things in their database.
The Mayor’s Strategy – Passing the Buck Instead of Stepping Up
But Mayor Garcia is either unclear on the concept, or he thinks the public is not paying attention. An explanation may help.
An adoption is not shipping a shelter animal by plane thousands of miles away to another shelter for yet another shelter stay.
An adoption is not releasing an animal to an overworked and underfunded rescue that is working desperately to make up for LBACS’ lack of an adoption program.
An adoption is not giving an animal to neighboring SpcaLA so the animal can spend more time in yet another shelter – a shelter that according to its own website doesn’t believe in no kill sheltering and is not accountable to the City or to Long Beach taxpayers.
While it’s true that euthanasias are down at LBACS, it is largely due to these “pass-the-buck” strategies that show no real commitment to getting animals into good homes, and that in many cases result in extended stays in other shelters, where the animals often fall ill and then are euthanized.
Our neighbors to the north at Sacramento Animal Care Services know the difference between passing the buck and finding animals good homes – Sacramento did more than 4400 adoptions in 2015. LBACS did 471.
Mayor Garcia seemed to understand the distinction between adoptions and non-adoption outcomes back during the mayoral election when he was promising folks that he would increase adoptions at our shelter. He got elected on that promise, and now he’s claiming to have made good on that promise without actually having fulfilled it, and without reporting real adoption numbers.
Long Beach's Shelter Animals Are Dying Needlessly
Watching Mayor Garcia dance around the adoption question would almost be comical if it weren’t so heartbreaking.
Because the truth is - our shelter animals are dying.
By the Mayor’s own numbers, 725 animals were euthanized in the first six months of 2016. Yet many of these animals could have been saved if LBACS had a strong adoption program and a foster program. These suggestions are not unreasonable. Sacramento has strong adoption and foster programs. LA Animal Services has a foster program. If other cities can have such programs, surely, Long Beach can, too.
Actual Adoption Numbers at LBACS are Extremely Low
Here are the actual adoption numbers at LBACS, obtained by Stayin’ Alive Long Beach through the California Public Records Act. These are the numbers you’ll never see in a press release from Mayor Garcia, in spite of the fact that he campaigned specifically on the promise that he would increase actual adoptions at the Long Beach Animal Care Services shelter.
As you can see, adoption numbers are low across the board, and the increase since 2015, if any, has been minimal.
This Friday, Mayor Garcia is holding a “Kitty Hall” cat adoption event at City Hall. At last year’s event, LBACS reported placing 14 cats. Such events are great photo ops for our Mayor, but they’re no substitute for a real adoption program. To put it plainly – a one-time adoption event at City Hall every 9 months is like giving Batman a bicycle, when the Batmobile is all revved up and ready to go in the parking lot outside. The bicycle in this comparison is, of course, the rarely-held Kitty Hall. The Batmobile is a robust adoption program. Clearly, our shelter needs an ongoing, continuous adoption program – not an occasional event whose main function is to make the Mayor look good.
It is a sad day indeed when our elected officials use shelter animals’ plight to get elected, and then abandon them once again by failing to put into effect even the most basic of lifesaving programs – lifesaving adoption and foster programs.
The good news is that voters in Long Beach can mobilize the political process to elect compassionate people into City Council and the Mayor’s office so that this can change. There is hope for shelter animals in Long Beach – Long Beach is a compassionate city. It’s up to us to make sure that we elect leaders who reflect our compassionate values.
Patricia Turner is an educator and the spokesperson for Stayin’ Alive Long Beach, an animal advocacy group that promotes lifesaving programs at the Long Beach Animal Care Services animal shelter. Visit them at www.stayinalivelongbeach.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/stayinalivelb.
An initiative to make Long Beach a No Kill community.