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.
An initiative to make Long Beach a No Kill community.