The blog wars may be at an end with the appointment of Debbie Knaan as Assistant General Manager of LAAS. Debbie, who has deep roots in both government and the animal activist communities, seems to be an acceptable choice for both. We will wait to see if she can influence ADL. Of course there are others hoping that Debbie may eventually replace Ed Boks as General Manager in a bloodless coup.
I have been told by informants in the Mayor’s Office (I have as many spies as ADL--maybe they are the same people causing trouble.) that no good deed goes unpunished, and that my status with City government has neither grown nor been diminished by my defense of Boks, LAAS and the City. I have been told that Jim Blackman views all animal activists as a bit looney and that all that we say—and I include myself in that we—is ignored both by he and Villaraigosa. I guess I cannot count on becoming Villaraigosa’s Chief of Staff when he replaces the Governator in 2010.
However, my spirited defense of LAAS and Boks has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated by Boks himself. He wrote the beautiful thank you note below.
Now I feel free to become a real journalist. In the future I will be covering a wider range of LA and California animal issues honestly and accurately.
Lastly, I want to say I am and always have been an enthusiastic supporter of Nathan Winograd. He once expressed interest in creating a super-LASPCA that would work hand-in-hand with LAAS so that both together could attain No-Kill for Los Angeles.
The successes of San Francisco as well as Nathan’s Tompkins County depend on having a large private shelter where otherwise moribund animals could be transferred and saved.
Local rescue groups will not support this kind of entity—I do not believe—because to them, it would be a matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul and they are Peter. Yet we need to recognize the reality that only a small percentage (13%) of LAAS animals are rescued by local non-profits, and a well-financed and high-profile Winograd-chiefed shelter could markedly outperform the status-quo. (30% in SF and TC vs. 13%).
This could result in a live-release percentage of 75% as enjoyed by San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control vs. the 53% of LAAS, which is already the highest percentage of saves of any of any major city in the country. The combined save rate might approach 90%, depending on the success of Nathan's shelter.
I call upon the well-heeled members of the LA animal community step up to the plate and create this life-saving institution.
From Ed Boks:
How do I begin to THANK YOU for all you have endured this past year? Too be sure, your willingness to endure the wrath of the uninformed and malicious radicals has been instrumental in securing the future success of the deparment.
I want to thank-you for all the effort you expended to defend the department this year and the sacrifices you made to do so. You went to war and put up with a lot of flack.
Thank your for your support despite all the noise and controversy. It's been an "interesting" year on that front, but I know better days are yet to come thanks to you! This is something I would say to the entire world!
There is amazing news coming out of Winograd’s No Kill Advocates/Solutions. These are very partial statistics and I would want to see the progression of numbers over the entire year as opposed to just the year end rate. Everyone has heard negative rumors about the Rancho Cucamonga and Philadelphia systems. As a matter of fact, Philly’s stats seemed self-contradictory at times as I pointed out in previous posts. Yet I never saw any hard evidence of poor performance at these shelters.
Past calls to these shelters has never resulted in the release of any statistics either. Therefore, there was always room for doubt of Nathan’s claims.
If the statistics below are indeed accurate, and include all animals vs. “adoptable,” “healthy,” etc., the results are incredible:
In 2005, the City of Philadelphia asked us to do a complete assessment of shelter operations and make recommendations to improve program and service delivery with a goal of creating a No Kill Philadelphia.
Since the implementation of our recommendations, as 2006 comes to a close PACCA announces that the save rate for dogs and cats is the highest in the City's history. Less dogs and cats are being killed in Philadelphia than ever before, with 65% of all cats currently being saved.
Until April 2005, the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, an open door animal control shelter in the South, was the target of criticism for what some in the rescue community saw as unnecessary killing.
In 2005, all that changed. A new director embraced our philosophy and programs, asked us to help train their staff and make recommendations on policies. Only one year later, the agency is finishing the year saving 95% of dogs and 92% of cats, a level of success unmatched by any other community in the nation.
Rancho Cucamonga, CA.
After taking over operations, deaths for dogs and cats are at all time lows. Of particular note, for the same period as 2005, the save rate for dogs has increased to 81%, the save rate for cats has increased to 57%, and the save rate for other animals (rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, etc.) has increased from a paltry 27% to 70%.
Note that these systems are smaller, or even much, much smaller than the LA City or County operations, and Nathan’s stats appear to mix improvements in percentages compared to the same period as last year (Rancho) and absolute live releases in the other two cities. Yet, in either case the results are astounding.
The obvious questions arises: are Nathan’s results, if true, sustainable? Are they repeatable in even larger systems such as LAAS, LA County, NYC, etc.?
Several people who read my last post were very concerned and said whomever sent the email hated cats and was dead wrong.
May I remind you that whatever is the truth regarding cats as potential bearers of Avian Flu, the perception of what is truth is often more important.
If Vector Control can convince governments that colonies of ground squirrels pose a serious threat of plague, they certainly can convince them that cats also pose a threat to the public health.
I remember that in 1998, there were people who came to Palisades Park to capture and kill the ground squirrels as the Vector Control propaganda made it seem that the threat of plague was imminent. The misguided morons wanted to help end the threat. Remember, the Great White Shark is almost an endangered species as a result of the movie "Jaws."
Go figure. How did Will Rogers put it, "You can never lose a bet by underestimating the intelligence of Americans."
Posted below is an article from the Center For Infectious Disease Research. It is stuff like this we need to know, understand and rebut. Notice they include dogs as potential carriers:
Experts urge including cats in avian flu precautions
Apr 5, 2006 (CIDRAP News) Â Growing evidence of H5N1 avian influenza in cats suggests they may play a role in spreading the virus, signaling a need for new precautions, according to a team of medical and veterinary researchers from the Netherlands and Italy.
"Cats could be more than a dead-end host for H5N1 virus," says a commentary article published today in Nature. The authors are Thijs Kuiken, Ron Fouchier, Guus Rimmelzwaan, and Albert Osterhaus of Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam and Peter Roeder of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.
They call for efforts to protect cats from the virus and to test those with possible exposure to itÂrecommendations that are not included in existing official guidelines for controlling avian flu.
Infections in cats were first observed in Thailand in early 2004, the article notes. In one case, 14 cats in a household near Bangkok died of the infection. In addition, tigers and leopards in two Thai zoos died after eating infected chicken carcasses.
The researchers point to several other observations indicating that cats "are more than collateral damage in avian flu's deadly global spread and may play a greater role in the epidemiology of the virus than previously thought."
Fatal infections in cats have become common in Indonesia, Thailand, and Iraq, where the virus is endemic in poultry, they write. Veterinarians in both Indonesia and Iraq have reported a high incidence of sudden death in cats during poultry outbreaks of avian flu.
In addition, dead or sick cats infected with H5N1 virus turned up in Germany soon after the virus was detected in wild birds there, the researchers note.
They also note that experiments at Erasmus Medical Centre have shown that cats can be infected with the virus by respiratory and gastrointestinal routes and by contact with other infected cats. The infected cats all excreted the virus from the nose, throat, and rectum. It is unknown how long cats can shed the virus or whether they can spread it to humans, poultry, or other species, the article says.
Nonetheless, the researchers write that cats "may provide the virus with an opportunity to adapt to efficient transmission within and among mammalian species, including humans, thereby increasing the risk of a human influenza pandemic."
Therefore, despite the uncertainties, official guidelines for controlling the spread of avian flu should consider the potential role of cats, the authors say.
"In areas where H5N1 virus has been detected in either poultry or wild birds, we recommend taking steps to prevent contact between cats and infected birds or their droppings, and to quarantine and test cats suspected of such contacts, or cats showing clinical signs suggestive of H5N1 influenza," the article states. That means keeping cats indoors where possible.
They also say that other carnivores, such as dogs, foxes, members of the weasel family, and seals, may be susceptible to the H5N1 virus. Therefore they recommend testing for the virus if unusual illness or death rates occur in such animals in areas where avian flu is endemic.
Avian flu can spread among cats
Sep 3, 2004 (CIDRAP News) Â House cats can acquire H5N1 avian influenza and pass it on to other cats, Dutch researchers reported this week.
Last February two cats in Thailand reportedly died of H5N1 avian flu, but yesterday's article in the online edition of Science apparently is the first report of cats being experimentally infected with the virus and then spreading it to other cats.
Researchers sprayed H5N1 virus into the throats of three cats, according to the report by Thijs Kuiken and colleagues from Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The virus sample had been isolated from a Vietnamese person who died of the disease.
The cats had a fever just 1 day after being exposed to the virus and were excreting virus after 3 days, though in relatively low amounts, the report says. One cat died 6 days after exposure.
Two other cats were put in contact with the first group 2 days after the latter had been infected. In addition, the researchers fed infected chicks to three more cats. All of the additional cats became ill with signs like those of the first group.
Three other cats were exposed to influenza A (H3N2), a common human strain, and stayed healthy.
After the infected cats were euthanized, necropsy showed they had diffuse alveolar damage like that caused by H5N1 infection in humans and monkeys, the report says.
The findings suggest that "the role of cats in the spread of H5N1 virus between poultry farms, and from poultry to humans, needs to be re-assessed," the researchers write. In addition, "Cats may form an opportunity for this avian virus to adapt to mammals, thereby increasing the risk of a human influenza pandemic."
From the Center for Disease Control:
Avian influenza A (H5N1) virus infections have been reported in domestic cats in Germany and Austria, according to the World Health Organization and the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention. During late February and early March 2006, authorities in Germany announced the detection of H5N1 influenza in three domestic cats that died on the Baltic island of Ruegen, where H5N1 infection has been confirmed in more than 100 wild birds. The deceased cats are thought to have acquired their infections after feeding on H5N1-infected birds. In March 2006, Austrian officials reported the confirmation of H5N1 infection in three sick domestic cats in an animal shelter where the disease had been detected in chickens a month earlier.
To date, there is no evidence that domestic cats have a role in the natural transmission cycle of H5N1 viruses. No cases of avian influenza in humans have been linked to exposure to sick cats, and no outbreaks among populations of domestic cats have been reported. All natural H5N1 infections in domestic cats reported to date appear to have been associated with outbreaks in domestic or wild birds and acquired through ingestion of raw infected meat.
Although the risk of feline infection is very low in Europe, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has issued preliminary recommendations for cat owners living in H5N1-affected areas. These include keeping domestic cats indoors to prevent exposure to potentially infected birds and avoiding contact with semi-domestic and feral cats living outside the home. The recommendations also encourage owners of ill cats, particularly those known to have been exposed to sick or dead birds, to have their cats examined by a veterinarian.
From Cornell Vet School:
Several studies have investigated cats. The first, "Avian Influenza H5N1 in Tigers and Leopards" (Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 10, No. 2), reported on exotic cats becoming infected by eating H5N1-infected chickens obtained from a local slaughterhouse. A second report, "Avian H5N1 Influenza in Cats" (Science, Vol. 306, Issue 5694), showed that domestic cats, too, can be infected if fed uncooked meat from H5N1-infected chickens. Perhaps even more disturbing, this latter study showed that infected domestic cats were capable of spreading infection directly to other cats. A third report, "Influenza A Virus (H5N1) Infection in Cats Causes Systemic Disease with Potential Novel Routes of Virus Spread within and between Hosts" (American Journal of Pathology, Vol. 168, No. 1), published in January 2006, more fully described the disease in cats. It further confirmed that domestic cats can be infected by eating infected birds, and that infected cats can spread infection to other cats, most likely through feces, urine, and secretions from the respiratory tract. As noted before, there is currently no evidence that influenza-infected cats can in turn infect humans.
You see, the threat is existent. The worry is that cats can become vectors for human bird flu if the virus mutates. The assumption is that if the flu can be transmitted from one cat to another as opposed to cats and people getting it only from birds, that cats could begin to spread Bird Flu to people.
The reference to cats animalmal shelters is especially disturbing in that the Assembly could easily pass a law concerning the need to quarantine and kill cats during a pandemic.
Vangordon et al may expect to hear from me again soon. I have taken down most of the posts about her on this blog, but they can go back up at any time.
The email below was sent to me a few days ago. I have been hearing this rumor for several months. I am certain that LA County Vector Control will not talk to me, but I will try. If you find any info, please email it to me at email@example.com.
"Vector Control (XXXX County) expects the avian flu to come into this country by migratory birds. Cats kill birds. If you research you will find that all over the world, cats are infected with the avian flu and there are cases where the cat has passed this flu to people. I have asked our Vector Control if this might mean the end to the "outdoor" cat and they responded that probably it will. In order to protect the public health and since the cat has been the one to transmit to humans, you can see where it can be consider a public health problem."
"Vector Control for XXXX County was the ones I spoke with. This is something that is going around as I understand and it is being discussed at a state level only very quietly. They realize the implications and therefore are not coming forward at this point. It will probably depend on how hard we are hit with the avian flu. But they are keeping track of the cases around the world of cats infecting humans. One entire family got it from a cat and I think most of that family died. You can do searches for it."
Concerning the allegation of an entire family dying of Avian flu via a cat infection is totally unfounded. According to Alley Cat Allies, there is only one reported human death (or infection, I don't remember, but the fatality rate is 50% anyway) Cats are not considered a vector-yet. However, if the flu mutates making cross species transmission more probable, they may well be so considered. In any event, this may just be the idle speculations of a field supervisor who thinks killing another species might be fun.
The info about cats all over the world being infected is overblown. Not that they cannot be, but they are not given the current viral strains of the Avian flu. I'm sure if this ever becomes a serious issue, Vector Control will use the same disease scare tactic as they do with ground squirrels being potential causes of Bubonic Plague outbreaks in urban areas--all bull.
Currently there is no legislation that would permit killing feral, homeless or housed outdoor cats. The County VC operates under the color of public health regulations that allow them to deem rodent colonies as an infestation and therefore, can issue an order to abate to municipalities.
Municipalities, I would assume, would have the option of ignoring VC demands to kill cats, and private cateries, I am sure, also given orders to abate, could sue to County for any number of reasons. There are quite a few laws associated with the legal status of both free roaming and feral cats. In some states, feral cats being maintained in a colony are considered the proporty of the feeder.
Besides, feral cats are not often handled by strangers or even feeders as are birds in Asian countries or on farms here. Start thinking of reasons why feral and homeless cats are not vectors. Do some reasearch and pass it on to me.
Can you imagine the outcry from public killing of ferals and strays? It would make the Civil War look like a family argument and Vector Control the object of scorn of countless people. Let them be forwarned.
I do know that when I talked to Joe Ramirez of LA County VC sevral years ago, he said the cats in Palisades Park were a possible target of extermination because they were very susceptible to the Pneumonic form of the plague, which is much more dangerous and contagious than the Bubonic form.
Of course, Joe is the one who said the County would march into Santa Monica and poison the squirrels themselves. which is as likely as a Republican voting to increase Medicare benefits.
There are two new websites dedicated to watching and reporting on public shelters in Southern California:
www.sheltertrak.com and www.shelterwatch.com.
I do not know whose sites they are or whether they have any political bent or bias. I do note that LA County impounds twice as many animals as LAAS and has a much higher death rate, which, according to the stats on these sites, is trending upwards, not down.
This is from an email sent to me about www.Shelterwatch:
ShelterWatch.com is a website we started two years ago to track the progress made in the groundbreaking lawsuit against the County of Kern when we sued them. We just won the case a few months ago and the final judgment just was signed a few weeks ago.
Now, we intend on reporting truth about the various shelters in California whether it's good truth or bad truth, nonetheless, we want the site to have the highest integrity and only truth backed up by facts, impound numbers, verifiable statistics.
Believe it or not, there are shelters WAY worse than LA City and LA County. They are these little unwatched shelters in central California, small shelters in Riverside and San Bernardino County, humane socieites in more rural areas, etc. where nobody is watching them. We will be.
We (shelterwatch.com) intend on having a rating scale which will be a fair, and measurable method of rating the shelters in California. This is a project that is in the works, as is our website which will be changing to reflect many shelters violating the law as well as shelters who are going above and beyond what they legally have to do to save animals and have limited budgets. We will be profiling both as we emerge into a new era since winning the first ever lawsuit against a government for violation of the Hayden and Vincent Laws.
Because there are no overseers of shelters in California (i.e., no agency watches public shelters and SPCA's with a contract which receive government money) we have decided to come forward to educate the public with the truth; not a distorted and exagerated lie, but the truth.
With regard to ShelterTrak.com, this is the brainchild of another rescuer named Brad. Brad tirelessly performs public records acts (which is a California government code section) which allow Brad to receive data directly from shelters.
While some shelters fight him and refuse to release information, and some humane societies refuse to give information because they say that they are exempt, Brad methodically plots along gathering data and putting it in useable charts and graphs so we can see the truth.
My comment: This is exactly the kind of intelligence we need to get a handle on pet macrodynamics as well as assessing the success or failure of the various municipal shelters.
Below is one volunteer’s response to the ADL misinformation email about allegedly cancelled mobile adoptions.
If any volunteer or employee wants to write or post a response to an ADL rant or action, post it as an anonymous comment, or send an anonymous or signed email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the volunteer:
You guys need to check out your facts before spreading misinformation. This is in the first paragraph of your latest email: "Those three (MPA'S) are small and very few animals get adopted. The MPA venues are poor and the outreach to the public regarding these three MPA's is non-existent. Ed Boks is now limiting the number of MPA's that can be done in LA."
OK- so what do you call "small" and how do you define "very few animals get adopted". In my view, ANY animal that gets adopted has made the MPA a REAL SUCCESS!!! Isn't that the goal? I don't have a number where I can say....ok, well we got 25 animals adopted so I guess today was a success. But last week, well we only adopted 15, so I guess we failed. NOT EVEN! Any time an animal can get adopted and go on to live his or her life in a loving home is what keeps us volunteers coming back, whether it's one or 50.
Also, the venue at Moorpark park is NOT small- in my opinion- we could fill that park with 50+ dogs if we had enough volunteers!!! Our size depends on the number of volunteers we get, you know. We don't want to bring dogs and put them in a crate. So you know some people who want to come out and help us??? We need the people to make our MPA huge! It is possible, but only if people will come out and help us.
Next, you state the outreach regarding the venues is "non-existent". NOT TRUE! Sure, LAAS could do more advertising, but they do some things in various newspapers and magazines, and we hang our signs and banners the week before. We also have flyers to put out. Want to help us hang flyers????? That would be great....we really need help getting the word out there more about our great events.
These activities are very time consuming given we have fulltime jobs and other commitments as well. But we do our best! Lastly, Boks is not "limiting the number of MPA events that can be done in LA." As I wrote to you in a previous email, we are in the process of expanding the MPA program, and part of any expansion is knowing where to put your resources, especially if they are limited. Hopefully, the resources will expand alongside the MPA program.
Do you have any constructive ideas on other venues we could go to? Want to come out to the site at 8am and start setting up, then stay there all day until 4 and get home by 6pm? How about it? Or better yet, come to the shelters the day before and help us make the excruciating choices of which animals to bring out to the MPA the next day. I can't do this without breaking down crying--of course I want to bring them all. It sucks. But, as I said, we wouldn't have to look in the animals' faces and tell them "Sorry, there's no room for you." if we had more people coming out to support the MPA event, which would allow us to bring more animals. Folks like you telling people that our venues are "poor" turns potential volunteers off from coming out to see for themselves.
So....sit behind your desk writing your hateful emails or forwarding on others that aren't true....or come out and sit with a dog all day, feeling his pain as he looks to potential adopters begging to go home with them, and they say no and move on to another....it's heartbreaking, but how easy for you and your group to not have to face that, and try to ease an animals' emotional pain like we do.....
Now- I'd like to see you forward this to those on your list!
“PROJECT CANINE CONNECT”
December 6 and 10, 2006
LA Animal Services is participating in the national “Project Homeless Connect Day” by hosting a two-day called, “Project Canine Connect”. The first event will be held on December 6, 2006 from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on 6th Street between Wall and San Pedro. LA Animal Services will provide free vaccinations, microchips and flea treatments to downtown area low income and homeless residents’ pets.
On December 10th, 2006 from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. LA Animal Services will again offer free vaccinations, microchips and flea treatments. LA Animal Services is partnering with the Amanda Foundation to perform the sterilization surgeries. Appointments must be made at the December 6, 2006 event. Mobile groomers will be there to provide the residents’ dogs and cats free grooming. Professional dog trainers will also be there to offer free advice.
In partnership with Downtown Dogs and Best Friends Animal Society, LA Animal Services will be giving away dog and cat goody bags which include: dog food, toys, dishes, bones, flea treatment, collars, brushes and many other items at both events.
Yesterday’s ADL sent an email about purportedly cancelled pet adoptions. One of the email sources is named Mike. Which Mike would that be?
Are you aware that the LAAS General Manager has canceled the Mobile Adoption Program? Volunteers were not notified, but found out when the normal schedule of adoptions was not listed on the LAAS web site. As of now, the only mobile adoptions scheduled are the 3 that the volunteers set up, and run on their own without any assistance from the Department.
I personally believe that even if they adopt out 5 of 20 animals at each site, that many people who never go to a shelter will be made aware of those animals. Besides those animals that get adopted, It's great PR as well.Let's get the word out. These are your tax supported shelters and your opinion counts. We need a united front to accomplish this. Don't wait for the next man/woman to do it. Those little lives depend on you.
From Today’s post on Ed Boks’ blog re Mobile Adoptions:
Much confusion is being circulated regarding LA Animal Services Mobile Adoption Program.Please understand that WE DID NOT CANCEL THE OFFSITE ADOPTION PROGRAM. We simply redeployed our limited human resources.
The ONLY off site events canceled were the ones at venues that historically proved to be unproductive and a poor return on time and energy invested.These events were cancelled because so few animals were adopted at these locations. It was not uncommon for no animals to be adopted from these venues. In their place staff is selecting higher profile venues such as parks, street fairs, and other community events.
LA Animal Services conducted nearly 100 off site adoption events in 2006 compared to 15 or 20 in previous years. And we intend to do even more in 2007. As always thank you for your concern and support of LA Animal Services and the animals in our care.
The new "Stop the Killing" bulletin is a classic example of the ADL propaganda machine trying to pass itself off as being credible. But the only credibility in it is the fact that Animal Services Commissioner Debbie Knaan was just chosen by Ed Boks to be his new Assistant General Manager for Operations and that ADL has already put her on notice that if she doesn't behave unprofessionally and work to undermine her boss, they will go to war against her like they go to war against everyone they haven't hand-picked. They also "endorsed" her hiring with back-of-the-hand "praise." That could be the worst news Knaan has received since she got the job
I am not privy to the machinations that led to the decision to appoint Knaan despite her lack of management experience (this was one of my foremost worries about other activist candidates and why I opposed them), but many humane activists seem to applaud the decision and not just because certain other local activists didn't get the job.
What I can say with full confidence is that ADL's assertion that their recent picketing of the Mayor's residence and his appearance at a Westwood theater was the cause of Knaan's hiring, is at best amusing and most assuredly wrong.
The ADL assertion that Boks and mayoral staffer Jim Bickhart favored department veteran Linda Gordon over Knaan and were overruled by "higher ups" in the Mayor's office can't be anything but wishful thinking. If we're going to traffic in rumors, let's at least traffic in credible ones. The mayoral directive on choosing Assistant General Managers sets up a clear process that doesn't involve the Mayor meddling in the decisions. You can see the directive at the Mayor's website, by the way, if you don't believe me. When it comes to attributing things to the Mayor's office or any specific staffers, ADL has a consistent track record of being as wrong, so why should this time be any different?
ADL's assertion that the Mayor or someone close to him, symbolically held a gun to Boks' head and made him choose someone Jim Hahn had appointed to the Commission just doesn't make sense at a time when Villaraigosa is obviously cleaning house of Hahn holdovers on his commissions and elsewhere.
ADL goes on to offer Knaan a thinly-veiled threat about not becoming a "rubber stamp" or a "yes woman." (Surprising they didn't add "concubine," since they seem so ready and willing to toss salacious personal attacks at anyone they don't like these days; but, I digress.) They advise her, without naming names to contact "the experts" (such as the "experts" who did their analysis of LAAS statistics earlier this week, no doubt) who can help her become the Superwoman of Spay/Neuter.Knaan probably needs help to get up to speed in her new position, but she certainly needs neither ADL's idea of experts nor their toxic advice.
It remains to be seen whether this was a good choice by Boks, but it's laughable for ADL to suddenly take credit for it and promise to make Knaan their next target in the next breath. Why don't they just admit that Boks made this decision, condemn it, and skip the stalling tactics? If Knaan behaves in a professional manner, she's bound to end up on their hit list sooner or later. Professionalism is one thing ADL can't abide.
Below is an ADL email about LAAS impound, adopt, rescue and euthanize stats with a very biased opinion that they demonstrate Boks’ incompetence.
Most of this stuff is boring to most people, so I will just comment on certain “facts” that they raise.
As you know, I have analyzed LAAS stats beginning during January of this year and I am aware that Boks gets the stats just as everyone else does, then analyzes them and posts extensive analyses on his blog. A few days later, the previous month’s stats are published on the LAAS website on the statistics page.
During February, before ADL went on its rampage against Boks, and when I first volunteered to put statistical and other info on the LAAS website, I saw the stats exactly as given to him and came to the same conclusions as he reached and published. My earlier blog posts published my analyses and results.
Boks did not cook the stats. If they were cooked, it was before the stats ever reached him.
Three skilled individuals from NYC, who are trained in progressive and humane sheltering, went over the stats that the Department of LAAS General Manager Ed Boks, put up on the LAAS web site in October of this year. The below is what they found and concluded. (Note: we must remind you that BOKS ALONE gets the stats and can do with them what he wants.)
The below are quotes compiled from the reviewers.
LAAS (the Department of Los Angeles Animal Services) took in about the same number of cats in 2005-6 as they did in 2004-5 under Stuckey, only 53 less. On the plus side, 431 more cats were adopted, 24 more were redeemed, and 114 more were fostered. But that is washed out by the fact that the New Hope program, as more restrictive than before and a potential violation of the Hayden law resulted in 606 fewer cats being sent to rescue."
Fact: It is still a mystery that Rescuers took 600 fewer cats than the comparable period of 2004—2005. In fact, the dramatically decreased nonprofits’ numbers began during October of 2005, three months before Boks started and continued for the first eight months he was on the job until the trend was reversed two months ago.
Also, the New Hope program did not start officially until June of this year, three months before placements began to go up.
One can more reasonably conclude that the New Hope program reversed a negative trend that started before Boks took control of LAAS, as opposed to assuming that the complexities of New Hope program caused the rescue partners placements to fall even before Boks took over.
34 more cats died in kennel. An animal who dies in kennel is nothing more than a demonstration of poor care. When Boks allows animals to die in kennels to be able to say that there is less killing, it is a horrific thing. Only 24 less cats were killed than the year before, but 42 more were stolen and 38 escaped!"
First, I would note that 34 more deaths is statistically meaningless when we are discussing 21,000 impounds. 34 cats amount to 1/7 of 1%, or 15 out of 10,000. Any conclusion drawn is meaningless and just reflects the bias of the person making the inference that the 34 deaths reflects negatively on Boks' competence. Indeed, using their logic, the 431 more cats adopted means Boks is brilliant at creating new adoption opportunities.
In addition, in October 2006, under Boks' charge, 17 cats died while in the pound as opposed to October 2005 when 38 died. One could say that he cut the kennel death rate in half. In any event, animals will die while in the kennels, coming in sick or injured or catching a fatal illness when inside.
The real issue would be whether that death rate is out of step with the mortality statistics of New York, Chicago, or any other major city.
On top of that, I see the death-in-kennel year total under Boks actually was 392 compared to the comparable period of the year before of 430, a decrease of 38 souls. So I don't know the methodology of the ADL experts.
The experts go on to tell ADL-LA that:"In the end, IF BOKS STATS ARE EVEN TRUE (which is dubious because Boks has a history of fixing numbers as well as the algorithms in the Chameleon program.
What an idiotic assertion. If Boks cooked the books, why would not cook them good? Why would he not have shown 16,000 were live releases out of 18,000 impounded, and of those releases, 12,781 were adopted out by LAAS?
Besides, Boks has offered ADL, Pam and Jerry unlimited access to the department statistics and the methodology by which they were obtained. Boks was refused. The only issue they were interested in was who was going to be made Assistant General Manager.
Taking the numbers of animals killed and who died as a function of intake, (12,292 killed and 427 died of 20,859 live impounded), 60% of cats lost their lives, compared to (12,316 killed and 393 died of 20,858 live intakes), 60% last year, no statistical change.
The changes that did occur are not good: 606 less animals to rescue who screens homes, while LAAS gives them to anyone who comes through the door, more animals being stolen and disappearing, and more animal suffering (died while in LAAS custody, a sign of shoddy animal care).
Here we go again, blaming Boks for fewer placements by New Hope partners, while refusing to give him credit for the 431 increased adoptions.
I do appreciate that ADL has somewhat moved away from character assassination to looking at what is important, which is results.
But what I feel is important has never been discussed. The need for methodology and analysis. Why were there so many more neonates impounded and killed in May than the previous year? Why were there so many fewer impounds from October of 2005 through April of 2006 compared with October 2004 and April 2005? Why was there such a dramatic decrease in euthanasia and an increase in adoptions from January through April of 2006 compared to the year before even taking the decreased impound figures into consideration?
It appears there may be a zone of impound numbers specific to LAAS for optimal adoption rates. This may be a function of capacity and personnel numbers. Given impound numbers above or below this zone may negatively impact live release rates. What can be done to expand that zone?
Why did the impound rate begin dropping three months before Boks took over and continue to drop four months into his command, even while the nonprofits took in far fewer cats than the year before, for that same period? What effect did the 39,000 spay neuter vouchers have on owner impounds vs. feral impounds?
You see, until we understand the macrodynamics that govern impound rates, we can never know what causes what, whom to blame or whom to applaud. Boks has made a beginning by publishing stats regarding the whys of owner turn-ins. The reasons and results are not equally significant and efforts should be made to support programs which are the most effective at ending the killing. We need to challenge the accepted assumptions regarding progress to no kill.
ADL and Winograd focus on shelter management and marketing efforts. Comparisons between Ithaca and LA shelter techniques is comparing apples to oranges. Even comparisons between Rancho Cucamunga, L A and Philadelphia have little meaning without knowing the human and cat/dog demographics as well as the dynamics of the feral cat populations, and the specific policies regarding impounds by these various shelters.
So much depends even on the topology of the collection areas we talk about.
For example, San Francisco is effectively sea-locked. Cats cannot come pouring into the city from three directions as is the case in LA, but only one, therefore any feral “vacuums” created by successful TNR would be filled more slowly in SF compared to LA, making the SF problem more manageable.
If the feral population is a function of a "natural" feral density, then any population decreases caused by TNR successes in the Central city area will be replaced by cats emigrating from areas of higher population and food competition to the new, less populated areas, negating even successful TNR programs unless we have area-wide plans and resource allocation.
We cannot be successful in LA City without the County being successful. This must be obvious to anyone who thinks.We need to understand the dynamics of urban cat populations on a regional basis in order to formulate successful strategies for killing fewer animals.
Last Thursday, Animal Pals posted that Muzika = Reed = Felon.
Then she posted:
While the foregoing is very interesting, what is even more interesting is the voluminous criminal records that pull up for Edward Muzika aka Edward Reed.
Public records show Edward Muzika has an aka of Edward Reed.While the foregoing is very interesting, what is even more interesting is the voluminous criminal records that pull up for Edward Muzika aka Edward Reed. According to public records, Mary Cummins' poor pal looks like he could be a felon....Wouldn't be too shocking. Birds of feather flock together.EDWARD MUZIKA'S AKA EDWARD REED'S CRIMINAL RECORDS GOING UP SOON...
They promised to post the felonies I was supposed to have committed.
That was last Thursday.
I am still waiting, waiting, waiting...
Of course, if they post nothing, it shows they had nothing, or blundered in their research, or are just making it up, and have absolutely no credibility as fact finders or in in-depth reporting--and, are also defaming.
A few days ago the blog and Craigslist posts that attacked me and several others, including Ed Boks, dropped their posts about me. I took my own similar posts about them down as a response.
I had hoped this was a sign of the ending of the expressions of hatred. I had hoped this was a signal, an olive branch.
As Animal Friends just offered, I similarly will end this blog if attacks on Boks and his supporters end everywhere posted.
But if dropping the two posts about me were only an attempt to split me off from my defense of Boks and others, I will remain up and intensify my posts in response, naming names and associations.
I am somewhat discouraged by the current anonimous posts on Craigslist.
ADL issued another email recently and claimed LAAS was not implementing suggestions they made three years ago. LA animal Friends has rebutted several of the ADL allegations that many of their proposed programs were not in place or in the process.
I don’t think ADL has looked at the LAAS website. There are monthly General manager reports that are filled with statistics, budget expenditures, reports of the number of complaints received, new programs, progress or lack of it on old programs. There is so much information in each report—an average of 25 pages or so—that it is difficult to know which Winograd proposal LAAS has or has not implemented.
If ADL would give me, or publish concisely, Winograd’s top 25 or so suggestions as well as the reasoning behind them, I’d be glad to publish them and go through the General Manager reports, or ask Mr. Boks myself, what has or has not been implemented or will be implemented.
However, just a top-of-the-head look at the ADL email, the info on the LAAS site, as well as talking to Commissioners, and knowing how Boks works, as well as the bureaucratic mess at City Hall, most or all of the ideas have been at least discussed by LAAS and/or the commission and I'm sure the best of them will be implemented when the ability to do so is there. One commissioner has told me that the commission had discussed and passed most of the suggestions made by Winograd long before Boks became GM, but Stuckey failed to implement them.
I would predict that the capacity to implement stuff will begin to increase relatively soon.
One needs to consider that anyone can have good ideas, but they all have to hang togther in a coherent whole. One can say fix that piece, add that piece, but given the budget and personnel constraints, those fixes may not be time and money well spent compared with improvements within the context of an overall plan integrating budget, resources and goals.
ADL proposing 10 or 15 suggestions, each of which would eat time and money, would be similar to me making recommendations on how to fight the war in Iraq. That is, the troops should get better helmets. Well, yeh, but do you then buy fewer night googles, fewer bulletproof vests, or cut munitions used in training? Which tradeoffs will kill fewer soldiers?
All the complex elements of fighting a war exist in running any large department. There are tradeoffs; outsiders, such as ADL or Winograd, who are not intimately aware of the capabilities and resources available, are merely farting in the wind.
There is also something inherently dysfunctional in ADL’s assertion that Boks "only chooses those he can control." Think about it for a minute; what employer or manager who actually wants to get work done deliberately chooses employees he or she don't think will be team players, or who they think will be uncontrollable? From my brief association with the ADL, I became quickly aware that ADL was Pam and Pam’s will prevailed. People who disagree with her disappear from her public and private email lists.
The notion that Boks won't hire someone more knowledgeable than himself is silly. His first new AGM knows a lot more about how the City works than he does, and is an expert in technology and budgeting, and that's exactly why he hired her. He understands his weakness and sought to complement it with someone who could cover that side of things. I predict that his choice for the other AGM will ultimately also complement his skillset and strengths and weaknesses in the same kind of way.
Just as an interlude before I get back to County Vector Surveillance, here are some facts about plague in CA and the US from the United States Center for Disease Control. Facts that prove the chance of getting plague from a ground squirrel in Santa Monica is as close to zero as ecological statistics would allow.
From the Center for Disease Control Website:
Plague will probably continue to exist in its many localized geographic areas around the world, and plague outbreaks in wild rodent hosts will continue to occur. Attempts to eliminate wild rodent plague are costly and futile. Therefore, primary preventive measures are directed toward reducing the threat of infection in humans in high risk areas through environmental management, public health education, and preventive drug therapy.
Epidemic plague is best prevented by controlling rat populations in both urban and rural areas. Control of plague in such situations requires two things: 1) close surveillance for human plague cases, and for plague in rodents, and 2) the use of an effective insecticide to control rodent fleas when human plague cases and rodent outbreaks occur.
Public Health Education
In regions such as the American West where plague is widespread in wild rodents, the greatest threat is to people living, working, or playing in areas where the infection is active. Public health education of citizens and the medical community should include information on the following plague prevention measures:
Eliminating food and shelter for rodents in and around homes, work places, and recreation areas by making buildings rodent-proof, and by removing brush, rock piles, junk, and food sources (such as pet food), from properties.
Surveillance for plague activity in rodent populations by public health workers or by citizens reporting rodents found sick or dead to local health departments.
Use of appropriate and licensed insecticides to kill fleas during wild animal plague outbreaks to reduce the risk to humans.
Treatment of pets (dogs and cats) for flea control once each week.
(My Comment: That is, you look before you kill, and if plague is happening, you use flea powder. The cost of trapping a few Palisades Park squirrels four times a year and testing the fleas would be a couple of thousand dollars, tops. Other diseases can be surveilled as well, such as Hantavirus or rabies.)
CDC: Human plague in the United States has occurred as mostly scattered cases in rural areas--an average of 5 to 15 cases a year. In the United States, the last urban plague epidemic occurred in Los Angeles in 1924-25. About 14% (1 in 7) of all plague cases in the United States are fatal.
Most cases in the U.S. receive some antibiotic treatment during their course of illness and deaths typically result from delays in seeking treatment or misdiagnosis.
My Comment: In all of the United States, there are 5-15 cases a year and 1/7th die. That is, about 1-2 people a year die from plague in the entire country, and most cases are in rural settings. So, in any year, you have a 1/300,000,000 chance of dying of plague, about 20,000 times less chance of dying in an auto accident.
For that, Santa Monica is required to pay $150,000 to find ways of killing squirrels to prevent a non-existant peril?
There has been ONE urban case of plague recently, and that was in Los Angeles. But it was caused by handling the meat from an infected rabbit in Kern County.
CDC: On April 17, a woman aged 28 years received the first diagnosis of plague in Los Angeles County, California, since 1984.
The woman was hospitalized with fever, septic shock, and a painful right axillary swelling; blood cultures grew Y. pestis. She responded to treatment with gentamicin and levofloxacin. Although symptoms were compatible with bubonic plague, the diagnosis had not been suspected because the patient did not report traveling outside her urban Los Angeles neighborhood. Later, health-care providers learned that the patient had handled raw meat from a rabbit that had been killed in Kern County, California, and transported to her home.
An environmental investigation in Kern County revealed evidence of die-off among jackrabbits and cottontails; rabbit carcasses collected in the area yielded Y. pestis. PFGE patterns of isolates from the patient and rabbits were indistinguishable.
Therefore, Plague is not an issue; if it were, surveilance and insecticide are the tools, not killing. If there are other risks, it would be incumbent on the County to do an assessment, or for the City to do it, if necessary, as a rebuttal. There is no rationale to continue an 80-year old tradition founded during years of high plague activity, and continuing indiscriminately with no risk assessment.
As I stated before, Santa Monica is not the real villain here, the County is. The City is timid and lazy, which led to ignorance. Ignorance, in this case, led to more timidity.
They are timid because they made no real attempt to question or oppose the county regarding the reasonableness of their order to kill. Staff did not “seriously” question the County on legal or scientific grounds, and certainly not on moral grounds. Elaine Polachek did, half-heartedly, question Vangordon on the legality and the magic number of 2-3 squirrels per acre, but said nothing when Vangordon made her generalistic replies.
Members of Council, namely Ken Genser and Kevin McKeown did raise all these issues and staff dropped the ball. Then, after the killing was going on and I pointed out that Vangordon said there was no penalty for ignoring her order to kill, Mousey Marsha Moutrie invented an undefined “Liability” theory to continue the killing, which sets the unquestioning precedent for endless future killings.
They are timid because the City Manager, Lamont Ewell is timid; he decided to kill them immediately in February to get their numbers down fast, as per the County order, rather than use the trap-and-kill method originally planned for February. Then he decided to kill them this time again—quickly--because he heard there were two squirrels with plague found somewhere in San Diego County.
They were timid because they killed in secret—or at least tried to. I have found two others emails that further demonstrate the extent the City went to hide the killing. Indeed, in February, according to the print media and the emails I received as part of my public records request, they were killing them even when Councilmember McKeown was trying to get a stay of execution from Acting Director Jonathan Fielding, not knowing the killing was already going on.
This time, in August, they decided not to tell their own Parks Commissioners or anyone else from fear of PETA and I assume, ADL and ALF.
They were lazy and ignorant because staff presented almost exactly the same report each time the County ordered the killings. The only change was in the one dated January 3, 2006, where they mention the Animal Advocates.
City staff never did much scientific research regarding the ground squirrels despite the fact that two academics were throwing tons of scientific evidence and legal theory demonstrating the City could oppose the County on legal grounds and scientific grounds.
The City may have been timid, lazy and ignorant, but the County is ignorant, lazy and a bully in the worst way.
Every effort to save the squirrels, from the timid questions from Elaine Polachek, to the strong effort by Kevin McKeown, and the scientific and legal questioning of both the City and Vangordon by two academics, were met by a stone wall erected by Gail Vangordon and Jonathan Fielding. Of the two Vangordon is easily the worse.
She rejected all legal arguments and scientific evidence with casual contempt, ridiculing the academics and persisting in her bullying of the City with the sole argument that she and her staff has a total of 80 years experience in killing ground squirrels and they know best to determine what squirrels are to be killed and when.
Vangordon email, January 10, 2006:
“Section 116130 states in part, "the department, the Board of Supervisors of each county, local health officers, or inspectors appointed by any of them may inspect all places for the purpose of ascertaining whether they are infested with rodents and whether the requirements of this article are being complied with."
Vangordon states, "This wording is, and has always been, interpreted by our department to mean that the existence of "an infestation" (of rodents, including ground squirrels) is a determination we, as inspectors, make based on parameters we have established as a result of 80 years of enforcement and abatement activities."
Well, here she does not even bother to use the term 2-3 per acre, it “is a determination we make…based on 80 years of enforcement and abatement activities.” No room for science here for Vangordon.
(My note: Palisades Park is 1.5 miles long--about 8,000 ft--and consists of a total of 26 acres of land.)
In a letter to Santa Monica City Manager dated March 23, 2006, Fielding says, "If the populations at the park do not reflect an acceptable level of 2-3 ground squirrels visible at any one time per acre, we will reevaluate the options available to city." Notice he is talking about the whole park, not sub-areas of the park.
Since the park has 26 acres, 2 to 3 squirrels per acre would be 52 to 78 squirrels.
In that same letter he states, "Unfortunately, the suppression efforts employed over several days commencing on February 6, 2006 were less than adequate in reducing the visible ground squirrel population to an acceptable level. An inspection conducted on February 13, 2006 provided evidence of 69 active burrows and a visible ground squirrel count of 68. These numbers significantly exceed the initial counts performed on March 1, 2005 which indicated 47 active boroughs and 38 visible ground squirrels in the original letter of suppression."
Well, it appears that Fielding cannot add. Again, he is talking about the whole park and not some defined sub-area. In 2005, there weere only 38 visible ground squirrels, yet the County ordered suppression. On February 13, after Ayers did his poison gassing, there were 68 squirrels spotted and he said that was not good enough. Or, it shows he didn't know what he was talking about, which is just the area of the bluffs.
In neither case did the inspections reveal a population density exceeding the acceptable limits set by their own criteria of 2-3 visible ground squirrels per acre. This is why I call Fielding an idiot and the city too profoundly timid to challenge his numbers.
(Of course, their June 1, 2006 inspection revealed 175 visible ground squirrels which did fit their definition of infestation, but does not explain the rationale of the 2005 order of suppression nor his statement that the gassing, a month before, was not good enough.)
OK, what is going on here?
The County, as represented by Vangordon and Frood, is ignoring what the County said, as represented by Fielding, and is imposing even more arbitrary and restrictive criteria that leave no recourse except to kill squirrels wherever and whenever they want. They are arbitrarily applying their own criteria of 2-3 squirrels per acre only to the acreage they choose, that on the West side of the Palisades Park fence.
Vangordon to Polachek on August 14, 2006:
"Depending Lefty’s success, Michael will schedule an inspection and conduct a count of visible squirrels. If the numbers fall within the standard that we use, that is, 2-3 visible at any one time per acre, then he will determine the park to be in compliance. Just remember, that standard applies to the individual "hotspots" and not to the overall acreage of the park."
So, not only is the number 2-3 arbitrary, but so is their measurement of space. Given their definition, whenever and wherever they see 4 squirrels, it is a “hot spot,” an “infestation.” All this is just opinion, arbitrary numbers with no science or risk assessment.
How can one argue with Vangordon’s logic? She makes up an arbitrary number of squirrels based on a state recommendation, not an ordinance, then deliberately distorts even that by arbitrarily determining the size of the area involved. That is, she can gerrymander any area geometry she wants in any way she wants, allowing her to order anything she wants, any time she wants, because she says so, and Fielding will support her even if he doesn’t know what is going on.
Another way to look at it, is if there are 175 squirrels visible along the 8,000 ft park, Santa Monica's infestation would then be defined as having one visible squirrel every 46 ft. Since the acreage on the West side of the fence is about 1/2 acre, she wants to kill them until there is only one squirrel visible in the entire bluff area of 8,000 ft. An obvious impossibility, but even more, completely arbitrary.
Over the next few weeks I will point out specific e-mail and letter content that will utterly prove without a doubt, that the County as represented by Gail Vangordon, Michael Frood and Jonathan Fielding is both ignorant and a bully.
One issue I want to bring up is a document, a County “Application - Restricted Materials Permit” signed by Joe McGrath as the applicant, dated February 7, 2006, that allows Lefty Ayers to use poison gas (fumigants) “Throughout the City of Santa Monica,” until December 31, 2006.
This document allows Ayers to use poison gas anywhere in the City, and also allows Ayers to use poison to augment his trapping efforts beginning in August of this year. Some wildlife experts contend that entirely too many ground squirrels are gone to be accounted for by trapping alone. Try finding a ground squirrel in the Park now.
Another interesting document, again a County Application – Restricted Materials Permit, signed by Ayers, requests that he be allowed to use Aluminum Phosphide gas in “Various Locations in Los Angeles County.” Does Ayers expect to get a lot more work in LA County (He lives in Kern County)? What would be his referral sources? Remember, his poison gassing did not do the job in February. I am sure he knew it would not work as all the burrows could not be plugged, but, heck, it was an easy $9,700.
Is there a relationship between the County and Ayers? I don’t know, but maybe a new request for documents is in order to find out. Of course, if Lefty wants to tell me, I'll print his response exactly as he tells me.
I will show you where she claims the principal purpose of the eradication order was the prevention of plague and therefore, arrives at the figure of 2-3 squirrels per acre is based on a state recommendation—not ordinance—that says that in areas where there is plague, more than 2-3 ground squirrels per acre would be considered “excessive.” The state never uses the term “infestation.”
In fact, there is no definition of infestation either on the state or County level; Vangordon makes that very clear. An “infestation” is determined solely at the discretion of Vector Management’s field investigators.
Regarding them, she states "our inspectors have an average of 15 years of experience with a cumulative of over 90 years in the field of rodent management and vector born disease surveillance. My staff are career professionals who are well qualified to make informed judgments. The state codes we enforce are not outdated, they are intentionally broad to permit application under various conditions by properly trained, qualified and responsible individuals whose actions are continually monitored by supervision and upper management.” (This would exclude Fielding who seems to be entirely clueless in the supervision-thing.)
When challenged that the criteria of 2-3 per acre is only a state recommendation for areas where plague has already been found, she responds that plague is not the only concern, but the control of infestations is the County’s concern and they define that, “based on 80 years of experience.”
I would say that 80 years of experience (since 1925) in killing is hardly a qualification for understanding anything but killing, especially when most everyone else is asking to save the squirrels’ lives.
Plague—the term used by the County and borrowed by the City—has nothing to do with why the County is ordering the killing of squirrels. That word is for the media’s consumption, a Republican-type scare tactic.
So why are she and Frood doing it and why is Fielding supporting her?
Well Fielding is supporting her because he is a know-nothing CEO who routinely and unquestioningly supports the actions of underlings rather than asking the relevant questions asked by many people in emails and letters addressed to him. His generalist letter quoted in my last post, is a verbatim repetition of Vangordon, not any sort of reasoned response.
Concerning the other two, I will later offer a well-supported opinion that these are little people who get a great deal of pleasure in getting Santa Monica to squirm every other year, and perhaps get a secondary satisfaction out of killing. There is no scientific basis, no State or County definition of infestation, and no reason to apply a plague-area recommendation of 2-3 squirrels per acre to a non-plague area. Vangordon and Frood do this for the sheer pleasure. AND, Frood directly lies to the City and Animal Advocates, threatening to come into the City and poison the squirrels themselves.
These are two bullies, nothing more, nothing less, while Ewell and Fielding are the Two Stooges with any number of government employees vying to be the Third.
In an effort to prevent an outbreak of the plague, Santa Monica is ordered to kill off its squirrels
~ By DAVID DAVIN ~
There has only been one case of the plague in California in the last 80 years, according to Paul E. Bruce, regional program coordinator for the Humane Society of the United States. “The reasoning they have given for the killings is so obscure it’s almost ludicrous.”
Mayor Holbrook disagrees. “Look,” he says, “I’m the last person that wants to put down these little animals. But if we didn’t take some action, what kind of leaders would we be? I cannot ignore an order from the county when they say it is a public health issue. I have a mandate to protect the public.”
(Muzika Comment: Protect the public from what or whom, Bob? Vangordon from the County says they never do risk assessments. NEVER!! She said that's how they've been doing business for 25 years. AND. she said, no one has ever questioned them except for Santa Monica. Even the idiot head of County Health, Jonathan Fielding, says plague in an urban setting is very rare and not a matter of increased concern even in a plague area.
BOB Holbrook was the ONLY Councilmember to vote no against a motion to direct City staff to explore non-lethal ways of controlling the ground squirrel population. So when he says he is the last person who wants to kill them, he is flat out lying.
Bob also sent me an email saying he was that last one who wanted to kill them one day after I sent him an email that Animal Defense League and Animal Liberation Front activists were spotted in Santa Monica, probably looking over the squirrel situation. Seems Bob remembered how the ADL and ALF punished former LAAS General Manager, Jerry Greenwalt, who lives in Santa Monica. I think Bob didn’t want that happening at his house, so he told a good lie.)
Edward Muzika, a former candidate for Santa Monica City Council and activist, has closely followed the issue since 1998, when he first learned that the city would gas and poison the squirrels. He suggests other factors are at play. “The mayor said to me that cliff erosion was also a concern,” Muzika says. “I think that’s what he’s truly worried about, not the plague.”
Nevertheless, the county has ordered Santa Monica to control the squirrel population. But that does not automatically mean the city has to kill squirrels. “There are viable alternatives,” argues Bruce. “Given that the risks are so low for the diseases … there is time, it seems to me, to explore other options.”
That is what Muzika and others are trying to organize, pointing to an earlier initiative by Santa Monica City Councilmember Kevin McKeown that had the city try the Birth Control Project, run by Animal Advocates. “This was being effective – there was a 30 percent reduction in active burrows,” Muzika says. “That was the quota, a 30 percent reduction. Animal Advocates had met that quota, then the city decided that wasn’t good enough after all.”
For his part, McKeown says that he tried to show the city that an alternative was viable, but now that the killings have resumed, there is little he can do. He will try again, he says, to convince the city that alternatives should be pursued, because, “trapping and gassing squirrels seems like obvious overkill. If your dog has fleas, you don’t kill your dog.”
(Muzika's Comment: Richard Bloom said that Kevin’s analogy did not fit, because you can’t pick up the squirrels and dust them, so he rejected that solution. He did not ask Kevin or staff why the State of California or the County themselves, recommended the use of flea powder to control the plague's causal vector--the flea, even in plague areas, not killing squirrels.
Come on Richard, you don’t have to catch the squirrels to flea powder them, the bait station does it automatically when they came and go. AND, if you spread insecticide on the ground, it kills the fleas there; you don’t have to wait for them to jump aboard a squirrel. You flea-powder the whole house and yard, not just the dog.
County: You must kill the vermin, so sayeth the Law.
City: I do not want to kill them, they do no harm.
County: Do as I say, it is the Law. The law is backed by the words of the state and the memory of the state which goes back 1,000 years to the time of the great plague.
City Council: But they do no harm now. The plague is long past, a simple drop of serum cures the plague. It is no worse than an infection. These squirrels do not carry the plague. We can test for that. Now Serin gas, Anthrax and Dirty Bombs are our bane.
County: Do as I say or evil will befall you. This is our way; this is the Law. If you do not do as I say, you will be punished as per 116125. You need not kill all; save two or three so that they propagate and again bring joy to the people.
City: That makes no sense, for we will have to kill again and my people will not tolerate that. Besides 116125 carries no penalty for not obeying. The idea of killing sickens us.
County: Then you must harden you hearts and kill them in secret. One must be discriminative when obeying the Law. The people’s ire must not be raised lest they rise up and destroy you. Even if we cannot punish you for violation of 116125, we will come in and with swift sword kill them all ourselves.
City Council: But the Law is no good; our knowledge transcends the Law. Science says they can do no harm, and leaving only two or three is too harsh for it causes unnecessary suffering and robs the people of their joy.
County: The Law is good; the Law is just; the Law protects you from pestilence.
City Manager: Then we must kill the vermin no matter how much pain it causes for the Law says so. Let us think how to destroy them and assuage the anger of the people.
Staff: I know, let us invoke the Law and tell the people that if we do not kill, we will all be punished. The County will comes in and with swift poison kill all but three. But their sword is mighty and they do not discriminate, and others may be killed, Ney, even our children and pets. We will call it a Public Health Emergency.
Advisor: They cannot do this; there is a greater Law, the Federal Rodenticide Act which protects us from their will and their sword. And, Public Health Emergency is a phrase, a term, it is not real.
City Attorney: This may be true, but if we do not kill the vermin we are open to Liability.
City: What Liability?
City Attorney: Foolish ones, you do not understand the Law. Some day one of the vermin may have plague, or rabies, or crotch rot and give it to the people and they will lay us low for we have not protected them. We, the legal eagles, call this Liability. Liability protects enforcement of the Law.
City: Is that not far fetched?
City Attorney: Yes, but the threat is real, albeit very small.
City: Then we will kill no matter how much pain it inflicts on our hearts. The Law is clear. We cannot be punished for violation of 116125. The County cannot come in with swift sword. But still, there is Liability.
Mayor: Besides there are our precious cliffs. We must protect them by turning Swiss Cheese into Muenster.
City Attorney: Wink, wink.
City: You are our Counsel, we will not question your judgment, for you protect us from the folly of following the love for all creatures we have in our hearts.
City Attorney: Yes, it is good.
County: Yes it is good.
I've modified this post somewhat. I should not have attacked Bob as I did. Council and staff are equally guilty for Sqirrelgate, but not nearly so guilty as the County's Vangordon--who we will look at later.
But staff and Council show an amazing lack of knowledge of all aspects of the issue, especially the medical and legal aspects. I just can't image why everyone is so thick here. What is behind the ignorance? Is there a plot by Republicans to save the City from wildlfe? Is it laziness? Is it timidity? I certainly do not know.
According to a record of the June 15, 2004 Council meeting (http://marla.cagreens.org/pipermail/dmr-annc-freq/2004-June/000453.html), City Councilman Bob Holbrook recalled how the debate over squirrels came up in the 1998 election, dubbed by some the "squirrel campaign."
"Everyone was upset about euthanizing squirrels, you know, they're kind of fun little animals. It got kind of heated," Holbrook said, adding the issue is more serious than it may appear. "It's the kind of thing that sounds crazy, but they had the, whatever it is, the organism that causes, or virus that causes plague."
Mayor Richard Bloom expressed concerns. "I don't think that there are other practical methods (of controlling the squirrel population), based on my understanding, but there's certainly no harm in asking the County to reconsider," Bloom said. "I do believe this is a serious issue, and let me be clear on that. I think that the control of rodent populations and furtherance of controlling the spread of disease is a very real and serious issue.
It is a real and serious issue, why didn’t you look into it Richard or demand staff look more deeply. They roll out the same report everytime the squirrel issue comes up.
You, like Holbrook, had absolutely no understanding at all—and still don’t--and based all of your opinions on what staff told you, and they based all their opinions on what the County told them, even about them invading Santa Monica and spreading poison bait all over the Park in violation of the Federal Rodenticide Act (FIFRA, 1996).
The fleas may not be the only problem. "There's another huge issue here," Holbrook said. "It's the bluffs. And one of the reasons they're falling is they're full of holes.
"They're like Swiss cheese out there."
The plight of local ground squirrels was discussed earlier this year as part of a $10 million plan to help shore up the eroding bluffs. Part of the problem, officials said, were thousands of tiny tunnels burrowed through the bluffs, weakening them and helping contribute to future slides.
Ground squirrels were the culprit.
Well, well, well. Is this the real reason Mayor Holbrook went along with the lie that the squirrels were a health hazard—save the bluffs, screw the squirrels?
It has nothing to do with health for you, does it Bob? It has nothing to do with liability, does it Marsha? It is all about property. Disease is the excuse to kill, the excuse staff waves in the face of all animal activists and Councilmembers and Commissioners who oppose the killing.
Long live the public health emergency!
Well, the emergency is exposed as a fraud, and Marsha creates a new reason to OBEY--liability. (I hear this second hand, she never communicated this theory to me.) Of course, liability is a scam because she does not explain the liability in any rational terms. Is there any real examination of liability, or does she just announce it? Plague? Come on. Look at the stats.
Lamont Ewell, exposed as a timid, little old lady who jumped the gun and pulled the trigger in February and again in August, told Phil Broch "several times" that Marsha Moutrie was going to respond to my charge that Santa Monica was home free legally with respect to the County. Broch was told Marsha would be responding to me by email or letter. That was over a week ago. Still nothing. Guess Marsha is still doing research to support the credibility of her new "liability" theory.
The staff brings out a report every year or two about the Palisades squirrels, whenever the County the City to kill them, or whatever internal entity wants them killed to protect the bluffs. It is the same report each time. Sometimes it is four pages, sometimes five. It makes staff look as if they examined the issue for Council freshly, when they did not. They recycled the same report. Go through the staff reports on the squirrels on the Internet. Don't make me do all the work.
From that same Council meeting:
Though City Hall hopes the county will cooperate in finding a way to deal with the squirrels, staffers said health authorities in a recent warning said if City doesn't act fast, they will spread poison themselves. (Council never heard this before or questioned the County could or would do it? Yes one did, Kevin. He said the City ought to be willing to go toe-to-toe.)
That possibility has many concerned, because the county doesn't employ the special "bait tunnels" that City Hall has used in the past. That method attracts squirrels, who then pick up the poison and carry it back to their resting spots. County officials, staffers said, use what's called a "broadcast" method where poison is essentially scattered about, putting other small, bluff-dwelling animals at risk.
Are we all stupid here? The County is going to come in and spread poison on the ground around all the cats, dogs, tree squirrels, and children, and the City is going to accept that liability? Is this Marsha's idea too? No one checked on the legality of what the County threatened, or that City staffers said the County was threatening to do?
It’s been eight years since the City said the County would use broadcast poison baiting if the City did not kill the squirrels. Yet, no one checked to see if the threat was real or the threat of lawsuit was real. Why?
Why were not the scientific and medical aspects of the County order not investigated? There is a modicum of questioning by Polachek of Vangordon on this issue, but instant acceptance of Vangordon's theorized science and analysis of legal issues.I am sure when it comes to a property issue, Marsha could cite case after case regarding City liability down to a dime.
Am I missing something?
In an August 20, 2006 email to Ed Muzika from Mayor Holbrook, after Animal Liberation Front activists were spotted in Santa Monica, Holbrook says:
“The last thing I want to see happen is squirrels being destroyed.”
Holbrook in his 2006 Meet and Greet campaign kickoff according to the Santa Monica Mirror:
“We have to resolve the homeless problem and do something about the traffic and parking problems,” Holbrook said. “And yet we spend hours and hours and hours talking about the ground squirrels.”
Holbrook says hiring Ewell was his greatest achievement.
Both “forgot” to tell their own Parks Commissioners about the squirrel killing already under way and are complicit with staff’s decision to keep the killing secret.
February 2006, Lamont Ewell:
“As a person who loves animals, my goal is to avoid ever having to reduce the populations of squirrels in this manner again,” Ewell said.
Yet, in August he does order the squirrels killed again after giving Lawrence Ayers a $19,000 contract and him a $5,000/week Santa Monica Police/Park Ranger security detail.
Holbrook was the sole no-vote against the City spending more time examining ways to handle the County order to kill the squirrels, but apparently is O.K. with Recreation and Parks spending $150,000 to comply with repetitive County orders to kill squirrels, AND giving Lefty Ayers and additional $19,000 kill contract AND, providing Ayers with a $5,000 per week Santa Monica “Secret Service-like” detail.
How is that for fiscal responsibility?
Can anyone in their right mind believe anything Holbrook tells them?
The City’s Open Space Management head, Elaine Polachek, told Animal Advocates that the City has spent $150,000 in man hours and vendor fees in attempting to comply with County Health’s repetitive orders to kill the squirrels in Palisades Park even while the City was researching non-lethal and cost-effective solutions.
This must be taken in the context that Michael Frood, County inspector, was saying the County would sue the City and also that he’d come in and poison the squirrels himself using broadcast baiting. At the same time, Gail Vangordon at the last minute, emailed Polachek that she had never used the term “emergency,” but had said the squirrel situation was a “condition that needed to be addressed.” She also stated the County could not and would not sue the City.
By this time, Ayers had already received $9,700 for his failed poison gassing in February (Gassing doesn't work if you can't plug all the holes, such as the ones coming out the side of the cliffs), and was then contracted for $19,000 more services for August/September of this year, both being short-term solutions.
On the other hand, the City gave Animal Advocates $4,200 for a five month pilot project that was successful according to criteria agreed upon by the County, namely a 30% reduction of active burrows at a 1/7 of what Ayers is getting for the County demanded, short term abatements.
Then the County changed its collective mind and reneged on their agreement with the City and Animal Advocates, and reverted to the old and impossible 2-3 visible squirrels per acre criteria, and it is here that Ayers re-enters with another $19,000 short-term solution.
Therefore, $13,900 had already been spent by the City to kill the squirrels to satisfy Vangordon by July 15, 2006, but a new round of poisoning was demanded by the County in its order to kill the squirrels “immediately.” (Second Notice, dated July 25, 2006 from Gail Vangordon to Elaine Polachek stated, “we must require that immediate steps be taken to suppress the existing ground squirrel and flea populations.”)
By the way, the use of broadcast poisoning in public areas is prohibited by the Federal Rodenticide Act (FIFRA, 1996). Not only was the County bluffing about a lawsuit as a means to scare Council and the City into complying with their ridiculous order, but they were also bluffing (lying) about their intent to invade Santa Monica to exert Vangordon’s will.
Ayers is getting $80/hr. (49 hours a week) for an estimated 4 weeks of work, and $5.50 for each squirrel killed. The estimated project length is 4 weeks, costing an estimated $19,182. However, if he hasn’t killed enough to satisfy Michael Frood, Ayers can stay on the job for an additional 3-4 weeks at an additional $3,900 per week plus killing fees until Frood is satisfied. Does Frood get a kickback from Ayers? Makes me wonder.
Man, is this costing the City big bucks!!!
AND, good old Lefty says this is going to happen every 18 months to 24 months. This is because no long term program has been implemented to permanently reduce the squirrel population over a time frame that the County has found acceptable.
Poisoning will never work as a long term solution. The population will always rebound just as it did after five rounds of poisoning since 1992. Each time an exterminator was called in to the tune of $7,400 to the $30,000 Ayers is getting this year.
AND the City appears to have spent much more than that, $150,000 in fees and man hours implementing these repetitive lethal solutions to comply with what appears to be County mendacity in the form of martinet Gail Vangordon and her henchman, Michael Frood, defended by County Health’s bumbling Jonathan Fielding.
Therefore, City Council was financially and morally justified in seeking a long-term, non-lethal approach to curbing the Palisades squirrel population.
I just found this June 18, 2004 article form the Santa Monica Daily Press. Councilman Genser suggests City should disobey the County order and tell THEM what the City is going to do. Marsha Moutrie wakes up from her sleep and says the City had better obey the County order, but does not state why. Too bad the City Attorney could not tell Council what the reasons and liabilities were.
Article says County Health threatens to come in and poison the squirrels themselves. This is the same lie Mike Frood was telling City staffers and witnessed by many. City officials (unnamed) says the County, when they come in, will use broadcast poision--that is, just throw it on the ground so Fido can eat it too.
Even I, as naive as I was in 1998 and heard this, didn't believe the County would invade the City and spread poison on the bare ground. Can't believe City "Officials" were more naive than I.
Yet, Gail Vangordon email says the County will not sue the City, it is not a health emergency, but a concern, and never mentions the County coming in and poisoning.
Vote for Genser. I am moving back to Santa Monica to vote for him.
Santa Monica Daily Press
June 18, 2004
TURNING TAIL; SQUIRRELS HAD BEST BE MOVING ON
Health officials demand that SM poison ground squirrels; Council begs to differ
BY JOHN WOOD
Daily Press Staff Writer
CITY HALL A contentious dispute over whether Santa Monica's ground squirrels should be poisoned to prevent outbreaks of the bubonic plague has pitted local leaders against Los Angeles health authorities.
The City Council this week voted to look into alternative ways of dealing with the local California ground squirrel population.
Officials from the Los Angeles County Health Department twice recently demanded Santa Monica kill off its resident ground squirrel population, saying if City Ilall doesn't do the work, they will. At issue are the many ground squirrels living inside the Palisades Bluffs, above the Pacific Coast Highway.
"If your dog has fleas, you don't kill your dog," said City Councilman Kevin McKeown, kicking off a divisive, hour-long debate on the dais.
NUTS ABOUT SQUIRRELS
Perhaps the most ardent supporter of the ground squirrels was Councilman Ken Genser, who suggested City Hall disregard the county mandate.
"I don't know what the county would do, but I think if we're serious about trying to solve the problem, and maybe not following the order strictly, I think we should maybe not be so much asking the county but telling them what we intend to do, and leaving it at that," Genser told his colleagues.
"There is a human dimension to this," he added. "I know, certainly for certain individuals in my family, the squirrels are a very important part of their recreation. And I think they bring a lot of pleasure to a lot of people in this community."
McKeown said he hoped to avoid disobeying a county order, but emphasized he feels strongly about saving the squirrels. He pointed to Riverside, Santa Barbara and Ventura, and said City Hall should follow their method of treating the squirrels for fleas, rather than killing them outright.
"(The county keeps) coming back to us, every year or every other year, and asking us to kill all the squirrels in Palisades Park - and that just feels wrong," said McKeown, who brought the issue to the council. "If there's a way to do this without going head to head with the county, I would go toe to toe."
City Attorney Marsha Moutrie warned the council not to do anything deliberately against the county order, adding their mandate is several weeks overdue.
"Whatever you decide we should do we need to do it promptly, because this is now a second notice from the health official," she said.
SPAY THAT BUGGER
What will happen next is unclear.
Though City Hall hopes the county will cooperate in finding a way to deal with the squirrels, staffers said health authorities in a recent warning said if City doesn't act fast, they will spread poison themselves.
That possibility has many concerned, because the county doesn't employ the special "bait tunnels" that City Hall has used in the past. That method attracts squirrels, who then pick up the poison and carry it back to their resting spots. County officials, staffers said, use what's called a "broadcast" method where poison is essentially scattered about, putting other small, bluff-dwelling animals at risk.
Lefty Ayers appears to have landed a permanent $30,000 a year contract to be the City's Rodenator.
Santa Monica Daily Press
July 21, 2006
BY CAROLYN SACKARIASON
Daily Press Staff Writer
PALISADES PARK — City Hall’s latest plan for the resident squirrels here: Trap them, gas them and feed them to the birds.
It’s not a pretty picture, but a necessary plan, according to city, county and pest control officials. Because the squirrels carry fleas which can lead to bubonic plague, they are considered a health threat, officials said. And because Palisades Park is overrun with the rodents, City Hall has been mandated by the Los Angeles County Health Department to kill them. If City Hall fails to comply, it could be sued.
In January, City Hall was served a summons from the county health department regarding non-compliance with the health and safety code. City Hall was ordered to kill the squirrels or face legal action. The squirrels were poisoned with aluminum phosphide, which began on Feb. 6 and lasted for four days.
Immediately following, a pilot program aimed to control the rodent population without killing them was introduced, according to city officials. The education and birth control program created by Mary Cummins from Animal Advocates called for the treatment of remaining squirrels for fleas to prevent disease, installing signage to advise against feeding the animals and distributing immuno-contraceptives.
But in the eyes of county health inspectors, it hasn’t worked. During a routine inspection in Palisades Park last month, they found the ground squirrel population well above acceptable numbers. (Muzika Note: Remember, the term,“acceptable levels has been questioned by everyone, including the City.)
As a result, county and city officials met last week to devise a plan to reduce the squirrel population this summer.
“The park is in violation and something has to be done,” said Gail Van Gordon, supervisor of the county’s Vector Born Disease Surveillance Unit. She added that her staff presented options to Santa Monica officials and highlighted plans that have worked in the hundreds of other areas the county health department oversees. (Muzika: I wonder if one of the County Staff recommendations was to use Lefty Ayers as the exterminator.)
City officials have apparently reverted back to their original plan, which was developed by Lefty Ayers, who owns Heritage Wildlife Management, a pest control company based in Kern County.
Ayers didn’t use that plan in February when he helped eradicate the squirrels in Palisades Park. He said that because of the pressure from animal rights activists and the media, he instead placed fumigation tablets in the burrows, and the humidity turned it into gas, which killed the squirrels.
“We were forced into it because the people were saying ‘don’t do this, don’t do this,’” Ayers said of when he attempted to carry live animals in traps out of the park.
His traps are larger than most manufacturers —24 feet by 24 feet by 8 inches tall — to prevent overcrowding. (Muzika: Lie, the traps used were typical 36” diameter poison bait station devices. When Dr. Longcare complained to her in a letter about the 24 ft traps, she sneeringly laughed at him to Elaine Polachek from the City).
LOST THAT LOVING FEELING
After the first round of squirrels are killed, city officials and Ayers hope to avoid having to do it again. Ayers and city staff are currently researching studies that indicate an immuno-contraceptive vaccine could reduce the squirrel population without killing them. (Muzika: Well, what do you know, Ayers again.) The squirrels would be trapped and injected with the vaccine, which would inhibit the female’s ability to give birth. “Once the population is down, it looks like the city will help me research it,” Ayers said, adding the vaccine would last 1 1/2 to 2 years. “But it’s very labor intensive and costly “ (Muzika: Well Lefty, you say costly and every 18 months to two years--humm)... if people just stayed out of it, it will be two years before we have to do something again.”
Ayers will meet with city officials by the end of the month to determine the next course of action. City Hall has budgeted $30,000 to reduce the squirrel population, said Elaine Polacheck, City Hall’s open space manager. Polacheck said Cummins’ plan unfortunately didn’t pan out like her staff had hoped. It was supposed to be a one-year pilot program, but lasted just five months.
Well, it seems Ayers, known to everyone in the City and County as Lefty, has a lifetime contract with the City for all future squirrel eradication and control projects, ranging from Rodenator napalming to contraceptive at a much higher charge than other vendors. Animal Advocate’s contract was for $4,200, not $19,000 as Ayers is receiving, plus the $9,700 he got in February of this year.
And, Lefty said this would happen again in two years.
So, Lefty has a guaranteed contract for $30,000 for every two years and will collect $30,000 just for work in 2006!!
Let’s check Lefty out, shall we, the RFP the City sent out, and the bids actually returned.