If nothing else, Ed's new policy points out clearly to one and all that he is utterly unable to successfully manage a large shelter system.
Cynically he has been manipulating the numbers to make it appear there was progress to no-kill. He has crowded the shelters to make the March-May figures really good, and now that the reality of the crush is catching up, as id did last June, he shuts the shelters' doors and teaches a no-kill seminar at the end of June.
I have been hounded by the Son of Naysayer who says this is what all no-kill shelters do: juggle animals, manipulate numbers, lie, and spin. Ed does all of that and more. But Boks case is more of the usual rather than having gone. The whole system is collapsing under Boks' incredible need for adulation, instead of implementing what has to be done to really get to no-kill.
This is why Debbie Knaan jumped ship and took an offer she could not refuse. As someone said, any job would be unrefusable compared to being Boks' AGM when the ship is sinking.
Ed's done here.
by Ann Angeleno Tuesday, Jun. 19, 2007 at 3:12 PM
In astounding news earlier this week the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services announced that they are basically closing the shelter doors to owner relinquished animals. Their rationale behind this move as per Ed Boks the General Manager is to "fine tune" "the population during the annual spring/summer crush of neonatal turn-ins." Read that, "we have no more room because we've been warehousing animals all year to keep our euthanasia rate artificially low to try to make me look good."
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa closes City animal shelters
In astounding news earlier this week the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services announced that they are basically closing the shelter doors to owner relinquished animals. Their rationale behind this move as per Ed Boks the General Manager is to "fine tune" "the population during the annual spring/summer crush of neonatal turn-ins." Read that, "we have no more room because we've been warehousing animals all year to keep our euthanasia rate artificially low to try to make me look good."
None of the previous General Managers ever turned away animals yet they had many more animals, smaller shelters, less money and fewer employees. How could Ed Boks the supposed "NoKill King" have no room to receive animals when his shelters are much larger than before and fewer animals are coming in? More importantly, why is the Mayor still doing nothing about the problem? This author wrote an article about all of these issues March of this year and things have only gotten worse. http://www.geocities.com/annangeleno
On June 14, 2007 the Department released the press release entitled "Cat-Tastrophe forces policy change." They stated that as of June 18th they will only accept healthy owned animals Wednesday and Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. This means that people who work could only relinquish their pets during a small window after work. There is already a long wait to relinquish pets when they can do so any day of the week. People line up outside the shelter doors in the mornings. Some just leave their pets in boxes, bags, running free in the parking lot or tied to the fence.
For the past two months the shelters were already telling the public that they should find their animal a new home themselves. If it's a cat, they should spay or neuter them and just set them free in a feral colony. If they don't want to do that, they are instructed to contact private rescues who will "gladly" take the animals. The people take their animals home and call rescuers who are of course all full. In frustration which can be seen by many complaints on craigslist.com, people are just setting the animals free in parks. One man threatened to kill kittens if someone didn't come and get them.
In the days since Boks' press release he has backpedaled a little. He now says that he will accept ill, injured and orphaned owner relinquished animals at any time. He said he will "revisit the policy" if problems arise. He says he will also "politely" accept any animal if the person is really "insistent." So then, has anything changed at all, except for the promise of being "polite?"
The Rescue and Humane Alliance represents most of the animal groups in Los Angeles. They sent out a bulletin about this new policy this morning. They don't believe it's a good idea and raise some valid points which I've paraphrased here. (1) People will not have a change of heart. They will just abandon the animal somewhere else. (2) Then these animals will be picked up as strays which must be held longer than owned animals before being offered up for adoption. (3) People will lie and say their animal is a stray. They already do this because they're embarrassed that they're an irresponsible pet owner. (4) Some may get confused and think this policy applies to all animals so they won't pick up a stray animal. (5) The restricted hours are deliberately inconvenient so few people will be able to relinquish their animal. The public will complain that the Department isn't doing their job.
RHA believes this is "an act of desperation" and I agree. They say "despite all the 'new' programs, the shelters are more overwhelmed than ever and have no real plan and no real solutions." The new policy "seeks to address the problem by not addressing the problem. It amounts to a refusal by LA Animal Services to perform it's charter-mandated public safety function. It seeks to improve statistics at the expense of animal welfare." "RHA-LA is outraged, and you should be, too!" Very well said.
RHA-LA suggests that you contact your LA City councilmember and complain about this new policy now before countless more animals end up on the street. Find your councilmember here http://www.lacity.org On a note of levity, the Department's press release fueled another more creative "press release" written by NoKill Joe. http://www.thespoof.com/news/spoof.cfm?headline=s2i20582
From a rescuer:
"GET THIS -- I spoke with an employee yesterday who told me they have FOUR HUNDRED CATS at East Valley. I asked where these four hundred cats are, and the employee said, "oh, they are in lots of different rooms." Many of them are nursing moms and kittens in the back area. Yetthe shelter's spay/neuter clinic is STILL closed.
(The City's website shows 213 as of right now,but they do not show them all. 213 is bad enough.)
BREED and OTHER RESCUERS NOTE: Bengal mix, Lynx-Point Siamese, white Angora,
and a beautiful Polydactyl. And apparently three hundred and ninety six
This is why Boks is restricting admissions. He does not want to kill the animals. Maybe for him, it is mostly about the numbers, but for me, and I assume for most of you, it is about the animals.
Can anyone do a media blitz or get this emergency notice out? The shelter has been crowded since it opened and Ed cancelled a media interview because he did not want the cameras to see how full his new shelter is.
All that I can say is let's help Ed and the animals out--not for his sake, butfor the animals.
From a rescuer:
"GET THIS -- I spoke with an employee yesterday who told me they have FOUR HUNDRED CATS at East Valley.
I asked where these four hundred cats are, and the employee said, "oh, they are in lots of different rooms." Many of them are nursing moms and kittens in the back area. .....
BREED and OTHER RESCUERS NOTE: Bengal mix, Lynx-Point Siamese, white Angora, and a beautiful Polydactyl. And apparently three hundred and ninety six more cats/kittens.
Look. This is a triple A emergency. This is why Boks can't take any more. Rescuing these cats now is of upmost importance.
Imagine a Lynx-Point Siamese, Angora, and I'll bet, 200 Tuxedos.
In our continuing efforts at increasing our transparency, starting with the April 2007 report, we break down the former "Stolen" category into three more precise categories. Animals still shown in the "Stolen" category had a police report for the theft. Animals for which the outcome is not certain due to inputing errors or other techie problems are simply "Missing."
We then added a few more unprecise categories which are also not "Euthanized" but some other condition. These new categories include the following: "Abducted by aliens," "Spontaneous combustion," "Struck by lightning," "Kidnapped by the Russian mob," "Ran away to join the circus," "Transferred Lord only knows where," and the ever popular "Animal signed consent form to be used in animal research." Consequently, LA is now the first large municipal City to become "NoKill !
LOS ANGELES - General Manager Ed Boks of the Los Angeles Department of
Animal Services, in a controversial move which has come under fire from City
Hall, ordered all cages at the City's six Animal Care Centers opened and all
animals set free. Citing desperation in its failure to manage, care for and
adopt out the thousands of homeless pets impounded each year, Boks said the
Department was forced to take this unprecedented action early Saturday
At 8am, residents were awakened by barking, caterwauling, and braying as
over 1,500 cats, dogs and rabbits, together with hundreds of reptiles, 2
donkeys, 7 horses, and assorted livestock ran out of the six facilities and
into the streets of Los Angeles.
Council offices and City Hall were immediately flooded with calls. While
many expressed outrage, some animal activists praised the move.
"I guess we're no-kill now!" proclaimed a representative of ADL-LA, a group
which has criticized Boks for killing shelter animals, and organized
protests at the homes of various officials.
The move wreaked havoc on busy intersections throughout the City, as animals
darted in and out of traffic. In Van Nuys, the sudden appearance of
hundreds of cats and dogs bounding joyfully down Vanowen Street caused 6
separate collisions, injuring 12 people.
Elsewhere, residents experienced memorable encounters with the newly-freed
pets. In Lincoln Heights, three exotic dancers from a local strip club were
initially frightened when a pack of pit bulls and rottweilers ran up to them
as they were leaving work. Surprisingly, the young women were ultimately
greeted with kisses and tail wags from the happy pooches finally released
Boks, who has been the subject of controversy throughout his 18-month
tenure, cited the Department's inability to manage the thousands of animals
in their care. "We just didn't know what to do. We're completely
overwhelmed. If someone has a better idea, I'd like to hear it so I can
write a blog to refute it."
The doors of each facility were closed as soon as the last animal passed
safely through. Department officials said that barring a court order, they
would not reopen.
Many employees expressed relief that they would no longer have to see
animals killed every day. "I think it's a good move," said one shelter
worker. "Look, if the General Manager doesn't know what to do, and he makes
a six-figure salary, how am I supposed to figure this out for $13.75 an
The president of the union that represents most of the shelter staff
reassured members via email that regardless of the shelter closings,
employees would be paid indefinitely their full salaries.
The Mayor, who sources say spent the night at a hotel with "a good friend,"
was unavailable for comment.
This is the most ridiculous idea that ever has been - people will dump
their animals, people will state they are strays and that means the
animals are in the shelter longer before they can be adopted - whoever
thought of this idea should be fired!
Hiding from the problem won't make it go away. This is like the police department just refusing to take crime reports. It doesn't make crime go away. Incidentally LAPD did do this to try to make it seem like crime was down. They got caught and now they must take all reports.
Any owner who dumps their animal at a kill shelter can not be trusted to do right by that animal when turned away. They will set it loose. It'll get ill, injured, pregnant, maybe killed. Or else the owners may just murder their pets by drowning kittens, throwing puppies out the window of moving cars.
I think this is a bad idea. It is putting the problem of pet overpopulation into the hands of the irresponsible owners. They can't just shutter the shelters doors and proclaim themselves "No-Kill!" Boks can't just refuse to do his job in order to better his numbers. The numbers represent animals lives. They aren't just an arbitrary measure to try to make Boks look good.
Part of LAAS's shifting statistics is warehousing animals and another is inventing new categories which he says makes the statistics more transparent and accurate. The latter results in endless republishing of statistics so no one can depend on any number for analysis.
Yet other massive changes, like the disappearing neonates, have no rational explanation.
Someone who knows Ed well speaks for him:
"In our continuing efforts at increasing our transparency, starting with the April 2007 report, we break down the former "Stolen" category into three more precise categories. Animals still showning in the "Stolen" category had a police report for the theft. Animals for which the outcome is not certain due to inputing errors or other techie problems are simply "Missing." We then added a few more unprecise categories which are also not "Euthanized" but some other condition. These new categories include the following: "Abducted by aliens," "Spontaneous combustion," "Struck by lightning," "Kidnapped by the Russian mob," "Ran away to join the circus," "Transferred Lord only knows where," and the ever popular "Animal signed consent form to be used in animal research." Consequently, LA is now the first large municipal City to become "NoKill""!
PS: Blogger appears to be allowing me to post comments once again. I have deleted one Son of Naysayer comment because she just wants to yell at people and say how ignorant, stupid or blind they (me) are. Dear Son, get your own blog!
There was a dramatic decrease in the number of animals killed in May. Dramatic! Dogs down by 145 compared to last year, but cats killed has been reduced by a huge 576! Combined, this is 721 cats and dogs fewer than last year! Comparing March, April and May, 1,150 fewer animals were killed compared to the year before.
This has led to a drop in the number of cats and dogs by 1,150 compared to last year. This is not a lot compared to the decreases made by Stuckey and Greenwalt, but it is a lot for Boks.
This is especially surprising as there has been little increase in lives saved. Normally anomalies such as this would be explained by stuffing the shelters to the gills—which is happening.
Of the intakes for April and May, there are 183 dogs unaccounted for, and an amazing 645 cats! So there are an amazing 828 animals not accounted for! Last year only 53 were not accounted for.
These “missing” animals would explain much of the decrease in animals killed compared to last year.
What is odd, and would not be explained by stuffing the shelter, is that 373 unweaned kittens are not accounted for in April and May. This is a lot considering the short lifespan of neonates.
These missing can only be explained by:
They had an in-house feeding group, which they tried and failed last year. NOT!
They may be keeping many more neonates with their moms. MAYBE.
It may mean they were mis-classified in “Condition” as neonates when they were actually weaned kittens (or puppies for that matter as strangely as the numbers change). MAYBE, This does not compute given the historical May numbers.
Historically, May has averaged about 400 more intakes than April. This year was only 141 more. He is turning away neonates by the hundreds. Hopefully a large percentage of them will live, perhaps by being returned to their moms, and others being saved by unregistered bottles feeders.
Of course, the hundreds turned away mean a larger cat intake next year.
Besides neonates, he is turning away ferals--an unofficial “Release” program.
So far I heartily agree with these policy changes. It gives more cats a chance to live, but it also creates a big problem for next year’s intake. Phyllis Daugherty complained about this at the Town Hall. No one likes her anyway.
However, the missing 828 animals is a concern given that monthly numbers posted on the LAAS change constantly. About 60% of the posted figures are different from the year before. So far, I have not found a pattern. They are almost random. But the interesting thing is, THAT THEY CHANGE AT ALL.
Changing figures mean the statistics are unreliable and open to manipulation. Comparisons will always be tentative as the numbers are always changing. It also leads to booby traps, as Ed did to me at the Town Hall meeting, where I was surprised with much different numbers than anticipated.
As I said in an earlier post, there are two versions of his annual report. In versions #1, he stated that the number of animals that will be saved is projected to drop by 2% from 54% to 52% as a result of increasing intakes.
However, after he talked to a reporter from the LA Times, who pointed out a discrepancy in his statistics, the numbers of animals projected to be saved increased 2%, from 52% to 54%, or 1,900 animals in Version #2 of the report. How there can be a change of mind regarding so large a difference in a period of a few weeks is suspect, especially as it followed a reporter pointing out a discrepancy.
Ed says he is changing the numbers to make them more accurate. He is creating new categories of animals each month, such as missing. It also means that he is probably changing the condition of animals after their initial intake condition is registered, such as he said happened to explain his way out of the Hayden violations.
If he is doing this, the terms treatable and adoptable are meaningless, and he can say, with a straight face, that all animals left in the shelter should be killed, as the County is doing. If in addition, hundreds more of animals are also unaccounted, the posted statistics become even more meaningless.
In any event, Boks had a good year last year through May; June began the debacle of high kills. Will this scenario be repeated—YES!
But what about the missing neonates and 60% changing numbers? I would certainly like to see the insides of Chameleon and see what it can and cannot do.
I went to the Town Hall meeting where Boks presented his No-Kill Schick. Security was slightly heavier than one would expect if meeting Dick Cheney.
There was a security check for IDs on the first floor, and then Mike Bell and I were referred to a security desk run by Town Hall, where we were given security badges. Then a security person pointed us to the proper elevator bank. No finger prints were taken at any point.
At the conference room on the 16th floor, we were not surprised to see two plain clothes cops as well as a uniform. There was another plain clothes guy there, who dressed like the others, but I did not see him leave with Boks. Ed must be REALLY scared of the ADLLA.
I noticed on the handout, which had all of his recent statistics, that, as on his blog, he claimed to have established the first municipal No-Kill shelter in the United States. I talked to him about that later.
I’ve got to say, as a person I like Boks. He is charismatic and likable. I told him that. I also told him that I thought he sucked as a GM.
Anyway, he presented the long laundry list of imaginary programs that were supposed to be operational. The KNBC reporter was sleeping throughout Ed’s presentation. I didn’t sleep. Instead I read the ALL-NEW annual report that was similar to the one that he presented to Council some time ago and which was posted on the LAAS website.
However, in the brand new annual report, there was at least one change. In version #1, he stated that the percentage of animals saved was projected to decrease from 54% to 52% because of increased intakes. In version #2, now on the website, that number was changed to stating there will be an increase in save rate from 54% to 56%.
So, he edited the first report which made him look bad, and re-issued a report that made him look good. One of my questions was based on his version #1, regarding his projected poorer performance, and which was in a hand out I gave everyone.
If anyone were to check my numbers against the new version he gave reporters, it would make me look like a boob.
Mike asked a question about the STAR program. Ed pleaded ignorance saying it was a new program. Mike pointed out that Boks had stated he initiated the program 16 months ago. It appeared that Ed didn’t know anything about Star and its financing, but Mike Bell did. Linda Barth didn’t know how much money was in the fund, but Mike did. The reporter was sleeping, so I think he didn’t know or care either.
Guss questioned him on his claim that he had “rectified” the vet situation. For some reason, I don’t recall what Ed said in response, as a lot of what he says does not compute. Maybe he dodged the question.
I asked why he told Dana Bartholomew that new vets made $92,000 while the LAAS website says $80,800. His response was he “intended” to have new vets start in mid range. Since no new vet has started since he lied to Dana, it is impossible to know if any was offered $92,000.
The reporter from KNBC saw my hand-out flyer where I claimed Boks' numbers indicated crappy performance. The reporter had Ed and I stand about 6 inches apart. Ed denied my numbers were true and had stats in his hand. The reported told Boks to point out the stats and if I had anything to say about them.
Well, the stats Ed pointed out to me when we were on camera, were the new May euth stats that came out just a day before. Usually Ed presents his analysis on the 6th of the month, and pastes them on the web on the 8th or 10th or so. This time he had fresh stats from the day before. Try computing performance stats in 15 seconds in front of a camera. Boks made me look bad because I hadn’t had a chance to analyze them and the reporter then turned the camera off.
Boks made his usual spiel that No-Kill should be based on the number of animals killed per thousand people, saying NY was at 2.5 and most experts believe no-kill begins at about 5.0 per thousand. In other words, he implied he took NYC to No-Kill.
Had I been able to ask a question at that point, I would have asked how killing 18,900 animals out of 47,000 coming in could be considered no-kill.
He then totted out a new concept that I didn’t get even though he repeated it twice more.
He said, in effect, that when LA finally gets to No-Kill, all the animals in the shelter would be killed. I felt a kind of mental vertigo, a severe cognitive dissonance, trying to grasp this apparent paradox. I am sure Ed will post an explanation on his blog soon.
I think he was saying that when we get to no kill, only the unadoptable and untreatable animals would be in the shelter, and therefore killed. I really don’t know what he was saying. It is also interesting that he said in contrast, when computing his stats, he does not use the vague and arbitrary concepts of adoptable and treatable. Again, my mind spins.
Oh, the Town Hall people said they were moving the meeting downtown because they had a larger room there than at Manatt. Christ, there were only 25 or so seats there and maybe 20 people in attendance. I can’t imagine Manatt’s conference rooms were any smaller than that.
Mike and I had an incredibly hard time finding parking in the area that would not cost $18.00.
I think Manatt kicked the Boks event out of their building because, as ADL claims, the event was getting too much negative publicity and picketing by the ADL was possible, which it was not downtown.
Anyway, next time you go to a Boks event, be sure you carry a sheet with all of the recent department statistics. You might even carry Roger Maris’ or Babe Ruth’s stats and point at it. The reports won’t know the difference.
After the camera was off, I asked Boks how on earth he could possibly claim that he established the first municipal no kill shelter in the United States in 2002, when they killed 51% of their impounds that year.
Ed replied, almost under his breath, that Maricopa has three shelters, and he brought one of them to no-kill. Well, for some reason I found this funny, and a tad silly as well as being a deceptive lie. I accused him of using semantics to make himself look good. His reply to the reporter was “He is the one using distorting semantics.” Again, for some reason, I found this amusing and started laughing. I couldn’t stop. I still can’t stop.
Recently someone told me that Maricopa has two shelters and an adoption center. Therefore, Boks was referring to the adoption center as being no-kill, not either shelter.
I guess Boks can create LA's first no-kill shelter in WLA if he transfers a few animals to EV or WV.
I wonder that Winogard would say about who established to first municipal no-kill shelter with his 8% kill figure in 2002, or Carl Friedman, in San Francisco, with his 20% kill rate, and who still does not claim SF to be no-kill.
Dr. Cristo, the invisible LAAS vet, has resigned; Rainey had resigned some time before. We are down to one vet, Dr. Steve Feldman.
I have known Dr. Feldman for some time. Formerly he was my own private vet. I had suggested many times he might look into submitting an application to work in LAAS. This was a mistake. I lost a good vet.
He was not interested for a long time. One day a few months ago he had a change of heart. He is now the Acting Chief Vet of LAAS. Of course at this point he is the only vet at LAAS.
We all tend to be rather negative about anything that happens within LAAS, but Feldman is making a difference.
He conducts frequent training seminars for the ACTs using videos available on the Internet and elsewhere, such as the on-line classes from Davis. He also creates his own Power Point presentation classes. He is outfitting the new surgery suite at East Valley.
He is updating the parasitology aspect of LAAS treatment. He has added two RVTs. He is the person who confirmed that anesthesia prior to euthanasia should be the universal protocol and is implementing the same.
As a personal aside, Dr. Feldman has euthanized two of my cats over the years. Their deaths were the least traumatic of any that I have ever been through. Two cats, Momma and Mr. Gray, appeared to almost welcome death at his hands. There was no anxiety. There was no fear. They did not even start for a moment when he administered the anesthetic while I was holding them. Their deaths were very peaceful.
He works 11 hours a day and is quite happy feeling he is making a difference in upgrading the medical function of LAAS. AND, he is the only vet.
He says LAAS is on the verge of hiring two new vets and regarding the ones who resigned, he will say nothing. We do have a chance to start over.
Dr. Feldman has over 20 years of private practice. His own specialty is behavioral medicine and rehabilitation. Take a look at his previous private practice website:
The East Valley shelter just open up and they are filled to the brim. As of 3:00 p.m., they are holding 525 animals. The link below takes you to a listing of the animals available at the shelter.
Forwarded to me:
It has been open only 2 weeks and already the shelter is starting to bust at
the seams. I know everyone is packed. Now that the neighborhood sees how great the facility looks, they are dumping there animals in non stop...it is frightening.
The animals need your help. If you cannot pull, please cross post widely.
The last part of the allegation that Boks manipulated animal disposition statistics goes like this:
Boks approached Napa Dumriwat, who worked on both Chameleon and the LAAS website for administrative IT. She made all changes and updates on both programs. He asked her for the website access codes many, many times, and she refused many, many times.Napa complained to LA's main IT (information technology) person about Boks asking for the website user name and pass code. She may have complained to Dov Lesel.
It is alleged Boks also asked her for the Chameleon access name and password. When refused, Boks ordered Linda Barth to get the access and password information. What happened at this point is unknown to me even by rumor.
Why Boks wanted access is also a mystery. Could it have been to change input entries on Chameleon, or to edit past predictions and expressed info on the LAAS website?
If you belong to a service that provides change information on blogs, you’ll find that Ed edits archived posts every week. Why he is editing posts no longer visible is beyond me, except, perhaps to change predictions or modify statements he made about statistics in the past.
In summary, it is alleged that Boks manipulated the NYC Chameleon numbers to make it appear NY was doing better than it was. The whistle blower stated "they" left their jobs because of his deceptions.
There is a similar charge here, including the specific name of Napa Dumriwat, who refused Boks access to these programs. Ed then turned the task over to Linda Barth, his administrative AGM.
We know he knows the Chameleon software backwards and forwards as he was in charge of the Arizona Chameleon application rewrite program. I have found no reference for this doing a google.
Therefore, Ed has the technical knowledge of the software to change the outcomes if he wanted. He certainly has the motivation. But it is unclear if he had the opportunity to change the Chameleon disposition numbers or add or delete entries when LAAS recently added the category of "adopted to foster--or if he even ever did so.
The April statistics were posted weeks late, purportedly to add the new disposition category. It would also have allowed Ed the time—if he wanted—to delete or add hundreds of entries in Chameleon.Of course, this is all just speculation. On the other hand, knowing how Boks works, I tend to always assume the worst.
Proof Boks is stuffing the shelters:
Being held today:
LA City Dog (921) LA County (697)
LA City Cat (843) LA County (491)
LA City Other (423) LA County (40)
La City's six shelters are holding 50% more animals than the county's six shelters, even though county impounds 80% more animals.
This means Boks is holding on to the animals, which gives them a greater chance of living--this is good. But it is not helping adoptions at all.
Of course Marcia Mayeda doesn't worry about space. She considers the vast majority of cats coming in as unadoptable because of being too young, too sick or too aggressive to live. She kills all non-adoptable animals and 10% of the adoptable. She kills more animals than LAAS has impounds.
LAAS now has a policy of not accepting feral cats. They no longer rent out traps. They do not accept cats brought in by trap. I think this is wonderful news. It means fewer are killed even though it might exacerbate the overpopulation problems on the street. If LAAS and rescuers can spay/neuter more ferals, it will balance out.
In the meantime, it diminishes the worry of colony managers who are constantly harassed by homeowners and business with threats of trapping the cats and taking them to the shelter.
Part II Boks and Numbers
There are two issues with regard to Boks’ statistics in Phoenix, New York and LA. Neither would be illegal, but both would be deceptive.
The first allegation is that Boks just changed the Chameleon data or data categories to improve the kill/save numbers. I have no idea of how this could be done or what numbers would be changed.
There was the NY allegation that he directly changed the tracking software outcomes. Of course, this would require a thorough knowledge of Chameleon, which Ed has. He was in charge of what was called the Chameleon application rewrite" in Phoenix. What this was, I don’t know, but, if true, it means Boks is aware of all aspects of Chameleon.
The same charge was leveled against Boks here eight months ago. I challenged that allegation by saying if he were “cooking the books,” why didn’t he cook them so that he would look good? The July—October numbers were not looking good at all. Of course, I never thought then that maybe his numbers might have looked even worse.
The other issue is the save rate and semantics.
A commentor below said, “Until now no one has been looking at his raw numbers posted on the LAAS web site. But in his PR (and on his blog) he basically talks about "adoptable" animals. He's doing that now with "no adoptable animal was killed in March! We didn't kill any adoptable animals for Valentine's day event!" Obviously, they are getting sick and now they're dying in the shelter, more than ever before. They went from being adoptable, to unadoptable, to dead. At least he is better than LA County who just labels 80% as unadoptable instantly, and then kills them.
So the second charge is not that he is cooking the books, but that he is changing his definition of No-Kill to the kill definitions used by other shelters, where animals are determined to be adoptable or treatable. No kill happens when no adoptable or treatable animals are killed, even if he kills 70% of all animals that come in, like the County. These definitions are heavily dependent on protocols to determine healthy/unhealthy, treatable/untreatable, and adoptable or non-adoptable behavioral signs.
Boks is shifting from his original definition of no-kill, which was on his site and which he told everyone, that a shelter was no-kill only when the criteria used for killing were those that would be used by a compassionate owner or vet. The definition change obviously, was because his numbers were so bad, and he promised to make LA no-kill by 2008 or 2010.
Definition change of No-Kill from his original definition, to the new adoptable/treatable, allows him to say March was No-Kill even if 550 animals were killed.
He has already stated we are “so close to no-kill.” Soon, he will define no-kill as whatever LAAS is doing at the moment. He will declare victory and hopefully move on to another city, which after a month on the job, will have the fewest number of cats killed, EVER!!
This is how the County, who killed 28,000 cats, or 79%, said 90% of all adoptable cats were adopted or sent to rescue groups. Mayeda said they used standardized temperament tests for cats, even though none exist. She is a liar of the worst sort because her lies involve issues of life and death.
It seems the County is saying, if they were adopted, they were adoptable; if not, they were no adoptable. Ed appears to be following close behind. Perhaps Boks and Mayeda can call the entire city/county no-kill even while killing 75,000 animals a year. How can they live with themselves?
This is the second of a three part exposition of Boks and statistics.
This email was sent to me by the ADL some time ago and forwarded to me again yesterday. I remember that, at the time, I argued that Boks certainly did not do this. Now I think a lot more may have been happening than I thought then.
For a précis of the long post below, just read the text in red.
A source at NYCACC - who wishes to remain anonymous - supplied the following information on Ed Boks and how he manipulates data:
* Ed was obsessed with trying to make the data fit his story rather than trying to actually get real results. He did this by changing the way he kept and reported statistics.
* He stopped reporting owner requested euthanasia. When you change the reporting and don't tell anyone, it looks like the numbers of impounds and deaths have come down, but they haven't. And Ed never told anyone he changed the way NYCACC was reporting data.
* He kept asking us to make changes to the system and we wouldn't. We finally just left.
* He also reported only end status of animals. NYCACC has a rating system of 1 through 5 for each dog or cat who comes in. A healthy dog or cat is a "1" while a supposed unadoptable dog or cat was a rating "5." Dogs and cats with different problems can be 2, 3 or 4. We always reported status based on intake.
So, for example, if a dog came in healthy but got kennel cough because our facility was dirty or lack of care and his status changed to a 3 or a 4, when we killed that dog, we still reported him as a 1 because he was a healthy, adoptable dog and we made him or allowed him to get sick.
But Ed forced us to change that to a 3 or 4. Basically, by reporting the dog as a 3 or 4, he created the impression that the dog was always unadoptable. That way, it looked like the number of adoptable animals being saved increased, when all we were doing was reclassifying them as unadoptable and comparing apples to oranges. (By the way, kennel cough is highly treatable and should not classify a dog as unadoptable. In addition, kennel cough is non-fatal and self-delimiting, meaning that the condition will resolve without medical intervention. An animal with the condition should still be made available for adoption.)
Also, I was at a conference when Ed was at Maricopa where he said kennel cough was treatable and that he treated all those dogs. In NY, he was calling them "unadoptable."
* If Ed had kept the same reporting the way it was always reported before he got there, there would have basically been no change at all. But that didn't fit Ed's story so he just changed the way we reported things but didn't tell people. That way he could take credit for all the death rate decline of adoptable animals when that did not occur.
* Chameleon reports data based on Crystal reports. If you look at the written formulas under Marilyn (Blohm) who used to run NYCACC and Ed, you'll see that they are different.
* He also liked to report per capita euthanasia rates which actually unfairly help big cities. According to per capita rates, New York City is basically No Kill, but that isn't true.
*By manipulating the reporting and ranking systems, Ed deceptively took credit for the resultant appearance of a substantial "decline" in the death rate.
On February 25, 2007, I posted the below on my blog. I alleged that LAAS may have been guilty of 1,400 Hayden Act violations by killing that many healthy animals within the legally required 4 day hold period:
.”As George Orwell’s pig in Animal Farm stated, some animals are more equal than others. Cats get the shaft at LAAS. They are held a shorter period of time and killed earlier.”500 healthy cats were euthanized on their first day of impound as opposed to 180 healthy dogs. 450 healthy dogs were adopted that first day compared to about 220 healthy cats.”The charts below are gruesome evidence of LAAS' discrimination.These numbers do not include unweaned dogs or cats. These numbers also do not include sick or injured animals. There are separate charts and numbers for them which will be posted later.
”I don't understand why 500 cats were euthanized the same day as impounded, or 180 healthy dogs for that matter.”This appears to be a clear violation of the Hayden Act, which states:”No dog or cat impounded by a public pound or specified shelter shall be killed until after a minimum of four or six days have elapsed, not including the day impounded.
These rules also apply to owner turn ins as quoted from the Act below.”The statistics provided are the department's own statistics; they are for healthy cats and dogs.”Therefore, why were they killed?”If the department deemed many of the healthy cats feral on impound, they were still required by the Hayden Act to hold them a minimum of three days and only then temperament tested to determine whether a cat is a frightened tame cat or truly feral.”Hayden Act:If an apparently feral cat has not been reclaimed by its owner or caretaker within the first three days of the required holding period, shelter personnel qualified to verify the temperament of the animal shall verify whether it is feral or tame by using a standardized protocol.If the cat is determined to be docile or a frightened or difficult tame cat, the cat shall be held for the entire required holding period specified in Section 31752. If the cat is determined to be truly feral, the cat may be euthanized or relinquished to a nonprofit.
Not only is it terribly clear that LAAS discriminates against cats, these charts present prima facie evidence of multiple (over a thousand illegal acts by LAAS.If this is true, LAAS has been in violation of the Hayden Act over one thousand, four hundred time during just the first nine months of 2006.
Now Ed Boks responded to my allegation as follows, which is #4 of his Rumor vs. Truth section of the LAAS website:
Examination of Statistical Suggestions of Alleged Hayden Act Discrepancies
On February 26, 2007, member of the public Ed Muzika raised allegations that some number of animals were healthy upon intake by the Department of Animal Services but then were euthanized prior to completion of the holding period mandated under the Hayden Act.
We further delved with Mr. Muzika over the next two days to determine the specifics or facts upon which his generalized allegations were based, eventually receiving spreadsheet information compiled by another member of the public, Brad Jensen. Mr. Jensen’s data analysis was based on statistics requested from Animal Services under a California Public Records Act request, covering the period from January 1, 2006, to October 31, 2006. Mr. Jensen’s exposition of the data has been duplicated by my staff and is accurate.
However, the data is not comprehensive of all the information about every animal, either at intake, nor information added to the kennel record as the animal is examined further after intake.
In this case, in order to make the fullest investigation, my staff replicated the basic report, which was to identify any animal that has “Apparently Healthy” noted as Condition on Intake, but which was Euthanized prior to expiration of the intake day plus four days as required under the Hayden Act.
To be fully transparent, our report covered the full 2006 calendar year, January 1 to December 31, 2006. We further sorted this data by type of Intake (i.e. Owner Surrender, Stray, and so forth) and by subtype of Euthanasia (i.e. Medical, Unweaned, and so forth).
Together, the records show 1155 animals in 2006 (809 cats and 346 dogs) which have
“Apparently Healthy” in the Condition field, but which were euthanized prior to the impound day plus four days. Further discussion of the findings from reading the full kennel records, including all memos, owner receipts, and most importantly medical treatments, follows, separately for cats and for dogs. Note that the Condition field is not being completed subsequent to any examination, but is merely the result of an immediate visual check, often done in the midst of multiple activities.
The choices for that field are:
Apparently Healthy, Dead, Injured, Litter, Pending Veterinarian, Sick, Unweaned, and Wildlife.
Apparently Healthy is the first choice on the pull-down menu. What is abundantly clear from this research is that staff members do not consider Condition to be of primary importance because other fields provide additional information (Intake type can be Unweaned, for example), and because every animal will later be checked by a Registered Veterinary Technician or a Veterinarian, who will complete a treatment form that provides actual information on the animal’s health condition. In the same vein, many of the animals on this list, upon Intake, were in cages or were unweaned, and indeed may have seemed Apparently Healthy, but simply could not be sustained.
RECORDS OF CATS
For the period of January 1, 2006, through December 1, 2006, records for 809 cats showed the Intake condition as Apparently Healthy, but were shown as Euthanized within four or less days.
Number of Cats
Selection of Apparently Healthy was done with only superficial visual check:
103 Irremediably suffering.
353 Medical condition, many due to infectious nature of illness.
But examination of the Medical Treatment form (confirmed by photo) showed sick, unweaned kitten.
The point of this incredibly long post is there are allegations that employees, upon multiple occasions, changed an inputted healthy animals' status to unadoptable due to a purported medical condition.
In Boks response to my allegations of Hayden violations, he said 456 “apparently healthy” cats were later found to be too sick to remain alive even for the 4 day Hayden hold period. I did not include the entirety of his response, but he later added that 276 “apparently healthy” dogs were reclassified as sick or suffering and therefore killed.
All of these cases apply to animals killed within the first 4 Hayden hold days, but the bar charts above show that many, many hundreds of health animals were euthanized. If we were to look at those cases, would we again find that the apparently healthy animals were no longer healthy after being examined by a RVT or vet?
That is, medical euthanasia figures would expand at the rate that euthanasia of "adoptable" animals contracted.
Is this just a huge coincidence?
It could also support the hypothesis affirmed by many, that too many healthy animals are held too long and they become sick with upper respiratory conditions, then euthanized as having a medical condition. This theory is supported by the increasing number of Died in Shelter numbers, where they died of disease or fighting without being euthanized.
Or, it could be that the data was changed just to make it look like adoptable animals were not killed, that is, the NYC accusation all over again.
More coming soon.
Take a look at the comment wars on the May 16 posting called, "Mr. Boks, Where are the April Statistics."
There is a dialogue between old school, catch and kill shelter people, and Winograd-style No-Kill proponents.
Some of the old school people were once No-Kill advocates, but then watched 'n0-kill" shelters like LAAS, where everything is done to decrease the kill numbers, but no more animals are saved than before. This means crowding, which causes disease, which allows killing for medical or temperament reasons, transfers to other municipal high-kill shelters, etc. These people got angry and have denounced the entire No-Kill movement is a fraud.
Some of these people have sent me comments that now that we have uncovered Boks' fraud, we should realize all No-Kill endeavors are fraudulent. Of course, this does not follow logically. You cannot condemn all No-Kill efforts because they are run by shelter directors like Ed Boks who is doing everything to lower numbers, but saving even fewer according to his annual report predictions.
We do, however, ned to look closely at the statistics coming out of apparent No-Kill successes.
In any event, this dialogue is going on in comment section of the May 16 post. One of the dialoguers may be Nathan himself.
I would post these as a dialogue post on temperament testing, but right now we are on the verge of blockbuster revelation, concerning which I can say nothing now.
There is a Crisis Situation at both East Valley's new shelter and the SouthLA shelter - both are completely full of cats and kittens with absolutely noroom left!! Please rescue/adopt if you can and save some lives!! There are lotsof available Moms+babies at risk too.
Cats and dogs did better than last April. Euthanasia is down and lives saves up from 50 to 53%. Euthanasia being down is also a function of overcrowding. I understand the new shelter is already full, but it supposedly has three times the room of the old shelter. Wow! The crowding at the old EV must have been horrible.
Since October, two new shelters have opened, giving Boks the ability to store another 5-600 hundred animals. This will help his kill numbers, but only in the short run. Adoptions are down, but the foster program seems to be working. That's good.
Holding animals longer is a mixed blessing. The died in shelter rate for dogs and cats is higher than last year, but not by much. All in all, not bad for cats and dogs. Not good either if you were Stuckey or Greenwalt who cut killing by 250 to 500 animals in each and every month.
But rabbits and "Other animals" got creamed. Horrible!
The "other" category is wildlife, exotics, small pets, birds, reptiles, amphibians and farm animals. Wildlife makes up most of this category. Adoptions are down 50% from last April, and New Hope is down.
Died in shelter went from 45 up to 224!! In 2005 it was 27. That's 9 times more other animals dying in the shelter in one month than before Boks was the GM. DOA is double last year and euth is up over last year.
Here are the live release numbers for other animals who left the shelter alive:
450 fewer other animals made it out alive in April than in 2005, that is, 60% fewer animals.
The story about Manatt Phelps and Phillips supporting Boks is unfolding. They are hosting an event for the public policy forum Town Hall, where Boks will speak about his goal to make Los Angeles the first major metropolis with a ‘No Kill’ policy. They did not mention he'd do that by about 2045.
Seems Villraigosa may be calling in favors to protect Ed; I don't know why. Lisa Sprecht seems to be his unofficial PR person, or Deborah Weinberg, their public relations person.
Since he has the whole firm behind him, unless he is blowing the department's entire 2007, 2008 and 2009 budget hiring them, it is the Mayor--who, I might also say, just fell on his butt when it came to controlling LAUSD.
This is interesting and probably good and bad news. Good news is that Villaraigosa is desperately trying not to fall on his face again after his LAUSD beating, which means Boks is tittering on the edge of extinction; Boks is no longer under Villaraigosa's radar. The bad news is they are bringing in the 16" cannons.
See you at the Town Hall meeting?
This is the umteenth request for the April statistics that I have made over the past two weeks. The below was sent by email this morning to Linda Barth and Debbie Knaan:
We have been waiting weeks for the official and total LAAS April numbers to be posted on the LAAS website. Mr. Boks, on May 7, announced on his blog that LAAS had had spectacular success in April and thought you all would be eager to share LAAS' April numbers.
Yet despite several persons asking him for this information, and despite his statement that not posting the numbers was simply an oversight, and that they would be posted last Friday, the April numbers have not been posted.
I also understand that Mr. Boks is out of town now, but he was not when he promised to post the numbers this past Friday. I emailed a request last week to both his city email address and his private address. I find it difficult to believe that he could not call either of you, or whomever is in charge of your website, to post those numbers. Or, the statistics could have been emailed to those who requested them.
As both of you have access to these numbers, I request you post them or email them to me, and to the others who have requested those numbers, for a timely independent analysis.
Since I last posted a request for statistics, I have received the following anonymous email:
He may try and change the stats now that you've given him a heads up. Rumor has it that he has already asked a staffer to change some of the numbers; the request was refused. But then a senior department staffer approached this person. I don't know what happened. Can't confirm this yet; just a rumor from inside.
The complete nonsense of temperament testing.
The above chart lists the true statistics on animals killed in the LA County's six shelters in 2005. 35,800 cats came in, 79% or 28,100 were killed. Of 38, 900 dogs that came in. 18,500 were killed, or 46%.
Using temperament testing, on page 47 of the County's Annual Report, County Animal services claimed:
Major Accomplishments 2003-2004
• Placed 91% of adoptable dogs and 89.6% of adoptable cats into new homes.
What an utter fraud! You bet the supervisors are going to hear about this.
Boks appears to be moving in this direction. Already he has claimed almost all "treatable" animals were saved in March of this year. Earlier he stated that the New Hope partners were taking the less "adoptable" animals.He used to be 100% against temperament testing, claiming he based his save and kill figures on all breathing animals coming in versus all breathing animals coming out, and if they didn't come out alive, it was a failure of the shelters (as well as the public).
Seems like if his numbers don't improve in fact, he will in semantics.
When he was in Phoenix, he used to eschew the use of the term "euthanasia" saying the proper terms was "kill." However, in a semantic definition on the LAAS site done some time ago, he explained why the term "euthanasia" was what LAAS did, not killing.
So Boks appears to be taking LAAS rapidly to No-Kill using temperament testing, even though the Commissioners have opposed any temperament testing.
The Commissioners should censure Boks for using the terms adoptable and treatable and in no event, let Boks squiggle out of his promise to make LA No-Kill by redefining No-Kill as exactly what he has been doing all along.
By the way, Ed, we are still waiting for the April statistics.
Ed, you gloated about LAAS great success during April of this year. You cited certain select statistics.
Where are the rest of the April statistics?
If LAAS did so well in April, why are you not posting ALL the statistics on the LAAS site?
Generally Boks posts the department's statistics a few days after he posts his glowing reports on the 6th of the month.
His blog mentioned the wonderful April outcome, but he never posted the raw statistics for curious readers--like myself--to do an independent analysis. Without independent analysis, we are getting no more than his opinion of how the shelters made out that month.
Therefore several of us suspect this will be the worst April in years, with adoptions down, died in shelter up, intake up, and with stats that show many more animals were being impounded than left the shelter, meaning they were piling up inside, which I have been hearing in email after email.
Therefore, I ask readers to email Mr. Boks asking where are the COMPLETE April statistics?
Is there a Council review coming up where he doesn't want to be questioned about a very poor April performance?
It seems a fire has been lit under Boks' Butt.
If only he had been this active 16 months ago in actually saving animals, perhaps 500 or 1,000 more could have been saved which would have allayed some of the negativity currently directed his way. But he did not.
Perhaps a year ago he could have hired new vets, or made an arrangement with a vet school. But he did not. We are down to two when there were four when he came.
Perhaps a year ago he could have hired his two AGMs and things would have started moving more quickly. But he did not.
Perhaps a 16 months ago he could have been analyzing why LAAS was not moving more quickly to No-Kill instead of crashing a Winograd event to announce his short-term success. But he did not. In fact, a four year record of saving 3,000, 4,000, 6,000 more animals each and every year was reversed. Actually 751 fewer animals made it out alive during 2006.
Perhaps a year ago he could have pushed all the adoption programs he is now pushing instead of chasing women or spending so much time defending himself against any and all criticism.
Perhaps 12 months ago he could have called the animal community together for a fireside chat telling them the problems and sticking points he was finding and involving them as partners in finding solutions. He could have been inclusive. But, he did not. Instead we got monthly stunning progress reports until August, after numbers had turned South for two months.
This is probably a case of far too little, far too late. Let us see how the May, June and July numbers play out. I predict that by June all his gains will be reversing, and by December, we will be back almost where we started, but with a much larger inventory of animals on hand.
Too bad the monthly statistics do not reveal the number of animals on hand, as they now do in Maricopa County in partnership with Maddies.
Too bad, so many lives wasted, and an already weak reputation destroyed even more.
Well, Boks does appear to have a new PR person since I left: Miki Shaler. Let's see where this goes.
THIS IS AN AMMENDED POST, AND INCLUDES MARICOPA COUNTY
A tale of two cities since Boks left New York:
The first quarter returns, LAAS and NYC:
(The April numbers are not yet on the LAAS or NYC sites.):
In NYC, 430 fewer animals were killed than during the comparable period the year before. This was a 13.9% decrease in their number killed.
In Los Angeles, 177 fewer animals killed for a decrease of 8% killed.
Past 12 months:
NYC, 17,536 killed compared to last year's 19,873.
The 2,337 fewer animals killed means NYC kill numbers dropped 11.76% for the year, about what Stuckey was able to accomplish during his year at LAAS.
Just as Stuckey and Greenwalt did in LA before Boks came, NYC did after he left: saved thousands of lives.
In Los Angeles, it is a different story. Only 653 fewer cats and dogs were killed, for a kill number decrease of only 3.3%.
To summarize, Boks leaves NYC and the kill numbers decrease by 12%.
He came to LA, and the kill numbers here decrease by only 3%.
Maybe if he left, LAAS's kill numbers would also go down 12%, which is about the percentage decrease for every year before he came. (11%-17% annually.)
In his May post about the April numbers, he said:
April 07 showed a 5.3% increase in the number of animals rescued by LA Animal Services (up from 3395 to 3577) compared to April 06. The continual increase in the number of animals coming into LA City Animal Care Centers demonstrates the need for widespread support of the California Healthy Pet Act.
In fact, there has been no "continual increase" in impounds. There has been a continual decrease in impound numbers for every year before he came here. Only since he has been here, has there been an increase. It happened on his watch and he is passing the buck to the state politicians. In other words, unless AB 1634 is passed, LAAS' numbers will go up every year from now on--leaving Ed off the hook.
He also said:
"LA Animal Services continues to lead the nation in returning lost pets to their frantic and grateful owners with a 1.2% increase Year to Date over last year (from 1385 to 1402). This rate is four times higher than any other large municipal program."
First of all, recognize the increased number returned was only 17 animals, not 170 or 1,700. Just 17 animals!
However, if you count the past 12 months, not just the past 4 months, the number of animals returned to owner actually decreased by 156 animals, or -3.4%.
This is what you can do with statistics. Select the months when you did well in one category, applaud your results, and then place an exclamation mark at the end of your sentence!!!! Do not mention the months you did poorly, or the categories in which you did poorly.
He then said the rate of RTO is four times higher than any other large municipal program.
I don't know where he got this number from. He does not say which cities he is comparing LAAS to, or their numbers. The only large city that lists returns to owner on their website is NYC. Indeed, they are doing a poor job.
NYC RTO figures have been getting worse and worse over the entire past 5 years, including the time he was in charge. It was 1,717 animals RTO in 2002-2003, and it was down to 1,274 animals RTO for this past year; Ed's numbers were right in the middle.
However, the 2004 Audit report of Maricopa Animal Care and Control, lists a RTOwner rate of 11.0%. For the past 12 months, LAAS has averaged 9.5%. Unless Maricopa's rates dropped to 2.5%, LAAS cannot have 4 times greater rate than any other large municipal shelter in the country.
He plain flat out lied again!
The 2004 Maricopa audit states there were discrepancies between the department's internal statistics and what they reported to other agencies. Boks' successor admits this error and states she will fix it.
She also agrees with the Audit that COMPLETE statistics will be published on the department's website.
But, the Maricopa statistics disappeared in December of 2005 from its website--the same month Boks started at LAAS (He actually came 2 weeks early before his official January 3, 2006 start date.)
He probably called his friends there to remove the stats because they show Boks adoptions were down in 2003, and the euthanasia rate was 51%!!! This 51% kill rate was attained after 5 years of his no-kill efforts!! The stats would also show the 11% RTO number for Maricopa in 2003, as opposed to LAAS' 9.5% for the past 6 months.
How on earth can anyone believe anything Boks says?
What a difference six-months can make!
For all of Washoe County, cat and dog adoptions increased about 100%. The euthanasia rate for cats and dogs dropped about 50% in one year. The Washoe Co. public shelter alone takes in 13,000 animals a year.
From the NHS website:
Thanks to our wonderful partnership with the terrific team at Washoe County Animal Services, all the hard working rescue and humane groups, the many fantastic volunteers, and our dedicated staff, we continue to see a dramatic reduction in the number of dogs and cats dying in animal shelters in Washoe County.
Our save rate for dogs is 91%. This put us among the safest communities in the county for dogs, though still not as high as we aim to be.
For comparison: Charlottesville, Virginia saves 92% of their dogs, Tompkins County NY saves 91% of their dogs, and San Francisco saves roughly 86% of their dogs.We still have some considerable work to do for our feline friends as the save rate for them, while dramatically better than last year, was 77%.
Comparing the period Jan 1 – May 9 for both 2007 and 2006, combined for NHS and WCAS:
The kill rate for dogs dropped 53.36%, from 18.4% in 2006 to 8.6% in 2007
The kill rate for cats dropped 46.74%, from 43.2% in 2006 to 23.0% in 2007
The kill rate for dogs more than halved, and the kill rate for cats almost halved.
The adoption rate for dogs increased 96.5%, from 22.2% in 2006 to 43.6% in 2007
The adoption rate for cats increased 90.65%, from 19.9% in 2006 to 37.9% in 2007
The adoption rates for both dogs and cats almost doubled.
It is important to note that even no-kill communities kill some animals. Euthanasia can be the most humane alternative for animals who are seriously ill or injured, and vicious dogs who pose a threat to public safety cannot be put up for adoption.
Humane Society Website:
Apologists for LAAS will say no matter what happened there, LAAS is different and much more difficult. Many LAAS don't perform. There is civil service here. There is a union here. We are an 8 cylinder dept operating on 4 cylinders.
Let's be clear about this. LAAS has either 321 employees as per the budget, or 400 as per Boks to Council. We take in 46,000 animals and kill 41%.
Philadelphia has 60 and takes in 25,000; SF has 50 employees and takes in 11,000; Charlottesville has 40 employees and I forgot how many they take in.
That is respectively, 417 animals per employee, and 220 per employee.
LAAS takes in far less, 141 animals per employee.
Even if only half of LAAS's staff showed up per day, we'd have about the same ratio of employees to animals, and about 1/3 the number per employee as Philadelphia.
Therefore, blaming LAAS' poor statistics on staff incompetence is a non-starter. Spending a lot of time reforming the department's infrastructure rather than saving animals now is a waste of time and lives.
On May 1, we reported that Washoe County, NV (Reno) had significantly increased the save rate for dogs and cats only a few months after the Nevada Humane Society (NHS), in partnership with Washoe County Animal Services, launched an ambitious No Kill initiative. We received the following update from NHS...
After reviewing and reconciling the data following analysis of Year-to-Date numbers of dogs and cats entering Washoe County Animal Services and the Nevada Humane Society, it was discovered that due to an error, there was a 1% difference in the reported save rate for dogs and cats.
Bonney Brown, the Executive Director of the NHS, sent the following: "We're very sorry about the error." Sorry?
Since January 1 under Brown's leadership, with our support and guidance, compared to the same time frame for 2006:
The kill rate for dogs has dropped 53%
The kill rate for cats has dropped 47%
At the same time:
The adoption rate for dogs has increased 97%
The adoption rate for cats has increased 91%
Year to date, the save rate for dogs is 91% and the save rate for cats is 77%.
(These figures include animal control. They do not double count dogs and cats.)
Washoe County now joins only a very small handful of communities in the entire nation with a better than 90% save rate for dogs and is among the tops in the nation with cats.
But once again, NHS is not satisfied: "Our goal is to make Washoe County the safest community for homeless dogs and cats in the United States ."
(COMMENT by Muzika: This would include anyone with the initials P.D. who sends me a million comments (and emails) that no-kill is impossible despite an endless flow of evidence to the contrary, including statistics, all of which she says are lies, yet who never supplies any evidence that they are lies. Trust me, she says, everyone in no-kill is a phoney, liar, deluded or sick. I think P.D. must work for LAAS.)
Nonetheless, we have been hearing from bureaucrats in other communities who are trying to downplay, distort, and disparage these impressive achievements by claiming that the situation is unique, that their own community is different.
When San Francisco achieved success by saving all healthy dogs and cats city and county-wide in the mid-1990s, bureaucrats complacent with the status quo across the country said it could only be done in an urban community, not a rural one because of what they claimed were antiquated views of animals and poverty.
When No Kill was achieved in rural Tompkins County , NY at an open door animal control shelter (93% save rate), they said it could not be done in the South for similar reasons.
When it was achieved in the South in Charlottesville , VA at an open door animal control shelter (92% save rate), they said it could not be done in developing communities that are seeing tremendous population growth and urban sprawl because of the influx of new people and animals.
The developing success in Reno disproves that, too.
That is why the question of public vs. private shelter, urban vs. rural, or South vs. North is not relevant. The only relevant inquiry is whether the shelters are comprehensively and rigorously implementing the programs and services that save lives. If they do, they will achieve success.
We say: make the Story of Reno , NV the Story of Every Town in America .
The power to change the status quo is in your hands. No Kill will be achieved when citizens demand that their shelters fully and rigorously implement the programs and services of the No Kill Equation.
Recognize that no shelter director wants to get in a fight with Boks or LAAS, but the following directors are doing much better and believe there is no reason LAAS is not doing better.
Ed, Nathan has some great ideas and his comments regarding changing the culture are right on! Hope all is well with you. FYI - my replacement at XXXX County should do the same, but they are not. Darn, I left to see if someone else could make the change that I did not have the support to make. B.E.
(This director ran 5 shelters in the County. I might note that he offered his services, pro bono, to Boks by phone and in email. Boks never returned his emails or phone calls. Afraid he might be upstaged?)
Other shelter directors with similar opinions:
Carl Friedman, SF/ACCA
Tara Derby-Perrin--Philadelphia Paws
Suzanne Kogut--Charlottesville, N.C.
Bonnie Brown, Nevada Humane Society
Boks has been getting amazingly positive press recently despite increased evidence of his failures as he admitted to in his annual report. He is now denying his own annual report--which he hid from scrutiny by burying it deep within his website.
I think even if he were caught beating dogs to death and stomping on cats' heads, reporters would say that lack of budget funds required new, lower cost, quick and humane methods of euthanasia.
How and why he is getting this good press while everything is crumbling around him, including an investigation by the City Controller is beyond me and everyone else in the animal community.
Below is a letter to the editor addressed to Carla Hall (not from me.)
I just read your article entitled "LA says fewer dogs, cats being euthanized." This article is extremely misleading. It makes it sound like the shelters are improving when the recently released annual report clearly shows things are getting worse.
In the annual report Ed Boks states that live releases were flat in 2006. This means that the same percentage of animals that came in, made it out alive in 2006 as in 2005. That also means the euthanasia rate stayed the same at about 41%.
They killed over 22,000 animals in 2006. Boks came to LA promising to make LA No-Kill by 2010 if not 2008 yet he hasn't even been able to reduce the euthanasia rate at all.
He is now saying that because recent intake is up, the euthanasia rate will now increase. Intake has been going down for years. The General Manager is responsible for keeping intake down through the use of various life saving programs.
Knowing that the annual report would show no progress, Boks decided to try to make the first quarter numbers appear good. The first quarter is the slowest time of year in the shelters because it is not yet kitten/puppy season.
Instead of euthanizing animals after the normal hold time, the Department just warehoused the animals. The same number of cats came into the shelter, 30% fewer were adopted yet euthanasia is down. He accomplished this by just holding onto the rest of the animals. If warehousing the animals would increase their chance of leaving alive, that would be fine by me but it is not. Fewer are making it out alive. Thank you for writing the article and bringing attention to this matter.
The most important tool in Boks bag of deception, is to mention only the statistics that make him look good. Of those tricks, he deliberately confuses numbers with rate.
For example, if the number of animals impounded decreased 10% compared to the year before, and the number of animals killed also decreased 10%, the number of animals euthanized drops by 10%, and he can claim fewer animals than ever before in LAAS's history were killed that quarter.
However, the euthanasia rate remains the same, 50%.
As an example, let us say in the first quarter of 2006, 10,000 animals were impounded and 50%, or 5,000 were killed. In the first quarter of 2007, 9,000 were impounded and 4,500 were killed.
The number of animals killed was reduced by 500, or a 10% decrease, and fewer animals than ever before were killed for that quarter.
But, the animals were killed at the same rate: 50%.
So, Ed will talk about the change in the number of animals killed, and not mention that the euthanasia rate has not improved at all. He can do it the other way around, kill more animals but the rate of killing dropped. Then he can selectively cite whichever statistic that looks good.
(This would happen if the number of animals impounded increased 10% to 11,000, and he also only killed 5% more animals, or 525. The number killed would be highed than ever before by 525, but the rate of killing, an extra 25 dogs, would drop to 48%. He'd then claim euthanasia rates dropped 2%, best best ever decline.)
Boks can also hold onto more animals and warehouse them.
Suppose 10,000 were impounded and instead of 5,000 being killed, he didn't kill even 1 animal. He could say he cut euthanasia to zero and say we had attained no kill. Yet, he'd have an extra 5,000 animals in cages, and maybe 2,000 would die from disease and fighting injuries.
Euthanasia could have dropped to zero, but death in the shelter--not euthanized--may have increased from 300 to 2,300.
He never mentions the increases in the number of animals dying from disease or injury. Of course, if it becomes of media notice, he can blame the increased number on acts of God, an unforeseen disease outbreak or poor vet care because of overworked vets, which will be remedied when the full compliment of vets are hired.
The reporters hearing his stats, just never get it; they don't understand them, and the media never puts on reporters that understand stats. His is a continuing deception unchecked by knowledgeable reporters.
The letter above has about 2% chance of being published. As an op-ed piece it has a 1% chance of being published. The papers publish nothing negative about him.
Dan Guss used to have a lot of success getting op ed pieces published, but I thought them less than effective because they attacked Ed's character and priorities. Now the discourse has changed to his failure to perform. This tactic is not going that well as yet, as the Bush administration demonstrates clearly, because authority wins, especially if they lie a lot.
However, this tactic is proving increasingly ineffective with Council and City staff.
By the way, Ed is hiding weapons of mass destruction in the shelters.
Nathan's entire response to Bickhart's defense of LAAS' and Boks' failure is in my previous May 8 post below.
But the central point he makes clear is that LAAS' failure starts at the top, with Villaraigosa, and extends down to many LAAS staff.
Villaraigosa told Nathan saving animals was not a priority to him. Nathan responded that it is for the majority of voters in LA. That is why Winograd did not consult--there was no will to change.
"But know this: Los Angeles is failing to achieve No Kill not because it is unique or different from San Francisco, Tompkins, Charlottesville, and now Washoe County (Reno). It is failing because the political will does not exist to achieve success."
When I met with the Mayor over one year ago, he told me that saving animal lives was not a priority for his administration. He told me that he would rather focus on education and police services. (I have news for Bickhart and the Mayor: saving the lives of animals is a priority for a majority of his constituents.)"
"But, in the end, that is why Los Angeles is failing. And it will continue to fail as long as those in power fail to take responsibility for the killing occurring under their watch."
"But that is the way of bureaucrats: to disparage the success of others in order to deflect blame for a failure that is theirs, and theirs alone."
We need to take the lead and let Villaraigosa know we will not tolerate any more failure by Villaraigosa, Blackman, Boks, Bickhart and Animal Services. Let us make them develop a will to change.
In response to the Winograd news bulletin about the No-Kill success in Reno posted below, Jim Bickhart wrote to Mike Bell as follows:
"Please note that the ADL/Winograd bulletin is about a private humane society, not a public shelter. There's also a Washoe County Animal Services and there's not mention of how they're doing. And, yes, in most of these dual animal agency situations there's a difference, and it's a difference that matters.
According to the Humane Society stats, their kill rate for dogs was already down to 14% in the same quarter of 2006 before and now it's at 7.8. And they're talking about 192 kills instead of 313 over three months. It's nice progress but it's also a completely different situation and order of magnitude than what we're dealing with here.”
FROM NATHAN IN A COMMENT TO MY MAY 3 POST RE BICKHART'S EMAIL TO BELL:
Dear (et al?)
Thank you for forwarding the e-mail from Jim Bickhart of the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office disparaging the success of Washoe County (NV) which I reported in a recent e-mail. It is unfortunate to learn that Mr. Bickhart is trying to deflect criticism for the unnecessary high level of shelter killing at Los Angeles Animal Services by disparaging the achievements of the Nevada Humane Society (NHS) and Washoe County Animal Services.
To claim that Reno, NV is unique because NHS is a private shelter, as opposed to Los Angeles Animal Services which is a municipal one, and because the save rate was better than Los Angeles to begin with is just an excuse, and a poor one at that.
To begin with, the figures cited in my announcement are county-wide and include animal control as clearly indicated in the e-mail I sent out. These are total and complete data that includes Washoe County Animal Services (the shelters collectively take in about 15,000 dogs and cats per year) which have a year to date save rate as follows:
Save Rate for Dogs: 92%
Save Rate for Cats: 78%.
Broken out, it looks like this:
NHS Save Rate: 94% Save Rate (6% Death Rate)
Washoe County Animal Control Save Rate: 81% (Death rate: 19%)
If you include April data, 93% of dogs and 85% of cats are being saved for both agencies. The result is an over 40 percent decline in killing in four short months, compared to what has occurred in Los Angeles—no increase in the save rate in the last year despite distortion of the No Kill philosophy and empty promises.
Second, the agency (NHS) was as bad as LAAS before the new team took over. It had a staff ripe with nepotism, shirkers were protected by friends who were supervisors, animals were being needlessly killed while the rescue groups who were willing to save them were not allowed to help because of bureaucratic hurdles and arcane rules.
What the new director did was to bring accountability to the agency. Ten employees were fired in ten days, others resigned under the specter of termination, and rescue groups were embraced. At the same time, the shelter began rigorously implementing the programs and services of the No Kill Equation, and demanding hard work and results from new and existing staff.
In short, the focus has been on eliminating under-performing staff, building the programs and services of the No Kill Equation, embracing the public, and involving them in the lifesaving enterprise.
But the first order of business was—and always is—to fire the long list of incompetents who passed for the shelter’s mid-level managers and core staff. That is what any poorly run shelter must do to create change from killing to a culture of accountability and lifesaving. That is what Richard Avanzino did in San Francisco. That is what I had to do in Tompkins County. That is what the new Director had to do in Philadelphia. That is what the director did in Charlottesville. And that is the reason for the new renaissance in lifesaving now occurring in Reno. And that is what has not happened in Los Angeles, and it has made all the difference.
Before anyone accepts the false claim that poorly performing employees cannot be fired in a union environment, if leadership is committed to high quality services, if it focuses on saving lives, if it sets standards, protocols, and programs, if it holds staff accountable, it can fire shirkers even in a union environment.
At the Philadelphia Animal Control Association, an all union shop, roughly half the union staff was terminated in the first year under their new director. As she explained it to the Philadelphia Daily News: “When a manager accepts sloppiness, mediocrity, and incompetence as the standard… you get more sloppiness and more failure and more incompetence.”
Do not allow Mr. Bickhart or anyone else in L.A. to claim that Los Angeles is different, that somehow its problems are unique.
When San Francisco achieved success by saving all healthy dogs and cats city and county-wide (including animal control, now with an 86% save rate), bureaucrats complacent with the status quo across the country said it could only be done in an urban community, not a rural one because of what they claimed were antiquated views of animals and poverty.
When No Kill was achieved in rural Tompkins County at an open door animal control shelter (93% save rate), they said it could not be done in the South for similar reasons.
When it was achieved in the South in Charlottesville, VA at an open door animal control shelter, which incidentally takes in 40% more animal per capita than L.A., (92% save rate), they said it could not be done in developing communities that are seeing tremendous population growth and urban sprawl because of the influx of new people and animals.
The developing success in Reno disproves that, too.That is why the question of public vs. private shelter, urban vs. rural, South vs. North, or urban vs. rural is not relevant. The only relevant query is whether the shelters are comprehensively and rigorously implementing the programs and services that save lives. If they do, they will achieve success.
And looking at LAAS data in terms of foster animals, rescue animals, adoptions, missing animals, DOA animals, animals dying in kennels, it is clear and unequivocal that they are not. And until they do, they will continue to unnecessarily kill savable animals.
But rather than focus on that, we hear “they are different,” “it is not the same,” “we are unique.” Why? For one reason and one reason only. For every success in one community, there are a legion of bureaucrats in another community threatened by that success who will downplay, disparage and misrepresent. There will always be naysayers who put their careers and their own personal gain above the animals to deflect blame for the unnecessary killing still occurring in their own cities.
But know this: Los Angeles is failing to achieve No Kill not because it is unique or different from San Francisco, Tompkins, Charlottesville, and now Washoe County (Reno). It is failing because the political will does not exist to achieve success.
When I met with the Mayor over one year ago, he told me that saving animal lives was not a priority for his administration. He told me that he would rather focus on education and police services. (I have news for Bickhart and the Mayor: saving the lives of animals is a priority for a majority of his constituents.)
But, in the end, that is why Los Angeles is failing. And it will continue to fail as long as those in power fail to take responsibility for the killing occurring under their watch. But that is the way of bureaucrats: to disparage the success of others in order to deflect blame for a failure that is theirs, and theirs alone.Nathan (Winograd)
08 May, 2007