LAAS and Managerial Screw Up

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Nine people have emailed me this story.

Anonymous has explained to me what this is all about:

"When you adopt, redeem, rescue, drop off an animal from the shelter they copy your drivers license.

If you are a rescuer or volunteer they ask for your social security number and drivers license. Rescuers must also provide tax returns, tax ID numbers, home addresses, microchip information.

All of these paper documents were stored at the shelter. When they moved out of the old shelters into the new ones, they left all these confidential documents behind where anyone could go through them. There was credit card information in the files when people adopted or bought a license. Checking account information was in the files. Medical records from people bitten by dogs were in there. Complaints about barking dogs were in there.

Someone wasn't paying attention when they moved. People's identities could be stolen, checking accounts drained, credit cards maxed out. This is a major violation."

Video of this story:

http://video.knbc.com/player/?id=219794


Obviously this is what you get with a non-hands on general manager who leaves operational details to who knows whom.

But the story has little to do with the welfare of the animals in Ed's charge. The real story would be was Animal Services as inattentive of the animals as the records?

LA Leaves Residents' Private Information In Abandoned Lot

LOS ANGELES - A KNBC investigation revealed how the city of Los Angeles might have put thousands of people at risk of having their identities stolen. Investigative Reporter Joel Grover was tipped off that the city left outside, for anyone to take, boxes and boxes of confidential files on its citizens.

KNBC found private information on thousands of people sitting outside of an abandoned lot in LA -- everything you'd need to steal someone's identity, Grover reported.

"I don't want to go through it again," said Laura Weir. "Once was enough." Weir had her identity stolen once before, with thieves charging thousands of dollars in her name.

The records KNBC found contain names, driver's license numbers, dates of birth, checking account information and Social Security numbers.

"I couldn't believe it, that it was just sitting there," Weir said.

KNBC found the confidential files sitting outside two abandoned city animal shelters, one in West Los Angeles and one in Van Nuys, which the city closed nine months ago.

The city took the animals but left behind investigative files that contained sensitive information about pet owners and about people who complained about their neighbors' pets. The city also left the medical records of people bitten by animals.

"When they're through with them, they should shred them," Weir said.
In fact, the files were supposed to be destroyed, Grover reported. Now, it appears thieves have gone through the building and the boxes of documents.

"Somebody is in deep trouble," said Jay Foley, who runs the Identity Theft Resource Center. "There is a photocopy of this gentleman's driver's license, as well as his Social Security card. That's all I need to steal his identity."

Foley examined the files KNBC found, like that of Shawn Aghdassi, a pet owner and small businessman who has also had his identity stolen twice.

Aghdassi said he expected the city would be more careful with his private information. "You're supposed to trust the government," Aghdassi said.

So how does the city explain leaving this confidential information just lying around?

Ed Boks, the head of animal service, refused to talk to KNBC. But in an e-mail he said that when the city was moving to a shelter "our complete focus rested on the animals." And, as a result, paper records were not properly disposed of. He promised it would "not happen again."

"The city needs to take a very strong look at the way they're handling things, the way they're doing things, to make sure this doesn't happen again," Foley said.
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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

When you adopt, redeem, rescue, drop off an animal from the shelter they copy your drivers license. If you are a rescuer or volunteer they ask for your social security number and drivers license. Rescuers must also provide tax returns, tax ID numbers, home addresses, microchip information. All of these paper documents were stored at the shelter. When they moved out of the old shelters into the new ones, they left all these confidential documents behind where anyone could go through them. There was credit card information in the files when people adopted or bought a license. Checking account information was in the files. Medical records from people bitten by dogs were in there. Complaints about barking dogs were in there. Someone wasn't paying attention when they moved. People's identities could be stolen, checking accounts drained, credit cards maxed out. This is a major violation.

Anonymous said...

Watch the video. They have copies of people's dog license checks in there. I made a check to them to get a dog license at East Valley. Why didn't they at least secure the vacant building? They trashed the inside of the shelter.

http://video.knbc.com/player/?id=219794

Boks = Death said...

I disagree that this isn't relevant to the animals' care. First off, part of the animals' care is respecting the rights of the people who adopt them.

If the Tompkins County story shows anything, it's how delicate Winograd's No Kill Equation is. As people have pointed out on this blog, one of the most tenuous factors is the public's participation, through adoption, fostering and volunteering. We now have a giant demonstration of how little LAAS values the trust of adopters, rescuers and volunteers. Disrespect of the people you need to save the animals has a completely negative impact on the animals.

The other, more obvious point is that incompetent management is incompetent management. People who aren't smart and caring enough to recognize a well-publicized need like data security and people's privacy aren't likely to be smart enough and caring enough to look after animals as well as they need and deserve.

Anonymous said...

File Number
08-0395
Last Changed Date
02/20/2008
Title
PERSONAL INFORMATION / DEPARTMENT OF animal SERVICES / IDENTITY THEFT
Initiated by
Zine Mover 2008 / Greuel
Subject
Motion - That the Department of animal Services report to the Public Safety Committee with a plan to immediately correct all security deficiencies involving personal identification data, including information gathered from employees, volunteers, and members of the public.
Council District
6, 11
Date Received
02/19/2008
File History
2-19-08 - This day's Council session
2-19-08 - Ref to Public Safety Committee
2-19-08 - File to Public Safety Committee Clerk