The man who recently resigned as head of the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services following controversies there has been named as a candidate for the position of executive director at Whatcom Humane Society.
The job has been open since Penny Cistaro left in May to become manager of the Sacramento, Calif., animal control program. Laura Clark, the Whatcom society's community outreach director, is serving as interim executive director.
Finding a replacement has been a fractious process for the society's board of directors. Four of the 10 members, including president Andrea Clay, resigned within the last two months over community pressure that the board was considering outside candidates, according to board member Lisa Donaldson,
Clark and a "handful" of others also are candidates for the executive director position, Donaldson said. The board is not disclosing the salary range for the executive director.
Among the candidates is Ed Boks, who headed animal control agencies in New York and Los Angeles and faced legal issues in both places.
The Los Angeles City Council paid $130,000 to settle a lawsuit that alleged Boks was inappropriate with an animal services worker, according to May 1, 2009, city council minutes. She claimed Boks made lewd comments, touched her inappropriately and went to her house uninvited while under the influence of alcohol, according to Los Angeles Superior Court documents. She also claimed her permit to work for animal services was not renewed because she rejected his advances.
Boks was at the center of another controversy this year after discontinuing a program to offer low-income pet owners vouchers for free spay-neuter services, according to the Los Angeles Times. The move, which Boks claimed was a last-ditch effort to make budget cuts, caused one city council member to suggest his resignation. Boks eventually reversed his decision and resumed the voucher program.
Prior to his work in Los Angeles, Boks was the executive director for the New York City Department of Animal Care and Control, where he was involved in a racial discrimination lawsuit. A black employee claimed Boks hired a white employee with no prior experience in animal care in a supervisory position, according to U.S. District Court documents from the Southern District of New York. The black employee alleged Boks fired him, claiming his position was being terminated, but the white employee took over his job responsibilities. The case was dismissed after it was settled out of court, according to the court record.
The Whatcom board continues to consider Boks because he has 20 years of experience in the animal welfare field, board member Donaldson said.
"We understand he's quite controversial, and we are certainly looking at that very carefully," Donaldson said.
Boks, who was in Whatcom County while interviewing for the position, did not return messages left at his Bellingham hotel seeking comment.
Whatcom County pays the nonprofit humane society about $505,000 yearly for animal control services around the county and its cities except in Lynden. About 40 staff members work at the two shelters to provide animal control and rescue services, animal adoptions and low-cost spay and neuter services.