Pax Knaana

The blog wars may be at an end with the appointment of Debbie Knaan as Assistant General Manager of LAAS. Debbie, who has deep roots in both government and the animal activist communities, seems to be an acceptable choice for both. We will wait to see if she can influence ADL. Of course there are others hoping that Debbie may eventually replace Ed Boks as General Manager in a bloodless coup.

I have been told by informants in the Mayor’s Office (I have as many spies as ADL--maybe they are the same people causing trouble.) that no good deed goes unpunished, and that my status with City government has neither grown nor been diminished by my defense of Boks, LAAS and the City. I have been told that Jim Blackman views all animal activists as a bit looney and that all that we say—and I include myself in that we—is ignored both by he and Villaraigosa. I guess I cannot count on becoming Villaraigosa’s Chief of Staff when he replaces the Governator in 2010.

However, my spirited defense of LAAS and Boks has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated by Boks himself. He wrote the beautiful thank you note below.

Now I feel free to become a real journalist. In the future I will be covering a wider range of LA and California animal issues honestly and accurately.

Lastly, I want to say I am and always have been an enthusiastic supporter of Nathan Winograd. He once expressed interest in creating a super-LASPCA that would work hand-in-hand with LAAS so that both together could attain No-Kill for Los Angeles.

The successes of San Francisco as well as Nathan’s Tompkins County depend on having a large private shelter where otherwise moribund animals could be transferred and saved.

Local rescue groups will not support this kind of entity—I do not believe—because to them, it would be a matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul and they are Peter. Yet we need to recognize the reality that only a small percentage (13%) of LAAS animals are rescued by local non-profits, and a well-financed and high-profile Winograd-chiefed shelter could markedly outperform the status-quo. (30% in SF and TC vs. 13%).

This could result in a live-release percentage of 75% as enjoyed by San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control vs. the 53% of LAAS, which is already the highest percentage of saves of any of any major city in the country. The combined save rate might approach 90%, depending on the success of Nathan's shelter.

I call upon the well-heeled members of the LA animal community step up to the plate and create this life-saving institution.

From Ed Boks:


How do I begin to THANK YOU for all you have endured this past year? Too be sure, your willingness to endure the wrath of the uninformed and malicious radicals has been instrumental in securing the future success of the deparment.

I want to thank-you for all the effort you expended to defend the department this year and the sacrifices you made to do so. You went to war and put up with a lot of flack.

Thank your for your support despite all the noise and controversy. It's been an "interesting" year on that front, but I know better days are yet to come thanks to you! This is something I would say to the entire world!

Ed (Boks)

Winograd's Astounding (Apparent) Successes

There is amazing news coming out of Winograd’s No Kill Advocates/Solutions. These are very partial statistics and I would want to see the progression of numbers over the entire year as opposed to just the year end rate. Everyone has heard negative rumors about the Rancho Cucamonga and Philadelphia systems. As a matter of fact, Philly’s stats seemed self-contradictory at times as I pointed out in previous posts. Yet I never saw any hard evidence of poor performance at these shelters.

Past calls to these shelters has never resulted in the release of any statistics either. Therefore, there was always room for doubt of Nathan’s claims.

If the statistics below are indeed accurate, and include all animals vs. “adoptable,” “healthy,” etc., the results are incredible:


In 2005, the City of Philadelphia asked us to do a complete assessment of shelter operations and make recommendations to improve program and service delivery with a goal of creating a No Kill Philadelphia.

Since the implementation of our recommendations, as 2006 comes to a close PACCA announces that the save rate for dogs and cats is the highest in the City's history. Less dogs and cats are being killed in Philadelphia than ever before, with 65% of all cats currently being saved.

Charlottesville, VA.

Until April 2005, the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, an open door animal control shelter in the South, was the target of criticism for what some in the rescue community saw as unnecessary killing.

In 2005, all that changed. A new director embraced our philosophy and programs, asked us to help train their staff and make recommendations on policies. Only one year later, the agency is finishing the year saving 95% of dogs and 92% of cats, a level of success unmatched by any other community in the nation.

Rancho Cucamonga, CA.

After taking over operations, deaths for dogs and cats are at all time lows. Of particular note, for the same period as 2005, the save rate for dogs has increased to 81%, the save rate for cats has increased to 57%, and the save rate for other animals (rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, etc.) has increased from a paltry 27% to 70%.

Note that these systems are smaller, or even much, much smaller than the LA City or County operations, and Nathan’s stats appear to mix improvements in percentages compared to the same period as last year (Rancho) and absolute live releases in the other two cities. Yet, in either case the results are astounding.

The obvious questions arises: are Nathan’s results, if true, sustainable? Are they repeatable in even larger systems such as LAAS, LA County, NYC, etc.?

Don't Underestimate the Vector Control Threat to Cats--Updated

Several people who read my last post were very concerned and said whomever sent the email hated cats and was dead wrong.

May I remind you that whatever is the truth regarding cats as potential bearers of Avian Flu, the perception of what is truth is often more important.

If Vector Control can convince governments that colonies of ground squirrels pose a serious threat of plague, they certainly can convince them that cats also pose a threat to the public health.

I remember that in 1998, there were people who came to Palisades Park to capture and kill the ground squirrels as the Vector Control propaganda made it seem that the threat of plague was imminent. The misguided morons wanted to help end the threat. Remember, the Great White Shark is almost an endangered species as a result of the movie "Jaws."

Go figure. How did Will Rogers put it, "You can never lose a bet by underestimating the intelligence of Americans."

Posted below is an article from the Center For Infectious Disease Research. It is stuff like this we need to know, understand and rebut. Notice they include dogs as potential carriers:

Experts urge including cats in avian flu precautions

Apr 5, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Growing evidence of H5N1 avian influenza in cats suggests they may play a role in spreading the virus, signaling a need for new precautions, according to a team of medical and veterinary researchers from the Netherlands and Italy.

"Cats could be more than a dead-end host for H5N1 virus," says a commentary article published today in Nature. The authors are Thijs Kuiken, Ron Fouchier, Guus Rimmelzwaan, and Albert Osterhaus of Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam and Peter Roeder of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

They call for efforts to protect cats from the virus and to test those with possible exposure to it—recommendations that are not included in existing official guidelines for controlling avian flu.

Infections in cats were first observed in Thailand in early 2004, the article notes. In one case, 14 cats in a household near Bangkok died of the infection. In addition, tigers and leopards in two Thai zoos died after eating infected chicken carcasses.

The researchers point to several other observations indicating that cats "are more than collateral damage in avian flu's deadly global spread and may play a greater role in the epidemiology of the virus than previously thought."

Fatal infections in cats have become common in Indonesia, Thailand, and Iraq, where the virus is endemic in poultry, they write. Veterinarians in both Indonesia and Iraq have reported a high incidence of sudden death in cats during poultry outbreaks of avian flu.

In addition, dead or sick cats infected with H5N1 virus turned up in Germany soon after the virus was detected in wild birds there, the researchers note.
They also note that experiments at Erasmus Medical Centre have shown that cats can be infected with the virus by respiratory and gastrointestinal routes and by contact with other infected cats. The infected cats all excreted the virus from the nose, throat, and rectum. It is unknown how long cats can shed the virus or whether they can spread it to humans, poultry, or other species, the article says.

Nonetheless, the researchers write that cats "may provide the virus with an opportunity to adapt to efficient transmission within and among mammalian species, including humans, thereby increasing the risk of a human influenza pandemic."

Therefore, despite the uncertainties, official guidelines for controlling the spread of avian flu should consider the potential role of cats, the authors say.

"In areas where H5N1 virus has been detected in either poultry or wild birds, we recommend taking steps to prevent contact between cats and infected birds or their droppings, and to quarantine and test cats suspected of such contacts, or cats showing clinical signs suggestive of H5N1 influenza," the article states. That means keeping cats indoors where possible.

They also say that other carnivores, such as dogs, foxes, members of the weasel family, and seals, may be susceptible to the H5N1 virus. Therefore they recommend testing for the virus if unusual illness or death rates occur in such animals in areas where avian flu is endemic.

Avian flu can spread among cats

Sep 3, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – House cats can acquire H5N1 avian influenza and pass it on to other cats, Dutch researchers reported this week.
Last February two cats in Thailand reportedly died of H5N1 avian flu, but yesterday's article in the online edition of Science apparently is the first report of cats being experimentally infected with the virus and then spreading it to other cats.

Researchers sprayed H5N1 virus into the throats of three cats, according to the report by Thijs Kuiken and colleagues from Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The virus sample had been isolated from a Vietnamese person who died of the disease.

The cats had a fever just 1 day after being exposed to the virus and were excreting virus after 3 days, though in relatively low amounts, the report says. One cat died 6 days after exposure.

Two other cats were put in contact with the first group 2 days after the latter had been infected. In addition, the researchers fed infected chicks to three more cats. All of the additional cats became ill with signs like those of the first group.

Three other cats were exposed to influenza A (H3N2), a common human strain, and stayed healthy.

After the infected cats were euthanized, necropsy showed they had diffuse alveolar damage like that caused by H5N1 infection in humans and monkeys, the report says.

The findings suggest that "the role of cats in the spread of H5N1 virus between poultry farms, and from poultry to humans, needs to be re-assessed," the researchers write. In addition, "Cats may form an opportunity for this avian virus to adapt to mammals, thereby increasing the risk of a human influenza pandemic."

From the Center for Disease Control:

Avian influenza A (H5N1) virus infections have been reported in domestic cats in Germany and Austria, according to the World Health Organization and the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention. During late February and early March 2006, authorities in Germany announced the detection of H5N1 influenza in three domestic cats that died on the Baltic island of Ruegen, where H5N1 infection has been confirmed in more than 100 wild birds. The deceased cats are thought to have acquired their infections after feeding on H5N1-infected birds. In March 2006, Austrian officials reported the confirmation of H5N1 infection in three sick domestic cats in an animal shelter where the disease had been detected in chickens a month earlier.

To date, there is no evidence that domestic cats have a role in the natural transmission cycle of H5N1 viruses. No cases of avian influenza in humans have been linked to exposure to sick cats, and no outbreaks among populations of domestic cats have been reported. All natural H5N1 infections in domestic cats reported to date appear to have been associated with outbreaks in domestic or wild birds and acquired through ingestion of raw infected meat.

Although the risk of feline infection is very low in Europe, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has issued preliminary recommendations for cat owners living in H5N1-affected areas. These include keeping domestic cats indoors to prevent exposure to potentially infected birds and avoiding contact with semi-domestic and feral cats living outside the home. The recommendations also encourage owners of ill cats, particularly those known to have been exposed to sick or dead birds, to have their cats examined by a veterinarian.

From Cornell Vet School:

Several studies have investigated cats. The first, "Avian Influenza H5N1 in Tigers and Leopards" (Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 10, No. 2), reported on exotic cats becoming infected by eating H5N1-infected chickens obtained from a local slaughterhouse. A second report, "Avian H5N1 Influenza in Cats" (Science, Vol. 306, Issue 5694), showed that domestic cats, too, can be infected if fed uncooked meat from H5N1-infected chickens. Perhaps even more disturbing, this latter study showed that infected domestic cats were capable of spreading infection directly to other cats. A third report, "Influenza A Virus (H5N1) Infection in Cats Causes Systemic Disease with Potential Novel Routes of Virus Spread within and between Hosts" (American Journal of Pathology, Vol. 168, No. 1), published in January 2006, more fully described the disease in cats. It further confirmed that domestic cats can be infected by eating infected birds, and that infected cats can spread infection to other cats, most likely through feces, urine, and secretions from the respiratory tract. As noted before, there is currently no evidence that influenza-infected cats can in turn infect humans.

You see, the threat is existent. The worry is that cats can become vectors for human bird flu if the virus mutates. The assumption is that if the flu can be transmitted from one cat to another as opposed to cats and people getting it only from birds, that cats could begin to spread Bird Flu to people.

The reference to cats animalmal shelters is especially disturbing in that the Assembly could easily pass a law concerning the need to quarantine and kill cats during a pandemic.

County Vector Control to Kill Cats?

Vangordon et al may expect to hear from me again soon. I have taken down most of the posts about her on this blog, but they can go back up at any time.

The email below was sent to me a few days ago. I have been hearing this rumor for several months. I am certain that LA County Vector Control will not talk to me, but I will try. If you find any info, please email it to me at

"Vector Control (XXXX County) expects the avian flu to come into this country by migratory birds. Cats kill birds. If you research you will find that all over the world, cats are infected with the avian flu and there are cases where the cat has passed this flu to people. I have asked our Vector Control if this might mean the end to the "outdoor" cat and they responded that probably it will. In order to protect the public health and since the cat has been the one to transmit to humans, you can see where it can be consider a public health problem."

"Vector Control for XXXX County was the ones I spoke with. This is something that is going around as I understand and it is being discussed at a state level only very quietly. They realize the implications and therefore are not coming forward at this point. It will probably depend on how hard we are hit with the avian flu. But they are keeping track of the cases around the world of cats infecting humans. One entire family got it from a cat and I think most of that family died. You can do searches for it."

Concerning the allegation of an entire family dying of Avian flu via a cat infection is totally unfounded. According to Alley Cat Allies, there is only one reported human death (or infection, I don't remember, but the fatality rate is 50% anyway) Cats are not considered a vector-yet. However, if the flu mutates making cross species transmission more probable, they may well be so considered. In any event, this may just be the idle speculations of a field supervisor who thinks killing another species might be fun.

The info about cats all over the world being infected is overblown. Not that they cannot be, but they are not given the current viral strains of the Avian flu. I'm sure if this ever becomes a serious issue, Vector Control will use the same disease scare tactic as they do with ground squirrels being potential causes of Bubonic Plague outbreaks in urban areas--all bull.

Currently there is no legislation that would permit killing feral, homeless or housed outdoor cats. The County VC operates under the color of public health regulations that allow them to deem rodent colonies as an infestation and therefore, can issue an order to abate to municipalities.

Municipalities, I would assume, would have the option of ignoring VC demands to kill cats, and private cateries, I am sure, also given orders to abate, could sue to County for any number of reasons. There are quite a few laws associated with the legal status of both free roaming and feral cats. In some states, feral cats being maintained in a colony are considered the proporty of the feeder.

Besides, feral cats are not often handled by strangers or even feeders as are birds in Asian countries or on farms here. Start thinking of reasons why feral and homeless cats are not vectors. Do some reasearch and pass it on to me.

Can you imagine the outcry from public killing of ferals and strays? It would make the Civil War look like a family argument and Vector Control the object of scorn of countless people. Let them be forwarned.

I do know that when I talked to Joe Ramirez of LA County VC sevral years ago, he said the cats in Palisades Park were a possible target of extermination because they were very susceptible to the Pneumonic form of the plague, which is much more dangerous and contagious than the Bubonic form.

Of course, Joe is the one who said the County would march into Santa Monica and poison the squirrels themselves. which is as likely as a Republican voting to increase Medicare benefits.

New Shelter Watchdog Sites

There are two new websites dedicated to watching and reporting on public shelters in Southern California: and

I do not know whose sites they are or whether they have any political bent or bias. I do note that LA County impounds twice as many animals as LAAS and has a much higher death rate, which, according to the stats on these sites, is trending upwards, not down.

This is from an email sent to me about www.Shelterwatch: is a website we started two years ago to track the progress made in the groundbreaking lawsuit against the County of Kern when we sued them. We just won the case a few months ago and the final judgment just was signed a few weeks ago.

Now, we intend on reporting truth about the various shelters in California whether it's good truth or bad truth, nonetheless, we want the site to have the highest integrity and only truth backed up by facts, impound numbers, verifiable statistics.

Believe it or not, there are shelters WAY worse than LA City and LA County. They are these little unwatched shelters in central California, small shelters in Riverside and San Bernardino County, humane socieites in more rural areas, etc. where nobody is watching them. We will be.

We ( intend on having a rating scale which will be a fair, and measurable method of rating the shelters in California. This is a project that is in the works, as is our website which will be changing to reflect many shelters violating the law as well as shelters who are going above and beyond what they legally have to do to save animals and have limited budgets. We will be profiling both as we emerge into a new era since winning the first ever lawsuit against a government for violation of the Hayden and Vincent Laws.

Because there are no overseers of shelters in California (i.e., no agency watches public shelters and SPCA's with a contract which receive government money) we have decided to come forward to educate the public with the truth; not a distorted and exagerated lie, but the truth.

With regard to, this is the brainchild of another rescuer named Brad. Brad tirelessly performs public records acts (which is a California government code section) which allow Brad to receive data directly from shelters.

While some shelters fight him and refuse to release information, and some humane societies refuse to give information because they say that they are exempt, Brad methodically plots along gathering data and putting it in useable charts and graphs so we can see the truth.


My comment: This is exactly the kind of intelligence we need to get a handle on pet macrodynamics as well as assessing the success or failure of the various municipal shelters.

The Volunteers Strike Back!!

Below is one volunteer’s response to the ADL misinformation email about allegedly cancelled mobile adoptions.

If any volunteer or employee wants to write or post a response to an ADL rant or action, post it as an anonymous comment, or send an anonymous or signed email to me at

From the volunteer:

You guys need to check out your facts before spreading misinformation. This is in the first paragraph of your latest email: "Those three (MPA'S) are small and very few animals get adopted. The MPA venues are poor and the outreach to the public regarding these three MPA's is non-existent. Ed Boks is now limiting the number of MPA's that can be done in LA."

OK- so what do you call "small" and how do you define "very few animals get adopted". In my view, ANY animal that gets adopted has made the MPA a REAL SUCCESS!!! Isn't that the goal? I don't have a number where I can say....ok, well we got 25 animals adopted so I guess today was a success. But last week, well we only adopted 15, so I guess we failed. NOT EVEN! Any time an animal can get adopted and go on to live his or her life in a loving home is what keeps us volunteers coming back, whether it's one or 50.

Also, the venue at Moorpark park is NOT small- in my opinion- we could fill that park with 50+ dogs if we had enough volunteers!!! Our size depends on the number of volunteers we get, you know. We don't want to bring dogs and put them in a crate. So you know some people who want to come out and help us??? We need the people to make our MPA huge! It is possible, but only if people will come out and help us.

Next, you state the outreach regarding the venues is "non-existent". NOT TRUE! Sure, LAAS could do more advertising, but they do some things in various newspapers and magazines, and we hang our signs and banners the week before. We also have flyers to put out. Want to help us hang flyers????? That would be great....we really need help getting the word out there more about our great events.

These activities are very time consuming given we have fulltime jobs and other commitments as well. But we do our best! Lastly, Boks is not "limiting the number of MPA events that can be done in LA." As I wrote to you in a previous email, we are in the process of expanding the MPA program, and part of any expansion is knowing where to put your resources, especially if they are limited. Hopefully, the resources will expand alongside the MPA program.

Do you have any constructive ideas on other venues we could go to? Want to come out to the site at 8am and start setting up, then stay there all day until 4 and get home by 6pm? How about it? Or better yet, come to the shelters the day before and help us make the excruciating choices of which animals to bring out to the MPA the next day. I can't do this without breaking down crying--of course I want to bring them all. It sucks. But, as I said, we wouldn't have to look in the animals' faces and tell them "Sorry, there's no room for you." if we had more people coming out to support the MPA event, which would allow us to bring more animals. Folks like you telling people that our venues are "poor" turns potential volunteers off from coming out to see for themselves.

So....sit behind your desk writing your hateful emails or forwarding on others that aren't true....or come out and sit with a dog all day, feeling his pain as he looks to potential adopters begging to go home with them, and they say no and move on to's heartbreaking, but how easy for you and your group to not have to face that, and try to ease an animals' emotional pain like we do.....

Now- I'd like to see you forward this to those on your list!

Yet Another Innovative program from LAAS

Can you imagine Stuckey or Greenwalt being able to put this event together? Imagine, partnerships with Amanda and Best Friends as well Downtown Dogs. How many who were General Manager candidates a year ago could have carried this off?..
December 6 and 10, 2006
LA Animal Services is participating in the national “Project Homeless Connect Day” by hosting a two-day called, “Project Canine Connect”. The first event will be held on December 6, 2006 from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on 6th Street between Wall and San Pedro. LA Animal Services will provide free vaccinations, microchips and flea treatments to downtown area low income and homeless residents’ pets.
At this event, LA Animal Services will take appointments for free spay/neuter and/or grooming for low income and homeless residents’ animals on the second day of the event, Sunday December 10, 2006 at this same location.

On December 10th, 2006 from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. LA Animal Services will again offer free vaccinations, microchips and flea treatments. LA Animal Services is partnering with the Amanda Foundation to perform the sterilization surgeries. Appointments must be made at the December 6, 2006 event. Mobile groomers will be there to provide the residents’ dogs and cats free grooming. Professional dog trainers will also be there to offer free advice.

In partnership with Downtown Dogs and Best Friends Animal Society, LA Animal Services will be giving away dog and cat goody bags which include: dog food, toys, dishes, bones, flea treatment, collars, brushes and many other items at both events.

ADL, et al, Gets it wrong again

Yesterday’s ADL sent an email about purportedly cancelled pet adoptions. One of the email sources is named Mike. Which Mike would that be?

Are you aware that the LAAS General Manager has canceled the Mobile Adoption Program? Volunteers were not notified, but found out when the normal schedule of adoptions was not listed on the LAAS web site. As of now, the only mobile adoptions scheduled are the 3 that the volunteers set up, and run on their own without any assistance from the Department.

I personally believe that even if they adopt out 5 of 20 animals at each site, that many people who never go to a shelter will be made aware of those animals. Besides those animals that get adopted, It's great PR as well.Let's get the word out. These are your tax supported shelters and your opinion counts. We need a united front to accomplish this. Don't wait for the next man/woman to do it. Those little lives depend on you.


From Today’s post on Ed Boks’ blog re Mobile Adoptions:

Much confusion is being circulated regarding LA Animal Services Mobile Adoption Program.Please understand that WE DID NOT CANCEL THE OFFSITE ADOPTION PROGRAM. We simply redeployed our limited human resources.

The ONLY off site events canceled were the ones at venues that historically proved to be unproductive and a poor return on time and energy invested.These events were cancelled because so few animals were adopted at these locations. It was not uncommon for no animals to be adopted from these venues. In their place staff is selecting higher profile venues such as parks, street fairs, and other community events.

LA Animal Services conducted nearly 100 off site adoption events in 2006 compared to 15 or 20 in previous years. And we intend to do even more in 2007. As always thank you for your concern and support of LA Animal Services and the animals in our care.