Ed, where are we Going?

Ed Boks is transforming the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services, or so I am told, to be more efficient, responsive and caring. This may be true, but Ed’s stated objective was no kill, and no measurable progress has been made in that direction during the past year. We do not need a department that more efficiently kills the animals purportedly we want to save. LAAS has to bring the numbers down to reclaim and sustain credibility of Boks’ original promise of No-Kill. Of course, that term may have been used only for political correctness.

I would have Ed let us in on what internal changes have been made in the department and the results of these changes. Which of the new programs has accountably saved lives and which programs have not or have been dropped? How many new employees have been added? Where? What has been the result during the five months since the last GM report?

The 39,000 spay-neuters last year, will they pay off in terms of decreased euthanasia this year? Impounds have been more or less constant for the past four years. Can we S/N our way into fewer impounds, or is that a disproved myth such as the recognition that we cannot adopt our way out? There are estimates of almost 5,000,000 cats and dogs, housed and feral in LA City. Are not 100,000 sterilizations a year only a drop in the bucket given that number even if we assume half have already been sterilized?

Can we measure the effect of current educational programs to decrease impounds? I agree, this is the long term solution, but long term may mean 30 years.

Ed, we are not asking questions to micromanage; we just want to know what changes have been made that will deliver on lives saved, or whether the promise is a PC myth. We want to know whether you have the knowledge and guts to make LA no-kill. We want accountability, benchmarks, milestones by which we can measure your, and LAAS’s, success or failure. We know that so far allegations of a giant step towards no-kill were words only.

It seems that all over the country promised deadlines of no kill shelters have been shoved ever forward into the future.

NYC now puts no-kill at 2015 instead of 2008.

When can we expect no-kill in LA? You have triple the budget you had in NYC and more than twice as many employees. Do we have to wait until we’ve sterilized another 500,000 animals over the next five years to get a 20% cut in euthanasia through decreased impounds? Are the current adoption rate figures as good as it will get? Are we maxed out on the capability of even a new, improved LAAS?

Ed, I staked much of my own credibility on your success. I published your early great numbers, defended your blog, counterattacked the Hooters event accusations, tried to publish antidotes to ADL untruths and speculations, etc. Vindicate my trust in you.

Please Ed, where is the 2006 annual report and where are the January numbers? The honeymoon is over and we want you to deliver on your “marriage” vow of no-kill. By now you should know all the problems in LA and should have a plan to solve them. What is it?


Anonymous said...

Good questions, Muzika. I'm a lot more interested in why the euthanasia rate did not go down than in the small increase in dog adoptions. We need to know what happened. What went wrong, what went right. What is he going to do to get LA to noKill. He needs to make some major changes because there was no improvement in 2006.

Sorry to hear about your cat. Your cat was obviously very lucky to have someone as caring and loving as you for her guardian.

Jeff de la Rosa said...

I certainly look forward to some response from Mr. Boks this. There was a lot of hoopla for the "no kill" weekend--BUT do they normally kill animals on the weekend, anyway? I trust not.

Ed Muzika said...

I was lucky to have someone like Gopi--very lucky. She was far, far more to me than my lap cat. We were inseparable.

Anonymous said...

I just saw this. Boks didn't meet his goals in NY. Why do you think he will meet them here? We're supposed to be noKill by 2008 too.

New York magazine
The Doggie-Doom Disparity
An animal-euthanasia-free NYC is further off than promised. Let the growling begin.
By Arianne Cohen
The mayor’s alliance for NYC’s Animals, a pet project of Mayor Bloomberg’s, is an umbrella group of rescue organizations created in December 2002 with the stated goal of “No Kill 2008”: eliminating euthanasia of healthy animals in the city by next year. It’s not going to happen. The city killed 17,966 animals in 2006 and is not on track to be anywhere near zero in ’08. Now there’s backtracking on the 2008 agenda, which was trumpeted in a press release when the alliance was created. “That was never a policy of the mayor,” says Bloomberg spokesman Jason Post. “The story of euthanasia in the Bloomberg administration is a happy one. Euthanasia is down 37 percent since 2003.” Ed Sayres, the president of the ASPCA, the alliance’s primary spay/neuter organization, says, “Our timeline is 2010.” Jane Hoffman, the president of the Mayor’s Alliance, says, “The goal really has been 2015. We have never used 2008 as a start date.” (On the alliance’s Website, Hoffman stated otherwise: “In December 2002, City Hall and the Mayor’s Alliance signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding. The goal is to create a no-kill city by the year 2008.”)

So what happened? Animal workers unanimously point to former Animal Care and Control director Ed Boks, who served from 2003 to ’05. One alliance member snipes, “Boks’s programs had catchy names, but they had no substance and weren’t sustainable.” Boks is remembered for his attempt to address the overwhelming number of pit bulls (over 6,000 per year) coming into ACC by renaming the breed “New Yorkies”—much to the ire of Yorkshire-terrier owners. “It’s unfortunate that in the animal-welfare arena, it’s so easy to throw stones rather than take responsibility,” says Boks. “The problem isn’t that the programs failed but that the city failed the programs.” The city declined to renew Boks’s 2006 contract. Boks’s replacement, the well-liked Mary Martin, won’t be solving things either—she’ll be resigning in March. “New York City is a tough place to work,” says Hoffman.

Anonymous said...

You asked if the impounds can go down with spay/neuter. In San Bernardino County, since the inception of their spay/neuter program, their dog impounds have gone down 50% in five years. They have managed to keep the cats at a 15% growth over those five years and considering the people growth the county experienced this is even more remarkable. But cats are the problem with their impound numbers continuing to rise every year. Spay/neuter is getting to the dogs but not the cats. Why is that? A lot of it has to do with the fact that dogs are licensed and cats are not. Cat impounds have gone down since Lake Elsnore started their cat licensing. They learned how it worked when the city council stopped canvassing for cat licenses for a year or so and the numbers shot right back up. As soon as they started canvassing again for cat licenses, the impounds for cats started dropping. I know this is not what people want to hear, the public has always hated the idea of licensing cats. But if it can save lives, why can't it be considered? There was no run to dump cats at shelters because of licensing in Elsnore and that has been the number one excuse used to stop licensing.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Boks says you have to take responsibility then blames the city for the failure of his programs. Were not his programs his, and at least part of their falure his fault?

Ed Muzika said...

I am not sure I understand the argument. Are you saying spay neuter does not work until there is licensing? If this is the case, can't we deduce that spay neuter does not work and the real cause is licensing?

I would like to have it explained why licensing would decrease cat impounds unless there were a spay/neuter requirement attached to the licensing.

What about feral cats? They are not licensed and are not feral cats a big part of the impond equation?

"Cats are the problem with their impound numbers continuing to rise every year. Spay/neuter is getting to the dogs but not the cats. Why is that? A lot of it has to do with the fact that dogs are licensed and cats are not."

Anonymous said...

I didn't write the post about cat licensing but I think there would be associated spayneuter just like with dogs. Sterilized cats would be cheaper to license. That's the only way licensing can reduce populations.

I would think that feral cats would in essence be treated like unlicensed stray dogs. They could be taken in to the shelter. Or the colony guardian could license the cats with collar and tags. All my cats are sterilized so I wouldn't have a problem. I think it would be problematic for ferals unless there were some great colony guardians.