Ed, Where is LAAS Going?--Ammended

I am very, very sorry to have to publish this post. The numbers show LAAS has failed to cut euthanasia rates during 2006 when they had been trending downwards for the previous four years. I was afraid that this post might cause much additional problems leading to the death of even more animals. I have had this post up on draft status for a week, not having the heart to publish it. But these figures and assessments have been circulating for a week now. I have not checked on the accuracy of all the numbers, but on enough for a general confirmation even of the bizarre rabbit numbers.

Boks has been under extreme pressure for the past year. ADL was after him all the time—as they were me. One can get extremely distracted from one’s work when under siege.I know, I was.

Boks' boss, the Mayor and his lackey, Jim Blackman, have shrugged their shoulders and not protected Boks from this pressure. (I was told "Tough; you asked for it. You are only a volunteer.") Blackman told Boks not to make waves or counterattack ADL, that is, in any way to be controversial, as that might hurt His Honor’s chances of becoming governor.

Boks has been forced to roll over and be passive. He has, in his own mind, needed to be Pollyannish as his only defense against ADL’s constant lies. This has been extremely unfair to him and has left his only real defense to the Blogger and me.

In addition, it takes a minimum of nine months to a year to get rid of bad personnel under civil service. There are many who he wants to get rid of, but hasn’t had the time yet, including some of his vets. Thankfully, the ADL has been fingering the offenders publically.

Stuckey claims to have fired a lot of deadwood, but in fact he only fired one during his year. Boks has not had his two AGMs until late November to share the executive workload. How much is his fault, and how much not, I don’t know. It should not have taken eleven months to fill these positions.

Hiring the new vets has been hard because of problems getting LAAS personnel functional. Paperwork was hung up because the person in City Hall personnel was on vacation for three weeks and no one else could process the applicants' paperwork. Of course, this only explains three weeks out of months of holdups.

Also, LAAS has just increased the starting pay for new vets, which has taken time. The old salaries are far too low, just as are still, the new ones ($83,000). How much Boks could have sped up the process-again, I don't know.

New shelters have not opened on schedule, but this is not Boks fault; construction and scheduling are not been under his control.

Yet, when all is said and done, a year has passed without improvement.

The numbers are as follows:

Ed Boks became the Director of LA Animal Services on January 3, 2006. What has he accomplished during this past year?

Dog euthanasia went down:

2001 56%.
2002 51%.
2003 42%.
2004 37%.
2005 32%.
2006 28%.

There is improvement in this one category though not as much improvement as in previous years. The reason for the reduction in the euthanasia rate is a decrease in the intake and a significant increase in adoptions. Boks gets credit for the increase in adoptions. Kudos for that.

Cat euthanasia stayed the same, even though it'd been going down steadily:

2001 69%.
2002 66%.
2003 65%.
2004 64%.
2005 57.17%.
2006 57.44%

Knowing that the cat euthanasia rate actually went up 1/3 of 1%, Boks chose to express the cat statistic differently than dogs in his press release. He calculated the actual number of cats euthanized to say that fewer cats were euthanized. Of course fewer cats would be euthanized as impounds were down, twice as many escaped and three times as many were stolen. Adoptions were only slightly higher. Notice that euthanasia rates dramatically decreased under Stuckey, 40% more than the other four years combined.

Rabbit euthanasia went up:

2001 38%.
2002 36.
2003 34% %.
2004 19%.
2005 12%.
2006 35%

Maybe it went up because (hopefully) fewer were "adopted out" as food for humans and animals. The only thing is that they'd been "adopting" them out as food all along so that should already be figured into the older numbers yet the euthanasia rate was still decreasing until 2006. Rabbit adoptions were up significantly.

"Other" euthanasia went up even though it'd been going down. This includes birds, reptiles, small pets, farm animals and wildlife:

2001 54%.
2002 57%.
2003 60%.
2004 40%.
2005 28%
2006 32%.

The new wildlife policy took effect in 2004. Before that, they used to kill wildlife. That is why the numbers are down in 2004 and 2005. They were also "adopting" out some small pets like mice and rats as food previously. Again, they've been doing that for years. Adoptions were down.

Overall euthanasia was the same even though it'd been going down steadily:

2001 60%.
2002 56%.
2003 53%,
2004 47%.
2005 41%.
2006 41%,

This is the important number. Why has the euthanasia rate stalled? So far the only thing that Boks has managed to do is increase dog adoptions. I'm thankful for that but I assumed the overall euthanasia rate would go down. Knapp, Greenwalt and Stuckey all reduced the euthanasia rate, even during their first year.

Here are a few other statistical tidbits. Boks keeps saying one reason the euthanasia rate is so high is because of unweaned puppies and kittens. Puppies and kittens make up only 17% of cats and dogs impounded but they do have a euthanasia rate of 71%. The rate of puppies and kittens coming into the shelter has been going down steadily. The higher kill rates of May-August of 2006 compared with 2005 cannot be explained as a result of an abnormally high kitten season; there were actually fewer unweaned cats in 2006 compared to 2005.

Here is the breakdown for type of animal coming in during 2006. Dogs 45% Cats 38% rabbits 2% other 15%.

The main reason the overall euthanasia rate stayed the same was because of cats. The increase in dog adoptions was not enough to offset the cats.


Boks needs to explain the successes and failures of his various programs to the Commission. Which programs worked and which did not? Has each been evaluated for success?

What in the system needs to be fixed? How does he plan on fixing it? When does he plan on fixing it?

How much additional monies does he need and for what programs?

How many additional animals will be saved per year after the new shelters fully come on line?

If an additional 5,000 volunteer hours, which would be the most effective in saving lives above and beyond basic health care: Adoption events? Socialization? Public relations and customer services? Educational information for adopters? Liaison with rescue groups? Education for owners turning in?

Just asking generically for more and more help does not sound like a manager who knows what he is doing. He or she must tell us where help is most needed. Does the volunteer coordinator need more assistant volunteer coordinators?

Is there any idea of how many spay/neuters can be accomplished next year if LAAS vets and outsourced clinical are maxed out? What would be the expected decrease in impounds and unweaned animals during 2008 as a result? Or, is Ed just winging it, hoping for a significant decrease?

When can we expect to get to a 15% dog and cat kill rate? What are the specific goals and benchmarks by which we can judge progressive success or failure? Any business plan, if it is to attract investors, needs benchmarks and milestones.

Boks has asked us to unquestioningly accept what he is doing and watch his success. Throughout the year I have been reporting his successes from the great stats January-April, to the dinner given by Brunson, to defending him against the ADL lies and half truths, to defending his record in NYC, to posting all of the promised programs, changes, increased budget, new shelters, and the benefits these should bring. I have said nothing as the LAAS numbers went south from May on and instead focused on protecting Boks against personal ADL attacks--which were severe and frequent and I am sure threw him off his feed week after week.

So then, for what then do we hold Boks accountable?

Here are some past projections which he completely missed:

"LA Animal Services rescues more than 125 animals every day, and despite this constant influx of animals we are committed to euthanizing 10% fewer animals every month than we did the same month last year."

Not only did they not euthanize fewer, they euthanized more in the last half of the year.

From Boks six month GM report:

Los Angeles city and county combined have cut their shelter killing in half since 2003, and at a combined rate of 3.94 are now killing fewer animals per 1,000 residents than San Francisco killed in 1994, the first year of the Adoption Pact that made San Francisco the first "no-kill city."

That number is wrong. It's not 3.94, it's 5.1. The 3.94 was based on using the LA City euthanasia figure divided by the LA County population number, which is almost double the City population.

"In just the first six months of 2006, we have seen another 12 percent decrease in dog and cat euthanasia compared to the same period in 2005. In the 05/06 Fiscal Year just ending, fewer than 19,500 animals were euthanized. This is the lowest number of animals killed in any one-year period in LA City history! At mid-calendar 06, the number of dogs and cats euthanized is 7,800. If we are able to maintain or improve our current efforts we may reduce dog and cat euthansia to under 16,000 this calendar year representing an additional 20% decrease in euthanasia."

Not only did Boks miss this projection by 17%, but euthanasia went up in the second half of the year. It was 32% higher than in the first half of the year. In 2006, 19,216 were euthanized instead of his projected 16,000 He posted the opening dates for all the shelters. They are all behind schedule. Only one has opened.

He talks about the new spayneuter clinics. They are not open and won't be open for a while. He said he would double the New Hope partners from 60 to 120 in six months but he only has 70 after six months.

He talks about the STAR program which provides medical care to severely injured animals rescued by the shelter. The shelter has always done this. He just called it a "program" and gave it a name.

The Big Fix program is not a program. It's just a name he gave to our existing group of spayneuter programs. He said he will do a 20 page monthly GM report but stopped doing them in August when the numbers went south.

He missed the implementation date for all of his programs. He stopped the plus one, minus one program when he started missing all his numbers. He did 39,000 or so spay/neuter in 2006, predicted in a report that he'd do 55,000, then told me he would be doing 10,000 a month by the beginning of 2008.

So far his projections have been extremely unrealistic.

It is time for Mr. Boks to have a series of fireside chats and not pep talks telling us where he is taking LAAS.

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