A Wonderful Post

The comment below was written in response to "Naysayer" who always finds fault with the notion that No-Kill is possible in LA. Naysayer's comments can be seen in my post about No-Kill success in San Francisco. This response is so beautiful I had to put it here as a post.

"That's correct, "very few people come into the animal shelters looking to adopt an old, ordinary dog or cat." The general public doesn't want to enter the doors of a death chamber. They don't feel good about bringing their children inside to choose a family pet when it's evident that the animals are suffering in these dungeons of death. The "shelters" don't even bother to give the animals a bath to make them feel better and look presentable. The most basic and obvious problems are not addressed.

Not everyone is looking for a male or female "model-type" pet. Lots of people are attracted to pets with personality rather than stunning good looks. Some intentionally are drawn to the old, sick or injured animals in need and animals that they know others (like "nay-sayer") just simply will not be interested in providing a home for.

There are lots of good, "ordinary" PEOPLE that do not place high expectations on a pet or don't mind getting a "fixer upper." It's precisely these lower-income areas where some of these "ordinary" people live that will provide homes for these "ordinary" animals and be happy and satisfied to do so.

I'm sure San Francisco has it's share of "ordinary" dogs and cats. It's unrealistic to try to make a negative point of something that clearly does not pertain only to Los Angeles. Having a supply of ordinary animals is not exclusive to Los Angeles.

I believe the "nay-sayer" viewpoint stems from a projection of one's own expectations. I have rescued and placed these "ordinary" mixed-breed adult brown dogs in happy homes with "ordinary" people in low-income areas that were thrilled to have these dogs.

The dogs have been allowed to live indoors in these "ordinary" houses with these "ordinary" people and are well loved. I have seen dogs such as these live out their lives in these "ordinary" homes. I have observed families gravitate with great enthusiasm towards what may appear to be the "ordinary" mixed-breed adult brown dog often enough. These "ordinary" people take PRIDE in their "ordinary" dogs and are very attached to them. I have direct experience with this and no one can tell me this is not so. Know your audience."

My experience is similar. I have had so many ordinary cats who have lived with me over the years. I found each extraordinary. They were the usual, the tabbies, tuxedos, gray and whites, calicos, orange and torties.

SF shelter director says SF at 80% live save rate

I talked to Carl Friedman, Director of San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control. I was asking for SF shelter data. He gave me numbers. As a matter of fact, he gave me ten years of numbers.

For fiscal 2005-2006:

The live release rate for cats was 83%!!
The live release rate for dogs was 73%
The live release rate for Cats and Dogs was 80%

Many people say that this save rate is not possible in LA, because LA is so much larger than SF.

Friedman’s response is that in any large city, there are many more people to adopt, rescue and foster than in San Francisco. He sees no reason why any major city should not have an 80% live save rate.

SF's live save rate for unweaned kittens is extremely high for those more than a few days old, compared to 23% in LA because of a well-developed foster program.

SF has an impound rate 17% less per thousand than LA, but they have a live save rate of 80% instead of 55%. LA kills 4.8 animals per thousand people, while San Francisco kills 2.1. I have been using SF numbers for four years as a goal for LA. Then I only had their number for 2003-2004. The current numbers are validation.

Yet, and get this, they have a budget of only $2.8 million and only 43 employees!! They also have 150 volunteers, or about 3-1/2 per employee.

Others have said LA demographics are not the same as SF. Yes, that's true, SF has a higher education and income level than LA, but their overall impound rate is only 17% lower than LA.

The key to success says Friedman is community involvement. This is exactly what Susanne Kogut from Charlottesville said as well as Tara Derby from Philadelphia.

Charlottesville, San Francisco and Philadelphia all have successful unweaned kitten and puppy programs. All three claim extremely low kill. Kogut says their kill for neonatals is almost non-existant. She did not quantify. Friedman says very few die in SF but did not quantify. Tara Derby from Philadelphia says the cats and kittens “fly out their door," and the neonatals have a very low death rate because of their foster program.

Here, in LA, my biggest gripe is that cats, especially kittens, get screwed big time, 77% are killed, most on their first day. LA has a long, long way to go before it is anywhere near San Francisco.

Response to a Nay-Sayer

Please read the comment to my previous post written by a person who says the Charlottesville foster solution will never work in LA.

I have heard dozens of commenters, including Boks, say approximately this: What works elsewhere will not work in LA because LA is so much bigger. It is a loser attitude that has to be overcome. The solutions suggested by successful programs elsewhere should not be tossed aside because LA is not Podunk.

Rather, we should think, "How can we do this in LA?"

My detailed response to the commenter:

Your attitude is that of losing. Instead of can't do, you need a can do attitude.

If you read the Kogut quotes carefully, she said they DEVELOPED a foster program. Fosters beget fosters. Increased fosters led to increased adoptions. Saving kittens became a community project.

As to your numbers, Charlottesville had approximately 1,700 unweaned cats and dogs and a population of 140,000, while LA had 8,000 unweaned animals and a population of 4,000,000.

That is, Los Angeles had fewer than 5 times as many neonatals, but had 27 times the population.

Charlottesville saved almost as many neonatals as LA, 1,700 vs. 2055, but had only 4% of LA's population. No matter how you slice, dice it, or try to analyze their success away, fostering is working there and not here. Why?

Philly, I understand--and I am requesting complete stats now--went from 89% kill to 50% kill in 18 months!!! That is, a 37.5% decrease in kill rate in 18 months or about 25% per year. If this improvment continues, it will be a 50% decrease in two years. It took LA 5 years to accomplish the same thing and there has been no improvment at all under Boks.

Why? Apparently it was a massive mobilization of community rescue partners. Our New Hope program is failing, not improving.

Rather than just say we already have foster programs and New Hope programs, therefore we are doing the standard No-Kill things, we have to understand why our New Hope and foster programs are relative failures compared to Philly and Charlottesville.

You need to compare resources to handle the problem as well as the sheer raw numbers. LA has many, many times more resources that Charlottesville. The LA unweaned problem is small in proportion to the relative resources of the two cities.

Then you complain that the unweaned will survive until they become adoptable kittens and we are not adopting enough now. You assume this will always will be the case. If that is your assumption, of course you are stuck forever. FOREVER!

Kogut said adoptions went up in proportion to fosters, which makes sense. It became a community priority, an attitude that was developed and cultivated. It was not there before. Of course that attitude and committment would be hard to sustain, but it may last long enough for S/N and TNR programs to work.


Please read carefully what she and others, who say it can be done, propose; think about what they say, and then generate helpful objections.

Now here is Boks’ dilemma: The existing LAAS staff when he became GM would have never been able to do this. They didn't care enough, they were lazy in comparison, and the losers could not be fired.

Since we haven't had a GM report in 6-1/2 months, we do not know how many of the 178 budgeted new employees were added. We do not know whether Boks has hired even one of the needed go-getters. This is his job, to find and develop talent.

We know a massive foster program provably works elsewhere. Why not concentrate on developing a foster program? If we save an additional 4,000 unweaned animals, we cut the overall euth rate by 20%.

Rather than having continuous Boks' sideshows, why not put all of his hitherto PR efforts into developing a foster program using the old employees who do have a lot of energy and do care, along with a few, new go-getters?

As it is, his emphasis appears to be on TNR and S/N. These are long term solutions that do not save animals NOW.

Until we get another 8 vets and the S/N clinics open and TNR becomes a city supported policy, it is a long, long term solution.

A secondary consideration is that LAAS is not one big shelter. It is or will be seven smaller shelters. As Winograd says and Kogut proves by example, it is the shelter manager who makes all the difference. Ed needs finding seven dynamite shelter managers his first priority.

The Neonates Need Not be Killed

From Feb 28. 2006 to March 1, 2007, 7,314 unweaned kittens were impounded by LAAS. 5,624 were killed, or 77%. New Hope got 1,238, 242 were adopted, and 184 were fostered.

Ms. Kogut says of Charlottesville:

"The neonatals are easy, you need to find foster homes. About 1,700 animals went into foster care for us out of 5,000. There is some duplication in those numbers. For instance, if a litter of (10) pups went into foster and the foster went out of town, and the same litter went into another foster home, that would count as 20 (our computer systems track it that way)."

"Nonetheless, that is the answer to motherless kittens. People just assume that fosters are impossible to find. But that is not the case, fostering catches on, the more you get the more those fosters bring in new fosters. We have people who love fostering kittens. When one litter is old enough for adoption, they will bring them back in and pick up another litter. They are truly unbelievable. You just have to make it a good experience. As we fostered more, quite frankly our adoptions went up (which meant more adoption fees)."

So, Charlottesville with 1,700 unweaned kittens, saved all but the sick or injured, while LA, with only a little more than four times the number of neonates in Charlottesville, saved only 23% through New Hope and adoptions. Fosters accounted for only 2.5%. LAAS needs to put a lot of effort into its foster programs.

Susanne also said that rescue groups were less significant for their program than here, because in Charlottesville, rescuers take more out of higher kill local area shelters in neighboring areas than from CSPCA.

Of course, then the problem becomes adopting more kittens. But Kogut states that as fosters went up, so did adoptions and income.

Everyone considered the neonates an insoluble problem, just as they do here, but Charlottesville then solved it. The same with kittens; this would be another insoluble problem until an answer is found.

But you see, other problems will always arise and the point is to have people that can solve them. It appears the answer is compassion, energy, commitment and work, along with a strong dollop of ingenuity.
Regarding Boks, she states that LA is a different bird than Charlottesville and everything takes more time even to get basics in place.

Charlottesville Goes No-Kill After Winograd Consult

A few days ago I sent a request for information regarding impound and disposition statistics from the Charlottesville, SPCA, an open-admission shelter that Nathan Winograd had recently consulted with.

I received a long response from its director, Suzzanne Kogut. Their live save rates and euthanasia rates are essentially the same as Winograd obtained in Tompkins County, namely a 92% save rate for both dogs and cats.

These statistics are required by the state and are posted on-line by the Virginia Department of Agriculture, so there is not much room for fudging.

She does tell me that the 2006 report has not yet been finalized, so I did not quote specific numbers.

Ms. Kogut states:

The Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA is an open-admission no-kill facility. We take in all animals brought in by the city and county animal control officers and the public as strays. We take in animals that owners desire to surrender although an appointment is required. We are the only facility that accepts homeless pets in the Charlottesville-Albemarle community.

We saved approximately 92% of all cats and dogs that came into our facility. With this save rate, we achieved our No Kill goal. By comparison, the overall save rate for animals in the Commonwealth of Virginia was 36% for dogs and 55% for cats.

We did not euthanize any animal for space but only if they had serious medical conditions, serious aggression issues or posed a public health and safety risk. These figures represent another successful year of lowering euthanasia rates.

Our dog euthanasia rate declined by 38% (from 13% in 2005 to 8% in 2006) and our cat euthanasia rate declined by an astounding 76%(from 33% in 2005 to 8% in 2006). Since 2004, our dog euthanasia rate has declined 53% and our cat euthanasia rate has declined 85%.

Kogut also stated:

We are a much smaller community (than LA), about 150,000 people population. Our Budget is $2 million, we take in 5,000 animals and have 48 employees (5 of which are part-time). I am sure Nathan has also told you to contact Philly as they have made progress, and San Fran's numbers from years past should be helpful. I was in DC for years, and have been to LA, so I know people are going to say you can not use Charlottesville as a comparison. However, I would just put our info out there with the past success of San Fran, the present success of Philly and then us and Tompkins county.

Please let me know is I can be of any additional help. Susanne M. KogutExecutive DirectorCharlottesville Albemarle SPCA434-973-5959 ext. 254

There will always be complaints that you cannot compare a small shelter system to a large one. Why? The Charlottesville shelter is impounding animals at a higher rate per thousand people than LA and they are saving a lot higher number of animals per thousand as LA. LAAS consists of six and soon seven separate shelters and served shelter areas. Why cannot each be considered an autonomous services area and unit?

Pet Deaths Now Over 1,000

Multiple sources are saying the final toll may be in the thousands.

The www.petconnections.com website now reports 1,000 have died:

I’m sad to say we’ve passed a milestone. We now have more than 1,000 pets reported as deceased into our PetConnection.com database.

Again, we must put things in perspective. These are self-reported numbers. We have asked everyone if they checked the brand against the recall list, and have also asked them to provide a veterinary reference. We felt that this would give us a better chance of having numbers that reflect reality. Most people both named their veterinarian and named the brand.

We have said from the first that we put the database up because we believed based on all the anecdotal evidence we were seeing — in our e-mail boxes, and on forums and blogs — that the number of dead pets was far greater than what the government was, and is, reporting.


Doctors Caution Thousands More Pet Deaths Expected. Kidney Failure Noted in Growing Number of Animals

March 22, 2007 — As investigators look for a cause behind the 15 confirmed pet food deaths, doctors at New York's Animal Medical Center suspect there will be a much larger rash of cases after learning of an additional 200 cases of kidney failure in animals.

Doctors at the hospital, which is considered the Mayo Clinic of veterinary medicine, say they noticed the kidney failure while studying sick animals from last Friday to Monday, and traced the cases back to the 60 million cans and pouches of recalled food from Menu Food.

"I was shocked and surprised, acute kidney failure is not a common problem," veterinarian Cathy Langston told ABC's David Kerley. "I've already heard about 200 cases, and so I bet that there are probably going to be thousands."

And it's a crisis, if the New York hospital is right, that will not end for weeks.
"I'm worried that there are more deaths to come from chronic renal failure over the next several months," Langston said. "It's not over."

Summarizing the gist of other internet info, it appears 1 out of every 7 animals who ate the food have died.

WARNING--Pet Food!

Regarding the unfolding emergency with regard to fatal pet food, as a precautionary measure, avoid all pet foods with wheat gluten and gravy. It appears there is some risk that other pet food will be added to the recall list.

WARNING! 845 Pets May Have Died From Contaminated Food

Final death toll may be in the thousands....

Kevin Bell
March 22 (Bloomberg) -- Menu Foods Ltd. said it's no closer to finding out whether substances in its dog and cat food led to the deaths of 13 cats and one dog reported in the U.S.

Separately, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sought criminal investigations into the deaths and a "self-reporting'' Web site run by a veterinarian, www.petconnection.com, reported 845 pets dead due to the pet- food recall.

Company spokesman Sam Bornstein said in an interview today tests have come back negative for a variety of potential causes of kidney failure suffered by the animals, including heavy metals, mold and bacteria.

Menu Foods, based in Toronto suburb of Streetsville, said on March 16 it recalled cans and pouches of pet food with gravy sold under brand names such as Iams, Eukanuba and retailers' own labels after linking pet deaths with the food. The company has hired university scientists and independent laboratories to help it find the cause of what is making the animals ill.

"It's a puzzle,'' Bornstein said. "We have yet to draw a scientific link between that testing and the issues with pets that have been reported.''

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported this week that 13 cats and one dog died after eating Menu Foods' products from plants in Kansas and New Jersey. Its investigation focused on wheat gluten.

Menu Foods has declined to identify the suspect ingredient, and said a switch to a new supplier coincided with customers' complaints.

Pet owners, meanwhile, reported 1,715 sick or dead animals to the Petconnection Web site as of late this morning, including 500 cats and 345 dogs that died. While the numbers are "self- reporting,'' the majority of owners checked the food fed to the animals against Menu Foods' recall list, the site said.

"If nothing else, these numbers show the tragedy is much bigger than the official reports,'' it said. Marty Becker, a Twin Falls, Idaho-based veterinarian who oversees the Pet Connection site, couldn't immediately be reached for further comment.

Criticize Boks for the Right Reasons

Boks is being roundly criticized for things I think he should not.

Part of Boks’ job is PR, hobnobbing, building relationships with partners, Council, City staff, and reporters, thereby raising LAAS’ profile. Being GM does not mean you spend every hour in the kennels. The Chief of Police does not spend every hour in precinct stations. We'd think he would be nuts to do so when he should be trying to create a consensus community, building a better command structure, better relationships with Council, or improving the IT capability of the department. It is up to the operations GM to be in constant contact with shelter management. This is Knaan's job now even if Boks was never there before.

Operations are not everything.Cheerleading the way to No-Kill is essential. I think public education regarding the realities of pet overpopulation and writing a pro-Ed, pro-LAAS blog certainly are valuable uses of his time. I do not think writing an 11 page Fact vs. Rumor self-defense post is a misuse of time, especially when your job is on the line. I do not feel defending yourself from any accusation is objectionable. I ought to know, I was writing almost daily rebuttals to attacks against Boks, LAAS and me.

I do not think having a Match.com account objectionable, but maybe denying having had one is. I do not think sending risqué emails or worse is objectionable in itself. I do not think writing sermons should be verboten; in fact, if you can do it, you must, it is a moral obligation.I do not agree that having newly named programs is only a semantic/marketing joke if they work better than before they had names. Of course it is objectionable if you say you have a program and it does not exist.I do think that using the words No-Kill in the same breathe as LAAS is objectionable, as it appears to be a very distant goal and a conceptual mirage the way things are going now.

Boks has provided no reason to have confidence that LAAS will ever be No-Kill; he has provided no success, no plan, no apology, no explanation of where we are, and he tells lies like having taken a Giant Leaps towards No-Kill when the euth rate is static.

Everything short of cannibalism is acceptable to me if real progress towards saving animals' lives is happening.

Bringing the kill rate down, bringing the disease rate down and hiring eight new vets is critical. That this is not happening is the only reason to criticize Boks. The only reason. That is his job, his contract, his commitment.

In fact, I think each month we should publish the euthanasia and live save raw numbers and the euth and live save rates as a constant measure of his success or lack thereof. We need to list any new vet hired each month. We should list what new kennels have come on line. We should ask for each month's first day kill numbers. And, we should continually demand a plan.

Menu Foods Deliberately Fed Poisoned Food to Its Own Animals--7 Die

Associated Press
Andrew Bridges

WASHINGTON (AP) -- As many as one in six animals died in tests of suspect dog and cat food by the manufacturer after complaints the products were poisoning pets around the country, the government said Monday.

A federal investigation is focusing on wheat gluten as the likely source of contamination that sparked a recall last Friday of 60 million cans and pouches of the suspect food, said Stephen F. Sundlof, the Food and Drug Administration's top veterinarian.

The ingredient, a protein source, is commonly used as filler. Agency investigators are looking at other ingredients as well. The wet-style pet food was made by Menu Foods, an Ontario, Canada-based company.

Menu Foods told the FDA it received the first complaints of kidney failure and deaths among cats and dogs from pet owners on Feb. 20. It began new tests on Feb. 27.

During those tests, the company fed its product to 40 to 50 dogs and cats and some seven animals - the mix of species was not immediately known - died, Sundlof said. The contamination appeared more deadly to cats than to dogs, he said.

The recall now covers dog food sold throughout North America under 51 brands and cat food sold under 40 brands, including Iams, Nutro and Eukanuba. The food was sold under both store and major brand labels at Wal-Mart, Kroger, Safeway and other large retailers.

The FDA has yet to tally how many reports it has received of cats and dogs suffering kidney failure or death. The company has reported just 10 deaths, of nine cats and a single dog.

"We're testing and testing, but we can't identify the problem in the product," Tuite said. A complete list of the recalled products along with product codes, descriptions and production dates was available from the Menu Foods Web site, http://www.menufoods.com/recall . The company also designated two phone numbers that pet owners could call for information - (866) 463-6738 and (866) 895-2708. The lines have been swamped by callers.


More News on the Pet Food

The full list of food brands affected was in today's Sunday times. It includes food made by Science Diet, I Ams and Eukanuba, all top brands. There are almost 90 other brands involved. Friskies and Fancy Feast foods were not among those affected.

The kinds of cat foods affected were those labeled as "Tender Cuts in Gravy," sold between December 2006 and March 6, 2007.


Pet deaths prompt recall of pet food

By ANDREW BRIDGES, Associated Press Writer Fri Mar 16, 6:49 PM ET

A major manufacturer of dog and cat food sold under Wal-Mart, Safeway, Kroger and other store brands recalled 60 million containers of wet pet food Friday after reports of kidney failure and deaths.

An unknown number of cats and dogs suffered kidney failure and about 10 died after eating the affected pet food, Menu Foods said in announcing the North American recall. Product testing has not revealed a link explaining the reported cases of illness and death, the company said.

"At this juncture, we're not 100 percent sure what's happened," said Paul Henderson, the company's president and chief executive officer. However, the recalled products were made using wheat gluten purchased from a new supplier, since dropped for another source, spokeswoman Sarah Tuite said.
The recall covers the company's "cuts and gravy" style food, which consists of chunks of meat in gravy, sold in cans and small foil pouches between Dec. 3 and March 6 throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The pet food was sold by stores operated by the Kroger Company, Safeway Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and PetSmart Inc., among others, Henderson said.
Menu Foods did not immediately provide a full list of brand names and lot numbers covered by the recall, saying they would be posted on its Web site — http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/ap/ap_on_bi_ge/storytext/pet_food_recall/22295566/SIG=111rhqlkt/*http:/www.menufoods.com/recall — early Saturday. Consumers with questions can call (866) 463-6738.

The company said it manufacturers for 17 of the top 20 North American retailers. It is also a contract manufacturer for the top branded pet food companies, including Procter & Gamble Co.

P&G announced Friday the recall of specific 3 oz., 5.5 oz., 6 oz. and 13.2 oz. canned and 3 oz. and 5.3 oz. foil pouch cat and dog wet food products made by Menu Foods but sold under the Iams and Eukanuba brands. The recalled products bear the code dates of 6339 through 7073 followed by the plant code 4197, P&G said.

Menu Foods' three U.S. and one Canadian factory produce more than 1 billion containers of wet pet food a year. The recall covers pet food made at company plants in Emporia, Kan., and Pennsauken, N.J., Henderson said.

Henderson said the company received an undisclosed number of owner complaints of vomiting and kidney failure in dogs and cats after they had been fed its products. It has tested its products but not found a cause for the sickness.

"To date, the tests have not indicated any problems with the product," Henderson said.

The company alerted the Food and Drug Administration, which already has inspectors in one of the two plants, Henderson said. The FDA was working to nail down brand names covered by the recall, agency spokesman Mike Herndon said.

Don't Laugh, Boks Says We Are Near No-Kill.

Ed, I will provisionally accept your explanation that you had of no past problems in your work in NYC or in Phoenix.

I will agree that you currently have no account at Match.com. Even if you did, so what? But you do not deny you had an account in the past.

I will accept provisionally that you did not send pornographic emails. If you did, so what? However, I have seen one such email purportedly sent by you, but until I have seen supporting data for this allegation, I shall assume the email to be bogus. I have also heard you sent emails of a nude Paris Hilton to rescuers. My opinion is the same: I don't know whether this is true or not, but it is irrelevant if you did.

I strongly disagree with your statement:

In fact, his (Muzika's) misinformed allegations were based on his misunderstanding of the data in his possession.

Later you state:

Ed Muzika made these allegations with partial data. Muzika was using the information from the impound but did not have the information collected later on these animals.

So, which was it, did I make a misinformed allegation based on misunderstanding the data in my possession, or did I did not have all the data?

The data I had were those received by Mr. Jensen from a Request for Public Records. If you did not supply all the records, and you said you had, and then later you find additional information not available to Mr. Jensen or me, how can you say I misunderstood the data or made a misinformed allegation when you never supplied all the data in the first place?

I also disagree with your intentional misinforming the public about the alleged progress in the save and kill numbers under your watch in 2006.

You cherry-pick the numbers which apparently prove your allegations of improvement.

You conveniently switch back and forth between the number of animals killed, the percentage in decrease in animals killed, and the rate of killing.

The number of Other Animals killed in 2006 decreased by 128, or 5%, but there were fewer animals impounded. Therefore, the rate of killing actually increased from 28% to 32%, and the change in the rate of killing actually increased 14%.

The way you break down statistical categories makes it almost impossible to determine what is happening overall. Stats are broken into Dogs, Cats, Rabbits and Others. You can make a gain in any single area and call it a giant leap forward, while there are counterbalancing losses in many other areas.

As one of my readers stated, "If you squeeze any statistics hard enough, they will confess to anything."You have been squeezing the statistics very hard, perhaps based upon practice in NYC and in Maricopa County.

I strongly object to your assertion that:

The decline (in Dogs and Cats killed) was not as dramatic in 2006 as previous years because we are getting so close to No-Kill.

We are getting "so close to No-Kill?" 19,214 killed out of 46,418 is close to No-Kill? A 56% kill of all cats impounded is No-Kill?

How on earth can you say such a thing?

It appears you are saying we are close to No-Kill because you are backing off from using the terms "adoptable" and "treatable," and instead substitute the words "easy to adopt" and "challenging."May I suggest that using such terms, we were No-Kill five years ago? Why then did we need you?

Everyone is laughing at you when you say that we are near No-Kill.

You also state that:

"As we get our feral cat and pit bull populations under control we will take yet another giant leap towards No-Kill."

I am confused. First you say we are near No-Kill, then you say if we stop killing thousands and thousands of unweaned kittens and pitbulls, then we will be close to No-Kill. Which is it, are we close to No-Kill now, or will we be close to No-Kill after killing several thousand fewer animals?

I don't doubt that we will be close to No-Kill if we kill thousands fewer animals, but this is certainly not going to happen within the next five years under you. This is tantamount to saying once we get all untreatble animals under control, we will have taken even more of a giant step towards No-Kill. Of course, but WHEN AND HOW? Where is your plan?

I highly disagree with your speculation that the decreased number of animals taken in by rescue groups means LAAS is more efficient at adopting out the "easy to adopt" animals, meaning there are fewer easy to adopt animals for rescuers, and they are left with the more "challenging" animals.

This assumption would mean that there is a very high percentage of animals that will never be adopted because LAAS and the New Hope groups are adopting just about all that will ever be adopted. This is an admission of failure. You are saying this is as good as it is going to get under you.

When I first talked to you about the drop in New Hope adoptions during February last year, you said you had no idea why there were fewer NH adoptions.Now you say that "suggests" that NH's are down because LAAS has done a better job.

The NH numbers being down can also "suggest":

There are increased problems between LAAS and NH partners, such as reported confusion during the first 6 months of your tenure.
NH partners have less money than before to support and adopt animals out compared to 2005.
There are fewer NH volunteers. That is, there are fewer rescue groups or they have fewer volunteers.
Less cooperation by LAAS personnel.
You choose the answer in a way that best suits your continued positive spin regarding anything you have done in the past. There is no ability to accept failures as your own. Why can you not just say that you don’t know and ask for help from all of us?


More On Discrimination Against Cats

Can anyone tell me why the cage capacity for dogs is 250% that for cats (290 vs 710), and the cage capacity for "other" is also larger than for cats? If there were as much capacity for cats as dogs, would not the egregious discrimination be addressed to an extent?

I just don't get it. Cats, in general require far less space than dogs. If they had the same total square footage as dogs, they might be able to house 1,500 cats or more. So why the discrimination? Why the much shorter hold time and much quicker kill for cats?

The number of cats impounded are three times as many as "Other animals" yet actually have 10 fewer cages assigned for them.

Is No-Kill Possible?

Several previous posters have opined that No-Kill just does not work for open admission shelters. This is stated as if it were a fact and we should go on to rethink No-Kill, whatever that means, as if we were not already constantly thinking about it. To say that No-Kill open shelters are impossible, is foolish and self-defeating pessimism.

A thing is impossible until it is not.

Flying through the air was impossible until the airplane was invented. Traveling to the moon was impossible until we did it in 1968. Kidney and heart transplants were impossible until the 1980s, but now are almost routine all over the world.

Nothing with a technological solution is impossible. Nothing. No kill sheltering is only a matter of numbers, marketing, S/N, logistics and manpower. We are not going to Mars here.

A reasonable approximation of No-Kill has been achieved, or so claimed, by some smaller (under 7,000 animals per year) shelter systems.

No one defines No-Kill as every animal going in comes out alive; that does not even happen in a with a good private practice vet clinic. Always animals coming in sick and injured should be put down for their own sake. Certain dangerous dogs should be put down and still the shelter would be considered no kill.

With a large shelter system such as LAAS with 47,000 dogs and cats impounded a year, if they can achieve the same kill rates as smaller, open admission admitted No-Kill shelters, then we will have arrived.

What I would question is the assumption that large shelter systems cannot be as effective as smaller systems in terms of saving lives if they have the same proportionate budget and manpower, especially in a place like LA where there are multiple shelters serving multiple areas, in effect, having six smaller shelter systems.

I think Boks’ definition of animals killed per thousand residents is more a statement about resident demographics than about the condition and adoptability of impounded animals. New Yorkers would have fewer animals per thousand residents, therefore a lower kill/1000 pop than would a rural Midwester area.

This should not be a criteria for measuring No-Kill.

Some smaller open admission shelters claim a live save rate for dogs of 90% or better. Winograd claimed no treatable cat was killed at Tompkins County. I would assume that did not include 100% of the unweaned kittens—I don’t know.

If the dissenters mean we should more carefully define No-Kill, I agree. But to state that No-Kill is impossible a priori, is defeatist foolishness.

No-Kill as an attainable goal is incredibly important as it is a lead-in to obtaining a No-Kill state of mind towards all animals in the future, including other humans. Creating No-Kill shelters would be a great milestone in the effort to achieve a higher morality for all of mankind. Its importance as a concept and goal should be assessed from that viewpoint.

Time for the Heavy Spinning

Ed Boks published a new post today called Time for the Heavy Lifting. I think it was written in jest and my response should be taken that way too.

SPIN: LA Animal Services has been striving to achieve No-Kill for several years. Over the past five years LA Animal Services has reduced dog and cat euthanasia by 50%.

TRUTH: Yes Ed, LAAS made a lot of progress towards no kill under Greenwalt and Stuckey, but none under your watch in 2006.

SPIN; Many animal welfare professionals have long considered 5 killings per 1000 residents to be the threshold to achieving No-Kill.

TRUTH: O.k., I guess one could say—theoretically--that 19,263 animals killed is on the threshold of no kill. Of course that person would be insane.

SPIN: New Hope placements are down 8.5% - suggesting LA Animal Services is efficiently adopting out the most adoptable animals and our New Hope partners are helping many of the more difficult to place animals, nearly 6,000 in the last twelve months. This leaves what many might consider the most "un-adoptable" or unwanted animals.

TRUTH: Oh come on. It could also suggest a deteriorating relationship between LAAS and the rescue groups. It could also suggest they have less money than the year before to take care of the animals once adopted. Would they say, "You guys are less adoptable, therefore we are investing in Google rather than in you."

SPIN: LA Animal Services is doing its part. Pet overpopulation is a community problem requiring community support. Making LA Animal Services the enemy, as some armchair activists do, is like holding Doctors Without Borders responsible for third world disease.

TRUTH: LAAS is like Doctors Without Borders? How about like St. Francis and Mother Teresa?

SPIN: The vile discourse common among a small number of self professed animal welfare proponents in LA serves only to make the final mile of the race to No-Kill more difficult, not less.

TRUTH: That is a very, very big final mile. Is this like your "Giant Leap Towards No Kill" Last Year? Why not just say we are no kill right now?

SPIN: While I am loathe calling attention to this faction because it only gives them the attention they crave, it is important to understand the damage they do to the cause of animal welfare in Los Angeles.

TRUTH: I used to believe this too. But criticism is now coming from a lot of former friends and supporters who see the lack of progress under your watch. In effect you are blaming all critics now for your failure.

The Plan Ed, Where is the Plan?

It is a cliché that we cannot adopt our way out of killing in the shelter through adoptions. But it appears obvious to me you can’t spay/neuter your way out either.
For example, Boks has made no attempt to get a hold on the basic population dynamics of cats and dogs in Los Angeles.
How many housed cats are there? How many feral? Ditto dogs. Which area of LA are they? Does a feral cat in South Central have a higher mortality rate than the East Valley?
It is intuitively obvious that unless we S/N at least as many animals as coming in, there will be no decrease in the number of animals out there, and therefore no decrease in impounds. No decrease in impounds coupled with no way to adopt our way out, means no reduction in the killing.
But, even then how many spay/neuters are required to significantly reduce impounds? Two times the number of impounds, four times? Do we need more feral vouchers or more housed?
The number of cat and dog impounded is about 47,000 a year. Therefore, we’d need a minimum of 47,000 spay/neuters per year to hold even. Last year we were not even close to that.
Even then, we know one female cat can have 4-6 kittens per year or more, and maybe 3-4 of the ferals’ kittens can survive each year. Theoretically then—and check me on this—we need to spay/neuter at least 3 times as many cats and dogs as impounds, or about 140,000 for the first year before impounds decrease below what seems to be a fixed level of about 47,000 the next year. Of course I have not factored in the death rate, as I don't know what it is, just as Mr. Boks does not know what it is.

We have not done a fraction of that many S/N, nor will we until 2008/2009.

Then again, of the kittens from housed cats, what happens to them? Are a substabtial number brought in to LAAS for killing, or are those impounded the tip of the iceberg? I don't know, does Ed Boks know?
I asked Boks whether there was some way to temporarily increase space available during the kitten season. He said he was working on leasing space. Kitten season is almost here. What has he done? Is any space leased? Are the new shelters opening by April? Most were supposed to be open by now. Or, was the leasing just talk?
Has he included any help offered by rescue groups in his planning for temporary digs for thousands of cats and dogs? Anybody, anybody out there, has he consulted with you and asked your cooperation regarding temporary kitten season digs? I doubt it. He keeps his cards close to his chest.
An email was forwarded to me from the former head of the Sonoma County shelter system. He said the population dynamics of cats and dogs followed a 6 or 7 year cycle. Did Boks ever mention this to us? Did he know?
Evans offered his help—gratis—to Boks and LAAS, and Boks never bothered to respond by email or phone, even to reject it. Mr. Evans said that by the end of 90 days one should know enough about the lay of the land to expect a plan, a plan that would ever be changing as new situations arise; but where is Boks’ plan?

Mr. Evans said that the first three years of no kill efforts produced the greatest results, and this would explain Greenwalt’s and Stuckey’s relative success, and the low fruit of progress has already been picked. This could also explain Winograd’s success. He ran Ithaca’s shelters for 2-3 years, and then consults for one to two years until the low-hanging fruit is picked.
Evans said after that progress would be very slow, about 2-4% per year, unless a system gets about $1 million dollars per 100,000 people; in LA, that would be over $30 million, and even then, we cannot expect rapid improvement. Is this true? If so, the animals are screwed and Boks never told us it would be this difficult.
Ed, where is the plan? Can you tell me how many ferals are out there and in which sections of town? Can you tell me what resources LAAS has to spay/neuter at any shelter and can we transport animals for S/N to less crowded shelters and transport them back? Has he asked the rescue groups for help in this area?
Accountability Ed, who is responsible for no progress last year, you, LAAS staff, an irresponsible public, the 11 year sunspot cycle, Jupiter in Leo?
When can we expect a 50% increase in the live save rate? How is LAAS going to do it? Or, do you have no plan and you are just winging it?

Let's Not Cut Boks Some Slack

I think Ed Boks has got the message loud and clear from the animal community that we want a rapid and immediate reduction in the kill rates and an increase in the live save rate.
We will not wait for another set of year-end stats showing he made no progress, but the department runs better.

If he is the No Kill expert he claims he is, why to we have to wait three or four years to measure success or even heading towards success?
His much delayed April report must contain the long-promised five year plan to no kill. By that time all new and renovated shelters will be operational and all vets aboard. By that time he should have gotten rid of the LAAS employees that hold back progress.
By now he should have developed a plan to get from A to B. If not, what confidence can we have in him? Otherwise, he is just asking us to trust him. So far he has not earned that trust.

There must be milestones and benchmarks in his plan. There should be an outside audit by truly independent experts. That audit needs to includes the internals of Chameleon and tracking. There are far more questions raised than answered by the stats he released. For example, during 2006, approximately 1,700 animals had premature releases in obvious violation of the Hayden Act, and, according to him, would all otherwise be killed due to being unweaned, sick or injured.

We must allow for continued premature releases of unweaned animals or injured to rescuers associated with a NH organization or not. The Hayden Act needs to be changed if these were truly unweaned or ill animals. If not, even more animals would die. But we do need to know why those 1,700 were released early and to whom. Only a small part were released to NH partners. Were many cherry-picked animals to friends of LAAS as in the past? In any event, even after being adopted out, these premature releases should have their photos remain posted on the web for a couple of weeks and at kiosks in the shelters themselves so owners can find their pets.

Let's forget about his personal life and what he did or didn't do in New York and Maricopa, but let us watch and comment on what he is doing here and now.

I will provide more analyses of 2006 stats, especially for cats. Concerning stats, more questions were raised than answered. He appears to be stonewalling on providing all the stats asked for, complaining staff cannot take the time, or pretending he does not understand the statistics asked of him. This is selective transparency, not the true tansparency he claims.

The total number of cats killed on their first day of impound for all of 2006, not the 9 months I presented before, is:


This is close to 1/3 of all cats impounded! They were killed the same day they were brought in.

By day 14, close to 12,000 had been killed.

Dogs got better treatment all around. This is not fair. Cats need an equal right to life. He needs to address this NOW!

Lastly, he needs to stop going after rescuers who are critics and making press releases about how LAAS stomped a rescuer, such as the one about a woman with 18 cats being busted. A lot of rescuers have that number or more.

It seems he is putting his critics on notice that their animals are at risk.

Ed Boks responds

In response to my posts that cats were discriminated against by LAAS as opposed to dogs, and that there may have been 1,000 Hayden Law violations regarding cats, and that the total first day kill of cats was 5,258, Ed Boks addresses the single charge that there may have been Hayden 1,000 violations.

He produces what he had called "more refined" data which Mr. Jensen had asked for 5 times previously and been denied.

Mr. Boks states:

“Mr. Jensen’s exposition of the data has been duplicated by my staff and is accurate.”

That is, Boks admits Jensen’s statistics that 5,258 cats were killed on their first day of impoundment. He does not respond to the charge of discriminatory treatment.

He also confirms that 517 cats deemed as apparently healthy were killed on their first date of impoundment.

He expands that number saying that 809 cats identified as apparently healthy were killed within their first 4 days of impoundment.

He states, however, that staff had misidentified 773 of those 809, and that they really were sick, unweaned or injured.

That is, 773 of the apparent Hayden violations were mistakes of identification made by impounding staff, which were cleared up that day or within 4 days afterwards.

He stated new and clearer policies and procedures will be implemented and staff trained so that this will not happen in the future.

There were also 440 actual violations of the Hayden Act, namely adopting out animals before the 4 day hold was up. This provision of the Act was to allow owners time to find their animals before they were killed or adopted out to non-owners. However, these violations are explainable because they were dispositions of cats who otherwise would have been destroyed because they were unweaned or sick.

Unfortunately, I do not understand why LAAS considered the animals too sick or injured to treat, yet rescuers were miraculously able to do so. It is as if LAAS lacked the time, energy or expertise to treat these animals.

Therefore, of the apparent 809 violations of the Hayden Act by premature killing, 773 were really mistakes of identification by LAAS personnel on impound, and were justified killings by law.

I wish I had had Boks' more refined data a week ago as per the Records Request, as opposed to him having sat on the info.

Mr. Jensen’s response to Boks’ claim made 3 days ago that there were more refined data, which he had not received, and which had been requested through the Public Records act a total of 5 times, without response by Boks, was this nightmare situation was brought on by the department itself.

I am very relieved by Mr. Boks’ explanation that the premature killings were not violations and that the 440 actual violations were apparently of good will.

I am also relieved that new policies, protocols, and training will be provided so these problems will not arise in the future.

However, I am still concerned with the apparent discrimination by the department against cats vs. dogs:
1. The numbers identified as ill or injured compared to dogs;
2. The shorter time they held and the faster they are killed, preventing them from having an equal right to life compared to dogs.

Unbelievable Numbers of Cats Killed Their First Day in LAAS Shelters: 5,258!

These are the unbelievable first-day cat kill statistics supplied by LAAS as a response to a citizen's Request for (public) Records. As you now know, the Hayden Act requires a hold period of four days AND the day of impoundment before it starts killing cats, dogs or other animals such as rabbits or wildlife. The only exemptions are animals that come in injured to the extent they are not treatable. Even feral cats are given three days after impounding to see if the are feral or just frightened. Sick cats must be treated first, and held long enough to determine how ill they are before killing.

I have obtained a further breakdown of the DAY ONE Kill:

HEALTHY CATS euthanized on the DAY OF IMPOUND by age group. This is just for the first 9 months of 2006.
100 (0-4 wks)
47 (5-8 wks)
21 (9-16 wks)
77 (over 16 wks)
272 (no age documented)
517 TOTAL Healthy Cats Killed on the first day of impound during just the first 9 months of 2006.
E Valley, North Central & South LA shelters were responsible for about 86% of these cats being euthanized.
In addition, an enormous number of cats, not labeled as apparently healthy were killed on their first day.
2,990 unweaned cats
1,145 sick cats
100 cats from litters
506 injured cats
To show you the how shoddy the department’s statistics are, also in violation of the Hayden Act, 5 cats were supposedly euthanized because they were dead!

Total Cats Killed on Their first day in just the first 9 months of 2006: 5,258!

As I stated in a previous post, more cats are killed than dogs, they are killed faster than dogs, and are held for a shorter length of time.

Boks, after my post that he was failing to respond to my questions of why 517 apparently healthy cats and 180 healthy dogs were killed on Day One of impoundment, and another 300 over days 2, 3, and 4, in violation of the Hayden Act, said we were not given the total statistics and the department is looking for the more “refined” numbers.

However, when I sent this email to the expert who received and analyzed the statistics involved, he replied to Boks and CC'd to me that he had repeatedly asked Boks for ALL of the raw statistics 5 different times and was never acknowledged by Boks.