Actually, the below is quite well argued. It makes a lot of sense. I may change my position.
Rescue & Humane Alliance-Los Angeles
As you may know, LA Animal Services recently announced a new policy substantially restricting the hours that shelters will accept owner-surrendered animals from the public (see attached press release).
According to this policy, members of the public will only be permitted to surrender animals during specific "receiving hours" (2-5pm Wednesday/Friday and 2-7pm Tuesday/Thursday). There will be no weekend relinquishment hours.
Within days after the initial press release, General Manager Ed Boks wrote a follow-up blog (reprinted below for your convenience) stating that in practice the staff will not refuse animals at other times if the member of the public persists.
In order to fully evaluate this policy (even as amended), one needs to look not at an "ideal world," where this policy might have arguable merit, but in the "world in which we live," where the consequences will almost certainly be disastrous. Among the many reasons this policy is unworkable, here are five:
1. People rebuffed at the shelter (and only some will be insistent) are not going to suddenly have a "change of heart." Neither will those who by chance become aware of the policy and feel the times are too inconvenient. They will likely tie their animals to a tree, simply let them go, or dump them somewhere else. This shows blatant disregard for public safety, a charter-mandated function of animal services, and the welfare of the animals.
2. When animal services picks up these newly-dumped animals as strays, they will no longer be immediately available for adoption (as they otherwise would have been as owner-surrendered), but instead will be unavailable for 4 days. This will have the unintended effect of additionally taxing shelter staff and resources.
3. This policy does not affect strays, so people will simply say the animals they are dumping are stray. Has no one in management discussed this with experienced staff who see this every day?
4. Some people will be confused and think the policy does apply to strays, and thus be less likely to help a stray they might encounter in a dangerous situation (on the freeway, on a busy street, etc.). Staff are frequently confused about shelter policies, so imagine how confused the public will be.
5. The restricted hours seem to be deliberately inconvenient so that very few people would be available at these times. In fact, these hours are openly antagonistic to the public, which will likely lead to a high volume of complaints.
This is a careless, thoughtless, and reckless policy - almost an act of desperation. It says that despite all of the "new" programs, the shelters are more overwhelmed than ever and have no real plan and no real solutions. It seeks to address the problem by not addressing the problem. It amounts to a refusal by LA Animal Services to perform its charter-mandated public safety function. It seeks to improve statistics at the expense of animal welfare. Its governing principle is: if the animals are not in the shelter (because we refuse to intake them), they are not our problem, they won't affect our statistics, and we don't give a damn what happens to them.
RHA-LA is outraged, and you should be, too! Please join us by imploring the City Council, the LAAS Commisioners and General Manager Ed Boks to immediately repeal this policy and implement proven programs and services that will actually address the underlying causes of pet relinquishment.
When the shelter has experienced, compassionate volunteer or staff relinquishment counselors at every shelter, and when comprehensive pet retention programs are in place, THEN maybe limitations on hours for relinquishment would make sense. But even then, the hours will have to be convenient for the public. In fact, because this education is so important, the hours should be the most convenient for the public.
REPLY to this message in the next 24 hours and we will compile the responses and share them with your City Councilmembers, LAAS Commissioners, LAAS Senior Staff and the Mayor's office. Thank you.
Board of Directors
Rescue & Humane Alliance-Los Angeles