My No-Kill Blueprint

Regarding Winograd’s prescription for No-Kill in Redemption, I have some comments.

As he says, Redemption it is mostly a history book. Out of the 226 pages, only 10 (195 to 2004) actually outline the no-kill blueprint in a very sketchy way. He makes other recommendations in other parts of his book, such as refusing cats brought in in traps and not renting out traps, which are policies not mentioned in the blueprint, but are policies implemented by Boks over a year ago.

LAAS has increased “marketing” with improved access to photos and descriptions of animals as well as where they are located on its expanded website. In fact, it is from information posted on this site we were able to determine he was warehousing animals.

LAAS does have an expanded medical care program just as I pointed out in my post on how Dr. Rao took care of the injured cat I brought in. Of course I did mention that LAAS killed over 1,000 turtles, and Mason’s kittens were not treated. So this is a mixed claim of increased care by Boks. But merely to say it needs to be expanded is not enough.

Boks’ promised partnership with Western University of course was a joke as Dan Guss, and others pointed out.

Nowhere does Nathan address how to get rid of bad employees. He only mentions that his protégé shelter directors did that. How do you do it in strong union and civil service environments? This is not mentioned in his blueprint.

Nathan’s blueprint is not complete, comprehensive or detailed to really be a blueprint.

I say all this not so much as a defense of Boks, but a recognition of the problems that a new shelter director will face, whether it be a Winograd trained person or not. You know, I think any prospect needs to be given a playbook of the apparent problems to be encountered before he or she starts, including a walk around of the six shelters, and then the candidate would have to present reasonable proof that he or she had the expertise to solve those problems or to demonstrate those were indeed, not the problems that needed to first be resolved. That is, what is universally accepted as problems are often actually a symptom of problems not recognized.

What Nathan can best do is come in and clearly point out what is broken and tell the City what has to be done. If the city does not give Boks’successor carte blanche to implement those solutions, the new director will fail. Also, he can help find a successor given the slim chance that Villaraigosa will listen to him or anyone.

Winograd is not a silver bullet. The attitude towards volunteers will be difficult to change unless lots of heads roll. How to do that? Getting employees to better take care of the animals when they don’t want to work and oppose any attempt to make that happen is an operations problem. Involving the community when staff does not want to involve themselves is a problem.

Stuckey only managed to get one employee fired in his year on the job. I think it is up to us and any new director to involve to community in getting rid of bad eggs by constantly ragging on them forcing the union and Personnel to build a case against the employee that will force terminations.


I think Mike Bell’s Citizen Oversight Committee is an idea that should have been implemented to assist any GM to get rid of bad employees. I think Villaraigosa needs to empower a Commission he has robbed of any power and are now mostly Boks’ rubber stamps. Atake quit minutes before she would have been fired by Villaraigosa because she complained too much. Riordan was removed as president by Blackman because she was maneuvering to actually get things done in terms of positive change.

I think Butcher definitely has to go and a more change-oriented union head replace her and everyone demand that an obstructionist union head NOT be appointed.

If it is not already the case, a Councilmember needs to act as a liaison between Council and Animal Services directly as opposed to the umbrella public safety department. This should be someone who actually loves animals.
This is my blueprint.


Anonymous said...

Not to quibble, but how does refusing feral cats brought in in traps or refusing to rent traps help animals?

That sounds more like how to appear to be no-kill rather than to be no-kill. Wouldn't it be better to maintain some sort of relationship with TNR people, neuter/spay cats brought in, and allow the cats to be returned?

Anonymous said...

I think any real candidate should come and investigate the shelters then write a nokill report for the commission, city council, mayor, unions, employees and animal community to look at and talk about. Everyone must be committed to change. The candidate must have experience with animals and turning city departments around. They must be ethical and honest.

I don't think that Nathan has the answers. I can write a nokill plan for LA but it's useless without follow through. Look at Rancho Cucamunga. Nathan consulted there and it's a mess. He blames them. I blame his silly notion that merely consulting with a city will make them nokill.

Boks and everyone else knows how to make LA nokill. The problem is that no one can get it done. It's easy for Nathan to give the City a list. It's like telling a fat person, "eat a lot less, exercise a lot more, you will lose weight." We all know that yet people still can't do it. Words mean nothing here, action is everything. Who is capable of doing nokill in the real world, not just on paper or at press conferences.

Ed Muzika said...

Ferals brought in almost certainly will be killed as well as the majority of neonatals. There are just so mnay fosters. LAAS as well as most shelters cannot take ferals in and thewn release them. Too many legal problems.

The department does give spay/neuter vouchers but requires the groups to do it all themseleves.

Yes, there is more than a little apparent no-kill in there if you assume it is up to the dept to spay neuter in house all ferals brought inside ot do the entire TNR.

We are lucky they are not just accepting and killing them as in the past.

Anonymous said...

If only it were that simple as bringing in a new General Manager. The sad fact is that no matter how strong a manager/leader, he or she is only as good as the employees who work in the department. If the employees are weak and the supervision poor, then it's an uphill battle as previous General Managers have discovered.

The civil service system in Los Angeles makes it very difficult (though not impossible)to fire incompetent employees. To do so is a long, drawn out process that requires strong capable supervisors. A General Manager cannot remove a weak supervisor without going through the same civil service process as it takes to get rid of the loweset paid employee.

The fact that Boks was allowed to bring in Assistant General Managers to provide more oversight was a step in the right direction. But, to bring in AGMs who don't understand the city process is futile and bound to fail which I'm guessing was demonstated by Deborah Knaan's brief tenure. From what I see, the department needs strong supervisors at each of the shelters and incompetent or lazy employees need to be brought under close supervision and appropriate action taken if they need to be removed.

Also, a strong volunteer program needs to be implemented. Volunteers provide much value in both time and efforts but also provide another set of eyes on what happens at each shelter.

No matter who replaces Ed Boks, when and if he goes, that person will not be able to do any better a job if he/she does not know how to get things done within the city framework. The basic culture at Animal Services is obviously not positive. It can be changed but the General Manager will need all the support he or she can get and that includes from inside the city and from the humane community.

And finally, no matter where you stand in the humane or animal rights fight, as long as there are actions being taken by some of the animal right extremists such as damaging city employee's property, picketing someone's neighborhood, etc., all of you will be considered crackpots and not taken seriously by city government.

Anonymous said...

poster number four,

You said

"no matter where you stand in the humane or animal rights fight, as long as there are actions being taken by some of the animal right extremists such as damaging city employee's property, picketing someone's neighborhood, etc., all of you will be considered crackpots and not taken seriously by city government."

Then this is the city's mistake. We moderates, sane animal people have absolutely no control over the extremists.We are against what they do. There is nothing we can do to stop them. Some have tried and failed. If the city treats us poorly because of the extremists actions, that is discrimination. It'd be like killing all middle easterners because they may live in the same country as terrorists. The City also has to work together to make LA nokill. If the City treats the sane animal people like shit, nothing will happen.

Ed Muzika said...

Regarding the last commenter's opinion, I don't see how anyone in animal rights community could stop ADL or ALF. If the Mayor and henchment cannot make that distinction, they are blind and will never see.

I highly support ADL's rights to picket, scream, leaflet, poster, whatever.I think the rational, patient, balanced approach rarely accomplishes anything rapidly.

Take the supermarket strike three years ago. The union was very passive and they lost their butts.

Compare that to the Teamsters strikes in the 50s and 60s. Now those were strikes! Compare the supermarket strikes with the Hotel Workers strikes in Santa Monica and in LA. They had pickets at hotels and CEOs homes. They had street theater, bullhorns, breakins into hotels, angry confrontations with Hotel security. The union won. It won in SM and LA.

It took 60 years of arguing about freeing slaves with little happening before John Brown took the actions that led to a five year bloodbath. Same with the revolution.

The lives of animals are just as precious and deserving of a huge committment to make changes.

Anonymous said...

ADL's protests are ineffective because they impart zero useful information. They walk in a circle, yell incoherently, antagonize people they should be persuading, and leave useless information behind, if any.

It's different with the Teamsters, because they were dealing with an enemy who HAD to deal with them. The Teamsters had value outside of their protests; they drive trucks and get stuff where it needs to be. It's the same with hotel employees.

ADL, bless their hearts, is not needed at all by Villaraigosa. What he needs is voters. Therefore, the only value ADL or any of us have is if we can either move voters TO Villaraigosa or AWAY from him.

Anonymous said...

"ADL's protests are ineffective because they impart zero useful information. They walk in a circle, yell incoherently, antagonize people they should be persuading, and leave useless information behind, if any."

The ADL protests often draw media attention to our shelters. That is key. The useful information is our job to provide.

Brad Jensen

Brad Jensen
Cypress, CA

Anonymous said...


I've seen at least five ADL protests on Boks' block. I have never seen one camera. I've seen some cops - but no media of any kind.

I agree that the information on Boks should be readily available from all kinds of sources. But if ADL's going to put the energy into being there, they should try to work against Boks, not for him. Ticking off the neighbors but leaving no breadcrumb trail to legitimate RELEVANT info (i.e. NOT who Boks is trying to have sex with this week, or the price of his condo) would be key. Otherwise people won't seek info, voters won't get motivated, and Villaraigosa will keep Boks until all the stray dogs and cats are dead -- which will solve Villaraigosa's problem.

Ed Muzika said...

Re five pickets.

Why stop ADL? They will do what they have been doing for years.I takes all kinds, all ways. They are consistent and persistent in their efforts. The media never covers all the union pickets either, but people see them and they see the messages. Subliminal.

It also keep the pressure on Boks. I think that is as important as anything else.

It is like the Marines bombarding Noriega with loud music 24 hours a day before he surrendered.

To each his/her own in each's way as long as we go in the same direction.

ADL might not move you, it might move someone else because they see heat and smoke.

Anonymous said...

"Nowhere does Nathan address how to get rid of bad employees. He only mentions that his protégé shelter directors did that. How do you do it in strong union and civil service environments?"

C'mon Ed. Out here in Philly (VERY strong union) we just brought in a new COO who has been cleaning house since the day he started (only 3 months ago). You are right, it is challenging managing employees who think they are protected buy a union/civil...but because he is committed to getting rid of the employees who needed to leave (most YEARS ago) -- it doesn't matter who the employees pay dues too as long as someone (anyone) holds the employees (and managers) accountable for their actions.

Stop painting a picture that a union/civil is a roadblock to getting things done--this is a poor excuse. In Philly we have seen positive change after change in 3 short months -- because one guy stood up and said, "not on my watch!!" LA can do the same.