I just Talked to the Head of San Francisco's Animal Services

I just talked today to Carl Friedman, head of San Francisco's Animal Care and Control. He said last month they had an 85% real live save rate. By that, he meant 85% of live animals that came in made it out alive, including neonates.

The only exception is if an animal came in very ill or injured AND the owner requested euthanasia, AND the department vet felt it necessary. Otherwise it would be impounded and treated as any other impound for statistical purposes. This would bring the live save rate down 2-3%. We don't know anymore whether Boks still includes owner requested euthanasia in LAAS' Euth statistics anymore as once they did.

For the past 12 months, the live save rate in SF has been 82%. Friedman says they do not use any of the bullshit-speak about adoptable, treatable or other ways to artificially decrease the kill rate. Live in--live out.

He said a lot of other shelter directors use false statistics and spin to get their euth stats down, and said he could come to LA and within hours prove he saved 115% of all animals coming in just by use of words and statistics. He said he could prove the dept even brought animals back from the dead if he wanted to.

Boks and Bickhart have repeatedly said their biggest stumbling block to turning the department around is the union and civil service. Bickhart used to say Boks turned a 2 cylinder dept into a 4 cylinder dept during 2006. When I asked him why that didn't translate into a higher save rate in 2006, his response was that I'd probably know better than he.

Friedman's response to the claim of union and civil service hindrances to reform was that there are seven different unions representing employees in his department, not one as in LA, and he says his dept has every conceivable civil service protection and regulation possible. He said Boks or Bickhart can call him at any time to discuss anything, but he'd prefer them not talking behind his back downplaying San Francisco's success. (They claim SF does not count neonates)

SFACC&C is a full service municipal shelter; they cannot refuse any animal. They turn over a fair proportion of their impounds to the SFSPCA which has an even higher save rate of 94%. The total combined save rate for SF according to Winograd was 87% eight months ago when he made that statement.

Subsequently Friedman's municipal shelter save rate increased from 80 to 82%, so the combined live save rate may cuurently be as high as 89% (less SFAC&C's 3%). Friedman says other shelter managers badmouth San Francisco's success because they are jealous, no more and no less.


Anonymous said...

I believe and trust you, Ed. I just don't trust everyone else. You once said Boks counted "all bodies in and all bodies out" when that wasn't the truth. Boks didn't counter owner requested euth, whether they requested it or not. He didn't count aggressive or ill animals which he just killed in NY. Boks lies, Winograd lies, Mayeda lies, maybe this guy is lying too.

Don't get me wrong. I think nokill or lokill is indeed possible. I just don't instantly trust numbers off the bat anymore. Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me.

I think an effective leader can deal with the unions. Boks is just not an effective leader. He talks poorly about everyone to everyone. He calls his employees lazy, stupid, fat, ugly, says the black employees play the race card so they don't have to work. He pits people against each other such as the employees and rescuers, employees and commissioners, employees and volunteers. He plays every side for his own purpose.

Anonymous said...

The Director of the police has a union. The Director of the fire department has a union. All city directors have unions I think. They are working with them. In fact, other cities, companies have unions. You don't see everyone else failing and blaming the unions.

Boks uses the union thing as an excuse. He blames his failures on activists, terrorists, unions, rescuers, volunteers, employees, journalists, bloggers, commissioners, councilmembers and even innocent kittens. He needs to look in the mirror.

He hasn't the faintest idea how to actually make any shelter no kill. That's why he lies, misleads, distorts and blames others. He goes to a new City knowing he can't improve things but he can lie. That's his only talent, lying. In reality he sucks at lying. It catches up with him every time. How will he improve kittens next year when he refused and reclassified them this year? Will he just do it more? Or will be focus on hamsters instead and not mention kittens?

This guy truly is a pathological liar and the Mayor doesn't care. That's why the Mayor didn't check out his resume, his history. He didn't care. He just wants positive press, that's it. He wouldn't care if Boks killed all the animals as long as the press was good.

Anonymous said...

The comment about neonates at SFACC made me laugh. I volunteer there (small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, birds, etc.--the largest number euthanized) and during kitten season the volunteer room is always full of volunteers and their kittens. It's a riot, kittens everywhere!

Part of the reason I think SFACC succeeds is that 1)it is a much younger organization than LAACC. For years SF contracted with SFSPCA for its animal services 2) the general culture towards animals in SF is much more humane than the much larger and more diverse LA, and 3) volunteers. I believe there are over 500 for just the one facility in SF. We are used extensively and treated well.

It's unfair to compare LA with almost 4 million people to SF which only has a population of 800,000 in 49 sq miles. It's like comparing Mars to Venus.

Ed Muzika said...

Of course you can compare SF to LA. As Friedman said, and I agree, LA also has 7 times SF's resources and adopting homes.

SF only has a budget of $3 million, 46 employees and 1 shelter compared to LA's $21 million, 6 shelters and 350 employees.

Though LA takes in many times more animals, they have even more resources in comparison.

Boks has used the size excuse over and over. I think if County ever became no-kill he'd say that that doesn't count because they are so much bigger than LAAS and have so many more employees.

Everyone has an excuse for failure.

Philly has gone over 60% save with 28,000 impounds from 90% kill four years ago with a budget of 4 million and 55 employees and one shelter.

LA has fantastic resources compared to both SF and Philly added together.

There really is no excuse for a live save rate of less than 85% no matter what size the city.

You can't say Philly has such a great attitude towards animals that is why they made such great progress.

Anonymous said...

One reason L.A. can't do it is because no one with any power will take it on. No one with any power actually cares about dogs and cats dying who could be saved. They think appearing to feel sad is the same thing as caring, but doing something is caring. It's a nuisance issue to them.

And what's more, the media don't care either. Dana Bartholomew happily libels Ron Mason, one guy who, even if he had done what he was first charged with (which he didn't), wouldn't have amounted to anything in the scheme of things. But show Dana, who is paid to report things like this, a systemic pattern of misconduct and abuse, including spending millions on shelters that don't actually shelter, and he pretty much yawns and says that we crazy animal types are never satisfied. Then he writes a no-think piece about gorillas who are safe at the Zoo.

Only reason the Times covered that slaughterhouse issue is because they couldn't avoid it.

And the reason all this is allowed to continue, the primary issue I see that blocks L.A. from being no-kill is that we have a frighteningly high percentage of narcissists who literally don't care if every living creature dies, so long as they get what they want. This includes so-called "rescuers" who refuse to work together because their ego-driven personality conflicts are more important to them than saving animals, MUCH more important than coming together as a coalition to do the one thing that might make a difference: pressure City Hall as a whole for fundamental, top-down, bottom-up change at LAAS.

Boks is bad, and his survival depends on this never being fixed. But he's a symptom, not a cause. He's here because of Villaraigosa -- but why is Villaraigosa here? Why do we have a mayor who doesn't care about animals? Why have we not marshalled the tremendous resources of this city to create a safety net for them?

Whay haven't YOU called City Hall, the Board of Supervisors, the newspaper, the D.A., Delgadillo's office?

Anonymous said...


Size doesn't matter? I think it's relative. If I were a director of a small shelter and I had to euth 10 puppies, you bet I'd find them a home somehow. I'd have employees, volunteers, fosters take them home. Now if I had to euth 1,000 puppies, that's a different story.It would take more effort to find them homes even with more resources and people. I'm not saying it's impossible. It's just not as easy to place 10 puppies as 1,000.

Poster 5, I agree that rescuers need to work together better. Councilmember Parks said at Public Safety when the animal people didn't want Stuckey hired, that the animal group is a large passionate group. He's never received so many emails and calls. People packed the meeting flowing out into the hallway. Unfortunately, LA animal people are dysfunctional as a group. Too many egos, sensitivities, fighting factions.

Anonymous said...

Why not ask Carl for public record in the form of the Annual Report of Rabies Control Activities to confirm what he says? He doesn't submit one and hasn't for years since they laid claim to being nokill. This report has to be signed off by the County Vet and that person wants to make sure the numbers are correct before sending the report on to the State. You know that the numbers Brad Jensen uses are from those reports yet SF doesn't do the report. One has to ask why don't they put their numbers in a credible report that is subject to public record. Does he not want a comparison with everyone else or for us to get public record? Don't believe all that is told to you, get those credible public records to prove it.

Ed Muzika said...

Brad Jensen may use rabbies certificates for some thing, but all that I have ever received from him are the stats from the agencies themseleves, LAAS or County. I doubt he uses more than that except on rare occasion. It is hard even getting these states even with a request for public records.

I don't have the time or means to do an in-depth analysis of stats and corroberating sources. It was hard enough seeing through Boks' numbers and it takes a lot of energy and effort.

I am not an investigative reporter being paid to do this. If you can find contrary facts, send them to me as it is you who are making a claim that Friedman's figures are embellished.

Winograd really does not like Friedman and has said so in his book. Friedman thinks very little of him. Winograd would go out of his way to prove Friedman a liar. Instead he agrees with Friedman's numbers. You think Winograd does not have the time or a lackey to check the SF numbers?

If it took me a year to see through Boks, how many years would it take for me to sift through all the people you want me to check?

The scenario of 10 puppies vs 1,000 just does not make sense.

We have six shelters in LA. On the average they handle about the same number of animals EACH that SF has, has about the same budget per EACH, and the same number of employees as EACH. Yet none of our EACH's has an 85% save rate.

SF is not adopting 10 puppies, so your analogy is way, way off.

Even if you are adopting 1000 vs. 10, if you have 100 times the budget, facilities, employees and volunteers, why not?

There may be aonly 100 people to adopt puppies in a very small town, but 700,000 to adopt 10,000 puppies in SF or 4,00,000 in LA.

Anonymous said...

I use both animal records and rabies activity reports but I prefer to use animal records. Pomona (IVHS) refuses to release animal records (twice now) and so I used their rabies activity reports for the San Bernardino contract areas in order to get a handle on what they were actually doing. Their attorney (Bonnie Lutz) wrote me a long 4 page letter basically accusing me of slander for publishing incomplete information about their performance (because I didn't include what they reported to the CDHS for their LA County contracts).

In the case of SF, I don't know if Friedman would release any animal records. I've never asked. However, if SF has not been submitting annual rabies activity reports to the State for several years then I would be skeptical of any numbers they provide.

Brad Jensen
Cypress, CA

Anonymous said...

Show us proof that Boks (or Bickhart, for that matter) has said anything about SF not counting neonates.

LAAS employees are represented by at least three different unions. Make sure you get your facts straight or why should we believe anything you say, even if we want to?

The issue with the unions and civil service is that, no matter what Carl or Nathan say, the reality in LA is that no matter who the department head is, the lousy employees are almost impossible to get rid of. Department heads come and go (how many have there been since 2000? Four? Five?), and the employees we hate are still there.

Remember that guy who killed a cat at SLA a few years ago? They fired him and he was reinstated on appeal by the Civil Service Commission!

Ed Muzika said...

Re the above comment. I will check to see if Boks said anything in writing about SF neonates. However, regarding hearsay, it is hard to prove one way or the other.

"LAAS employees are represented by at least three different unions. Make sure you get your facts straight or why should we believe anything you say, even if we want to?"

As I said before, I am not an investigative reporter, nor am I a departmental insider like you. The City is a black box that hides its information. Look how Boks has refused several of my requests for records such as contract negotiations for the Animal Planet filming? I am resubmitting the request in a day or two.

An insider can always claim superior knowledge; they do have superior knowledge. I rely on informants, reading newspapers and blogs, public record requests that go unanswered, and logic.

"The issue with the unions and civil service is that, no matter what Carl or Nathan say, the reality in LA is that no matter who the department head is, the lousy employees are almost impossible to get rid of."

Jim Bickhart said this to me repeatedly and I believe him. But this is the same blame game Boks uses. Why has SF been able to deal with the issue of seven unions and civil service and Boks/Bickhart have not?

"Remember that guy who killed a cat at SLA a few years ago? They fired him and he was reinstated on appeal by the Civil Service Commission!"

You are the managers that are supposed to make the dept. work. What are you doing to solve this problem? Why was the emplpoyee able to get his job back? Where was the failure here? What has to be fixed? I'll help. We'll all help if you tell us what needs to be fixed, and not that same crap about just supporting Boks in his constat PR campaigns.

Show us what's broke and you help us fix it if you can't or won't.

Maybe you need to feed us info about who are the bad-egg employees so that the public can get to know and love them.

Anonymous said...

I for one would certainly like to know the name, as well as more details, about someone who we pay to protect animals killing a cat.

I think we should all also know which union went to bat to get someone who killed a cat reinstated.

Unions are, in this regard, just as bad any other organization with power. They want to operate in the dark. But if they owe their existence to money paid out by the public in taxes, they have NO RIGHT to secrecy.

So which union got which person their job back after he killed a cat in South L.A.?

The only thing that will stop this is accountability.