Boks Responds to My Post

Ed Boks responded to my post that cat and dog killing for the first 3 months of 2008 was 24% higher than 2007. By and large, his responses were good if true, but only explained half the situation.

First, Ed said that his statistics were accurate and LAAS has the best set of stats anywhere in the US.

He is absolutely right. No one comes near what LAAS provides, especially since he began publishing shelter by shelters stats.

His reasoning was that if he were fudging the stats, why would he make himself look bad?

On the other hand, there is still the possibility that if he had not “fixed” the stats, they would have been much worse. Brad Jensen and I now doubt he is fudging. The only reservation I have is the huge decrease in neonatal impounds from May through October last year, which was never explained, via “normalization,” or any other statement outside of it being an anomaly, meaning "I don't know." But Ed took full credit for the drop in killing that resulted.

It could also be—a speculation by a shelter worker—that lots of kittens went directly to bump rooms and never checked in. Had they been, LAAS’ stats would have been worse last year—much worse.

Foreclosures have caused an increase in impounds, but the rate of killing rose FASTER than the rate of increase of impounds. Impounds rose about 18% and killing by 24%.

Notable is that far fewer animals died in shelter during the first quarter. The most likely explanation is that the increased rate of killing was of the riskier impounds that had been held for a long while who otherwise would have died of disease or fighting, and just the decrease in crowding reduced stress resulting in better health.

In any event, I do not condemn "warehousing." As Boks said, there is a line between holding too long and holding just enough. Winograd said there should be few empty cages.

I agree. What is the point of having X cages if they are not filled during periods of high impounds, or kept filled to hold harder to place animals until they are adopted? You cannot give up on the hard to place animals just because they are old, sick or injured.

This strategy works if turnover happens fast enough, and turnover through adoptions works if marketing and PR are in place, which they are not at LAAS.

Nor do we know what percentage of the increased impoundment was due to foreclosures, as opposed to not spaying/neutering the animals that were turned away from the shelter or ferals that were not spayed. Last year Boks said we speutered 40,000. He told me, if I remember correctly, that in 2005-06, LAAS handed out 38,000 spay/neuter certificates. That is only a 2,000 increase. I think 40,000 speuters is a drop in the bucket of what needs to be done.

Hopefully adding spay/neuter clinics will add another 10,000 speuters if three new surgeries are added, but again, that is only a 25% increase and is probably still a drop in the bucket.

Also, adding surgeries may lead to fewer certificates for outside vets because of budget problems and we may actually end up with fewer speuters.

He did say that if you normalize the stats, killing only rose 1.5% compared to last year, and “normalization” was defined as comparing the killing to fluctuating intake levels. I wish he’d explain how killing went from a 24% increase to a 1.5% increase. I would be tempted to call this “bullshitinization.” He certainly did not use "normalization" to discount the decreased neonatal killing last year when intake dropped 30%. He took credit for every percentage of the drop in killing.

He then said there were reasons the killing is up that he cannot share, but he did not want to point finders.

In the next paragraph he began pointing fingers:

He said there was a major managerial shakeup during the past year as management got shuffled around and they still were trying to make sense of their new jobs. Of course, Ed did the shakeup, and so the buck stops at his desk. The transition should have been much smoother. I think there is a lot more he is not telling us about the shakeup.

Of course I have heard it far and wide that the employees are actively sabotaging everything he is trying to do because of his lack of management skills in bringing everyone together. Stuckey said the same thing. Sometimes the Mayor's office has the attitude that LAAS employees were an unruly mob best left alone.
I am not sure the shakeup was a good or bad thing. Will the shakeup help six months down the line? Was the shakeup Boks' idea, or was it thrust on him? Were the bad eggs put in positions where they can do less harm? Were good eggs given more responsibility? Is this why Boswell was moved to a new shelter where he may now be a janitor?

In item #5, he says the new shelter managers must walk the line between saving animals and warehousing them, and if there is a short-term impound increase, there will be more killing. Well duhh. Isn't this just saying when the shelter is full up, there is no more room for new cats and dogs unless the long timers are killed?

Item 8 seems right on and logical. LAAS needs a PR person, marketing expertise and the new AGM. They also need Oprah on full time as she increased adoptions 52% the week after her show. Of course many were returned the next week according to one employee.

In item #10, Ed says this is kitten season and that always brings a flood of neonates. True, but the 24% increase in killing during the first 3 months of this year was compared with same exact period last year. Besides, kitten season only begins in March, not January or February.

In fact, there were only an additional 25 neonatal impounded during the first three months this year compared to last. Only 25 more animals, which does not explain the hundreds more killed.

Ed is absolutely correct that the City’s (and his) drive to establish a TNR citywide policy has been stalled by threatened lawsuits by two environmental groups. This definitely is not his or the City’s fault. They have strived to make citywide TNR happen. But we already have an unofficial TNR program through certificates and refusal to take ferals. This is all to Boks’ good. I applaud him and the City here.

Finally Ed calls for community help. I wish the community could get behind him and LAAS, but it is kind of late in the day for that. He has lost our trust in his veracity, motivations and competence.

Still, we have to try as much as we can. Maybe we can do what LAAS has not been able to do without our help. There are a lot of sour grapes in the animal community, and dysfunctional rescuers (and bloggers for that matter), which matches or betters the incompetence and turpitude of some Animal Services' employees

We need to help as much as we can, but lack of a volunteer coordinator for well over a year is not the volunteers’ fault.

Oh yeah, Ed joked that he is searching through a list of City civil service hacks to fill new AGM, PR and Volunteer Manger position, but he hasn't been able to find any.

The hiring freeze is dooming Animal Services to more of the same. I hope he is suggesting that our idiot Mayor and Blackman allow him to search outside of City staff.


Anonymous said...

Great post, Muzika. It seems great minds think alike. I just saw this on indybay.They bring up the same points you raised.
Mayor Villaraigosa admits he failed Los Angeles' animals

Anonymous said...

tell boks cutting cats guts out isnt the answer

Anonymous said...

Kittens are ALWAYS booked in! There is no basis for saying they get immediately euthanized off the record. In fact, every sparrow, pigeon, turtle, hamster, and opposum get impounded. Even kittens and puppies born in the shelters get assigned an A-number and photographed.

There are more dedicated, conscientious, and moral moral city workers than you realize. Walk a mile in their shoes and you will realize that shelter workers pour their hearts and souls into their jobs!

Try volunteering and see for yourself what amazing things are happening in these beautiful new shelters these days.

Ed Muzika said...

It's not true that photos are taken of all cats.

No photos of 20 of the 25 kittens supplied to me were given me under a request for records. Only the adult cat were given any medical tests.

The employee said it didn't happen at her shelter but suspected it happened at others.

My concern was the was an extrmely dramatic drop in neonatal impounds between May and October last year. Some months almost 40% lower than the year before, and some setting record low impounds for all time.

Ed did not explain it. He said he did not know.

Statistically no such thing can happen, especialy when other local private shelters said it was a bad kitten year.

So what happened? One other explanation is that Boks reclassified many kittens as cats so that cat euth went up and kitten down.

Looking at some records, it seems he records neonatals two ways: under 8weeks and under 2 pounds. All of the under 8 weeks are killed except those who are rescued, but not all of the under 2 pounds.

The under 2 pounds apparently are counted as cats.

Anonymous said...

"But we already have an unofficial TNR program through certificates and refusal to take ferals. This is all to Boks’ good. I applaud him and the City here."

Ok. So how do I get access to food, shelter, and medical care now for all the ferals I had altered? There's about 300 of them, and a whole bunch of them need surgery and won't get into the trap again.

One of them comes to my house to eat and he's a domestic so I can pet him now after three years.

Supposedly there are groups that give pledges toward medical for ferals and strays. I called Feral Cat Alliance about that and they responded that they would help out w/ a pledge. All they did was take my address and phone number, and I never saw any voucher for any pledge.

Feral cat caretakers do NOT have the money to either feed or provide the much needed medical care that these cats need once they are released after TNR, especially now that everything has gone up in price, including food and medical.

You say that we should applaud Boks for refusing ferals.

At this point, I agree with Commenter #2 that just "cutting their guts out isn't the answer."

How in the hell am I going to continue to provide nutrition for over 300 cats who I have TNR'red and how in God's name am I going to provide medical for any of them? I can't even do it for the sweet little tame guy I TNR'red three years ago. He has an enormous lump underneath his abdomen which keeps growing by the week!

Since you are required to feed and provide medical for cats you've altered and released by humane standards, and the law states that if you've been feeding an animal for over two weeks he is your owned animal, I am both ethically and legally responsible for this little guy, as well as the rest of the three hundred I altered and released.

As it is this guy gets soaked in the freezing cold and rain during the winter months trying to get access to the food I provide him and I have to wait til midnight for him to come around to eat every single day of the week.

You take the feral cat caretking classes and they tell you that it is inhumane to trap-alter-and release a cat to conditions where the cat is not going to receive either food, shelter or medical.

Since the shelters are now refusing ferals, there is no other way but to trap, cut their guts out and release them again to the horrible conditions they are subject to on the street when they have to fend for themselves.

These cats have NO ONE other than the person who depletes everything in his pocket to be able to provide for these cats, and that drives the feeder/caretaker into poverty because he can't stand to see a cat suffer.

This is what the shelters are doing by refusing ferals---forcing people to cut the cat's guts out and throw them back so that the feeder has to see them die horrible deaths under pain and starvation, infection, malnutrition, dehydration and disease.

The feeder either unloads his pockets from all available cash and starts selling his own stuff in order to be able to even feed these little guys, or he tears their insides out and reabandons them.

This hurts like hell for both the cats who need to be fed and need a doctor, and it tears the guts out of the feeder the feeder is forced to do everything or nothing for the cats.

It's all or nothing with this TNR thing that the shelters are pushing and it is not fair to the feeder or to the cats.

Rather than tearing their guts out and abandoning the poor little guys, it hurts less to euthanize them. But don't throw them back onto the person who is trying to relinquish them to force them to alter them and provide for them for the rest of their life.

That's exactly what happened to Mason, and look what happened. Justd think if the kittens had grown up and become feralized because the shelters didnt' take them. They would be all out fending for themselves, and Mason would have tried to take them in later when they were already feral and would have been refused. How in the heck was someone with no income going to be able to provide food, shelter and medical for all of those cats?

It's the same story for anyone who tries to take ferals to the shelter. They become responsible for caring for those cats whether they like it or not, and whether they can or not.

Poor ferals are "S-O-L," and so is the domestic Litto Friend who I can't afford to put through surgery and have no place to put him in order to give him proper shelter.

The neighbors won't participate no matter how much you try to educate about the advantages of TNR, and they refuse to provide for the neighborhood cats. This little abandoned guy who I altered 3 years ago, is one of the S-O-L's.

He's not going into the shelter to be warehoused either!

If the shelters want you to put the ferals back after handing you vouchers for spaying and neutering, they should provide them with a warm place to sleep at night, and they should provide the cat food and medical for the rest of his life! Then, perhaps the caretaker might be able to clean up after the cat and take him to the vet when he needs it.

Someone is going to have to pay for everything, however, and it's not right to force people who don't even get as much as a tax deduction for any of the expenses to end up in the dog house, as it were, along with the homeless cats.

Anonymous said...

Poster three, I know for a fact that not all animals brought into the shelter are booked. I have taken animals from the shelter that were never booked. They told me so and there was no card or number. Some had been there a day, some only a few hours. Take a look at the current listing of lost animals. There are many missing photos.

You are either just plain lying for the fun of it or a newbie who has no idea what's really happening. If you are the later, you need to look around, ask some questions. There are good employees, great employees then there are some bad and really bad employees. The new shelters are beautiful but are they saving more lives? Has the city's money been spent most effectively go accomplish their goal of reducing pet overpopulation? No.

Anonymous said...

Muzika, I think you mean two months old, not two pounds. That means they are 8 weeks old and legally adoptable as a "cat," not a kitten. Boks seems to be calling neonate kittens "age unknown" and "two months" in order to call them cats. Sometimes when they call it "age unknown" there is no pic so we can't tell if it's a neonate or not. Sometimes mom is protective of the babies so you can't get a pic. I understand that but you could at least include the info. How can we try to fix the problem when we don't know what it is.

I was watching the kitten intake last month. A lot were "two months" or "age unknown." Some were listed as 15 days, 5 days... March kitten intake went up 22% when it had been going down for the last 12 months. Why did it increase all of a sudden? It's not natural like last years almost instant steep reduction in neonate intake. It makes it seem that it was a policy change in the way they impound, count, classify the kittens.

Last year kitten intake went way down and Boks called it an "anomaly." This year animal intake went way up and he again called it an "anomaly." If he doesn't know what's causing these things, he doesn't know what the hell he's doing and should be replaced.

Ed Muzika said...

As I remenber--I don't have the docs, they were turned over to mason's lawyer, there were two identical intake categories, less than 2 weeks, less than 2 pounds.

All the 8 weekers were killed but no all of the less than 2 pounds.

But it is not 2 months as that really is identical to eight weeks.

I think he uses 2 pounds to differentiate kittens (cats) from neonatals and that is how he cut neonatal killing last year.

Re the bump up, it may be he is not using the under 2pounds category now and it is only less than 8 weeks for neonatal. I am not sure.

I agree it was a policy change, and possibly to straight to the bump room at some shelters--maybe not anymore with the new vets in charge. The new vet at S LA seems very thorough from the records of treatment of the Mason cats.

I was surprised to see how well Mason's cats were treated, that is the ones that were not killed.

Anonymous said...

So there really is a category for under two pounds. That is interesting. In order to legally adopt out an animal it must be at least 8 weeks of age and spay neutered. Most vets will not spay neuter a cat or dog unless it weighs at least two pounds. Perhaps Boks took this to mean that he can call all two pound kittens adults because a vet would neuter them.That still doesn't make them a "cat" or adoptable. CA law states they must be eight weeks of age. He sure likes to twist and bend things for his numbers.

I'm not against adopting out pets under 8 weeks of age if they can eat on their own and be spayed neutered. I think it'd be better to adopt out a kitten at six weeks than kill them even if there are some issues. I just don't think it's honest for Boks to twist policies just to improve his numbers. I wonder if th ese cats were even weighed or did Boks just say they weighed 2 lbs.

Ed Muzika said...

Re the person taking care of 300 ferals.

I feel for you. Many colony caretakers have the same experience, although none have 300.

Re the kitty with the spay surture site problem, if the cat was spayed with a City certificate, the vet who spayed her (or him) is obligated to provide secondary treatment for the cat.

In any event, I would appraoch the vet and say it happened secondary to the surgery.

If you give a contact address or number, maybe someone will offer some aid. Likely not.

I can be emailed privately at

Anonymous said...

"I feel for you."

Thank you.

"Many colony caretakers have the same experience, although none have 300."

Right. It's impossible to care for so many, so trappers most often take them to the feral cat clinics, sign off as the caretaker and state on the application that they are being provided with food, water, and shelter. Then they just let them go.

Trappers most often assume that that if the cats are still alive, they must eating somewhere so it must be ok to slice 'em up and let them go; while others, well, just try to win some kind of recognition as "best well-known trapper" and like to win competitions for cats most trapped that day, month, etc... Hardly fair to the cats.

Some just try to convince themselves that the cats are better off s/n than not at all, so off to the butcher's table they go. And I call it the butcher's table in this case because I've become more convinced over the years that this is not a humane way to care for a feral cat. Difficult thing, because you don't want to see them reproduce and you don't want the cats to suffer and you certainly don't want to see babies born into the world to do the same.

On of the most horrible things in the world to have to see is the sick, skinny baby and his mother trying to defend him when she herself has to fight for any meager access of food she can find in order to feed herself and her babies.

"Re the kitty with the spay surture site problem, if the cat was spayed with a City certificate, the vet who spayed her (or him) is obligated to provide secondary treatment for the cat."

Yes. This is the way it should be. I wish Dr. Marco at Noreda would have been able to read this for himself when he refused to correct the problem that developed after spaying two twelve-week old females. Like I said, one developed a hernia and both had an enormous amount of fluid in their abdomen. And yes, I spoke to the vet tech's about the problem when I took the kittens back to him. Dr. Marco refused to talk with me and sent the vet tech right back to tell me to just put hot compresses on their abdomens. I did specifically as you had advised, and told him that the problem developed the day the kittens went home from surgery.

The doctor knew the problem was caused secondary to surgery, only he claimed that the kittens were too active. The kittens were in a cat condo and weren't romping around and climbing the walls...

I had to take them to another vet to have the fluid drained and the hernia repaired, so one of them had surgery back to back after s/n, and was sliced up twice. I also have a feeling that the second vet gave the kitten no anesthesia when he did the surgery because I took her in on an emergency basis and she was out within less than an hour, wide awake. Then the surgery site became infected and had to be cut open again for the third time because there was still a little ball in her abdomen.

She was just way too little to be spayed in the first place, but LAAS required that the kittens be spayed before adoption, naturally. So, off she went.

The little Runtie got sliced open in the same spot three times in a row, once by the vet who did the surgery, and the other two by the vet who tried to do corrective surgery.

Runtie and her sister, Panda Bear were two LAAS fosters, among a litter of six, and I had to pay for everything, all except the original voucher for spay.

"If you give a contact address or number, maybe someone will offer some aid. Likely not."

Thank you, Mr. Muzika. I am sure you will understand that I do not feel comfortable with giving out my contact information. As I stated in one of my responses to you, regarding the LAAS fosters, I was harrassed by the Pawd Squad with false allegations when I was trying to get the kittens adopted.

After having tried to get help from so many rescue groups to help me to adopt out the kittens, one came through wholeheartedly. When I began to show the kittens at six weeks at one adoption event held by the rescue group who tried to help me, the Pawd Squad got a hold of my personal information and a member showed up at my house claiming she wanted to help me out by adopting two of my fosters.

Not only did the woman posing as a potential adopter circulate an email among LAAS claiming that I was trying to adopt out unaltered kittens, but this person tried to get the staff into trouble as well with her false allegations.

The person who was trying to help me adopt out the kittens could have very well been a member of the Pawd Squad herself, for all I know, as well as some of the people who seemed to be the perfect parents for the kittens. These people came over to my home and not only begged me to plead with the LAAS staff to allow me to hold the kittens for them for a while while she went on vacation, and then decided she hated the kittens after all because they were not gorgeous, but just "nice" looking instead.

The other wonderful couple did the exact same thing in a slightly different scenario, while others just showed at my house and looked around, without any real interest in the kittens at all (except for one lady who wanted the kittens for her two young daughters but the kitten was not allowed indoors and had to stay outside. The family also lived along a very busy intersection of the valley along Havenhurst and Devonshire).

Well, I had some really strange experiences from giving out my contact information.

Also, like I mentioned to you, a member of the Feral Cat Alliance offered to help me with a pledge for surgery for the Litto Friend with the lump on his abdomen when I responded to a post that was sent to me about the fact that Feral Cat Alliance needed $15,000 in donations to cover medical expenses for the cats they had pulled from the old lady with the cats living in the rafters.

I responded that I wans't able to help out because I had my own expenses for my own cats, and I wanted to wish them luck. They got my personal information, and who knows how they are using it, perhaps they need names and addresses for their grant money, I have no idea...

In the end, like Mr. Mason, not only have the strangest people come over to my home after getting access to my address (which as you know you can get simply by Googling), but I have been harrassed and visited by questionable people who claimed to not only want to help out with food, but were interested in adopting out my fosters.

I am not a rescue group, and I never will be. I have also vowed never to foster another kitten ever again. It is extremely expensive and heartwrenching when people offer to help and then they backstab you with false allegations against you which reaches not only the staff who you are helping to foster, but the general manager, so that you are even threatened by not only a group like the Pawd Squad, but a possible visit from an officer simply because you refuse to alter a kitten at 2 lbs. of weight.

I have gotten a food donation from Feral Cat Alliance before so that I can not only help my own ferals, but those ferals that I had altered for many elderly individuals who had great difficulty getting their cats altered and fed.

I not only gave this group, and another feral cat group my personal information so that I could take their feral cat caretaking workshop, but these people know exactly where I live and where I care for my colonies.

In exchange for the moldy food that I was generously supplied with (the food had been sitting out in the rain during the december month), I received a generous supply of extra cats not only at my home, but at my stations.

Wonderful exchange for someone who had to quit her job so that she could clean up after her own cats at home and be available to take them to the vet on an emergency basis.

Sadly, those extra cats people dumped at my home and at my cat colonies where they thought they would be cared-for, have died.

I received some very good advice from a feral cat clinic person: "best to be left alone.."

There's a lot of backstabbing and competitive jealousies in this feral cat business, and I have no idea why....but it has certainly hurt a lot of people, many caregivers and their animals.

Thanks so much for caring, Mr. Muzika, and thank you for giving me your email address so that I could best communicate with you there.

I am sure you understand and have heard more often than not, the complexities behind this rescue stuff, particularly as it relates to non-rescue people who are struggling financially to keep their own cats alive, healthy, clean, and well-fed.

Thank you for being caring and responsive.