Letter to Dr. Shapiro at Pierce College

Dr. Shapiro,

Someone has been sending comments to my blog that I ought to leave alone the story about how cats are obtained for dissection by vet students at Pierce, and that I should be doing more investigative reporting about the City and County shelters. That wouldn't be you, would it?

It is strange to get several comments that I should leave a story alone that does not involve public shelters or officials, and only involves the relationship between Pierce and Carolina Biological. It is also strange that the comments started coming to my blog at the same time you stopped answering my emails.

Carolina Biological has refused to respond to any and all requests for specific shelters that they allege supply them with cat cadavers. And, of course, I sent you information about their history of violating animal welfare laws, such as embalming cats alive revealed in undercover videos taken by PETA followed by citations by the federal government.

In fact, the PETA investigation revealed that Carolina stated even then what they are still stating now, that all the cat cadavers supplied are from shelters, when in fact most were coming from Mexico where they were picked off the street by the poor. Of course, this was 14 years ago and things may have changed for the better.

The entire story is below on an earlier posting on this blog at the URL below.

There are the legal issues involved around shelters selling cadavers, to resellers, not the least of which they are considered toxic waste due to the Fatal Plus injections. Some cities also require a specific ordinance to allow this.

In undated legal papers on the web, Carolina supplied two alleged shelter contact numbers. On calling, I found neither phone numbers are for the public shelters indicated and one is a FAX.

Even then there are the moral issues, as you as a bioethicist should be concerned with, as are all related issues of pound seizure: how are the animals chosen to be killed?

If Carolina wants only healthy cats from shelters, that means adoptable cats that likely could find a home are killed for profit. Healthy cats in LA's shelter system, if not under 8 week old kittens or feral, have a fairly high rate of adoption.

This means that an estimated 100,000 adoptable cats are killed nationally just for high school lab use. I wonder how many more are killed for college anatomy classes and pre-vet training across the country.

These and ethical and legal issues that directly involve you and Pierce. I think you need share your opinions on these issues publicly, and perhaps debate with local animal rights spokespersons if you are up to it. I hope you share with your students that the source of the cadavers you use is Carolina Biological, and that you cannot personally vouch for the truth of their statements regarding the source of the cats dissected at Pierce.

You do teach a course called Animal Science Ethical and Legal Issues. I certainly think Pierce College's use of dissected cats from unknown sources is first an investigative issue, then legal and ethical issues.

I would be concerned about pre-vet students who were not concerned about where the cadavers came from.

Another curiosity issue, if Carolina gets skinned cat cadavers from shelters, why do they not sell skinned dog cadavers? Why skinned cats and not dogs? Is the cat anatomy enough transferable to dog anatomy for pre-vet training that dog cadavers are not needed? Or, is it that the moral and ethical issues are more palpable when dogs are involved? Why species discrimination?

There are many issues to be explored here including your branding of animal rights groups as America's new extremists, and your very public opposition to these groups.

Edward Muzika, Ph.D.



China's Execution Vans: Better Death for Profit

From the same country that supplied us with poisoned pet food, toys and drugs, as well as beat puppies to death for restaurant food, we find a new twist on how China treats living beings for profit.

By Calum MacLeod, USA TODAY
CHONGQING, China — Zhang Shiqiang, known as the Nine-Fingered Devil, first tasted justice at 13. His father caught him stealing and cut off one of Zhang's fingers.

Twenty-five years later, in 2004, Zhang met retribution once more, after his conviction for double murder and rape. He was one of the first people put to death in China's new fleet of mobile execution chambers.

The country that executed more than four times as many convicts as the rest of the world combined last year is slowly phasing out public executions by firing squad in favo
r of lethal injections. Unlike the United States and Singapore, the only two other countries where death is administered by injection, China metes out capital punishment from specially equipped "death vans" that shuttle from town to town.

Makers of the death vans say the vehicles and injections are a civilized alternative to the firing squad, ending the life of the condemned more quickly, clinically and safely. The switch from gunshots to injections is a sign that China "promotes human rights now," says Kang Zhongwen, who designed the Jinguan Automobile death van in which "Devil" Zhang took his final ride.

State secret

For years, foreign human rights groups have accused China of arbitrary executions and cruelty in its use of capital punishment. The exact number of convicts put to death is a state secret. Amnesty International estimates there were at least 1,770 executions in China in 2005 — vs. 60 in the United States, but the group says on its website that the toll could be as high as 8,000 prisoners.

The "majority are still by gunshot," says Liu Renwen, death penalty researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a think tank in Beijing. "But the use of injections has grown in recent years, and may have reached 40%."

China's critics contend that the transition from firing squads to injections in death vans facilitates an illegal trade in prisoners' organs.

Injections leave the whole body intact and require participation of doctors. Organs can "be extracted in a speedier and more effective way than if the prisoner is shot," says Mark Allison, East Asia researcher at Amnesty International in Hong Kong. "We have gathered strong evidence suggesting the involvement of (Chinese) police, courts and hospitals in the organ trade."

China's refusal to give outsiders access to the bodies of executed prisoners has added to suspicions about what happens afterward.
Chinese authorities are sensitive to allegations that they are complicit in the organ trade. In March, the Ministry of Health issued regulations explicitly banning the sale of organs and tightening approval standards for transplants.

Even so, Amnesty International said in a report in April that huge profits from the sale of prisoners' organs might be part of why China refuses to consider doing away with the death penalty.

"Given the high commercial value of organs, it is doubtful the new regulations will have an effect," Allison says.

Local executions

Makers of death vans say they save money for poor localities that would otherwise have to pay to construct execution facilities in prisons or court buildings. The vans ensure that prisoners sentenced to death can be executed locally, closer to communities where they broke the law.

From the outside, the vans resemble the police vehicles seen daily on China's roads. A look inside reveals their function.

"I'm most proud of the bed. It's very humane, like an ambulance," Kang says. He points to the power-driven metal stretcher that glides out at an incline. "It's too brutal to haul a person aboard," he says. "This makes it convenient for the criminal and the guards."

The lethal cocktail used in the injections is mixed only in Beijing, something that has prompted complaints from local courts.

Qiu has attended executions by firing squad where the kneeling prisoner is shot in the back of the head. The guards "ask the prisoner to open his mouth, so the bullet can pass out of the mouth and leave the face intact," he says.

No debate

In the United States, some death row inmates and death penalty opponents want the Supreme Court to declare lethal injections cruel and unusual. A recent lawsuit claimed inmates suffer excruciating pain during executions because they do not get enough anesthetic.

There is no such debate in China, which uses the same three-drug cocktail as the U.S. federal government and most U.S. states: sodium thiopental to make the condemned unconscious, pancuronium bromide to stop breathing, potassium chloride to stop the heart.

Chinese prisoners condemned to death are not offered a choice of injection over gunshot, but Qiu and others suspect wealth and connections can buy the newer method.

Sixty-eight different crimes — more than half non-violent offenses such as tax evasion and drug smuggling — are punishable by death in China. That means the death vans are likely to keep rolling.

Carolina Biological Charged with Violations of the Federal Animal Welfare Act

Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) - Quarterly

Summary: p. 7, "Carolina Biological Supply Company charged under Animal Welfare Act". The US Department of Agriculture charged Carolina Biological Supplies Co. (CBSC), a licensed animal dealer, with five willful violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

The USDA's charge was supported by Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Charges included failure to provide adequate veterinary care, improper euthenization of at least 10 cats and embalming the cats while they were still alive.

OTHER SOURCES: AA, "Humane Enforcement," 12/1/91, p.35. A PETA undercover probe initially exposed abuses at CBSC, the nation's leading supplier of animals to schools; PETA Annual Review, 1/1/91, p.5, "Research & Investigations -- Justice for CBSC." PETA furnished the USDA and local law enforcement authorities with evidence demonstrating AWA and state violations in the form of videotapes and eyewitness affidavits.

The USDA attempted to abdicate responsibility by refusing to the overwhelming body of 'outside agency' evidence PETA had amassed against CBSC. PETA forced the USDA to deal with the case by returning evidence to the USDA and invoking the internal watchdog assistance of the USDA's Inspector General. CBSC's main cat dealer surrendered his USDA license and was denied a new one when he reapplied.

The Truth About Classroom Dissection

As I have stated in many posts below, I sincerely doubt the cats were obtained from shelters. I stated the reasons.

Carolina Biological refuses to validate the claim that that is where they obtained the cats by providing contact numbers for these alleged supplying shelters.

Also, the problem of logistics of non-frozen cats made the issue of closeness to Carolina. It appears they are killed close by so they can process the cats before they decompose as would happen to day or two old cats from a shelter.

I just got confirmation of all my doubts from PETA. I am requesting a tape of their undercover video as mentioned below.

From PETA:

Today, many students protest and educators question the destruction of life in the name of education.

People are concerned not only about taking the life of innocent animals, but also about the pain and suffering that animals usually experience on the way to the dissection table.

Dissection Hurts Animals

Animals used in the dissection industry suffer terribly before they reach the classroom. PETA’s undercover investigation of one major biological supply company exposed gross cruelty to live animals who were received and killed at the facility—even after facility officials stated that no live animals were accepted there.

Because of the video footage from the investigation, veterinarians from the U.S. Department of Agriculture testified that the company pumped formaldehyde into cats while they were still alive.

If you would like to borrow a copy of the video “Classroom Cut-Ups” to share with your professor or a member of the administration, please e-mail College@peta2.com.

Where Do They Come From?

Here in the U.S., some animals are raised specifically for dissection, while others are purchased from fur farmers and factory farmers, supporting two horrific industries that kill billions of animals and destroy the environment. Still others animals are collected by people called “bunchers,” who answer free-to-a-good home ads and pick up stray animals and companion animals who have wandered off. They have even been known to steal animals from people’s yards. If you wouldn’t kill and dismember your dog or cat, why do it to someone else’s companion?

It’s not much different in the U.K.—many schools refuse to rear or kill the animals themselves, obtaining them from specialist suppliers instead.

The breeding and killing of animals at the hands of these suppliers causes the animals unbearable stress and suffering—they’re usually raised in extremely crowded, barren cages—and their deaths are equally horrific.

In the U.K., methods of killing include the use of chloroform or ether, dislocation of the neck, suffocation with carbon dioxide, stunning, and freezing.

The Following Incidents of Cruelty Are Not Isolated

In the 1990s, animal welfare investigators uncovered cases of cruelty to animals in which cats from Mexico were being killed and trucked to the U.S. to be sold to schools for dissection. An Arizona-based company called Southwestern Scientific was one of the U.S. importers of these cats.

They were being rounded up by poor street children, who were paid $1 for every cat they caught back in 1994. The cats were then stuffed into a bag, which was plunged into a barrel of water until the animals were dead.

In 1995, authorities who raided a chicken farm in Monterrey, Mexico, found the carcasses of 800 cats who had been killed for U.S. laboratory research. The millions of animals used in classroom dissections are killed with more regard for profit than for the animals’ well-being.

Dissection Hurts Students

Animals used for dissection are often embalmed with formaldehyde or a chemical derived from formaldehyde, a preservative linked to cancers of the throat, lungs, and nasal passages, as well as a variety of other health problems.

In addition to the harmful physical effects on individuals, there are important psychological issues to consider. In his last interview before his death, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer said that his fascination with death and dismemberment began when he dissected animals at school.

I hope the blind people that have been sending the comments get the picture.

Here is a link to a PETA brochure about dissection aimed at students. It offers alternatives.


From the Urban Cat Project:

Over 100,000 cats are dissected annually in U.S. high schools, and many more in Universities and Colleges across the country. Cats are one of the most frequently dissected animals in the student's laboratory.

Cats are obtained for dissection through a variety of sources including biological supply companies (who raise and kill cats specifically for dissection), and animal dealers sometimes known as Class B dealers (licensed animal brokers).

Class B dealers obtain cats through "free to a good home" ads, by stealing stray pets, and from animal shelters where such practice is allowed. Both biological supply companies and Class B dealers are notorious for animal cruelty.

Untrained Vets, Unnecessary Killing

I get a LOT of anonymous comments calling me an idiot. I must get anywhere from 3-4 a day and some days twice that many. They come from different URL's and I cannot identify whose computers they come from. But there are many more than one person. Maybe I'll invest in the tracking software so I can identify the source of these anonymous comments.

I agree that I am an idiot, but they who send these chicken-shit comments have not read what I said.

The latest and largest set of complaints sent, maybe 15-20 or so, seem to think I am attacking vet training. These are the true idiots who have nor read what I said.

What I am attacking is the unnecessary or even illegal taking of lives.

It is obvious Carolina and the other sellers of cat cadavers are not obtaining the cats legally, or are getting them from Mexico where they are taken off the street, or homeless and feral cats from our streets here, or cats raised for the purpose of selling them for research.

When Carolina lies and says they obtained the deceased cats from public shelters that had already been killed for lack of space, and they would have been buried in a landfill otherwise, they are simply lying. They refuse to supply the names of shelters from which they allegedly get the cadavers.

And, if they get cat cadavers from the shelters, they can as easily get dog and rabbit cadavers. Apparently they don't because they do not sell them. Therefore there is a cat trade but not a dog trade. Pit bulls are killed by the thousands; healthy pit bulls.

This means the cats were not dead animals obtained from shelters, which means these were living beings unlawfully or immorally captured and killed for resale. This is both immoral and illegal.

And, if the cats are not killed at the shelters, how are they killed? Using Euthanol might cause problems of toxicity for the dissectors. Therefore, the cats may be killed by low pressure chambers, carbon dioxide or purely by smothering.

If the negative commenters do not see this they are truly blind, mentally or morally, or maybe the profiters of this illegal trade.

I also point out there are other forms of training for anatomy that does not kill animals. How many vet techs are going to be surgeons and need to actually dissect an animal? I know many vets who refuse to do surgery or dissect any animal. They only want to be internists. Also, the Pierce kids can refuse to dissect the animals and yet they graduate. Dissection is considered optional.

Therefore I question and challenge unnecessary killing, whether in shelters, or illegally or immorally.

Besides that I am appalled by the killing of animals for food. Call me an idiot for that, and I call you blind.

Another Source for Skinned Cats

Another source for skinned and unskinned cats is Sargeant Welch. They also offer skinned cats already dissected and mounted for your viewing pleasure.

They too do not reveal their source for cat cadavers. They too do not offer skinned dogs. However, they do recognize the ethical issues and sell a 3-D program for dissecting cats that they say is better than the real thing. Too bad Pierce does not buy a $97 demonstartion program rather than 15 skined cats for $431.

The ad:

Revolutionary 3-D virtual reality programs are changing the way science is taught. Virtual reality 3-D dissection labs offer the credibility of wet lab dissections but without the hassles.

Liquid crystal glasses electronically wired to a base system present life-like images that you and your students will try to reach out and touch! When the entire class participates in virtual reality labs, the discussions afterwards are amazing.

Virtual reality dissection labs eliminate the expense, chemicals, and ethical issues surrounding animal dissection, and are endorsed by several humane societies.

Cats Need a Larger Voice and More Protection-II

Can anyone doubt that cats have a lower status and less protection than dogs?

A post below shows Carolina Biological selling dissection kits containing 15 dead, skinned and embalmed cats for $431. That is $30 per cat. Can you imagine how much the company paid for each cat so with embalming, skinning and other preparation the price is $29?

It is unlikely they got them from shelters legally unless an ordinance permits it. Their claim that the cats would otherwise be buried in a landfill is not credible as euthanized cats are considered toxic waste and cannot be disposed that way.

Euthanized animals, at least in Southern California, are picked up by rendering companies after shelters like LAAS and LACCC pay them. The animals are boiled and otherwise processed and turned into various products.

It is possible that Carolina buys deceased cats from these rendering companies, but that too is unlikely due to contract restrictions by the disposing shelters.

Also, Carolina says the cats are never frozen, so they have to make it to Carolina in a short time where they are embalmed and skinned. That means the suppliers are close by or the cats are obtained elsewhere and deliberately killed for dissection purposes close to Carolina facilities.

In any event Carolina is lying about the source of their cats and they have refused multiple requests to reveal their true source by providing the names of their alleged shelter sources or contact names at those "shelters" for verification.

I requested the day before yesterday that Dr. Shapiro, head of the Pierce program, since Pierce has a business relationship with Carolina, to aid in finding this information from Carolina. So far I have heard nothing. Either he is in the process of finding this information, which I hope is the case, or he does not want to know as an act of deniable accountability. Since Dr. Shapiro teaches bioethics at Pierce, I he sees the need to be involved in this discovery process.

I would note that Carolina and one other cadaver supply company do not sell dog cadavers are all. They do not sell rabbit cadavers either. They do sell the cadavers of piglets, which are farm animals raised to be killed. Cats are not raised to be killed except in certain barbaric cultures.

Therefore, dogs are afforded more protection than cats, at least de fact, as well as legally. Dogs have to be licensed, registered, given rabies shots and leashed. None of this applies to cats.

Now do you see why I focus more on cats?

The cat kill rate at LAAS and LCACC is much higher than the dog kill rate. Actually, Winogard had almost a 100% save for cats in Ithaca, with a dog save rate of 93%.

Cats need more protection.

Cat Chop Anyone?

Dr. Shapiro at Pierce College. See all the photos under the dissection class.




DNews Article on Design Screw Up at Harbor

June 22, 2008(staff photo by sean hiller).
by Donna Littlejohn

San Pedro: coastal, always a cool breeze, right?

That's what the architects of the town's new animal shelter decided when they left out the mister cooling system that's standard fare at the city's other facilities.

But sitting through the brow-mopping, sweltering temperatures at Saturday's grand-opening ceremony for the Harbor Animal Care Center at 957 N. Gaffey St. in north San Pedro, city officials soon found out what most residents already knew:

South San Pedro - cool.
North San Pedro - hot.

A scramble is now under way to find money to install the automated system that sends sprays of cooling water into dog kennels on hot days. So how hot was it Saturday at the shelter?

By 4 p.m., it was 105 - not altogether uncommon during a heat wave in north San Pedro, where there is rarely a genuine sea breeze to be found.

"I was dying," said Theresa Sardisco, a shelter volunteer who worked from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. staffing the celebration.

And with the stainless steel used in the construction on the new kennel "cubby" areas, Sardisco said the shelter's furry guests were heating up fast.

"It gives new meaning to the term `hot dogs,"' she said.

"It was terrible," said San Pedro resident Mary Jo Walker, who attended the opening festivities. "The shelter is beautiful, but they need misters. It was so hot out by the kennels, I felt sorry for those dogs. Their tongues were just hanging out."

San Pedro's southern neighborhoods near the ocean cliffs can be downright chilly during an L.A. heat wave. But temperatures often hover around peak highs just a few miles to the north, where the shelter sits.

"It gets hot down there," Walker said. "And come October, it's going to get even hotter."

Those who designed and planned the $18.7 million facility several years ago clearly were unfamiliar with San Pedro's many climate nuances.

"The engineers said this was a beach (area) property. They didn't think they needed the misters," said Harbor shelter Capt. Daniel Pantoja. "So the misters were not part of the original plan, but now the community is coming forward to get donations and work with the department."

Indoor areas at the 2-acre shelter are all air-conditioned. Aditional canopies are being installed this week over more of the outdoor portions of kennels to offer more shade. There are also heating pads to keep animals warm during cold mornings and nights.

But after Saturday, most everyone agrees: there must be misters.

Among the special guests dabbing perspiration from his brow and wearing a long-sleeve shirt and tie was Los Angeles Animal Services General Manager Ed Boks.

Boks was en route to Sacramento on Tuesday and could not be reached for comment. But he has told shelter personnel he's looking into the issue and was meeting with city engineers to see what can be done.

The punishing heat on opening day was probably the best argument anyone could have made for installing misters, Pantoja said.

The high temperatures, he said, "put the exclamation point at the end" of the argument. "Everyone was saying, `Where are the misters?"'

But how fast they can be installed - and exactly how they will be paid for - is another matter.

While a city estimate put the cost of misters for the 74 dog kennels at $40,000, Sardisco thinks it can be done for far less, perhaps in the range of $7,000. She's expecting estimates from two companies she called to be returned by Friday.

It remains unclear if city funds are available. A mister system has shown up on the shelter's online "wish list" for private donations.

Community groups, including neighborhood councils, already have either donated or pledged some $4,000 to help support the shelter where city funding falls short.

But Sardisco would rather see that money go toward the center's many other needs, such as permanent dog beds for the kennels, rather than misters.

"All the new shelters have them except us," she said. "But regardless of whether the city pays for them or not, I'm going to make sure they go up."

What: Donations are needed to assist San Pedro's new shelter. Funds will pay for some or all of the costs to install a mister cooling system for the 74 dog kennels.

Where: The shelter has posted a wish list for items that can be brought to the shelter at 957 N. Gaffey St. Visit www.lacity.org/ANI/ har_carecenter_wishlist.htm.

Information: Call Theresa Sardisco, 310-386-7932.

Pierce Gets Its Cat Cadavers from Carolina Biological

According to Dr. Shapiro, Pierce gets it cats form Carolina Biological Supplies. They told him they get the cats from cats already killed at shelters that otherwise would have gone into landfills.

There are problems here I told him as euthanized animals are usually rendered because of the euthanol in their blood rather than put into landfills, and, someone told me that public shelters cannot sell the bodies for resale. I don't know.

Anyway, here is the ad from Carolina Biological Supplies.

This kit contains 15 skinned cats for $431.
Cat Dissection BioKit®

Carolina's Cat Dissection BioKit® for a class of 30 students. Working in pairs, students study major organs, organ systems, and basic feline anatomy and physiology through guided dissection. Kit includes 15 Carolina's Perfect Solution plain cats, 15 plastic storage bags and waterproof student name tags, a teacher's manual with reproducible student sheets, and a highly detailed Dissection of the Cat (item# 455573) laboratory manual to use as a reference.

Carolina's Perfect Solution - an alternative to formaldehyde - is a revolutionary fixative that produces superior specimens while improving the safety of your classroom or lab. Tissues and organs are extremely lifelike and retain better color and texture than with other preparations.

Now from all of you out there who think I am prejudiced in wanting to protect cats because they are treated worse than dogs, I would note that Pierce does not dissect dogs, only cats. AND, Carolina Biologicals do not sell dog cadavers.

Dr. Shapiro Responds

I wrote to Dr. Shapiro:

Thanks for the rapid response. I fully understand the need for cadavers. Everyone in the animal community is concerned about the source.

What are the USDA approved sites that you spoke of?

What are the companies involved?

Where do they get the cats? Are they ferals? Are they from Mexico as alleged and where they were obtained there, no one knows?

What is the method of euthanasia?

Has an effort beem made to aquire cats that were euthanized for medical reasons or behavioral (feral) problems?

Ed Muzika, Ph.D.

Dear Dr. Muzika:

I tried to get cats from our animal shelters (cats that are euthanized because no one wants them). I have been denied use of these animals (for political reasons). A waste of life in my opinion. At least if they have to be euthanized we should try to use them to educate others on how to save lives of our companion and other animals (my goal).

I am a strong supporter of neutering and spaying of feral cats, vaccinating them and re-releasing when possible (we have done this at Pierce). This greatly reduces the numbers of cats euthanized in our area.

Each year we try to obtain our cats at a reasonable price from one or more of the USDA approved sites. We choose these sites as we know there is government supervision in the method of obtaining the animals and their procedures used in euthanizing.

We also teach human anatomy at Pierce. For this class we use human cadavers. I have completed two post-doctoral studies in bio-ethics. At my Georgetown University study we measured the difference between numbers of students/animal used to teach anatomy. There was no significant difference between one and four students. There was significant difference after four students per cadaver. For that reason Pierce College purchases one cadaver per four students to minimize not only the cost but the numbers of animals required in teaching the necessary skills previously mentioned.

Be assured, I am an animal lover. I love cats, dogs and of course cows. I do not tolerate the mistreatment of any animals used in our program - including cadavers. Our faculty teaches modern animal welfare techniques. We constantly refine our teaching methods, our animal husbandry and our medicine to maximize the welfare of the animals under our charge.

I am off campus during the summer months. Should you have further questions, I should be returning to Pierce in September. I hope I have reassured you of our commitment to animal welfare at our institution.

Dr. Leland S. Shapiro, Director
Pre-Veterinary Science Program
Professor of Animal Sciences
L.A. Pierce College

A Very Rapid Response From Pierce College

Dear Mr. Muzika:

I am sorry, I must have hit the send button before finishing my typing. I purchase our cats through USDA approved sites.

They are preserved in non-formaldehyde preservatives (usually alcohol based). Feral cats are euthanized under the direction of a USDA veterinarian.

Cats are not used just to teach the geography of the cat. For that purpose, plastic models, coloring books and computer models could and are used. The cadavers are used similarly to those used in human medicine. We teach necropsy techniques, suturing, and system by system anatomy. At all times, during the lab, complete respect for the animals being used are enforced.

It would be highly unethical to have our students practice these techniques, for the first time, on someone's pet. Thus, we try to encourage their initial mistakes on something they cannot harm - a cadaver. From this class our students proceed to either graduate veterinary schools or more advance RVT courses and work on live animals (people's pets). I hope, as a fellow animal welfarist, you understand my use of these cadavers to help produce future RVTs and veterinarians who will rely on these skills to save other animal's lives.

When I took this very class, students were required to either find "road kill" or go to the slaughter house and purchase animals there. I believe the method Pierce College currently uses in teaching this comparative animal anatomy class, maximizes the respect for the animal cadaver as well as the hands-on skills required of our students. The 138 Pierce alumni, now practicing veterinary medicine (doctors of veterinary medicine) and the thousands of RVTs who went through our program can best attest to the value of using cadavers compared with not using them.

I might also point out that several students each semester take our lecture course without the lab. These students include our horse science and general animal science students who most likely will not be required to have the surgical skills taught with the cadavers. They simply need to learn basic anatomy. When learning only the geography of the body the plastic models and pictures suffice.

I hope I have sufficiently answered your concern and questions.


Dr. Leland S. Shapiro, Director
Pre-Veterinary Science Program
Professor of Animal Sciences
L.A. Pierce College
6201 Winnetka Ave. Box 202
Woodland Hills, CA 91371

Pierce Vet Tech Program

I called the Pierce College vet tech program RVT coordinator about their cat dissection program. Her name is Elizabeth White.

She says they get the cats from a company already skinned and prepared for dissection with preservative. She does not know what company they get the cadavers from or what the origins of those cats are.

That instructor is Leeland Shapiro and his email is drcows@aol.com.

Since they also have classes in surgery, I assume they operate on live cats also and I am interested where they are coming from.

I will be contacting the instructors of these courses. I can tel you, I will not be gentle with these people.

Anyone know anything about this program?

I Am a Cat Person

All the time I get flooded with email from dog rescuers. It seems the only email I get with regard to animals is from dog people. I posted the Zephyr story, but you know I was much more interested in the Mason case and now the Madow because they are cat people.

Therefore, do not expect me to post dog events or need for rescues of dogs, or demonstrations mostly of dog people.

There are so many of you ought there that the kitties of the world new I voice and I am one of them.

Sen. Feinstein Supports Killing Ferals

About 10 days ago I emailed Sen. Feinstein, who is getting weirder and weirder for a Democrat, about my opposition to the feral cat killing bill, REPAIR (H.R. 767) She wrote in reply:

senator@feinstein.senate.gov wrote:

Dear Dr. Muzika:

Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition to the "Refuge Ecology Protection, Assistance, and Immediate Response (REPAIR) Act" (H.R. 767). I appreciate the time you took to write and welcome the opportunity to respond.

On January 31, 2007, Representative Ron Kind (D-WI) introduced the REPAIR Act. This bill would establish the REPAIR Program to provide grants for the identification of harmful nonnative species and control projects to manage these species. These grants would also be used to identify restoration methods that enhance native fish, wildlife, and habitats. Further, it authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to provide financial assistance to respond to critical outbreaks of harmful nonnative species negatively impacting already threatened refuges. H.R. 767 was passed by the House of Representatives and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Like you, I believe it is important to work toward protecting the welfare of animals. Please know that I will keep your comments about the Trap-Neuter-Return method in mind should this bill, or similar legislation, come before the Senate.

Again, thank you for writing. I hope you will continue to keep in touch on matters of importance to you. Should you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841.

Sincerely yours,
Dianne Feinstein United States Senator


I know what the bill is about. I am saying that I oppose killing the non-native species, i.e., feral cats.

What do you mean about protecting the welfare of the animals? Do you mean protecting the welfare of feral and lost cats too?

Each year about 5% of housed cats lose their homes and become part of the outside cat population.

Do you advocate killing them?

Feinstein has never responded. That speaks tons on where she stands.

Let’s get rid of Dianne.

It is time we become politically active. Email your thoughts to her address above and ask her to clarify her thinking on the welfare of animals.

Cats to be Hunted and Leg-Trapped Then Killed

This was sent to me from the Alley Cat Allies.

It is information like this that depresses the hell out of me, and makes me think that has to be a vast change and fast to the rulers who be when it comes to animals. Anyone who reads the following has to be appalled.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a cruel plan to kill all the feral cats on San Nicholas Island—that’s as many as 200—using leghold traps and hunters with dogs.

Your written feedback to the Fish and Wildlife Service is vitally needed by tomorrow, Tuesday, June 17.

“Feral cats have lived on San Nicolas Island, located off the coast of southern California, for more than 50 years. The Fish and Wildlife Service claims that removing cats from the island is necessary to restore seabird populations. However, the FWS has no evidence that cats are threatening the populations of birds and other species on San Nicolas Island.

“Worse, even if the Fish and Wildlife Service had any evidence that removing cats is necessary, the ill-advised plan does not consider the use of Trap-Neuter-Return to humanely reduce the population of cats on San Nicolas Island.

“Take Action. With your help, we hope to avert the needless suffering and cruel death of the feral cats on San Nicolas Island. Submit your written comments to the Fish and Wildlife Service requesting that they cease and desist with their cruel plan. Tell them that cats are not threatening other species on the island. Tell them that even if they could prove it would be beneficial to reduce the population of cats, Trap-Neuter-Return is the humane and effective alternative to cruel, ineffective hunting and trapping.

“Be sure to include your full name and a mailing address when submitting comments.

The deadline is Tuesday, June 17, 2008.

Becky Robinson


The actual proposal and the kill methods:

The purpose of the Proposed Action is to restore San Nicolas Island’s seabird populations and protect other native fauna, including federally and state listed threatened species,
from population decline and potential extirpation or extinction. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Navy propose to restore and protect these species and their habitat by eradicating feral cats from the island. The most common techniques used
globally for eradicating feral cats from islands are trapping, hunting, and poisoning. The presence of the San Nicolas island fox, however, restricts the available techniques in this
case, making poisoning infeasible. The Proposed Action is to use a combination of trapping and hunting through integrated adaptive management to eradicate feral cats from San Nicolas Island. A field study on San Nicolas Island conducted in 2006 demonstrated that padded leg-hold live traps can be used to trap feral cats effectively with minimal injury to cats and foxes. Furthermore, a trap monitoring system would minimize the time animals are held in traps prior to release (foxes) or euthanasia (cats). The USFWS and Navy propose to use padded leg-hold live trapping as the primary eradication method. Hunting with and without specialized dogs would be used strategically as a supplemental method.

The report:



Restore the $100,000 for Food!

Usually I just report, but I think the $100,000 cut in food is unacceptable, especially as it is the only expense item cut. I think we need to act here and let our voice be heard.

Please send emails to the people below. The first set of addresses is a direct request to the powers to be that you want the $100,000 food budget restored.

The second set of emails is to Council and the newspapers informing them that Boks/Mayor cut the food budget by 20% and that you find this unacceptable. Do they want even more animals to die in the shelter?

EMAIL THESE PEOPLE AND TELL THEM TO RESTORE THE $100,000 CUT IN FOOD FOR SHELTER ANIMALS FOR FISCAL 2008-2009. Copy and paste the addresses below to your email address line.

"Antonio Villaraigosa" ,"Ed Boks-Private" ,"Jim Bickhart" ,"Jim Blackman" ,"Robin Kramer" ,"Rocky delgadilla" ,"Ross Pool"

THEN EMAIL THESE PEOPLE BELOW AND TELL THEM THAT BOKS CUT THE FOOD BUDGET FOR SHELTER ANIMALS BY 20%, OR $100,000. THIS IS THE ONLY EXPENSE ITEM CUT. Copy and pastes this to a second email, saying how much you object to the cut.

"Carla Hall" ,"Council Member Zine" ,councilmember.greuel@lacity.org,councilmember.greuel@lacity.org,councilmember.smith@lacity.org,"Dennis Zine" ,"Ed Reyes" ,"Editor Citybeat" ,editor@lacitybeat.com,"Eric Garcetti" ,"hahn council" ,"Herb Wesson" ,"Jack Weiss" ,"Jose Huizar" ,"Kathy Riordan" ,"Labonge" ,"Lori Golden" ,"Marcia Mayeda" ,"Richard Alarcon" ,"Rick Orlov" ,"Robert NBC Universal KNBC Kovacik" ,"Stephanie Boyles" ,"Tariq Khero" ,"Terri Macellaro"


Boks' new budget cuts the food budget for the animals, from $529,000 to $429,000. This is a 20% cut.

Why on earth is he cutting the food budget? There is an almost $20 million budget and he cuts food by 20%?

On page 34 of the 2008-09 budget, you will notice that food is the only expense item cut, while the "operating supplies" budget was more than tripled, from $138,000 to $453,000!

It is amazing Boks and Council would cut the animal food budget when animal food costs have so dramatically increased during the past year and a half. How would you like your food budget cut 20%?Fewer pencils, more food!.

Please restore the animals' food!

Los Angeles 2008-2009 Budget; See pages 33 and on.


Boks Cuts Food for Animals 20%

When Boks was in NYC, I saw an order signed by him ordering personnel to feed dry food only until it was determined the animal would not be immediately euthanized.

Keeping in the same vein, Boks' new budget proposes a 20% cut in food for the animals, from $529,000 to $429,000.

See the entire animal services budget as well as its performance over the past 6 years at:


Why on earth is he cutting the food budget? There is an almost $20 million budget and he cuts food by 20%?

On page 34, you will notice that food is the only expense item cut, while the "operating supplies" budget was more than tripled, from $138,000 to $453,000!

This is absurd. Will employees start buying food for the animals--I hope--to compensate?

Maybe we should all bring food to the shelters.

It is amazing that they'd cut the food budget when animal food costs have so dramatically increased during the past year and a half.


Fewer pencils, more food!

ALF Torches UCLA Vivisectionist Van

UCLA recently got a restraining order against activist groups. The upping of the ante seems to be a consequence. The following is from the ALF Press Office:
UCLA Van Goes Up In Flames Animal Liberation Front Claims Action on Behalf of Tortured Primates in UCLA Labs
Irvine: In an anonymous communiqué received today by the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) claims to have set a flame a UCLA van as part of their campaign to force the university to stop torturing non-human primates in their laboratories.

The communiqué reads, in part:At the start of last week, in Irvine, CA, a van owned by UCLA went up in flames. For all of those affected you have the UCLA primate vivisection program to blame. It is unacceptable for us to see, hear, and know what is going on in our animal labs without taking action. We are driven to show the world the compassionless support that UCLA gives to these monkey killers and to do anything we can to end the needless suffering that the primates are forced to face. The end of UCLA vivisection is coming. We urge you to start switching over to non-animal protocol without haste. -LA ALF
(To read the entire communiqué, visit www.animalliberationpressoffice.org/communiques_home.htm)
A long-running campaign to stop the medically useless research on non-human primates at UCLA has seen peaceful and mainstream efforts such as leafleting, petitions, meeting with UCLA administration and even home demonstrations fail, as more animals die at larger expense to the public every year.
It is widely known researchers such as Edythe London, who addicts primates to nicotine and methamphetamines, continue to perform the same outmoded research for decades on end to ensure continued university funding and thus secure their academic success.
Clinical physicians seldom even bother to read such studies, which waste funds that could be used to treat patients or perform research likely to lead to cures for human ailments.

UCLA recently obtained a restraining order against a number of above-ground animal rights activists, as well as the ALF. Being a clandestine organization, the ALF is unlikely to either know or care about the restraining order. Inadvertently, in their attempts to crack down on legal, if vocal, demonstrators, the university has merely shifted the burden of activism to the underground groups such as the ALF.

Jerry W. Vlasak, MD, a press officer for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, states "It is indeed unfortunate that UCLA has been unwilling to listen to more reasonable approaches to ending the atrocities in their laboratories. Primate research will end, and if UCLA could end their own addiction to easy grant money for this fraudulent research, they could instead lead the scientific community in the legitimate pursuit of medical cures using methods of research shown to be more effective than the use of non-human animals."

Boks Says Killing UP 31%!

Ed Boks has just told CNN that shelter killing is up 31%. Last month it was up 24%. Shelter killing is getting worse by the month.

He says there is no precedent for this "spike," then blames it on foreclosures and landlord problems.

But that does not explain the much larger increase in killing. Foreclosures and landlord-forced relinquishments have only gone up 21% by his own admission. Even then, owner turn-ins have always been less than 50% of total impounds, with the largest category being strays.

Ed did not release the numbers for impound reasons, such as stray, owner-relinquished, etc., so we don't know either. LAAS only releases outcome statistics.

If killing stays at this higher rate or increases, we may see much higher kill rates than before Boks came to LA.

Others have speculated that the real cause of the spike in intakes, is Boks refusing to take in kittens and ferals last year. These animals were never sterilized and are now reproducing.

CNN Interview:


I think Boks needs to get intake information from Mayeda and Bernstein to see if their shelter intakes are up 31% also, and if their kill rates are also up 31%. If not, Boks is in trouble.


Video on Farm Animal Killing

What every vegetarian knows.

Videos of farm animals being turned into food. Don't watch. Instead send the link to someone who eats meat.


Merrit Clifton's Methodology

Merritt Clifton wrote a long rebuttal of a Milwaukee group's estimate that there were 140,000 feral cats in Milwaukee.

His "methodology" is completely devoid of actual counting of cats and is based on many assumptions, including that feral cat numbers in Milwaukee can be calculated based on the amount of garbage in Calcutta, which he calls the filth factor.

There are lots of other assumptions and a reliance on small to smaller "studies" of unknown validity, conducted in very different locations in the US, and some as much as 50 years apart.

Merritt will assume that those same conditions exist today and can be generalized to specific other cities in all parts of the country with small, top of the head modifications.

His "logic" and assumptions are mind blowing and quite clearly demonstrate how Merritt has little contact with reality. His numbers are based on not being able to count shelter kills, or when he does not have real numbers (most of the time), he estimates what they should be; that is, he makes them up.

First I will present Merritt's treatise and then my rebuttal or his treatise.

Merritt's response was that he was not interested in my ideas, and that he has been acknowledged as THE animal population authority over the years, and, as above, claims most of the decreased shelter killing over the years is due to him.

As you can see, my comments in red are not a presentation of my ideas, but a questioning of his methodology.

He never responds to these questions. Instead, says he is right, take a look at his 30 years of writings and how he has single-handedly save miilions of animals from death. Anyone who does not accept his numbers is an ignoramous or dolt of some kind.

I can understand why many shelter managers like his methodology and numbers. The numbers make Ed Boks look good in LA and even better in NYC. They also make San Francisco city look good as well as Winograd. Marcia Mayeda comes out pretty good at about 30% better than national averages. Of course, regarding the latter, he miscalculated the number of people in Mayeda's service area, otherwise her kill/1,000 residents would climb 30%.

San Francisco really is good. LA and NYC are not.


Merritt Clifton Takes Credit For All Reduced Shelter Killing in the US

A reader writes about her email to Merritt Clifton and his response:

Dear Mr. Clifton,

I have been reading Ed Muzika's L.A. Animal Watch blog, and, as a subscriber to your newspaper, I was interested in your exchange with him. I am no expert on statistics, so I don't want to take sides as to who is right or wrong about the numbers.

However, I do want to say this: in calling Mr. Muzika an "ignoramus" you have shown yourself to be juvenile and unprofessional. In saying you are not interested in his "ideas" you have shown yourself to be unreasonable and petty. It seems to me that any reasonable person, instead of resorting to name-calling and refusing to engage in dialogue, would defend his statements with some explanation or further elucidation.

Your statements have cost you a great deal of credibility with me.

Sincerely, Tina Clark

Merritt Clifton's reply:

"Ask me if I give a crap."

"More than 30 years of strategic analysis, contributing to a reduction of the U.S. shelter killing volume by more than 75%, & of the rate of killing per 1,000 Americans by nearly 90%, speaks for itself--as does helping to introduce neuter/return, adoption transfer, adoption advertising, numerous reforms in shelter design, abolition of gassing, etc.

"You can either listen up & learn, or remain ignorant. Ain't worried about it either way."

Merritt Clifton

Clifton iis pretty funny; he lives in his own world. But he is funny. I wonder how serious his rudeness is, or is he a bearded Don Rickles?

How can anyone take Clifton and his numbers seriously if he refuses to defend his methodology? What is it in his methodology that he knows is rationally and statistically indefensible?

This is something to ponder when you consider Ed Boks uses Clifton’s authority and reputation to “prove” how well he and the Los Angeles Animals Services are performing.

I emailed Merritt quoting two other comments about him left on this blog. First the comments, then his response:

Comment #1

Merritt is being very childish, as childish as Boks.

Comment #2

"as childish as Boks." That's EXACTLY what I was just thinking - this Clifton guy is another Ed Boks, a self-proclaimed "expert" in what anybody would consider a very time-consuming field, with apparently ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD on his hands to troll the internet and vigorously defend himself from people he himself characterizes as "ignoramuses."

Man, I knew animal rescue attracted more than its fair share of crazies and charlatans, but until Marcia Mayeda, Ed Boks, and now Merritt Clifton, I didn't know that the crazier a charlatan you are the more money you make at it.

Merritt Clifton’s response:

Tell 'em to take a number & wait in line.

E-mail: anmlpepl@whidbey.comWeb: www.animalpeoplenews.org


Schwartzenneger Tries to Gut Hayden Again

He tried to do it last year and he is trying again. Where does he live in Santa Monica? Does he still drive a Hummer? What restaurants does he go to? How many bodyguards does he have?

From Rich Mc Lellen:

The Exterminator Governor is at it again!

State Funding for local animal shelters to help them offset the costs of holding abandoned pets has been stripped from the state budget.

The argument being put forth is that the increased holding periods and added costs created by Hayden have not increased dog and cat adoptions.

We know this is a lie but we need official documentation from your local shelters. your shelter director should cooperate when they learn that they will lose money should the money not be put back in the budget. California shelters will lose $17 million.

If we lose Hayden now, rescue opportunities will dry up all over California. Thousands of animals will be destroyed prematurely. There is no time to waste. We need records official records signed off by shelter directors showing that their adoptions have increased dramatically since 1995.

Emmotional arguments will not help so don’t send me those. Contact your shelters. Be polite and offer to work with them to collect the information.

Data can be sent to


I will forward all useful data to the proper individuals in the legislature.

Rich Mc Lellan MD, Director, League of Humane Voters, CA Chapter Cross post!

Merritt Responds to Previous Comments

Reader comment about Merritt Clifton:

I used to respect the guy a little but that was some crazy email. He jumps from one odd job to the next.

Merritt responds:

Actually, I have had the same primary employer since 1986, and worked for the four newspapers that were my primary employers before that for more than 10 years each, concurrently.

(As they were small & rural, with contiguous circulation radiuses, they shared one full-time environmental beat reporter.)
Reader comment about Merritt:

That doesn't make him an expert in animal statistics


No, but my work of the past 30 years does.

Before that, I developed an evaluative approach to baseball statistics that helped to inspire the "sabrmetric revolution,"
results of which appear on every sports page.

You'll find a bit about it in The Hidden Game of Baseball, Palmer & Thorn, 1984, & in the Total Baseball encyclopedia. The guys who followed through with it got rich. I'd already moved on to quantifying animal issues.

Email #2 from Merritt:

Reader comment about Merrit:

Experts usually more than happy to show you why it is that they're an expert.

Merritt responds:

It's all in print.

I'm also an expert at identifying ignoramuses.
Talk to Merritt. I am sure he would like to listen to your ideas or comments as much as he did mine.

Telephone: 360-579-2505 Fax: 360-579-2575


Merritt Clifton Calls Me An Ignoramus

Several weeks ago Merritt Clifton commented he was not interested in my ideas, even though I offered no ideas. He responded:

That's the bottom line. What I do works, & has worked in many situations, involving many different species, around the world.

Brad Jensen replied, what is it that he has done that works?

I commented what works is that he has been able to convince a lot of people he is an expert.

Merritt has just replied:

I understand you are unaware that I lived for 10 years on the premises of the model animal shelter that ANIMAL PEOPLE maintains for teaching, training, & testing techniques; am a trustee of a foreign humane society which operates two no-kill shelters handling about 500 animals per year; previously helped to manage a successful 5-year 320-cat neuter/return project; was an interim animal control officer in Quebec for about six months, filling in for a predecessor who died on the job; have been a certified rabies control educator since 1991; have 11 years experience as primary caretaker for equines, 12 years experience helping with a working dairy herd, & 1 year helping on a working sheep farm; for 12 years spent an average of about an hour a day as volunteer assistant to a Quebec deputy game warden, chiefly detecting & removing unauthorized traplines and gathering evidence against deer poachers; and have managed wildlife habitats for maximum biodiversity and demonstrated nonlethal wildlife management techniques at a variety of rural locations for more than 30 years.

In short, you are as usual an ignoramus.

This sounds like Boks doesn't it, except Boks is not so rude.

If you add up all the years experience, I think he has 80 years of experience. This is a lot like Boks who started at Maricopa County's Animal Control in 1985, and added seven years of experience.


Letter From LAAS Employees to Council

Quote from the letter from LAAS employees to Council urging them to fire Boks.

"We, the undersigned employees of LA Animal services and its customers and other concerned individuals, have no confidence in the leadership provided by the department’s current management team of Ed Boks and Linda Barth.

We feel that, in order to halt the deterioration of the department and improve the ability of its employees to serve the City and its interests, they should be immediately relieved of their responsibilities and their positions of authority in LA Animal Services."

Employees Seek to Fire Boks?

Rumor has it, from an inside source at East Valley, that the employees are going to present a letter to Villaraigosa to either fire his or a letter of no confidence.

Stay tuned.

Will Bernstein Kill Balkeley's Dogs As Ed Did Mason's Cats?

This appeal just came out about Blakeley's dogs:

The situation is still that all the dogs that belonged to Ms. Blakely will be released this Monday June 9th, and SPCA-LA will kill them. It looks like there is some incorrect information going around but here is the reality:

Please make arrangements now, before June 9th, with SPCA-LA to rescue the dogs on June 9th. Don't wait, please, or the dogs will die.

Ms. Blakely was raided by SPCA-LA over 1 year ago, and all 17 of her rescued dogs were seized. The dogs will be released officially by the court to SPCA-LA on June 9th. Once they are released, SPCA-LA will have no further use for them, so the dogs will all be killed IMMEDIATELY. These dogs need rescuers or adopters lined up ASAP, to save the dogs on June 9th. Please act NOW, before it's too late.

And on June 9th, go and adopt the dogs. They are closed on Monday and Tuesday, maybe you can still adopt on those days at that facility. If not, go to the administrative office, which is open on weekdays, demand to adopt the dogs. If the SPCA-LA does not let you adopt the dogs, tell them they must give you the dogs by law if you are a 501(c)(3) California corporation. Some of the dogs may be in foster but they must give you those dogs too. Otherwise the dogs will die.

SPCA-LA has traditionally always killed the animals they seize, the very day they impound them. SPCA-LA says that Ms. Blakely's dogs are still alive, but if so, her dogs will all be killed now.

These are very adoptable dogs though SPCA-LA may tell you otherwise, and they may try to discourage or prevent people from rescuing them, or even seeing them. Please don't let them stop you from rescuing the dogs, it is the dogs' only chance to get out alive, and you must act quickly or the dogs will be killed before you can save them.

Do NOT believe SPCA-LA if they tell you they will adopt out the dogs, it is nothing but a PR gimmick, the dogs WILL BE KILLED if they are not rescued from SPCA-LA, and FAST.

It will be very interesting to see how Bernstein handles this situation and whether she just kills the dogs. It will be VERY interesting to see what she and the the SPCALA does.

San Francisco Zoo Gets New Director; Carl Friedman to Help Operations and Transition

Carl Friedman, who, along with SFSPCA took San Francisco to a combined save rate of 86% has left Animal Services to apparently help the San Francisco Zoo cope with numerous personnel and operational issues.

I have talked to Carl a number of times. He is a no-nonsense New Yorker who likes to give his opinion on everything.

Wish him and the Zoo animals well. Carl was supposed to retire this month and had planned on going back to New York where he wanted to reflect on his future. Too bad we can't get him here is some capacity.

Harbor Shelter Moved On Monday

The Harbor shelter moved this past Monday and the Grand Opening will be on June 21. Time unknown yet. I think it will be kept secret and only Councilmen, the Mayor, the press, employees and a fee volunteers will be invited. Protesters will be kept 5,000 feet away.

I tried to call the shelter for the new address, but my call was dropped after 6 minutes of holding.

If any of you have more patience than I and can make multiple calls waiting for one that is not dropped or before your phone's battery goes dead, and then you actually talk to someone, get the address and opening info and send it as a comment. Please!

Rumor has it that the new GM was hired weeks ago but has not started yet. Anyone know who it is and her background? I hear Boks was required to hire from within the City--or at least that was what he was complaining about two months ago.

Just Passed 30,000 Visits Today

This blog had its 30,000th visitor today. Currently (the past week) there are an average of 179 visitors a day and they view an average of 1.7 posts. They stay an average of 2 minutes and 20 seconds. I wonder how many visitors Boks gets a day.

Blumenfield Wins Over Waldman

Mike won over Waldman with 52% of the vote. We hope Mike is as animal friendly as he claimed on this blog when he gets into office. I don't know whether a Republican has ever won this 40th Assembly seat--hope not.

Boks Blog Under Fire--Again.

From the LA Times today. Here we go again:

Political animals
9:25 AM, June 5, 2008

Ed Boks, general manager of the animal services department, keeps a blog titled "From Ed's Desk" on the department's home page. (That's Boks in the photo at right.) A week ago today, he posted a list of congressional endorsements compiled by the Humane Society Legislative Fund, a group that seeks animal-friendly policies.

The posting instructed animal enthusiasts to re-elect such politicians as Rep. Jane Harman on the Westside, Rep. Adam Schiff in Pasadena and Rep. Laura Richardson.

Now legally, city officials are barred from using public resources for political purposes, particularly campaign activities. But the blog, which features a photo of Boks smiling and hugging a dog, warns readers that nothing on it "represents the official position of the City of Los Angeles or LA Animal Services unless otherwise specifically noted."

That didn't reassure City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo's office, which said the posting raised legal concerns. "We do not believe an official city web site should link to candidate endorsements," said Delgadlilo spokesman Nick Velasquez.

Deputy Mayor Janelle Erickson said an aide to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had ordered Boks to remove the post on Wednesday.

The election, of course, was the previous day. Is anyone in the doghouse?

--Veronique de Turenne

You know, I beat down this complaint when it was first made two years ago.

The City does not pay a dime for Boks' blogspot blog. It is a free service by Google. The Chief of police also has (or at least had) a similar blog even before Boks started his.

The LAAS website links to Boks blog, but it is clear Ed is expressing his own opinion and not on an official website.

My personal opinion is that his right to free speech should not be shot down just because many of us are justifiably trying to shoot him down. Shoot him down on something consequential, not for exercising--at no public expense, and not on any Los Angeles department website--his First Amendment Rights.

Besides, his opinion to vote for animal friendly candidates is something the public should see. Maybe a few people were moved to vote for these people by his blog.

If anything, one should shoot him down for all the lies posted on his blog, but not his opinions about who would best support animal friendly politicians.

Greedy Vets: A Major Cause of Alleged Animal Abuse; Why Vets and Animal Services have You By The Short Hairs

When I first moved to Los Angeles in 1972 and had my first cat here, vet costs were nominal. I was living in a Zen center at the time. One of the center’s cats was hit by a car in 1975. I rushed him to a vet where they made heroic efforts to save him. The final charge was $287.

When I moved to Santa Monica in 1983, I had several vets until I found Ken Jones.

In my eyes, he could do no wrong. He appeared to be a great diagnostician, and his prices were right. He did not recommend blood tests unless he thought it necessary. Rarely did an office visit cost more than $65.

In 1995 he performed a bladder surgery on Satchi; the total bill after a one day stay: $316.

Only problem with Ken is his horror of a wife who began doubling fees in the early 90s. Now Suzanne has jacked up Ken’s prices until he is right up there with VCA. I had a big argument with Suzanne and was 86’d from his practice.

However, somewhere along the line Ken began liking the new prices. He began buying all sorts of equipment and his prices shot up too with his o.k.

I then went to Dr. Martin and others in West LA. Martin’s prices were reasonable, but he seemed somewhat a cold fish.

One of my cats developed breast cancer and I took her to Alan Shulman at that time, about 1995. The VCA oncologist only gave her 6-12 months to live after surgery. Alan provided a bilateral, radical mastectomy. She lived almost 2 years afterwards. The cost of surgery and followup? 900$!

Moving to the Valley I first went to McClaves where I stayed two years or so. McClaves is now VCA, as all independent vets are going: more money.

McClaves was good, but pricey and you never knew who you would get as a walk in. When I left in 2005, an office visit was $42. Office visits were rarely over $200.

On recommendation I went to Adler Animal Hospital in Reseda, with Dr. Reimer who has a great bedside manner and even more expensive rates. Rarely could I go away with under a $250 bill.

About 10 months ago, a VCA rival bought Adler and office visits jumped to $55. Prices across the board went up 10-20%. The doctors gave themselves a $10/hr. raise and gave office staff and tech staff a 50 cents per hour raise. A failed surgery on Gopi and a failed overnight attempt to save Gracie with kidney failure cost $900 and $740 respectively.

I went to Noreda twice because I heard his prices were better. I liked him; he took his time and explained things. However, one day I had a walk in. He was not there, but a relief vet was. With an office visit, blood tests, antibiotics, a vitamin B shot, and SQ fluids, it cost $340. I was never asked about any of the procedures except the blood test, and was shocked that the other procedures were done without any discussion or permission.

Then Dustin developed small cell intestinal cancer about two years ago. It was diagnosed after a biopsy last May. Luckily he had a cancer rider on his insurance. He also had thyroid problems and was given radiation therapy for that, but an ultrasound and Endoscopy discovered the cancer. Cost: $3,200! This was done br Dr. Broome. Broome was patient, detailed in his discussion and readily returned phone calls. AND, he was expensive. For example, charging $10 for each Baytril pill pushed down Dustin's throat and $12 for each 10mg pill of Pred.

The first oncologist, Ayl in Oxnard wasn’t that expensive but he never talked to me. Even when problems arose, he never talked on the phone but only through staff.

I then went to an oncologist at an unmentioned location (he is still Dustin's oncologist).

He promised to be instantly communicative, which he was for the first visit. The first visit, with office call, ultrasound, blood tests cost almost $600. Dustin is still hanging in 12 months later but treatment has not resulted in a remission and another $1,860 has passed by. I see him and most others in his practice as someone who sees Dustin as a pricey lump of coal and he is a coal miner. (I just talked to him. Dustin's bowel is normal. Lymph nodes are swollen, but likely not due to cancer but chronic inflamation. There is a nodule on his liver, but in a place that cannot be aspirated, and likely benign (est. 75% benign). I feel relieved. I would hate to have another cat die within a year.)

You can see it is all of their eyes: MONEY.

I did have one great vet for a time until he became Chief Vet at LAAS: Steve Feldman. Steve was almost cheap. Great service, easy appointments, never too busy, just like with Ken Jones 20 some years before.

Unfortunately, Steve was replaced by another coal miner who charged my neighbor over $600 to treat a deep abcess surgically and a half day stay.

So, how was Mason supposed to pay for the medical care of 50 cats? He couldn’t provide perfect medical care and even spay neuter. He was basically employed part time, yet he tried the hardest. He said as soon as he collected $120 for a day's work he took it to Holiday Humane to pay off his bill.

(I do understand that Cynthia Hockman did a lot to help Ron. She did a lot of free things for him. He just said she became strange once he was busted and she started working for Boks.)

Then he was arrested and charged with felony animal neglect and stories of his criminal lack of care for his cats spread all over the web and by Dana Bartholomew in the Daily News.

By the way, Ron was never charged with anything. Dana’s front page story with tons of photos and his description of the horrible scene at his house was never retracted. A month or so after the case was closed, the Daily News printed a 2” column buried in the middle of the paper saying that Mason, whose house had been raided in October, was not charged with a felony. Dana’s promised retraction and followup story was never written. Mason is still therefore considered a felon by many who saw the huge front page article and then read Boks’ defense of the ACTF bust. Ed has never mentioned anywhere that no charges were ever filed.

And what about Mason? His cats were confiscated and no medical care was attempted on 28 cats who were immediately euthanized. Should LAAS be brought up on animal neglect charges because they could not afford to treat the cats either?

The point is the entire animal care system from shelters to private practice vets has grown corrupt and bloated. Very few people can afford the vet care of three cats or three dogs. You can with insurance, but the premiums themselves become increasingly pricey and the carriers always find ways to refuse claims.

One person, since fired from McClaves, overheard one vet, “Dr. Ted” complaining to another about money. The other said to Ted, “What are you bitching about, you are still making $400,000 a year?”

I see the only solution is that we consumers of vet “care” need to start a pet HMO that controls the greed and pricing, bringing care within the reach of many who cannot afford care now and thus risk arrest for animal neglect should a neighbor complain.

The pet care system is rigged against the pet owner who has had his vet turn into a green-eyed money machine where care for the animals is vastly secondary to the care of the vet.

I once saw a client bounced from Adler Clinic with a cat with a broken leg. The doctor showed him to the door and said “we do not do that kind of surgery, you need a specialist." The client asked who and where, and the doctor said he didn’t know and actually was showing the client and his cat to the door. The guy walked out of Adler with his cat's leg dangling.

I told the guy about Alan Shulman--who is board certified in orthopedic surgery--and Care Credit that many vets use. I hope he went, but he just looked stunned at the bum's rush.

I think at that time my long festering anger with greedy vets began turning into hate.

We who love animals are at the mercy of increasingly callous vets whose eyes see only money.