The article below was written by Kate Woodviolet, a frequent contributor to this blog. She reveals more information about the recent Boks-cancelled S/N certificate program.
I have edited her article because she brings up issues related to Boks that are old news and not relevant to the cancelled certificates. The full article can be found at:
After her article I will add more information.
City Council to bite back: surprising twist in the case of the disappearing coupons
Since the City Council passed L.A.'s mandatory spay/neuter legislation last year with the assurance that the availability of discount and free spay/neuter coupons would make complying with the new law feasible for low income city residents, I called the offices of Councilmembers Weiss and Alarcon, as well as Council President Eric Garcetti seeking comment on this new policy that seemed to leave recession-battered Angelenos in the lurch.
While Weiss' and Alarcon's office did not return calls, Friday afternoon I did hear from Mitch O'Farrell, District Director of Constituent Services for Councilmember Garcetti. What he had to say was a surprise. He informed me that, contrary to initial reports, the City Council was not consulted or informed in advance about Animal Services' plans to discontinue the spay/neuter coupon program, and he characterized the news as "upsetting," and "not okay at all."
In a follow-up email, O'Farrell said, "the City Council did not rescind the spay/neuter coupons. That was an internal decision within the [Animal Services] department based on general mid year budget reductions all departments were ordered to take."
O'Farrell informs me the City Council is planning to take strong action to reverse this decision. "A motion will be introduced next week directing LAAS to reinstate free and discount spay/neuter vouchers. This program is something...Councilmember [Garcetti] and his colleagues strongly believe in. In fact, [Councilmember] Garcetti moved this program forward when he was on the Budget and Finance Committee a few years back."
My additional comments:
My understanding from two sources is that the public generally actually uses only a percentage of S/N certificates given out by the Department, but because of the tanking economy and the Mandatory S/N law, the percentage of redemption is far higher than normal, meaning Boks thinks it will require and extra $300,000 to pay for any certificates given out between March 11 and the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
One would assume that Boks would know that redemption percentages would climb close to 100% after passing a mandatory sterilization bill, but I don't know what the actual redemption rate is.
Boks used to brag about how many certificates were given out, but I don't remember any numbers mentioned on actual surgeries performed with those certificates. Of course, Porter Pet Hospital used two certificates to give Ron Mason's already spayed cats a second, unnecessary, hysterectomy even while both had obvious hysterectomy scars.
There was a recent allegation about Value Vet in Canoga Park doing the same, but this is unverified; the Porter unnecessary surgeries are well-documented. The City never reimbursed the woman for the two unnecessary surgeries she paid for at Porter. Nada, not even a note or a letter.
I want to restate my opinion that the huge increase in spay/neuter efforts over the last decade has seemed to have little impact on cat impound numbers over the past eight years.
The number of cats impounded has remained steady since 2001 at 21,500 a year despite the department giving out almost 5 times as many certificates in 2008 as in 2001. The City's and nonprofits dramatic increase in spay/neuter efforts during the past eight years has had little effect on the cat impound numbers.
It could be that the certificates are not being distributed or utilized in certain areas of the City, such as South LA and that is where more cats are being impounded. I don't know, the Department does not release those numbers.
The Department has to do a much better job of giving out this kind of information so that the nonprofits and City can better work together in optimizing resource allocation to the City areas with the greatest problems.
Of course, there may be other factors none of us see that are causing cat impounds to stay the same despite increased efforts, but we will never know because the Department has steadfastly refused to do this kind of analysis, or if they have, to release this information to rescuers, TNR groups or the general public.
Personally I oppose the mandatory spay/neuter legislation. Alley Cat Allies, Winograd and one of our Commissioners oppose it too because it is ineffective and there are better ways.