Council demands revival of pet neuter program

By Rick Orlov, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/28/2009 12:00:00 AM PDT

An angry Los Angeles City Council on Friday ordered the Department of Animal Services to reinstitute two popular spay-neuter voucher programs as two council members called for a vote of no-confidence in department head Ed Boks and urged Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to replace him.

A stoic Boks took the criticism and acknowledged his mistakes, but said he would not step down from the job that pays him $181,000 a year.

"I'm sticking it out," Boks said after the nearly hourlong tongue-lashing by council members who brought up not only the most recent controversy, but past decisions by Boks.
Councilman Richard Alarcón, who introduced the no-confidence motion that was deferred to a future meeting, said he was frustrated with the constant problems with the department.
"It's one thing after another with this department," Alarcón said.

"First, it was Hooters for Neuters" - an ill-fated promotion with the restaurant chain.
"Then a Pit Bull Academy and now this. When are we going to see some improvement?"
An angry Councilman Dennis Zine brought out a box full of e-mail complaints involving Boks and fired a series of questions, some rhetorical, while refusing to allow him to consult with an aide.
"You're the general manager, you should know the answers," Zine said. "I will be honest with you: I have no confidence in your ability to run this department. It has been one thing after another with you."

Boks said he recognized he has made errors, but that he has tried to correct them as they emerged.

The most recent involved the decision to suspend two popular voucher programs, valued at $30 and $70 each, on March 10 when he realized the department would not be able to pay for all the vouchers that were being used.

"When we realized the vouchers being redeemed exceeded our projections, we knew we we had to take steps," Boks said.

Also, he said, the department wanted better controls on voucher distribution.
The $70 vouchers are given to the elderly and poor to offset the costs of spay or neutering of their pets. The $30 voucher is available to anyone.

Councilman Tony Cardenas said it seemed shortsighted to suspend the program - particularly at this time of year when animals are breeding.

"Now is when the animals are going at it," Cardenas said. "These vouchers are for the human owners of the pets to take responsibility. I've never seen a dog or cat walk into a clinic on their own and say, `Cut me up."'

Boks acknowledged the decision seemed counter to the city's policy to encourage spay and neutering as a means of reducing unwanted animals and lowering the euthanasia rate.
Villaraigosa's office would not comment on the council dispute or Boks' future, but spokesman Matt Szabo would only say:

"The mayor supports the efforts to reinstate the spay and neuter voucher program, and looks forward to working with the council and public to make Los Angeles Animal Services the best animal services department in the country."

The demand for vouchers has increased since the city adopted new licensing laws that imposed a $100 fee for all unaltered pets over age 6 months.

Boks said part of the problem has been the need to make cuts in his $19 million budget because of the financial crisis facing the city.

"It was a choice of cutting this or eliminating employees, something I was told I could not do," Boks said.
However, several council members said they felt Boks eliminated the popular voucher pr ogram to embarrass public officials.

Zine and Cardenas also said they felt Boks had purposely made the decision on his own rather than consulting with the Animal Services Commission or the Advisory Committee on Spay and Neuter.


Anonymous said...

I think Boks is doing these mistakes on purpose. He is trying to embarrass the Mayor into firing him and giving him a golden handshake. He can't get a job anywhere else. He is making $181,000 here not including perks, car, mileage, city credit card, health insurance, phone. He's probably threatening to expose the City's dirty secrets if they don't give him a nice severance package. I realize he is not legally entitled to a severance package but then neither was Stuckey.

Anonymous said...

You know what was weird? Boks had plenty of time to prepare for this grilling by the city council and he clearly didn't even prepare. He didn't know numbers, he didn't know anything and Linda barely knew more than he did. Could he be so cocky that he thought his BS would fly as it has in the past? I'm sure he has something on the mayor, there is a reason he's lasted as long as he has, but Boks is such a one will believe anything he says about the mayor or the city. Fire him already. Stucky got $100K and was able to find another job. Ed can go back to preaching where no one has heard of him.

Anonymous said...

Where is Stuckey working now? Anybody know? He was turned down for a job at LA County Animal Control last year.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen this?

Ed Boks gets some face time at about 2:57 min.

This Tour apparently visits San Antonio and Houston. Maybe Austin rescue politics is too much for them.

I apologize, but I don't seem to be able to find your email address again.

Thank you,
Michelle Adams