Caught On Tape: Animal Shelter Abuses

David Goldstein LOS ANGELES (CBS) ―

CBS 2 News obtained surveillance video revealing what goes on behind the scenes at some L.A. County animal shelters.

These surveillance videos -- obtained by CBS 2 News -- show what some L.A. County animal shelter employees do when they think the public's not watching.

"How do you pull a defenseless dog through the facility like that, dragging it, and you have nothing to say at all."

We have the videos and obtained documents showing a hidden culture at the county shelters, where animals are allegedly euthanized and abused by employees, sometimes for kicks.

"There were quite a few of them who high-fived each other when they got certified to put the animals to sleep, as if it was a major coup."

L.A. County's Animal Care and Control claims to be one of the largest and progressive shelter systems in the nation. Their slogan is "care with compassion."

But our investigation found that is not always the case.

Animal control officers are watched from dozens of surveillance cameras set up all around the six shelters across L.A. County, watching them when no one else may be watching.

In a video from the backroom of the Downey shelter, an animal control officer is seen putting his foot on the dog he just brought in. While it's fully restrained on what is called a catch pole, he pins the dog down, jabbing the pole in its throat.

In this video from the Baldwin Park shelter last December, the officer drags the dog all the way down the long corridor, pulling it by a rope, as the animal spreads out on all fours. When he stops, the friendly dog wags its tail, only to be dragged along even further.

The day before at Baldwin Park, a camera catches another officer doing the exact same thing -- dragging a dog by a rope down a corridor.

In March at Baldwin Park an officer is seen flinging a Chihuahua into the cage. The tiny dog is tossed in like a piece of meat.

And finally in Baldwin Park in 2006, a dog is appears unsteady on its feet, having just come back from the vet with a hip injury. But that didn't stop the officer, who has been identified as Felix Reyes, from first pulling the dog, then dragging it by a rope.

As a family of five walks by, Reyes drags the dog across the compound.

After a short time, the dog finally succumbs to the pressure and gets up, only to have Reyes captured by another camera, as he walks it along and yanks the injured dog across the threshold and into a cage.

"Every animal has a story and they can't talk," said Cathy Nguyen.

Nguyen is an animal lover and frequent critic of the shelter system, who has troubled by the videos.

"The dog could be someone's dog. They didn't know. If this is how they treat my dog it wouldn't be acceptable," Nguyen said.

It was almost sadistic?

"Sadistic. Absolutely."

"Hey Felix, I'm David Goldstein with CBS 2 News."

I tried to question Reyes.

"You were pulling that defenseless dog down through the whole place. What were you doing that for?"

But he never said a word.

"How do you keep quiet about that? How do you live with yourself at night? You've got nothing to say?"

Critics of the shelter system say the videos bring to light the sometimes dark side of what goes on goes behind the cages -- a culture that can breed cruelty, neglect and even torture.

These investigative reports, obtained by CBS 2 News, document dogs that were intentionally or mistakenly euthanized, killed in the shelters after being put on hold for adoption or the return to their owners.

"There were definitely people working there who didn't even like animals."

This former shelter employee, who would only talk if we concealed their identity, says the euthanizing of animals was sometimes a sought after position.

"They enjoyed putting the animals to sleep?"

"Yes. Some of them volunteered. They wanted to be the ones doing that."

"What kind of person is that?"

"Narcissistic. Lack of compassion. It wasn't uncommon at all."

But the head of L.A. County's shelter system says three instances is just a small amount.

"We take in 90,000 animals a year, three incidents over the numbers of thousands of animals that have come in during that period of time I think is very minor." 

More videos of abuses.

Marcia--I am coming after you and all the supervisors who are protecting you. Boks is gone; you are next.


Anonymous said...

I saw the show. Those videos were on Ryan's blog a few months ago. The lawsuit against the County is the old one which they settled. The dog that froze to death was the reason for the lawsuit. It's old news.

Mayeda on tape says they take in 90,000 animals a year. On the LA County Animal Care Foundation website it says "helping nearly 90,000 animals a year!" How is dragging, kicking, killing animals "helping?" It's like the time Greenwalt wanted changed the Dept motto to "the largest rescue organization!"

Mayeda is just trying to do the same ole positive spin that Boks did. It's all total bullshit.

Anonymous said...

I don't think employees wanted to do euthanasia because they enjoyed it. I can't believe anyone could enjoy it. I think they wanted to do it because it pays more money. Everyone likes money.

Anonymous said...

What was the outcome of the lawsuit against the county that Nathan Winograd was involved in, mentioned by the 1st commenter? I never really heard. It was settled?

Anonymous said...

It's only old news to some. The vast majority of people don't know about any of this. Some of the video was on Ryan's blog, not all of it. Zephyr did not freeze to death, her death was from the lack of care given.

Brad Jensen

Fire Marcia Mayeda said...

#1 - It's old news to the rescue community. That was the reason the jaded staffers at Supervisors' offices were able to be condescending and rude to us when we called about abuse at County shelters. I wouldn't minimize the importance of being able to say, "I saw it on the eleven o'clock news!"

Also, if they settled the lawsuit by the No Kill Advocacy Center that's news to me.

#2 - God love you, OF COURSE there are people who enjoy killing animals. There are some who enjoy having the power of life and death over another creature, there are some who enjoy seeing fear. There are people at these shelters (City and County) who killed homeless animals with syringes filled with air or cleaning fluid. One guy injected a pigeon and let it go, just to see how far it would fly before it dropped.

They're called sadists, and no amount of money turns a non-sadist into a sadist. You need to face the fact that (not to sound like George Bush) there is evil in the world, and it doesn't all look like Hitler. Some of it looks as mundane and low-grade as Felix Reyes. If you don't face that fact, and stop thinking somehow they are misunderstood, they will always be able to play you, and you will not help the animals.

These sick, pathetic people do not need to be understood. They need to be fired, arrested and put in jail.

And the evil woman who continues to employ this human garbage, and then sits all made up on camera and says there were only three incidents and the whole thing is "minor" also needs to be fired and arrested. Do you think Marcia Mayeda hadn't seen all this, long ago? Felix Reyes dragged that dog with a dislocated hip all across the grounds of the Baldwin Park shelter in 2006! All that video was from shelter surveillance cameras. This wasn't an undercover investigation, the County's had all that tape for years. Marcia Mayeda saw it and did nothing. She still makes over $192,000 of our money, all in.

There is no reconciliation possible here. These are evil people who know exactly what they're doing. They are killing victims who can't fight back simply because they can get away with it.

Anonymous said...

Here is the lawsuit

Case Summary

Please make a note of the Case Number.

Click here to access document images for this case.
If this link fails, you may go to the Case Document Images site and search using the case number displayed on this page.

Case Number: BS112581
Filing Date: 12/20/2007
Case Type: Other Writ/Judicial Review (General Jurisdiction)
Status: Dismissed - Other 10/20/2008

Future Hearings
Documents Filed | Proceeding Information

ARVIZU REBECCA - Plaintiff/Petitioner

DOES 1 THROUGH 10 - Defendant/Respondent

EISENBERG SHELDON ESQ. - Attorney for Plaintiff/Petitioner

FORD WALKER HAGGERTY & BEHAR LAW O/O - Attorney for Respondent


LOS ANGELES COUNTY OF - Defendant/Respondent

MAYEDA MARCIA - Defendant/Respondent

NGUYEN CATHY - Plaintiff/Petitioner

NO KILL ADVOCACY CENTER - Plaintiff/Petitioner


Case Information | Party Information | Proceeding Information
Please make a note of the Case Number.

Click here to access document images for this case.
If this link fails, you may go to the Case Document Images site and search using the case number displayed on this page.

Documents Filed (Filing dates listed in descending order)

Click on any of the below link(s) to see documents filed on or before the date indicated:

Filed by Attorney for Deft/Respnt

I was told they settled.The county promised not to break the law. They are still breaking the law.

Anonymous said...

Here's an update on the lawsuit

Anonymous said...

Okay, so if the Department is violating the terms of the settlement then why isn't Mayeda back in front of a judge?

This doesn't need to be mediated. You mediate between two parties who both have points on their side. But when one of the parties is demonstrably breaking the law, as well as the terms of the settlement then why aren't they being punished? How much crap is Marcia Mayeda going to be allowed to get away with?

Man, it's hard to out-stupid and out-evil Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council but the Board of Supervisors has really done it.

Anonymous said...

To the last commenter, read A demand letter was sent and if they don't comply Marcia will be back in court.

Anonymous said...

Those abusive employees at the shelter are nothing but pieces of garbage. PLEASE do not hire anymore garbage like this!!! I want my tax money to employ caring hard working people with patience AND compassion. Everyone who knew about this abuse and did nothing, also needs to be fired.

Anonymous said...

I see much neglect in the shelter I frequent. Animals laying in their own feces for hours and hours, some have old food and filthy water, some have no food or water, the weaker animals can't fight for their food and they go hungry in cramped kennel cages,some get beat up by other animals and it's hard getting people in authority to really do anything about it.