ADL-LA members have spent not one, not two, not three but FOUR days now talking to people from the Seattle Humane Society (SHS) regarding Brenda Barnette, our Mayor's choice for the new LAAS General Manager. Two of our ADL-LA members took off work for one full day just to make as many phone calls and get as much info as possible from employees, volunteers, rescuers and administrators who were willing to speak to them. We have basically put Brenda Barnette under our microscope. So with all the humility we can muster, we have to say that even though ADL-LA members personally scorn Jim Bickhart, the Mayor, Jimmy Blackman and others who have for years been complicit in the slaughter of animal inside LAAS, we must now give credit where credit is due. They were absolutely correct in their choice for the new General Manager and their choice seems to imply that they are ready and willing for major positive change and a new vision, a LIFE SAVING VISION, for the homeless and lost animals of Los Angeles.
From all our research, which we began right after we heard that Barnette was going to be appointed by the Mayor in an LA Times blog last Wednesday night, we have learned that not only did Jim Bickhart, the Mayor, Jimmy Blackman and anyone else who was behind her appointment make the most intelligent choice, but it's a monumental choice that will finally accelerate the LAAS shelters from being evil killing dungeons into the beacon of a life affirming sheltering system.
ADL-LA was able to speak with many individuals including volunteers, employees and rescuers who work or have worked with Barnette on a daily basis and we even spoke to one of the individuals involved with the superb and large foster network program that Brenda Barnette set up herself and which has been so successful in saving the lives of hundreds upon hundreds of animals who would otherwise be dead right now.
In fact, in complete contrast to what we were told by employees in NYC and AZ regarding how inept, disorganized and duplicitous Ed Boks was while in charge of the homeless and lost animals of their cities, we have gotten irrefutable evidence and information about Barnette's programs that she set up with the Seattle humane community, the public and her employees which has saved the lives of thousands of animals since Barnette was appointed CEO of SHS in 2006. This is why (and we can't believe we are saying this,) but we at ADL-LA are asking our readers and supporters to e-mail Jim Bickhart, Jimmy Blackman and Mayor Villaraigosa and thank them for doing something that will save the lives of THOUSANDS of our city's homeless and lost animals. Their
e-mails are at the end of this post!
Unfortunately there are a few people, (there always are) who ironically have NEVER even worked with Barnette or even MET the woman who are circulating confusing, nasty and false e-mails about her. It is quite incongruous that all the people we spoke to that know Barnette personally and/or have worked along side Barnette at SHS and at ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation) have said nothing but amazing things about her. Yet a minority of so called animal welfarists here in LA who don't even know the woman, spreading nasty and completely false information about her. They definitely have their own personal axes to grind and it saddens ADL-LA tremendously (and the animals inside the LAAS shelters right now,) that a small minority are putting their ego's and their misinformation BEFORE what is best for the lost and homeless animals of LA. It's no wonder why many view LA's humane welfare community as a bunch of competitive, mean spirited, negative individuals who want change, yet fear that very change. Some have even called the animal welfare community here in LA 'kooks' who will never "get their act together!" We must prove these people WRONG! We can and MUST "get our act together" and get behind a woman who will not only be the first female to be appointed as General Manager for LAAS, but who is one of the most progressive, humane shelter leaders in the nation.
One of these individuals spreading untruths about Barnette we are very saddened to say, was a candidate for the GM position who obviously didn't get the job. She began spearheading a witch hunt against this superb and progressive shelter leader immediately after hearing the Mayor's decision. ADL-LA admits that this candidate is very knowledgeable about LAAS and has great ideas, and suggestions regarding reducing the killing inside our six city shelters, BUT. . . . she has no track record of ever doing it herself. Barnette on the other hand has a PROVEN STELLAR RECORD of implementing programs, policies and procedures in conjunction with employees, volunteers, a huge foster network, rescuers and even the PUBLIC that has brought the Seattle Humane Shelter to a 92% SAVE RATE! The numbers, and we have checked them out thoroughly through the Asolimar Accords (and they DON'T lie) show her save rate as consistently being between 91% and 92% for the past three years.
It would take ADL-LA hours to type in all the quotes and information we have obtained on this lady and needless to say it would be way too long for one post; so we're going to have to send them out in a series of posts. So here goes installment #1!
From what we have found out Barnette is a female shelter LEADER who is nationally recognized and who not only has the skill set to implement live saving programs and think outside the box, but has the vision as well. So please delete any e-mails from those people who have never worked with Barnette or have axes to grind with her personally and who are attempting to obstruct her appointment. ADL-LA says SHAME ON THEM! Not ONE of these obstructionists has ever run a shelter or better yet, turned a high kill shelter into a shelter that now saves 92% of the animals they take in (and they are an OPEN shelter by the way; they don't turn ANYONE away.) Instead of our entire humane community rejoicing and rallying around the Mayor and Ms. Barnette, a few bad apples are trying to spoil her stellar reputation of saving more animal lives on record than practically any other shelter in the of nation.
This time around the Mayor has chosen a winner to lead LAAS and he's handing her to us on a silver platter and we should all rejoice, not only for the animals whose lives WILL BE SAVED by having such a capable leader at the helm, but for ourselves. In fact some people from other states who know of her abilities are actually JEALOUS that Los Angeles was able to get someone of Barnett's caliber to run our city shelters! They want her!!
So we give you two of the many quotes we have gotten over the past four days.
This first one is a quote from Amber Yoo who worked along side Barnette for three years at SHS. We will be sending out more quotes in our future installments.
" I have worked closely with Brenda for three years at Seattle Humane and I can confidently say she is one of the nation’s best leaders in animal welfare. The numbers speak for themselves. She took an aging, overwhelmed shelter that was high kill, killing many of the animals it “rescued”and transformed it into a cutting-edge community center that saved 91.5% of the animals that came through its doors. She did this by inspiring the staff to embrace a no kill philosophy * and by engaging the community in its mission.
Wonderful things happen when you have a leader who inspires staff and engages the community in creative, life-saving solutions. Soon we were able to expand our concern from the animals coming through our doors to the animals in our region. We traveled several times a week to other shelters in the community and rescued animals from death row.
As our life-saving reputation grew, the community called on us to help in emergency situations. In June 2009 we rescued 90 American Eskimo dogs during one of the largest puppy mill busts in the country. Brenda immediately reached out to the volunteer foster network she had established. When the rescue van pulled into the driveway, we literally had a line of foster families waiting to take them home. The foster families provided the one-on-one attention that these scared and neglected dogs needed in order to learn what it was like to be a cherished pet. Today, all 90 dogs are happy, healthy and loved.
The volunteer foster network is one of many examples of how Brenda engaged the community in our mission. As Brenda always says, foster homes “literally expand the shelter walls—allowing us to save even more lives.” For example, only 150 cats could comfortably be housed at our shelter, but thanks to our foster network, we were able to care for upwards of 400 cats at any given time.
Another way Brenda involved the community was by partnering with local rescue groups. In 2008, Brenda’s vision of a community-wide partnership to save lives came to fruition with the first annual “Catapalooza”. Seattle Humane hosted six organizations in a community-wide, family-oriented, fun-filled cat adoption bonanza and in two days found homes for 146 orphaned kitties.
Ultimately, by uniting the community in our mission to save lives, we began to break adoption records. For the fiscal year of 2008-09, our adoption rate was the second highest in Seattle Humane’s 113-year history. That same year, we also experienced the lowest return rate ever – which means we were making quality, long-term matches. When I left Seattle Humane, this trend was continuing. It seemed like every month, we were breaking an adoption record.
As I said above, wonderful things happen when you have a leader who inspires staff and engages the community toward creative, life-saving solutions. If the community of Los Angeles' goal is to save as many animal lives as possible, then Brenda is the leader who can make that vision a reality.
* There were only two scenarios where we considered euthanasia: for those animals who were so sick that they could not be saved and for those who were a danger to the community. The decision to end a life was extremely serious—and always saddening."
This next quote is from Lisa Simmons who was the Executive Assistant when Barnette was Executive Director of Pets in Need (1998-2003)
"Brenda Barnette is a true visionary in the animal welfare movement. As Executive Director of Pets In Need, Brenda implemented a number of programs that today are incorporated in most shelters striving to reduce and end the killing of our companion animals.
Under her direction, Pets In Need became one of the core shelters in the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, a program training veterinarians and veterinary technicians how to best practice humane, progressive and compassionate shelter medicine.
She started a program where the shelter could help those community members who were feral cat caregivers wanting to practice TNR. Cat traps and trapping training was provided at no charge, and a list of low to no cost spay/neuter feral cat clinics was provided.
She also created the foster kitten program which saves on average 500-600 kittens annually. Many of these kittens come from feral cats. Brenda created other successful programs that saved the lives of hundreds of our animals. If you need more information please let me know. Los Angeles is so lucky to have Brenda as their new general manager."