Volunteer Reports on Problems Within LAAS

I have no idea how credible is any information coming from ADL. I report the below because it is consistent with stories of several other volunteers. I will ask ADL for the name of this person since she has decided to quit.

However, if true, LAAS is in a bad way:

Volunteer Writes Letter to Animal Defense League-Los Angeles 
My Dear Animal Defense League,
I am or was I should say a volunteer at the department of Los Angeles Animal Services and have followed your campaign to stop the killing in our shelters for the past several years. I appreciate your tenacity and not giving up in your struggle to stop the killing of our city's homeless and lost animals. We're supposed to be a city of angels but instead we're a city of devils to homeless animals in Los Angeles. The reason I'm writing you now is because my pastor suggested I write down my feelings and so I decided to write them down in a letter and send it to you. Maybe my writing and your group posting my letter somehow could help the animals which I could not do as a volunteer, but also bring closure to my decision of not going back to any of the six shelters to volunteer ever again. 
I must first tell you that for the past two weeks I've been dealing with what can only be called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was volunteering approximately two weeks ago and the door to the bump room was slightly ajar. I know I wasn't supposed to go in or even look inside, these rooms are off limits to the volunteers but I just couldn't help myself because of a high screeching noise coming from the room. What I witnessed is something that I'll never be able to forget. I'll remember the sounds, the smells and the sight of what I witnessed until the day I die.
A mother cat was being clutched or a better word would be squeezed by a male wearing large gloves and the cat was crying out in a high pitch that was alarming; she was wriggling around her claws digging into the gloves of what appeared to be a male veterinarian technician. Her babies were right there watching and hearing all this. Then she was stuck (they didn't even look for a vein) but was forcibly stuck with a needle in her front leg and for five minutes I watched as her body went limp and she appeared to be dying. Her last breaths were agonizing to witness and I was so traumatized and shook up I literally could not move just stood and stared in disbelief. I've never seen an animal being injected and then dying before my eyes. She knew she was dying and was fighting it but eventually succumbed. The technician then grabbed one of her kittens and began doing the same thing. I watched the first baby being killed but I couldn't take it anymore and at that point I  ran outside to my car physically trembling and crying. I couldn't drive but I also couldn't stand being parked outside a building that kills precious animals, God's animals everyday. So I drove to a park and just sat in my car crying for what seemed like hours. It was the most horrible thing I've ever witnessed as a volunteer at any shelter. I was numb for a week, very depressed and I finally went to see my pastor.
Believe me when I say I've tried to save animals inside the shelters. The current volunteer coordinator Jaren Sorkow who Mr. Boks appointed sits in his office all day with the door closed. I've attempted to leave him messages saying that I'd like to set up an appointment with him but never got a call back. Apparently from what I've learned from the volunteers that are left, Sorkow has no animal experience and never even volunteered in an animal shelter before. He appears not to even like animals, it's creepy cause the only time I ever saw him touch an animal he looked very uncomfortable. No wonder why the volunteer program has the lowest morale I've seen since I've been volunteering.  
Presently most of the employees treat the volunteers with disdain and even when we attempt working with them giving them ideas or suggestions they seem to dislike us. Once a few volunteers got together and asked the shelter supervisor to start collecting names of volunteers and members of the public who were willing to foster cats and their unweaned kittens. He said that only staff could do that and there's not enough staff so instead they're killing them. We were floored by this. Here we were articulate intelligent volunteers who were willing to foster cat families and were told we weren't allowed! So we're not allowed to save lives? Why be a volunteer at the shelters then? 
When I was at a different shelter, both under the department of LA animal services I asked if my friend, a wealthy caring woman who lives in Brentwood could be taught to bottle feed unweaned kittens. My friend not only has the time but is a retired nurse. I was told that no one in the public would ever be allowed to foster animals or bottle-feed unweaned kittens, it's against policy.
No wonder why when the shelters are over run with unweaned puppies or kittens there is not a list that an employee or volunteer is required to call to see if anyone on that list would be willing to foster these poor pups, kittens or family's. Many in the public like my friend would love to help save these kittens or just foster a dog or cat in need or even an entire family, but the shelter supervisor refused her offer to help. How can this be happening? There are volunteers and many LA residents who want to learn how to bottle-feed and take in unweaned babies or take in cats and dogs to foster but are told they CAN'T by the shelter supervisors.   
I used to volunteer at a shelter in another state and they had three long lists, one for rescuers, one for volunteers and one for the public that showed an interest in fostering. This shelter even offered free classes to the public on how to bottle feed unweaned pups and kittens so that they could call for as much help as possible during puppy and kitten season.  Every time the shelter began getting full the employees were required to call the lists from top to bottom and many animals were saved from being euthanized (I know your group doesn't like to use the word euthanize and you are correct because these are adoptable animals. They don't have an incurable disease or are unable to be rehabilitated. I know that we're told by Sorkow, Kathleen Davis and Linda Barth to never use the word destroy or killed. Only euthanize or put to sleep. The mother cat I witnessed two weeks ago in that awful room with her litter of kittens looking at their mother was not being euthanzied or put to sleep. She and her family were being executed, murdered and their faces showed their complete and overwhelming sense of panic and horror. I've never seen fear in the faces of animals like I did that day watching a mother and one of her babies being killed. 
So there is my story. I don't want to tell you exactly how long I've been a volunteer or at what two LAAS shelters I've volunteered because that might give away my identity. And even though this may sound paranoid I'm afraid of some of the employees and supervisors at the shelters. Some come in smelling of alcohol, another employee is high on something everytime I saw him and most others, with some exceptions just have hostility towards volunteers that kind of scares me. I remember the days when the volunteers practically ran the shelters, we were allowed to drive the trucks to off site pet adoptions and choose great venues like Century City mall where we would adopt out dozens of animals in a morning. I don't think there was even a paid volunteer coordinator back then, it was run by volunteers and we did a fabulous job. But things have changed over the years and the staff allows us to do less and less and we're treated with more contempt by some of the employees and even the volunteer coordinator himself. 
This is why I can't continue volunteering for the department. I struggled with this decision and as I told you I even went to my pastor to talk about these issues. My very wise pastor confirmed to me that I shouldn't feel guilty for not volunteering any longer because if I was not allowed to actually help save the lives of animals, I was actually enabling the death of animals inside these shelters. 
I apologize for this rambling letter but I'm still so overwhelmed with a deep and profound depression at the way the department is being run. Your group used the analogy once to describe the shelters in LA being like the Nazi death camps but until I saw with my own eyes the look on that mother cat's face and her kittens lined up beside her, I didn't really grasp what you meant. Now I do. They have the same fear and terror of being killed as any human being and I simply can no longer be a part of a department that doesn't do some of the most basic things to save these animals.  
I've been praying to God that our Mayor chooses someone who can help the department and start doing things that would save the lives of these beautiful wonderful animals.  I've also been e-mailing faxing and I even called the contacts you sent out in your previous posts begging them to hire a genuinely sincere, smart and compassionate general manager. But I don't know if that did any good and I'm sick with a pain so deep I can't alleviate it right now. I'm doing a lot of praying and going to my pastor for counseling. 


Anonymous said...

What a crock. That isn't from a volunteer. That is from the ADL nuts. It is crystal clear. That story is not true. I'm not buying it.

Anonymous said...

LAAS is in a really bad way, and the person who is not buying it is just enabling the Dept. to continue with the atrocities. Sadly, the ex-volunteer's letter is true and factual.

Except for never having actually witnessed the killing of a helpless animal, as a volunteer, I watched (and cried) many times as an employee would lead a wonderful dog to the bump room, its tail wagging because it "was out for a walk." Imagine the "seasoned" volunteers who spend their weekends at the shelter socializing the dogs and cats and making every effort to introduce the adoptable ones to individuals and families who can go to the shelters only on a weekend. Those adoptable pets might be there in the a.m., and by 2:00pm, a volunteer will pass by a now empty cage only to find out the animal was put down. In the three hours that the shelter has to remain open, a now-dead animal could have been seen and adopted, and a volunteer could have been spared a broken heart.

While I am not a member of the ADL, I have met people who are and they most certainly are not nuts. Some are senior citizens, teachers, other professionals, and their only mission is to try to get LAAS cleaned up and to save lives. It is the only group that can be trusted to share anonymous information (besides this blog). And believe me, there are employees and volunteers who will seek out a member in order to "vent," because there most certainly are repercussions for "going public."

Unless you are or have been a volunteer for the Dept., you couldn't know the specifics as told in the ex-volunteer's letter. An ADL member wouldn't know that the volunteer "coordinator" sits in his office all day with the door closed. But, employees and volunteers alike have pondered about his job description. ADL wouldn't know the disdain the volunteers feel from some employees, unless the info was told to them. One friendly employee once shared that the staff was given a directive to "stay on the other side of the road" from volunteers. Who suffers the most from the animosity? The animals.

Many volunteers feel they are fighting a losing battle, or as one recently said, "it's like trying to jog in quicksand." If you try to report a situation, it will likely be challenged and denied.

Anonymous poster #1 - What is crystal clear is that you are aiding and abetting LAAS by denying that a volunteer could have witnessed and written about an event that probably would be traumatic to anyone, especially anyone who goes into the shelters believing that all employees love animals. Now that's a crock.

Deborah Howard said...

Yes, these atrocities really happen at LAAS. Brenda Barnette should leave.