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Indybay Feature
Mayor Villaraigosa admits he failed Los Angeles' animals
by Not An Animal Activist
Monday Apr 21st, 2008 5:25 PM
The first quarter 2008 numbers are out. Sadly there was a huge increase in cat and dog intake and euthanasia in Los Angeles City animal shelters. Things are now worse than before Antonio Villaraigosa became Mayor, before he hired his friend so called "nokill" guru Ed Boks to head the Department. Today his Director released a statement confirming his dismal performance while blaming others for his failure.
2008 first quarter 2,391 cats and dogs were euthanized. 2006 only 2,100 were euthanized. 2007 only 1,930 were euthanized. Euthanasia has gone up 24% since just last year.

The number of cats and dogs dying of illness and injury has increased almost two fold in the last year from 748 to 1,242. Even more alarming first quarter 2008 cat and dog intake was 9,820. It was 8,129 in 2006. It's up 20%. The last time it was this high was 2003. We've gone five years backwards even though Boks promised City Council in 2006 that we'd be "nokill" by 2008. We're now worse off than before Villaraigosa was elected even though the Department's budget is higher, there are more employees and they opened the long awaited $150,000,000 larger shelters.

In Ed Boks' blog post today he admits to the huge increase in intake and euthanasia. He states that he is "disappointed" with this "anomaly." He wrote that "finger pointing does not save lives" then he goes on to finger point at his employees and the public.

Boks states that most of the failure happened in four of the six shelters. He finger points to those shelter managers saying that they are the ones making the euthanasia decisions, not him. Oddly enough when euthanasia seemed to go down when he first arrived he took all of the credit personally. At that time he merely instructed all shelter managers to just hold on to all animals, even if they are dying from illness or injury in overcrowded cages. He was able to show short term progress with his warehousing trick. Warehousing has finally caught up to him and some managers are rebelling against this cruel practice.

Boks states that he has no idea why more animals are entering the shelter system. He proffers up the possibility that it's all due to an increase in foreclosures. While foreclosures do indeed play a part in the increase the main reason is probably because he refused to take in unsterilized cats and other animals last year to artificially keep his intake and euth numbers down. These animals had babies which are now arriving at the shelters by the hundreds. The intake of kittens and puppies is up. It's not just adult pets who lost their home to foreclosure.

While talking about the effect of foreclosures on pets he states that various rescue groups are trying to figure out a solution. He is the Director. It's his job to find the solution. He is a personal friend of the Mayor. The City has the power to find the solution be it through an ordinance to make it illegal for landlords to discriminate against responsible pet owners or for some incentive for landlords who rent to responsible people with pets. Every City director must be able to sail their ship in calm and stormy seas. You can't just blame the weather, do nothing and let the Department sink.

Besides refusing animals last year he also failed to increase free or low cost spay and neuter surgeries in the City. Today he states they have funded upwards of 40,000 surgeries a year when he'd previously said he'd be doing 56,000 if not 120,000 per year. Spay and neuter surgeries should have gone up, not down. Had they gone up there would be fewer animals today.

He mentions his many surgery coupons in his blog but forgets to mention that these coupons are only for $30 or $60 when the surgeries today cost $100 to $600. The cost of surgeries has gone up while the coupon prices have stayed the same for years. Of course the number of surgeries will go down.

He recently admitted that transportation to the clinics is important. Then he admits that he did not provide transportation to the clinics. If someone can't afford a $200 surgery, they probably don't have a car. You cannot take a pet on the bus or metro in LA. It's the director's job to overcome these problems, not just blog about them and expect others to find the solutions. How about making it legal for people to take non-aggressive pets on the bus or metro in a carrier or on a leash if they are going to a veterinarian. How about free shuttle or taxi vouchers.

Near the end Boks states that he wants to do TNR (trap neuter return) with feral cats. He blames an environmental group for threatening to sue the City as the reason he can't do TNR. He states that this group is opposed to TNR. It is not one group buy many of the nation's largest environmental groups including Audubon. They are not opposed to TNR and don't want the cats killed. Boks points his finger to the environmentalists so that the activists attacking him for poor job performance will hopefully attack the environmental groups instead. The environmental groups just wants Boks to follow proper procedure for approving all new programs. Boks is still free to encourage private sector to do TNR without the city's stamp of approval in the interim.

Lastly Boks states "I don't offer these explanations as excuses for what we have experienced in our shelters so far in 2008." His blog reads like a top 14 excuses list. He states he will have a community meeting to discuss ideas. Every time there is a problem in the City they "bring the community together to discuss ideas." Having been a part of some of these groups, I can tell you first hand that they don't work. The people are happy to be involved thinking that they will improve things. Over time members get busy and drop out. In the end the few remaining members just write a list of ideas that gets filed away somewhere. By then people have just forgotten about the problem and the City can always say "We formed a community group. Blame them if the problem isn't solved."

There are a few reasons for the increase in intake and euthanasia. First and foremost is that a few of Boks' number tricks from the last two years finally caught up to him. Numbers games are not sustainable.

Last year he was refusing the animals most likely to be euthanized, i.e. unsterilized feral cats and kittens. These animals are also the ones most likely to reproduce in large numbers. The animals refused last season had many babies which ended up in the shelter this season.

Boks had a warehousing program. They would keep animals in the shelters as long as possible. Instead of humanely euthanizing a dying animal they would allow it to die on its own so it wouldn't have to be counted as euthanasia. He'd put three aggressive pitbulls in a cage and an hour later there'd only be one alive. He'd put one sick puppy in a cage with others and soon they'd all be dead of Parvo or pneumonia.

Animals dying on their own went from 1,000 to over 3,000 last year. This was at Boks' orders. The shelter employees were finally sick of witnessing this inhumane treatment and refused to warehouse the animals to death. Animals dying on their own is now back to normal levels so naturally humane euthanasia is up.

Early this year the employees signed a letter of no-confidence in Ed Boks. They stated that Ed Boks is not a good manager or leader. They refused to continue his warehouse and refusal policies. Boks in turn is complaining that the employees are refusing to follow his orders. He's said to rescuers that the employees who signed the letter of no confidence are refusing to follow his "life saving" policies and are the main reason why LA is not nokill. I've been told that the employees just don't want to be a part of inhumane treatment of animals or deceptive practices to the public.

Quite a few articles have been written about Mayor Villaraigosa and Ed Boks' dismal failure with LA's animals over the last year. Just about every weekend local animal activists protest at the Mayor, Deputy Mayor Jimmy Blackman, Chief of Staff Robin Kramer and Director Ed Boks' houses. They demand that Ed Boks be fired. They point to his failures in New York, Arizona and now here. Why isn't the Mayor doing something?

The Mayor said he doesn't want to "cave to terrorists." What terrorists? People calling Ed Boks a "puppy killer" are "terrorists?" He's told people he doesn't want to appear "weak" by "giving in to the activists demands" and firing Boks. If an animal activist came to my house and told me my house was burning down, I would look to see if my house was indeed burning down. If it was, I'd get my dogs out then try to put the fire out. I wouldn't sit there and deny the fact that my house was burning down just because the person was an "activist." Look at the message, not the messenger.

The activists are no longer the only people yelling about the problems. What about the employees and members of the public that are now yelling "fire!" Isn't it the Mayor's job to listen to the needs of the public, investigate and react? The Mayor is actually looking weak and uncaring by not taking any action to improve things. He needs to wake up and smell the smoke before more animals die needlessly in our dear City.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Bev Boyer
Tuesday Apr 22nd, 2008 4:38 PM
This is what happens when politicians are influenced by people like PETA and Bob Barker, and wrongly target breeder/exhibitors with anti-breeding bills! Breeders are not the problem, your average Joe, who doesn't want (or can't afford) to spay or neuter his cat or dog is the problem, it is the random breeding of tens of thousands of pet animals causing this pet overpopulation. Most breeders now have their kittens and puppies spayed or neutered before they leave the breeders home.
Get free spay/neuter clinics, get them in neighborhoods where some of these animals come from and you will see a big difference in the amount of unwanted cats and dogs. Tell me how much better $500,000 is spent on free spaying or neutering than it is on chemicals to kill unwanted animals? Professional politicians like Villaraigosa would be smarter to educate themselves rather than looking for the "cheap" vote by following extremist groups like PETA!
Color me not surprised that this new program did not work, however, it does fit in the PETA handbook as they kill 90% of the animals they take in.
by katlady
Wednesday Apr 23rd, 2008 6:15 AM
Antonio Villaraigosa and Ed Boks yur both liers and you need to step down . With California is such a world of hurt for money , Why don't you stop lieing to people and quit your jobs . Antonio Villaraigosa can't keep his parts on and Ed Boks loves to have dogs/cats killed and lies about the numbers
Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America
by Nathan J. Winograd
by animal lover
Wednesday Apr 23rd, 2008 11:12 AM
Both of these men are a joke, Mayor V with his money crunch and Bok with his big salary and failing to correct the situation making it worse, fire both of them now
by Whitney Smith
Friday Feb 6th, 2009 12:19 AM
There is so much disinformation in this incredibly slanted writing about LAAS that I could be here all night. The writer of this piece clearly and obviously does not spend any time at the shelters. The writer doesnt know Jack. Wow, how ignorant. The writer needs to actually spend a lot of quality time at the shelters -or just pick one- and observe the workers and how little they interact with the animals and then ponder whether Ed Boks is the real problem. The shitty people of Los Angeles are the PRIMARY problem. There are a majority of cultures in LA with deplorable animal relationships and bring their-how did the writer of the Los Angeles Magazine piece put it "agrarian" mentality to the dogs and cats of this city. The neverending flow of abandonment at the shelters is STAGGERING. The detachment of the abandoners is stunning "they are going to kill these unweaned kittens" "its ok!" Everyone, white, black, brown, yellow, orange, purple whatever--EVERYONE who has abandoned a cat, kitten, dog or puppy at the pound is GUILTY of their suffering. So I'd like to extend my heartfelt revulsion to their actions.
Now, once at the shelter, do you think the workers are hustling like new yorkers at rush hour?Do you think they are dropping exhausted at the end of everyday having given their all to to the animals? Do you think they are appalled at the idea of dogs sitting in shit covered cages? sleeping with no blanket despite hundreds of donations? kittens with not a single toy to play with? huge exercise yards for the animals who never make it since nobody but volunteers take them there? cats curled up on newspaper when there are shelves of fleece to be put out? Animals sick and lonely and frightened-will you find the workers hovering over their cages-attending to their needs? Hey, don't take my opinion, spend 8 miserable hours at North Central or South LA or East Valley. Get to know who is abandoning their animals and then get a good hard look at the Union coddled workers and how much sweat they put into a day. Please, I beg you. As for your assertion that Ed Boks commanded the shelter workers to "turn away" pregnant animals that is an utter lie. The shelter is not allowed to refuse ANY animal who is "relinquished" there. It is the law you super retard. God, ignorance must be bliss. The even take GOATS and chickens and rabbits.
Now, once they are there, who do you think get killed first? Well, unless a shelter worker happens to take a fancy to the odd senior or odd pit bull they are KILLED FIRST. They dont allow the old to "die on their own." That is also an utter lie. As a rescuer who has been able to pull a few seniors, let me tell you, they spend the LEAST amount of days there. Why? because the MOST favorite reason the shelter likes to pick for making the killing list is "sickness." Who do you think falls ill the fastest? Why yes, the old and feeble. And who do you think falls ill the second fastest to the multitude of viruses and unsanitary exposures? Thats right the puppies and kittens. The 6 city shelters combined killed 9 THOUSAND unweaned kittens in ONE YEAR. I personally rescued 3 pit puppies who were pulled by animal control off the street with no mom (They "couldnt get her"), who were unweaned and had TILL THE END OF THE DAY to live because the shelter does not bottle feed and there were no volunteers. Jesus, should I go on? Well, then you have this theory of the shelters just throwing 3 pitbulls together and being told to wait until they all kill each other. Wow, thats wrong too. Have dogs gotten into fights? why yes, in a high stress envioronment ocassionally dogs who seemed to get along can go angry. But do you think this was the RULE-or maybe an occasional sad exception. And by the way, what animal knowing staff made the choices to put what dogs together? Hmm. Was it Mr. Boks? Well, I actually have no more time to spend correcting invincible ignorance. The Truth Will Set You ---not free, the TRUTH will make you cry every night like I do. And trust me, your job, whatever it is, doesnt hold a candle to the gravy train that the Union workers have going on at LAAS. Just like bad teachers at LAUSD--the worst, most ignorant, most useless workers CANNOT get fired. The worker who killed a cat at South LA by beating it with a broom STILL WORKS for LAAS! Imagine that. Ed Boks may not be a genius leader, but you cant blame him for the staggering indifference found at the shelters, and the heartbreaking joyful abandonment perpetrated on the shelters by the low life people who live in this dump of a city. Sorry Dogs and Cats--you are betrayed daily. But what a RELIEF that the shelter workers dont have to see anymore "overcrowding" where the animals at least had a small chance to be networked or seen by the public. No-now the shelter workers can have a smoke break and stare at the mountain sized garbage bags of dead bodies instead. What progress! Thank God they complained. Lastly, anyone who actually uses the Brave New World term "euthanasia" in referring to the killing that goes on at the shelter truly Doesnt Get It. Only a handful of animals who arrive at the shelter injured, sick or suffering from neglect BY the HAND of their abandoners are "euthanized." Everyone else is simply KILLED. Euthanasia is the ending of a life to prevent irredeemable suffering. Tragically, that is NOT what is going on. But you know, a society that tries to justify the killing of healthy adoptable animals for space is fooling themselves. It is a rotten sickness and until the citizens of this city start experiencing some SHAME and BEHAVIOR CURBING laws. Nothing is going to change.
by Roknich
(roknich (at) Tuesday Mar 23rd, 2010 10:05 PM
Ed Boks is gone.

This is one alternative media campaign that was indeed a success.

Ed Boks decided to substitute PR for rational leadership, and the people would not tolerate it.

It is like the old days - when we believed we could change the world.

This time, we did.
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