Dog-Gone Cat-tastrophe Averted! by Ed Boks

The Daily News ran a great article on East Valley’s Dog-Gone Cat-tastrophe Adoptathon! The event ran from Friday, May 19 through Monday, May 22. Last year LAAS adopted 42 animals on the third weekend in May. This year, thanks to this promotion, adoptions were up 159%. 109 dogs and cats found loving homes from our East Valley Animal Care Center in North Hollywood.

Several radio and tv stations and newspapers came by to report on the event. The Daily News article follows:

Adoption options  Looking to adopt a pet? You should have checked out the Dog-Gone Cat-tastrophe Adoptathon last weekend at the East Valley Animal Shelter in North Hollywood. 

Missed it? No worries. The Los Angeles Animal Services Department now keeps city shelters open on weekends. 

The schedule makes sense: Most would-be pet owners can’t make it to shelters during the week. They have jobs; their kids have school. Opening up the shelters on weekends helps facilitate adoptions, which is good for the animals, the owners and the city alike. It should also help to cut down on the number of animals euthanized at city shelters. 

For more information, check out LAAS’ Web site (http://www.laanimalservices.com/).

LAAS wants to thank the media, the public, and our wonderful partners for the overwhelming response to this pressing need! Thanks to the public’s response to LAAS’ needy animals LA’s euthanasia rate has been reduced over 30% compared to the same time period in 2005! All stats are on the LAAS website.

But the crisis is far from over. LAAS is still rescuing over 100 lost and homeless dogs and cats every day! Please help get the word out that there are many wonderful pets waiting to lavish unconditional love in return for a home. Please visit our website or any one of our six Animal Care Centers.

“Dog Gone Cat-tastrophe” Hits the East Valley Animal Care Center by Ed Boks

Responding to the annual spring population explosion of homeless animals, the Department of Animal Services (LAAS) is teaming up with rescue organizations from all over the city to stage a “Dog-Gone Cat-Astrophe Adoptathon,” an unprecedented four-day event at the
East Valley Animal Care Center
13131 Sherman Way
North Hollywood 91605
The event runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, May 19, and Saturday, May 20, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 21 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, May 22. (Monday is for rescue groups only and they must request an appointment.)
This special event makes dogs and cats available to the public at special discounted adoption rates: $55 per dog and $35 for one cat and $50 for two cats. Adoption fees include spay or neuter surgery, a microchip, and a license for dogs.
It’s even better for 501c3 rescue organizations. In honor of the launch of LAAS’ New Hope Program, rescue groups in good standing with LAAS will receive animals for free plus they will receive a $100 cash gift made possible by an anonymous benefactor.
“The spring is typically the most difficult season in our shelters because of over-crowding,” explained LAAS General Manager Ed Boks, “and East Valley is especially hard hit this year. We want to make it as easy as possible for these great animals to find a loving home so we’ve teamed up with every rescue group in L.A. to address this ‘dog-gone cat-Astrophe.’”
The special $100 offer to rescue groups is only available at the East Valley Animal Care Center to rescue groups. To qualify for special “New Hope” rates or subsidies call 213-485-8613 prior to visiting the shelter.
“I hope families, individuals and rescuers will visit East Valley Animal Service Center this weekend and take advantage of this unique opportunity to find new friends for life, and to give these animals a fresh start,” said Boks.

April 06 Numbers Are In… by Ed Boks

For four consecutive months the LAAS Team has been working miracles. They have significantly reduced euthanasia each month when compared to the same four months in 2005. Admittedly, we must do more. But to do more requires your help!

Please consider adopting or volunteering as a foster home. Together we can make LA the safest city in the United States for our pets, but we need your help! What follows are the numbers from April 06:

Dogs and Cats Combined:
LAAS April 06 Dog and Cat Adoptions were up .1% compared to April 05 and up 18% compared to April 04.

April 06 Dog and Cat Euthanasia was down 27% compared to April 05 and down 64% compared to April 04. Over the course of the past 12 months 42% of all the dogs and cats that came into LAAS were euthanized. Of the dogs and cats that were relinquished by their owners 35% were euthanized.

April 06 Dog and Cat New Hope placements were down 19% compared to April 05 and down 6% compared to April 04. LAAS is anxious to get the New Hope Program up and running so we can soon see an improvement in these numbers.

April 06 Dog and Cat Intakes were down 15% compared to April 05 and down 12% compared to April 04. The Big Fix is taking hold!

April 06 represents the highest April Adoption Rate and the lowest April Euthanasia Rate since April 2000. LAAS electronic database doesn’t go back any further than that.

Our new Foster Care Program is a huge part of our success this year. April 06 Fosters are up 87% compared to April 05 and up 100% compared to April 04. This is just a fledgling program but we are very excited about its potential to help save more lives. Please consider volunteering as a Foster Home for our animals! Its the perfect program for those of you that find it difficult to make a long term commitment…

Dogs
April 06 Dog Adoptions were down 3% compared to April 05 and up 2.6% compared to April 04.

April 06 Dog Euthanasia was down 47% compared to April 05 and down 56% compared to April 04. Over the past twelve months only 30% of all dogs received by LAAS were euthanized.

April 06 New Hope Dog placements were down 23% compared to April 05 and down 1.6% compared to April 04.

April Dog Intakes were down 11% compared to April 05 and down 12% compared to April 04.

Cats
April 06 Cat Adoptions are up 7% compared to April 05 and up 60% compared to April 04.

April 06 Cat Euthanasia is down 35% compared to April 05 and down 45% compared to April 04. Over the past twelve months 56% of all cats received by LAAS were euthanized.

April 06 New Hope Cat placements are down 16% compared to April 05 and down 12% compared to April 04.

April 06 Cat Intakes are down 18% compared to April 05 and down 13% compared to April 04.

“Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.” John Updike US author (1932 – )

New Hope arrives By Ed Boks

After more than a few weeks of constructive collaboration with several representatives of LA’s animal welfare community, Animal Services is finally launching its New Hope Program. The New Hope Program is designed to help an entire community’s animal welfare organizations maximize their limited resources through a cooperative effort to save as many animal lives as possible!

The New Hope Program was unveiled at a widely publicized public meeting at the Beverly Garland Resort in Studio City on the evening of Tuesday, April 25th. The meeting was graciously hosted by The Rescue and Humane Alliance of Los Angeles. The Alliance is an association of over 50 animal welfare organizations dedicated to enhancing the wellbeing of LA’s lost and homeless animals and is a valuable partner of Animal Services.

Over 150 individuals attended the New Hope meeting, representing over 60 local animal welfare organizations. The meeting began with many in attendance wanting to share their positive personal experiences with Animal Services’ new, enhanced emphasis on excellent customer service and animal welfare programs.

Over 25 employees of the Animal Services were in attendance. They were asked to stand up in proxy for the efforts of the entire organization as a grateful public applauded.

The New Hope Program was then unveiled in a dynamic, interactive presentation and idea exchange. Ed Boks explained the many benefits of the New Hope Program to partnering organizations. Benefits include:

1. A “personal shopper”, called a New Hope Coordinator, will help expedite the transfer of animals into the care of New Hopeorganizations and will be available to answer their questions and address their concerns.

2. A hotline phone number at each Animal Care Center and to each New Hope Coordinator to assist New Hope organizations in their life saving efforts.

3. 24 hour, 7 day a week access to all Animal Care Centers by appointment to view animals.

4. Daily color-coded New Hope Alerts providing valuable information and pictures of animals most in need of their help.

5. A sophisticated software program produced by HLP called Top View. This program, a magnanimous gift from HLP to New Hope Partners, will help partner organizations to better manage and more easily report on the animals in their care.

6. No fees for animals adopted from the New Hope AlertNew Hopeanimals will be spay/neutered, microchipped, and vaccinated at no charge to New Hope partner. All medical care and lab testing fees will also be waived.

7. Pay only the $28 spay/neuter fee for an animal NOT on the New Hope Alert when an animal that is on the Alert is also adopted at no charge.

8. Pay only $28 for spay/neuter and $15 for microchip when animals NOT on the New Hope Alert are adopted and no New Hope animals are adopted.

9. If any non-New Hope animal is deferred for spay/neuter for medical reasons the New Hope Partner has the option to:
a. Take the animal to a City-contracted veterinarian at no cost, having already paid the $28 deposit; or
b. Take the animal to a veterinarian of their choice and submit proof of sterilization for a refund of the $28 deposit.

10. An easy “no waiting” in line adoption process that allows telephonic credit card transactions.

11. Animal Services will hold animals for specified time frames agreed to by Animal Services and a New Hope Partner while the partner makes necessary arrangements for picking the animals up.

(New Hope partners will continue to be responsible for purchasing dog licenses as applicable by law.)

Animal Services is very excited about the implementation of the New Hope Program. It is anticipated that New Hope will help increase the number of animals safely placed into loving homes and will play an instrumental role in Los Angeles becoming a No-Kill City!

Animal Services thanks all the organizations that have already signed up and we look forward to signing up additional organizations wanting to help Animal Services save lives. If you know of a non-profit animal welfare organization that may be interested in participating in the New Hope Program please encourage them to contact Animal Services for more information.

Together we can make Los Angeles the safest City in the United States for our pets!

Keep Those Cards And Letters Coming! by Ed Boks

LAAS appreciates all the help we are receiving from the community in the form of compliments, suggestions, and even complaints. Your feedback helps us focus all our efforts on becoming a better, more responsive organization every day to both you and the animals we care for.

To make sure your feedback is not overlooked and has its intended impact, LAAS developed a quick and easy feedback process that will direct your comments to the appropriate LAAS division director for a quick response (2 weeks or less is our hope, depending of course on the nature of the issue).

To send your compliment, suggestion, or complaint to LAAS just click on this website:  http://www.laanimalservices.com/servicefeedback.htm 

There is also a button in the quick-links menu on the left side of our Homepage that says “Feedback Form”, as well as a tiny blurb with link in the body of the home page.

Don’t be shy; let us know how you think we are doing and what we could be doing better. Your feedback, help, and support are always welcome and appreciated!

Thank you for your continued support of LAAS!
Ed

The best of times are before us By Ed Boks

The following are Ed Boks’ comments to the Public Safety Committee on Monday, April 17, 2006:

Good Morning Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee,

I could easily begin this address on the state of Animal Services in Los Angeles by paraphrasing Charles Dickens, who said we live in the best of times and the worst of times.

Beginning in July of this year the City plans to open one new state of the art Animal Care Center every month for six consecutive months. These new Animal Care Centers clearly demonstrate the City’s commitment to animal welfare in Los Angeles. They will forever end the “dog pound” image of yesteryear as they provide every section of Los Angeles with a pleasant, green, humane Community Animal Care Center where we will be able to educate residents of all ages on the intrinsic value and benefits of the human/animal bond through a variety of interactive programs. These Centers will also serve as “the” pet Adoption Centers of choice for all Angelinos as well as for residents in surrounding communities.

I want to thank both the Mayor’s Office and the CAO for working so closely with Animal Services to help ensure we have an adequate budget to operate our new Animal Care Centers and Spay/Neuter Clinics in a manner that will meet community expectations. The new Animal Care Centers will require the hiring over 161 new employees to handle the over 300% increase in workload.

This is an unprecedented, yet appropriate, rate of Departmental growth in response to our community’s growing service delivery expectations. Meeting this growing service demand will be difficult. We have two spay/neuter clinics that have been sitting idle for years; soon we will have seven clinics and eventually eight that we want to see fully functional. We are now working closely with the Mayor’s Office, the CAO, Personnel, the Unions and the community to help address this most critical challenge.

Consistent with our new Animal Care Centers and enhanced service delivery programs, Animal Services has renewed its commitment to our community’s expectation to end euthanasia as a means to control pet overpopulation. A goal that some may still think impossible, not unlike what many people must have thought about putting a man on the moon in the 1960s. As a result of renewing this goal, animal welfare communities across the United State are now watching what we do here in Los Angeles; and none more closely than our own.

Like the early space program Animal Services may experience some unfortunate situations, errors in judgement and some confusion over consistent implementation of new policies and programs in all our locations. Change is difficult. Some find change coming too fast, others find it coming too slow. Some may point to isolated situations as evidence that nothing is changing at all. I contend they are evidence of substantive changes and growing pains.

I will not minimize our shortcomings or mistakes. We readily admit them. Every allegation against Animal Services is thoroughly investigated, and with City Attorney approval, we hope to post the results of investigations on our website for all to see. We make no claim to be perfect. Far from it! It is my hope that as we freely identify our shortcomings and needs the community will respond with the same compassion they demand of us, and will choose to help us, not condemn us.

Achieving No-Kill is not an easy task. Animal Services is an organization learning to walk and chew gum at the same time. We are developing programs and policies that are both tactical and strategic, that deal with both animal care and animal control.

Our greatest needs are sometimes revealed by an unfortunate incident or a misunderstanding about an incident. We use these opportunities to review our systems and processes to discover how and why errors occur in an effort to ensure the same mistakes are not repeated. We attempt to correct the problems we encounter at their source; we want to address the causes, but we will not ignore the symptoms.

Some in the community are amazed at the rate of change Animal Services has experienced in so short a time frame, others are unsatisfied and impatient. Some understand the difficulties we have to overcome, while others may have unrealistic expectations. Animal Services may never be able to please everyone all the time. But we are pleasing more and more people every day. We are focused on systemic changes that mitigate customer dissatisfaction and frustration while providing better treatment and conditions for our animals.

During the first 100 days of this year we developed a new mission, vision and set of organizational values. We are reviewing policies and protocols and developing and implementing new programs designed to reduce euthanasia and increase adoptions.

As we deal with each tactical “crisis” that comes our way we are determined to remain focused on our strategic No-Kill goal. As we progress, we will eventually transition out of the crisis management mode that has stymied this department for so many years and shift into more effectively addressing the root causes of pet overpopulation and irresponsible pet ownership. These combined problems are at the root of why we are unable to achieve No-Kill immediately.

Some will ask if No-Kill is an achievable goal. Well, the evidence suggests that Animal Services is at least moving in the right direction. During the first quarter of 2006 Dog and Cat Adoptions were up 9.36% compared to the first quarter of 2005. That represents 3,248 dogs and cats placed into loving homes in three months. That is the highest first quarter adoption rate ever recorded by Animal Services.

Dog and Cat Euthanasia was down 37% compared to the same quarter last year. That represents 2,091 euthanasias in three months. Too many to be sure, but it is still the lowest quarterly euthanasia rate ever recorded in Los Angeles.

Part of this success is due to the our aggressive spay/neuter programs including Animal Services’ spay/neuter voucher programs that pre-existed my tenure. We recently reorganized all our spay/neuter efforts under the program name The Big Fix, a name that recognizes that spay/neuter programs are the only way to truly and finally “fix” the vexing problems arising from pet overpopulation. The brand name “Big Fix” was coined by Best Friends Animal Society in Utah, and we use it with their kind permission.

As a result of our community’s combined spay/neuter efforts, Dog and Cat Intakes were down nearly 14% during the last quarter compared to the same quarter in 05! Animal Services has experienced a 24% decrease in intakes over the past five years.

This decrease is a direct result of the City’s Council commitment of $1 million annually to our spay/neuter programs. Money being well spent as Animal Services has seen a 35% increase in our voucher subsidized spay/neuter surgeries so far in Fiscal Year 06 compared to the same time period in Fiscal Year 05. We have also seen a 50% increase in Feral Cat surgeries during this same time frame.

Animal Services’ is also thankful for the incredible efforts of the Amanda Foundation, the Sam Simon Foundation, Best Friends’ Catnippers, The Feral Cat Coalition, the ABC Spay/Neuter Clinic, and so many more! The tens of thousands of surgeries occurring each year over the last several years by so many wonderful organizations have been instrumental in the declining intake and kill rates in the City of Los Angeles.

Another reason for the lower euthanasia rate this past quarter is a new program Animal Services implemented called Plus One/Minus One. This program compares the adoptions and euthanasia rates of dogs and cats on a day-to-day basis to last year; comparing the first Monday of March 05 to the first Monday of March 06, the first Tuesday of March 05 to the first Tuesday of March 06, etc.Plus One/Minus One is designed to encourage staff, volunteers, and partners to place more animals and kill fewer animals each day compared to the same day one year previous.

The Plus One/Minus One program is a motivational and productivity tool that works on a day to day level. Clearly, sustaining these results over time is the bigger challenge. That is why Animal Services is reaching out to partner with every animal welfare organization and other City Departments in an unprecedented way.

Another reason for our declining euthanasia rate is that Animal Services has one of the highest success rates in the country for returning lost pets to their frantic owners, a rate four times higher than other large cities. Animal Services returns over 4,500 lost dogs and cats to their grateful owners each year. This is due largely to our extensive microchip program, and to a lesser extent to our dog license program, which has a long way to go before it will achieve the market penetration required to make it a fully effective animal management tool.

Animal Services recently developed a partnership with the Department of Water and Power to help identify households with aggressive, unlicensed dogs. DWP tracks this information to help protect their meter readers. Sharing this information with Animal Services makes good public safety sense. I want to thank my excellent Board of Animal Services Commissioners for this and so many other great ideas.

Animal Services is also coordinating with other City Departments and community organizations on a program that will effectively address our community’s most troubled neighborhoods, areas where dogs run at large and sometimes in packs. I will keep the Committee informed as the plans for this program are formalized.

Another reason for the reduced euthanasia rate during the past 100 days is that Animal Services doubled its off-site adoption and special event efforts resulting in 661 adoptions compared to 224 during the same time frame last year. We increased our off site adoption events from 15 to 29 and we are continually looking for new venues to increase our off site adoption efforts even further. We recently developed another powerful partnership with the Department of Recreation and Parksso that we will now be working more closely together on more pet adoption events in our City’s parks!

I also want to thank Councilman Herb Wesson for his Pet of the Month Program that highlights Animal Services’ animals at City Council Meetings. This program is another demonstration of the City Council’s support of Animal Services’ efforts to increase adoptions and reduce euthanasia. Every animal featured at a City Council meeting is now in a loving home! This program draws tremendous attention to the quality animals available at Animal Services as it challenges the community to save a life and adopt a pet.

As Animal Services continues to respond to the needs, concerns, complaints, and compliments of the community we serve, we are determined to keep our eye on the ball! Will Animal Services continue to be challenged with our own shortcomings? Yes, we see this nearly every day. People may be frustrated with what they perceive to be the slowness of our progress. But it took Los Angeles a long time to get into its current situation and it will take at least a little time to turn this situation around.

But we are turning it around. Over the past five years, under four different General Managers and despite well-publicized occasional friction between the department and its critics in the community, Animal Services reduced dog and cat euthanasia 46%. Animal Services significantly reduced dog and cat euthanasia every year since 2002 (18%); 2003 (10%); 2004 (17%); and 2005 (11%). And with a 37% decrease in the first quarter of 06, we are demonstrating that Animal Services is doing everything we can to step up the pace.

But it is important to understand that Animal Services cannot do this alone. We need the help of the entire community. Animal Services invites our community’s concerned residents to help make Los Angeles a No-Kill City by joining Animal Services’ Volunteer Program, Foster Care Program, or our Mobile Adoption Program.

I also invite all active animal rescue organizations to directly partner with Animal Services in our soon to be launched New Hope program, a program designed to make it as easy as possible to release animals to partnering organizations. The program is being officially unveiled at a public meeting in Studio City on April 25th.

Working together as a community we can make Los Angeles the safest city in the United States for our pets and our people. Animal Services is deeply committed to achieving the ultimate goal of ending institutional euthanasia as a method for controlling pet overpopulation! Many individuals and groups have already stepped up to help Animal Services and I look forward to working with all concerned members of the community toward that end. I especially want to thank this Committee for your continued support! Thank you.

Keep your eye on the No-Kill Goal by Ed Boks

Achieving No-Kill is not an easy undertaking. Everyday something seems to happen that could side track us from this goal. But LAAS has to be an organization that can walk and chew gum at the same time. We have to be both tactical and strategic. As we deal with each daily “crisis” it is important we not lose sight of our efforts to achieve our strategic No-Kill goal. As we progress, we will transition more and more from crisis management to managing and solving the problems resulting from pet overpopulation and irresponsible pet owner/guardianship, the problems that prevent us from achieving No-Kill immediately.

Let me remind everyone what I mean by “No-Kill”. No-Kill will be achieved in LA when LAAS is able to use the same criteria that a loving pet owner/guardian or a compassionate veterinarian uses to determine if an animal should be euthanized. In other words, when LAAS no longer kills healthy or treatable animals because of a lack of space or resources we will have achieved “No-Kill.”

So, is No-Kill even achievable? Well, the evidence suggests LAAS is at least moving in the right direction. During the first quarter of 2006 Dog and Cat Adoptions were up 9.36% compared to the first quarter of 2005. That represents 3,248 dogs and cats placed into loving homes in three months. That is the highest first quarter adoption rate in five years.

Dog and Cat Euthanasia was down 37.31% compared to the same quarter last year. That represents 2,091 euthanasias. Still too many, to be sure, but it still represents the lowest quarter ever. In fact, LAAS had three record low euthanasia rate months in a row, compared both with the last twelve months and when comparing January, February, and March 06 to the same three months in any other year (http://www.laanimalservices.com/Statistics.htm).

Big Fix: Part of this success is certainly due to our community’s aggressive spay/neuter programs, including Los Angeles Animal Services’ Big Fix programs (a “branding” developed by Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and used by LAAS with their permission) (http://www.laanimalservices.com/bigfixspayneuter.htm).

As a result of all our spay/neuter efforts, Dog and Cat Intakes were down 13.60% during this past quarter compared to the same quarter last year! LAAS has experienced a 24% decrease in intakes over the past five years. This is due largely because of The Big Fix Spay/Neuter Voucher Program for dogs and cats. LAAS shows a 35% increase in spay/neuter coupon redemption during Fiscal Year 05/06 so far compared to the first three quarters of Fiscal Year 04/05. We also see a 50% increase in Operation FELIX Voucher redemptions (for feral cats) during the first three quarters of Fiscal Year 05/06 compared to the first three quarters of Fiscal Year 04/05 (July – March respectively).

Also, we can’t thank the Amanda Foundation and the Sam Simon Foundation enough for the incredible work they do to bring spay/neuter services into our neediest communities. The thousands of surgeries they and their predecessors have done in mobile clinics over the last several years have made an important contribution to the declining intake and kill rates.

Plus One/Minus One: Another reason for the lower euthanasia rate this past quarter is a new program called Plus One/Minus One. This program compares the adoptions and euthanasia rates of dogs and cats on a day-to-day basis to last year. Comparing the first Monday of March 05 to the first Monday of March 06, etc.

Plus One/Minus One is an internal program designed to encourage staff, volunteers, and partners to place more animals and kill fewer animals every day compared to the same day (not date) as last year. These statistics more accurately compare apples to apples. This is how this program worked in our six shelters:

Plus One, Minus One –
YTD 06 Results Compared to January through March 05:

East Valley
Intakes: Down 10.68%
Adoptions: Up 18.36%
Euthanasia: Down 36.71%

Harbor
Intakes: Down 18.76%
Adoptions: Up 72.19%
Euthanasia: Down 5.60%

North Central
Intakes: Down 15.32%
Adoptions: Down 0.62%
Euthanasia: Down 32.51%

South LA
Intakes: Down 15.37%
Adoptions: Up 5.35%
Euthanasia: Down 31.99%

West LA
Intakes: Down 16.47%
Adoptions: Up 10.14%
Euthanasia: Down 15.56%

West Valley
Intakes: Down 20.80%
Adoptions: Down 6.55%
Euthanasia: Down 36.21%

Return to Owner/Guardian Program: LAAS also has a high success rate for returning lost pets to their frantic owner/guardians, four times higher than other comparable cities. LAAS returns over 4,500 lost dogs and cats to their grateful owner/guardians every year. (Still, we have room to improve, as shown by a recent incident when a dog’s microchip was not properly scanned that led to an unfortunate situation in which a person’s beloved pet was adopted by someone else. It was a graphic opportunity to impress upon staff that EVERY animal needs to be properly scanned for microchips, but one which I hope will not be repeated. It also highlights to the dog owning public the importance of a dog license as the primary form of identification.)

Seniors for Seniors Program: This program was implemented on February 1st, helping to improve adoptions by placing senior animals with our community’s senior citizens. To date over 100 animals have been placed through this important program.

Mobile Pet Adoptions: LAAS also doubled its off-site adoption and special event efforts during this last quarter, resulting in 661 adoptions compared to 224 in the same time frame last year and 29 off-site events this year compared to 15 last year. And we are looking to increase our efforts even further!

Keeping our eye on the ball is so very important. Will LAAS continue to be challenged with our own shortcomings? Indeed, we see that every day. People may become frustrated with what they perceive to be the slowness of our progress. But it took LA a long time to get into its current situation and it will take some time to turn it around.

But we are turning it around. Over the past five years LAAS reduced dog and cat euthanasia 45.7%. LAAS significantly reduced dog and cat euthanasia every year since 2002 (17.7%); 2003 (10.3%); 2004 (17.3%); and 2005 (11.1%). And with a 35% decrease in the first quarter of 06, I’m hoping this demonstrates we are doing everything we can to step up the pace.

But make no mistake, LAAS cannot do this alone. We need your help. If you would like to help LAAS and its many partners and friends make Los Angeles a No-Kill City I encourage you to consider volunteering to help our Foster Program or our Mobile Adoption Program. Donations to our Big Fix and other programs are also greatly appreciated.

Together we can make LA the safest city in the United States for our pets.

The Ed Boks Show?

All the way from Broadway, now appearing in Los Angeles, The Ed Boks Show. A few local critics have expressed offense at what they perceive as the Boks “ego” taking credit for the significant drop in euthanasia over the past three months.

Being human and invested in this goal, I suppose I’d like to get some credit for the substantial decline in the killing, but it would be disingenuous for me to say this decline was because of me. These results could never be the work of any one man or woman. These kinds of results come from a community effort.

The credit goes to the incredible supporting cast of the LAAS Team, the 392 employees and growing number of volunteers, partners, and donors who believe that achieving no-kill doesn’t have to take a long time. I am proud to be a member of this cast.

Actually. the remarkable progress of the past three months is simply a continuation of a five-year trend. Over the past five years the dedicated employees, volunteers, partners, and donors of LAAS reduced the killing nearly 50%. And they did this as they bravely weathered an onslaught of personal criticism and threats that few of us would have endured for even a week.

Often we at LAAS hear people say, “I could never do your job.” Our response is, “How could you not?” Everyday the employees and volunteers of LAAS come into our Animal Care Centers to do what few others in our community are willing to do. They care for, feed, treat, and shelter the 120 or more lost, homeless, abused, neglected, sick, and injured animals they rescue from the streets of LA everyday. Thank God they continue to come!

The successes of Arizona and New York City were not designed to feed anyone’s ego. They were designed to help the thousands of animals in need in those communities. Ultimately those successes serve to demonstrate that ANYONE can do this if given a chance and the support of the community!

Any community with the heart and will to end the killing can achieve this goal, and I’m happy to report the heart and will to do this is thriving in Los Angeles. This community is fortunate that this determination existed in the employees, volunteers, partners, and donors of LAAS long before I got here. Thank God it still exists and is growing!

Let me tell you the secret to achieving no-kill: If you really want to stop the killing in any community, you have to support the agency where the killing occurs. This may sound counter intuitive, but if you think about it, it actually makes a great deal of sense. Does anyone really think LAAS wants to be a kill agency? No agency charged with helping innocent creatures and serving the community wants this. This is true in Maricopa County, New York City, Chicago, Miami, St. Louis, Albuquerque, anywhere.

If you want to stop the killing in LA, you have to support LAAS. There are many indirect ways you can help LA achieve no-kill, but there is only one direct way, and that is to help LAAS. We need the help of all the dedicated, creative and committed individuals who call this community their home. We invite your help and ideas. This is a collaborative effort and those who stand to gain are the very animals we all want so badly to help!

If you are waiting for LAAS to be perfect before you help, then we’ll never get there. LAAS readily admits we need the community’s help and we need it now. I am thankful that the community is stepping up in an unprecedented way to help as the excitement to end the killing grows! The killing must end. We all agree. Never has anyone in LAAS ever tried to defend this horrible practice as our critics suggest. We want to end it, and we want to end it in the shortest possible time frame!

Our success depends on you! LAAS is under funded and under staffed. What government agency isn’t? We cannot do this by ourselves. We attempt to do the miraculous everyday with inadequate resources. How much faster can we achieve this goal with your help?

LA City is facing a couple of very difficult fiscal years. Nonetheless, the City is extraordinarily committed to LAAS achieving no-kill, from the Mayor to the City Council to the Commission. LAAS will see an increase in its budget despite a looming City deficit. But I can tell you right now it won’t be enough to achieve no-kill without your help. The only way we will achieve no-kill in LA is if we as an entire community all pitch in to help.

How can you help? You can volunteer an hour or two a week, you can foster orphaned neonates or sick or injured animals and nurse them back to health, you can participate in our many off site adoption events, you can make a donation to any one of our many life saving programs, or help raise the money to fund these programs. If you own a business you can provide in-kind donations in the way of services or products to help the animals.

If you can’t do any of these things, you can still help. Just support the employees and volunteers of LAAS. We are in a war to end euthanasia. LAAS is the front line in this war. Some will criticize the troops when they think a war isn’t going well. But the good news is the war against euthanasia is going well! 2006 could end with the biggest decline in the killing in LA’s history. Fewer animals died in the first quarter of 2006 than in any preceding first quarter on record!

Did Ed Boks do this? No, I did not. This was done through the commitment and compassion of the employees, volunteers, partners, and donors of LAAS. All I’m doing is asking you to support the troops of LAAS as they win this war for all of us and our animals!

Quite frankly, I am far less concerned with who gets the credit so long as the goal is ultimately achieved. I am concerned that our critics who focus so heavily on the issue of credit are wasting valuable time and distracting us from appreciating the fact that fewer animals are dying. The goal is more achievable today then ever before.

In this war, every day, week and month is a battle to save more lives. In January 06 we experienced a 25% decrease in euthanasia compared to January 05, in February 06 we experienced a 33% decrease compared to February 05, and in March we anticipate nearly a 40% decrease compared to March 05.

Can we all just pause for a moment to rejoice for the animals that benefited from all the hard work of all the heroes in this community who are making a positive difference? Can we use the days ahead to better mobilize our forces to help the remaining animals that still need our help?

Only by working together will we make LA the safest City in the US for our pets!

What’s new at LA Animal Services? by Ed Boks

Have you seen what’s new on the LAAS Website?www.laanimalservices.com 

You can now translate the website into nine different languages.

There is a new Blog below on the cruelty of tethering called, “Chains of Love or Abuse”.

The New Hope Program scheduled to roll out within the next month or so is described. The document on line is just to help the rescue groups get acquainted with the program. LAAS will have a public meeting to explain the program in detail within the next couple of weeks. The program will not be implemented until after the public meeting.

A report on Operation FELIX (Feral Education and Love Instead of X-termination) is now on line for your information. It details why TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return) is the only viable, humane, non-lethal method for effectively reducing the feral cat population in any community or location.

My position on many common sense approaches to humane animal care on a community wide level is also available under GM’s Position Statements.

Also read about Patrick, the Irish Setter mix, adopted by a member of the Mayor’s Office at a City Council meeting on St. Patrick’s Day!

And much more.

Also, don’t forget to check out Dana Bartholomew’s new article on LAAS in The Daily News.

Euthanasia for dogs and cats in January 2006 was down 25%, and down 33% in February, and we are on track to reduce euthanasia 40% in March (its at 39.79% as of this writing on March 24th) compared to the same months in 2005. Stay tuned!

Please consider being a life saving Foster mom or dad this puppy and kitten season. More info on our enhanced Foster Program coming soon or contact our volunteer Department for an update.

Together we can make LA the safest City in the US for our pets!

Chains of Love or Abuse? by Ed Boks

It’s interesting how a seemingly simple solution to a perceived problem can have traumatic unintended consequences. Consider tethering. A tether is a rope, leash, or chain used to restrict the movement of a dog.

Ed Boks and tethering
On August 3, 2005, the LA City Council passed a tethering ban effective in LA! Tethering your dog can now result in a $1,000 fine, six months in jail, or both!

Some people consider a tether an acceptable solution to correcting a misbehaving dog and they never take the time to consider the horrific consequences of tethering. Lets take a moment to think about tethering, but let’s make it a little more personal. Let’s consider the consequences on a two year old child as an example.

Imagine a two-year old child confined to a small room all the time. The toddler wakes up each day full of natural curiosity and energy, with a need to be touched and loved by those around her. She can hear them laughing and interacting just on the other side of the door; she can even smell them.

She only sees her loved ones once a day when they fill her bowl with oatmeal and her bottle with water. She loves this brief interaction and tries to lavish her love on them, but they are annoyed by her affection. She is curious and longs to be held by them. But soon they are gone and she is left alone. She has no ability to articulate what she is feeling, only that she must be “bad” to be so rejected. She is never given the opportunity to learn what is expected of her. No one takes the time to teach her to behave in a way where her loved ones would want her to be with them all the time.

She gets no exercise, and eventually gives up trying to even reach the doorknob to break down the barrier that separates them. Then she gives up hope that the door will ever open. She turns inward, depressed and lonely. To occupy her time, she crawls in circles; she sucks her thumbs raw. When someone does come into her room now, she is afraid. She doesn’t know how to behave or interact. What has she learned?

She has learned to believe that she is helpless, and that the little world she knows will not respond to her needs. She has learned that nothing she does matters. She has learned that people are to be feared. She has learned that she must defend herself by shrinking away or lashing out. What was once a curious, trusting, happy, healthy, loving little creature has been transformed into a cowering, aggressive, unstable being because her loved ones refused to share their home and lives with her.

Dogs, like children, are social beings. They have a deeply ingrained need for contact with either human beings or other dogs. When a dog is tethered (chained) outside, it does not receive the socialization it needs to maintain its mental health. Tethering also denies the dog proper exercise. Even if a dog is given proper veterinary care and is fed correctly, tethered dogs are still apt to develop serious behavior problems because their existence is ruled by the length of the tether.

Although it may seem as if the dog has plenty of room to move about, dogs still get tangled up in their chains, making it impossible for them to reach shelter, shade, food or water. Dogs that spend their lives tethered have been known to grind their teeth down to stumps. Many will compulsively lick an area of their body until it turns into a bleeding sore (granuloma). It is reported that tethered dogs inflict one quarter of all dog bites recorded.

Tethered dogs frequently become withdrawn and depressed. Compulsive barking, chewing and digging may also result. Some people tether their dogs because of bad behavior. This only compounds the problem, sometimes resulting in hyperactive or aggressive behavior in addition to the original behavioral problem. These dogs need professional training, not tethering. Unfortunately, many people who tether their dogs are unaware of the cruelty they are inflicting on their pet.

Many dogs are kept tethered because their guardians did not spend the time or energy to properly train them or because they do not have the proper facilities for keeping a dog in the first place. There are even some cultures that consider tethering acceptable because they view dogs as working animals, not companions.

Thanks to the hard work, commitment and compassion of LAAS’ David Diliberto, City Attorneys Robert Ferber and Dov Lesel, and private citizen, Dianne Lawrence, for helping me craft an anti-tethering ordinance in Los Angeles.  That’s right, IT IS NOW ILLEGAL!

On August 3, 2005, the LA City Council passed LAAS’ tethering ban effective in the entire City of Los Angeles! Tethering your dog in the City of Los Angeles can now result in a $1,000 fine, six months in jail, or both!

If you tether your dog, please consider an alternative. If you know someone who tether’s their dog, let them know about this new law. Your veterinarian, members of dog clubs and dog obedience trainers can provide the information you need to correct the behavioral problems that may have led to tethering your dog in the first place.

Please call LAAS (888-452-7381) if you would like more information on the dangers of tethering and what you can do about it.