A Tribute to Dogs

Ed Boks and George Graham Vest
George Graham Vest

George Graham Vest (1830-1904) served as a United States Senator from Missouri from 1879 to 1903, and became one of the leading orators and debaters of his time. This delightful speech is from an earlier period in his life when he practiced law in a small Missouri town. It was given in court in 1855 while representing a man who sued another for the killing of his dog.

During the trial, Vest ignored the testimony, but when his turn came to present a summation to the jury, he made the following speech and won the case.
* * * * *
Gentlemen of the Jury:

The best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy.  His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful.  Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name may become traitors to their faith.  The money that a man has, he may lose.  It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most.  A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action.  The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us, may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads.

The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.  A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness.  He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side.  He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer.  He will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world.  He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince.  When all other friends desert, he remains.  When riches take wings, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

Ed Boks and dog on graveIf fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies.  And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death.

Woman sues to prove animals are ‘living souls,’ not property by Ed Boks

“Today Show” contributor Scott Stump recently reported on a New Yorker named Elena Zakharova who filed a civil suit in a New York court against an Upper East Side pet store. The store, Raising Rover, sold Zakharova a puppy that developed numerous medical complications. The suit seeks to hold the store liable for the dog’s pain and suffering, and medical bills, as if the dog were a person rather than an inanimate product.

New York law considers pets “property,’ but the complaint wants to change that definition. The goal is to help shut down puppy mills that often mass-produce animals sold in boutique pet stores like Raising Rover, where “Umka” was purchased.

“Umka is a living soul,’ the suit reads. ” She feels love and pain.’

Ownership of Raising Rover has changed since Zakharova purchased Umka.

“I know nothing about the sale. The prior owner has the records. We are careful about where we get our puppies,” Raising Rover’s new owner Ben Logan told the New York Daily News. Logan declined to provide information about the prior owner.

Zakharova is seeking compensation for surgeries and medical treatment for Umka totaling about $8,000. She also wants a full return of the dog’s sale price plus interest since the date of purchase in February 2011. Zakharova intends to donate any award to an animal charity, Lask said.

New York state has a “Puppy Lemon Law’ that allows buyers to return sick animals to a pet store within 14 days for a full refund. The law is meant to slow puppy mills’ mass production of dogs with inherent medical problems. However, Umka’s medical issues did not become apparent for months after Zakharova purchased the dog.

“The Puppy Lemon Law doesn’t cut it,’ Lask said.

If the definition of a pet is changed from property to a sentient being, it could substantially change the amount of damages awarded when an owner buys a defective dog born in a puppy mill. That could have a chilling effect on pet stores buying animals from puppy mills fearing large payouts from lawsuits.

“It’s going to put a number on my dog’s broken hips that you created because you’re negligent, you’re greedy, and you’re mass-producing puppies,’ Lask said. “Right now, even if you return it, they just kill it, which is so inhumane.’

Lask is an animal lover who owns a Chihuahua named Lincoln who was found to have a hole in his skull months after her purchase. That discovery led her to investigate the practices of puppy mills. She waited six years to find a case to help correct the larger issue.

“It’s much bigger than this case,’ she said. “I am looking to shut down the puppy mill world.’

The main issue will be proving to a judge that pets are living souls who experience feelings of pain and emotion. “Human beings have treated other humans as property in history before recognizing it was wrong,” said Lask, “so it’s not too much of a stretch to ask the courts to change the definition.”

“It’s already a felony to abuse an animal. If animals have criminal rights, why not put rights on a damaged leg or a heart condition? If we’re not equating (an animal) to a human being, and we’re not equating it to a table, there has to be something in the middle.’

The suit brings to light the practices of puppy mills and their damaging effects on animals and their human owners. A 2011 investigation by The Humane Society of the United States revealed that Raising Rover, where Umka was purchased, was one of 11 upscale pet stores that purchased animals from Midwestern puppy mills with horrendous conditions.

The moral of the story is buyer beware! Experts agree consumers should opt to adopt from shelters to avoid the trauma that comes from paying exorbitant fees for pet store animals with hidden defects.

No-Kill Ethic gives every dog a chance by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and Xena
Behavior rehabilitation saves lives! Visit: Bound Angels for more information.

There are moments on this job that make all the heartbreak and disappointment worthwhile. Recently Sandy Nelson, who had adopted one of our shelter animals a few months ago, called me to say, “Thank you for believing Xena (pronounced Zeena) deserved a chance to live.” That was one of those moments.

When I first arrived at the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) in July, I found Xena on the euthanasia list. Alone in her kennel, surrounded by barking dogs and abandoned by her family, she was understandably frightened. She responded to her new surroundings the only way she knew how – by demonstrating a behavior known as “fear-based aggression,” which is not uncommon in shelter dogs when they first arrive.

Although we knew she was acting out her fear, her behavior was so fearsome that our most experienced animal handlers were unable to handle her. One of them admitted that, in all his years at YHS, Xena was the only dog that actually scared him. By the time I arrived that first week in July, it had already been determined that there was no chance Xena would ever be adopted. She was marked for euthanasia.

Public safety is the primary focus when evaluating dogs for adoption. With nearly 30 years experience in animal control and welfare, I understand better than most that there are dogs who are dangerously aggressive – dogs who should never be adopted out. Was Xena such a dog?

Imagine what must go on in the mind of a dog abandoned by her guardian. You wake up as you do every morning at the foot of your master’s bed – but tonight you inexplicably find yourself alone in a cold concrete cell surrounded by excited barking dogs and strange people. Wouldn’t you lash out in fear to defend yourself?

How do you discern a truly dangerous dog from an estranged pet?

Ed Boks and Robert Cabral
Robert Cabral (Bound Angels) provides the training shelter staff and volunteers need to save the lives of behaviorally challenged dogs.

Fortunately for Xena, renowned Malibu-based dog trainer and behaviorist Robert Cabral came to the rescue. Waiving his $250 per hour fee and all the expenses he incurred from driving himself and his two dogs, Silly and Goofy, to Prescott, he came to help staff and volunteers learn his life-saving techniques.

Cabral is not your typical dog trainer. His focus is not training beloved pets how to sit and stay in your backyard. His expertise is rehabilitating behaviorally challenged shelter dogs. He has been called upon to rehabilitate dogs adjudicated as “vicious” by city magistrates – dogs most of us wouldn’t want to be in the same town with, much less on the same leash.

Believing that even these dogs deserve a chance at life is the essence of the no-kill ethic. These dogs do not come by this behavior naturally; they are trained directly or through neglect to be aggressive. The no-kill ethic asserts that every shelter animal deserves a chance at life. That means YHS will strive to treat animals in need of medical care as well as animals in need of behavioral rehabilitation in the effort to find each animal a loving home.

It was this ethic that saved Xena. The no-kill ethic created a way for the Nelsons and Xena to meet and fall in love. Today, Xena is in dog obedience classes, she happily sits for treats and she devotedly follows the Nelsons around their beautiful ranch in Chino Valley.

Cabral has a slogan: “You can’t save all the dogs in the world, but you can save one. Join the revolution.” Xena is one of many dogs benefiting from Cabral’s life-saving training. YHS staff applied what we learned and Xena responded. She overcame her fear, was removed from the euthanasia list and was adopted by the Nelsons in July.

Isn’t it time you joined the life-saving revolution? Adopt a shelter animal today.

FIV-positive cats can lead long, healthy lives by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and FIV cats
Pushkin as many good years of love to give, despite FIV

In the quest to achieve No-Kill (applying the same criteria a loving pet guardian or conscientious veterinarian would apply when deciding a shelter animal’s fate), one of the challenges we must overcome is the widespread belief in many myths regarding shelter animals.

The fact is some shelter animals have issues. Equally true is the fact that these issues are seldom the animal’s fault and they can almost always be resolved. Knowingly adopting an animal with special needs is one of the noblest acts you will ever perform; you are truly saving a life.

Let me give you an example of a myth responsible for unnecessarily killing far too many animals: “cats infected with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) should be euthanized.” The truth is FIV cats often live long, healthy lives with no symptoms at all.

FIV is an endemic disease found in domestic cats worldwide; it is a lentivirus, meaning it progresses slowly, gradually affecting a cat’s immune system. Cats are typically infected through a serious bite, usually inflicted by a stray male cat – earning it the moniker the “fighting cat” disease (a good reason for keeping your cat indoors).

The most well-known lentivirus in humans is HIV – but there are major differences between FIV and HIV. HIV cannot infect cats and FIV cannot infect humans – in fact, there is no evidence that FIV has ever infected a human in the 6,000 years humans and cats have lived together.

The fear concerning FIV cats came to my attention recently when my shelter rescued a loving 3-year-old American shorthair named Pushkin. Pushkin was surrendered by a family not because of his disease, but because they were moving out of state and sadly could not afford to take him along. Pushkin is so sweet that my team fell in love with him and tried earnestly to find him a new home. However, when potential adopters learn Pushkin has FIV, they immediately lose interest in him.

Being the proud guardian of an FIV cat named Oliver who lives happily with my other cat, Beau Bentley, I am distressed by the apprehension I find among so many cat lovers regarding FIV.

As long as FIV cats are not exposed to diseases their immune system can’t handle, they can live relatively normal lives. When kept indoors, as all cats should, health risks are significantly reduced. FIV is not easily passed between cats either. It cannot be spread casually – in litter boxes, water or food bowls, or when snuggling and playing. It requires a serious bite to transmit the disease.

Before we knew FIV existed, shelters routinely placed these cats into loving homes where they often lived long, normal lives. With the discovery of FIV in 1986 came an undeserved stigma that has since made placing them unduly difficult.

Dr. Susan Cotter, professor of hematology and oncology at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, is helping counteract these misinformed fears. “I would not advise getting rid of a cat that tests positive for FIV,” she says. “If the cat is young and healthy, it could be years before anything changes.”

Best Friends Animal Society veterinarian Dr. Virginia Clemans says “the one important thing is to keep your FIV cat healthy.”

That, of course, is good advice for all cats. In fact, the very advice we offer FIV cat owners is equally appropriate for all cats. That is, all cats should be kept as healthy as possible; kept indoors and free from stress; fed a high-quality diet; and medical problems should be treated as soon as they arise.

If you already own a cat, ask your veterinarian about early detection to help maintain your cat’s health and to help prevent the spread of this infection to other cats.

Although many FIV cats live long, happy lives, some may need periodic medical care or ongoing medical management. This is why adopting a special-needs animal is such a noble and selfless act. If you can find the room in your heart and home for a cat like Pushkin, please contact your local shelter  – because every animal counts.

To declaw or not to declaw by Ed Boks

I have been asked to explain my comments at a recent Santa Monica City Council meeting. The Council was deliberating over whether or not to enact a Ban against Cat Declawing within the city limits of Santa Monica. A similar measure was defeated in Malibu two weeks earlier.

My position is a difficult one, but an honest one and I think my comments speak for themselves. I don’t stand alone in my position, it is shared by the San Francisco SPCA who released the following statement, “Our mission is to save animals’ lives and we understand that, in some instances, [declawing] may be the only way to prevent abandonment, relinquishment, or euthanasia.”

The San Francisco SPCA issued the above statement denouncing San Francisco’s move to ban declaws even though the group advocates against the procedure. Being against a Ban is NOT being for declawing. I share the SF SPCA’s concern that frustrated owners with no option to declaw cats will be forced to decide to abandon or relinquish their pet.

Keep it legal, keep it rare” is the position of virtually every national animal welfare and veterinary association. It is also the position of most shelters committed to reducing the number of animals killed in their communities. The suggestion that most European countries have already enacted a ban is disingenuous.

The Los Angeles Chief Legislative Analyst Report to the LA City Council busted three myths propagated by Ban Proponents. He found that declawing is “not cruel” (a position I am not prepared to take). He found that declawed cats relinquished to LA shelters are “a rarity”. And he called into question the City’s authority to oversee the practice of veterinary medicine, and said that even if the City has this authority, it does not have the resources or staff to do so.

To further clarify my “last resort”, and I do mean LAST RESORT position, I am sharing my comments from the recent Santa Monica City Council meeting to help explain and support my position. Again, I do NOT support declawing, however, I don’t support a Ban either because of the unintended consequences that are sure to follow:

“Good evening. My name is Ed Boks and I am here as an animal welfare advocate with nearly 30 years experience in animal care and control and over 12 years experience managing three of the largest animal shelter systems in the United States, including New York City and Los Angeles. As an experienced shelter manager, I can tell you that an uncompromising ban on cat declawing in the City of Santa Monica will result in more cats abandoned on your streets and more cats relinquished and killed in your shelter.

Like Ban Proponents, I abhor the practice of Declawing, but I abhor the abandoning, relinquishing and killing of cats even more, and I’m here to tell you that is what a Ban will lead to.

It is interesting that you are told that Declawing is mutilation by the same people who embrace other forms of mutilation! Some Ban Proponents approve cutting the tip off the ear of otherwise healthy feral cats for the convenience of being able to identify them in a colony.

Other Ban Proponents promote invasive surgery for the convenience of reducing dog and cat populations; another form of mutilation in the minds of some.

And probably everyone in this room, on both sides of this debate will agree that these forms of “mutilation” are acceptable. Why? Because we know they save lives!

In the same way, when a veterinarian performs a declaw surgery as a last resort she is saving a life! You take that life-saving option away from a cat guardian and you will force them to relinquish their pets to a shelter, who, at a cost to the City, will try to re-home them, and if they can’t – these cats will be killed. Why, when we are all trying so hard to end the killing in our shelters, would we want to create another reason to kill?

In Malibu, Mayor Stern voted against a Ban explaining that he would have taken his cat to the Pound if he couldn’t have her declawed because his wife’s health is at serious risk to a cat scratch. Thank God he had this option!

Please don’t limit the life-saving tools available to licensed veterinarians or second guess their professional judgment.

When performed as a last resort, declawing is a life saving remedy that keeps cats and people together, cats who might otherwise be subject to abuse, abandonment, or death.

Please vote NO to a Ban. A No Vote is a life saving vote. Thank you.”

Lessons learned by Ed Boks

LA Animal Services’ February 2009 statistics are now available. Something truly remarkable seems to be happening. Despite encountering the highest January/February impound rates in nearly a decade we were able to achieve the lowest January/February euthanasia rate in the department’s recorded history. And this was done without overcrowding our Centers! This is a tribute to  all our employees, volunteers and partners! Well done! Thank you for all your efforts!

So how did this happen? From lessons learned!

Over the past two years, LA Animal Services experienced the largest, fastest, most historic growth in service demand in its history. With the opening of our new and expanded Centers we experienced nearly a 250% increase in kennels and workload while Center staffing increased only 100%. The new facilities attracted a greater client base, leading to more animals turned in, redeemed, and adopted. More people are now coming in to adopt and relinquish pets, obtain information, more veterinary care is needed and provided, and more volunteers and trainers want to help. This is exactly the business of LA Animal Services, and it is all being managed with a minimum workforce.

As the Department moved into its new Centers we encountered a learning curve for effectively managing our new facilities and our enlarged shelter populations. As the new Centers began to open in late 2006 we realized in 2007 the lowest euthanasia rate (15,009) in the department’s long recorded history of statistics gathering (since 1960. Over 110,000 dogs and cats were euthanized in 1971).

The low euthanasia rate in 2007 was the result of many reasons, but most notable was our having more space to hold animals coupled with a robust adoption program. In 2008, as we were still moving into our new Centers, we experienced a 20% increase (54,191) in intakes due in large measure to the economic downturn. This increase was complicated by our inexperience managing so many animals in all this new space. Consequently, the shelters quickly filled up (sometimes to the point of overcrowding), animals got sick more often and we sometimes found ourselves forced to resort to euthanasia to bring populations under control again. The nearly 30% increase in adoptions in 2008 did not keep pace with our 20.5% increase (nearly 150 dogs and cats every day) in intakes.

LA Animal Services had to quickly find its balance in an environment of severe budget cuts, unprecedented demand for expansion of services, and a severe staffing shortage. The Department had to re-group, tone-up and empower staff (especially at the mid-management level) to improve accountability and effectiveness.

Having gone through this painful growth experience, our Center Managers are now constantly looking for ways to better promote their adoptable animals more effectively. They are on the lookout for more and better off site adoption partners and events. The Department is exploring partnerships with pet stores interested in abandoning puppy mill sources. Our veterinarians are spaying or neutering some animals in-house. This allows our adopters to take their new pets home on the day of adoption. And our Veterinary team is implementing an enhanced cleaning regimen designed to help maintain a healthier shelter population.

We are aggressively transferring animals to one or another of our six adoption Centers or another municipal or private shelter when appropriate to increase adoption options. We’ve developed and are strictly adhering to a Population Assessment Management program that maintains our Center populations at least 10% below maximum capacity to allow sufficient space for incoming animals.

Another significant innovation that we are in the process of implementing is a program called, “Heart-to-Heart”. This program focuses on animals in our Centers longer than two weeks. Each Center has a Heart-to-Heart team that includes the Center Manager, the Center Veterinarian, the ACT Supervisor, and the New Hope Coordinator or their designees. This team works together to help decide the best options for animals that don’t get adopted in their first two weeks in a shelter. The team is charged with considering and exhausting all avenues of release, including but not limited to mobile adoption events, New Hope and other marketing pleas, transfer to another Center or agency, etc, etc.

So, are these strategies responsible for the positive statistics below? Time will tell. The Department will continue to monitor, tweak, manage, and modify as we continually learn from our mistakes, our successes, and the counsel of others.

Intakes/Rescues: February 09 Intakes were up over 7% (from 3,010 to 3,225). This is the highest February Intake since collecting data electronically began in 2001. February 2001 Intake was 3,079. Year to Date (YTD) Intakes are up over 4% (from 6,275 to 6,542). This is the highest January/February Intake since 2001 when 7,034 animals were taken in. This is a disturbing trend continuing from 2008.

Adoptions: February 09 Adoptions are up nearly 18% (1,607) compared to February 08 (1,377). YTD Adoptions are up 17.6% (from 2,848 to 3,351).

New Hope: February New Hope Placements are down nearly 7% (from 329 to 306). YTD New Hope Placements are down just over 10% (from 714 to 638).

Return to Owners (RTO): February RTOs are down 2% (from 376 to 368). YTD RTOs are down 6.5% (from 793 to 741).

Euthanasia: February Euthanasia is down 11% (from 748 to 665). YTD Euthanasia is down 14% (from 1,568 to 1,345). This is nearly 3% lower than the historic 2007 low of 1,384).

Again a sincere Thank You to all our employees, volunteers and partners for all their efforts to help support these life saving strategies.

Calling all fosters by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and foster careThere is a fundamental tenet held among most animal welfare and animal rights advocates that we accept as incontrovertible. That precept was perhaps best articulated by Mahatma Gandhi when he said, “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress is best judged by how we treat our animals”. This principle expresses the belief that when a community is compassionate enough to care about the needs of its animals there can be a reasonable expectation that the bar is raised on how we care and treat one another.

The reverse is also true. If we can dismiss the needs of our animals it becomes easier to dismiss the needs of our infirmed, aged, and needy human populations. Caring about animals serves as the ultimate litmus test for determining a community’s capacity for compassion.

This test is applied to the City of Los Angeles every day, but never more than in the spring and summer months.

Spring is the beginning of kitten season in Los Angeles. In 2008 LA Animal Services took in over 7,300 neonate kittens. Neonate means too young to survive for more than an hour or two without a mother. Sadly, most of the neonate kittens we take in are orphans. People find these babies in their garage, flowerbeds, and many other places where the mother felt safe from predators and intruders while she gave birth. Property owners find these crying babies within hours or days of birth and bring them to our Centers without the mother. Taken away from their mother they have no chance at survival without significant human intervention.

Neonate kittens represent over one-third of all the cats taken in by the Department. They also represent over 35% of all the cats euthanized and over 21% of our euthanasia rate in 2008. One in three cats and one in five animals euthanized in LA is a neonate kitten. On the up side, most of our healthy weaned kittens get adopted. So anything we can do to help our neonates reach full “kittenhood” improves the odds of their eventually finding a loving home.

Kitten season in Los Angeles starts around the end of March and lasts through September when it starts to slowly decline over October and November. That means now is the time for everyone wanting to help end the killing of these innocents to contact LA Animal Services to either volunteer to foster a litter of kittens or to make a donation to help others willing to make this commitment.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “foster” as providing parental care and nurture to children not related through legal or blood ties. If Gandhi viewed animals in general as the first rung on the compassion ladder then these little creatures must be considered the least of the least. They can be so easily overlooked and forgotten. In fact, California State Law defines “adoptable animals” as only those animals eight weeks of age or older; which means these little orphans have no legal standing in the State of California. They don’t even have to be counted in the City’s no-kill goal. Nonetheless, they are because we understand that our moral progress depends on our providing adequate care and nurture to these living souls with whom we have no legal or blood ties.

The problem is that we can’t save them all by ourselves. We need your help. During kitten season LA Animal Services can take in over 80 neonate orphans a day, over 2500 in some months. Depending on their age they may require four to 8 weeks of intense foster care. Though dozens of our dedicated employees volunteer to foster neonate litters above and beyond their daily duties, the majority will not survive without the additional help of members of the public willing to step up to the challenge. They will not survive without your help. If you are able and willing to help save these lives, LA Animal Services will provide the training, support and supplies you need to be a successful foster parent.

This is a big commitment and a true test of our compassion. Even with our best efforts not all foster babies survive. But they can all be loved. These babies need to be bottle fed every two hours around the clock for several weeks; making this the perfect family, club, or faith based organizational project. Fostering helpless neonates is an ideal way to foster compassion and respect for the true value and sanctity of all life in our community.

Have you saved a life today? Make a commitment to volunteer as a Baby Bottle Foster Parent.  Our kittens are hoping you do!

Top Ten Reasons Why Pets are Relinquished in Los Angeles by Ed Boks

In a recent LA Times article a local animal advocate was quoted as stating that the number one reason pets are relinquished to shelters is because the pets are too sick or too old.

While that may be true in other communities, that reason actually ranks number 8 for cats and number 7 for dogs in Los Angeles. The data below is being included in the development of a program called “Safety Net”. Safety Net is being designed with the help of several partner organizations to help keep pets and guardians together during difficult times negating the need for relinquishment.

So, just what are the Top Ten Reasons guardians give for relinquishing their pets in the City of Los Angeles? The rankings differ slightly for cats and dogs. It should also be mentioned that a percentage of pet relinquishers either refuse to give a reason or for some other reason this data was not obtained.

CAT GUARDIANS:

1. GUARDIAN HAS TOO MANY PETS (1,324) LA Animal Services does follow up on many of these relinquishments and many spay/neuter vouchers are distributed and as appropriate citations issued.

2. LANDLORD OR ZONING ISSUES (536)

3. GUARDIAN MOVING CANNOT TAKE CAT (465)

4. GUARDIAN HAS NO TIME FOR THE CAT (294)

5. HUMAN MEMBER OF GUARDIAN FAMILY ALLERGIC TO CAT (252)

6. GUARDIAN TOO ILL TO CARE FOR THE CAT (176)

7. CAT DOES NOT GET ALONG WITH OTHER PET (148)

8. GUARDIAN CANNOT AFFORD MEDICAL COSTS FOR SICK OR INJURED CAT (147)

9. GUARDIAN HOMELESS (138)

10. GUARDIAN DIED (89)

DOG GUARDIANS:

1. GUARDIAN MOVED COULD NOT TAKE DOG (1,021)

2. GUARDIAN HAD NO TIME FOR DOG (768)

3. LANDLORD/ZONING ISSUES (692)

4. GUARDIAN HAD TOO MANY PETS (600) LA Animal Services does follow up on many of these relinquishments and many spay/neuter vouchers are distributed and as appropriate citations issued.

5. GUARDIAN TOO ILL TO CARE FOR DOG (350)

6. GUARDIAN DIED (327)

7. GUARDIAN COULD NOT AFFORD THE MEDICAL COSTS FOR SICK OR INJURED DOG (323)

8. DOG TOO AGGRESSIVE WITH OTHER ANIMALS (304)

9. DOG TOO AGGRESSIVE WITH PEOPLE (290)

10. GUARDIAN HOMELESS (256)

The June 07 and Fiscal Year 06/07 Statistics are posted on the website. I want to thank everyone who helped us achieve these remarkable numbers. An analysis will be posted later this week.

Please remember to contact your California Senator Monday and/or Tuesday to ask him or her to support AB 1634, The California Healthy Pets Act. They need to hear from you now! It’s crunch time! The California Healthy Pets Act is to be heard in the Local Government Committee on July 11th at 8:00am. It must pass out of this Committee to get to the full Senate.

If you live in the district for any of the five Local Government Committee Members, please act immediately, fax and call now:

Members:

Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod (Chair)
916-651-4032 Office, 916-445-0128 Fax
Chino Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Colton, Fontana, Montclair, Ontario, Pomona, Rialto, San Bernardino

Senator Dave Cox (Vice Chair)
916-651-4001 Office, 916-324-2680 Fax
Fair Oaks Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Sierra Auburn, Elk Grove, Fair Oaks, Folsom, Galt, Mammoth Lakes, Orangevale, Placerville, Rancho Cordova, Roseville, Sacramento, Shingle Springs, South Lake Tahoe, Susanville, Truckee, Valley Springs

Senator Tom Harman
916-651-4035 Office, 916-445-9263 Fax
Orange Orange, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Westminister

Senator Christine Kehoe
916-651-4039 Office, 916-327-2188 Fax
San Diego, Del Mar, Lemon Grove

Senator Michael Machado
916-651-4005 Office, 916-323-2304 Fax
Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Yolo Davis, Fairfield, Manteca, Stockton, Tracy, Vacaville, West Sacramento

05/06 Fiscal Year and July 06 Report by Ed Boks

The following is an excerpt from the July GM Report to the LA Animal Services Commission. To read the entire report, visit www.lanimalservices.com and click on GM Reports.

The following information is for the month of July, the first month of the new fiscal year.

Dog and Cat Statistics For 2006 calendar year to date:
· Dog and cat adoptions are up 5% (7752 to 8151);
· New Hope placements are down 19% (4359 to 3598);
· Return to Owners is down 10% (2870 to 2582);
· Dogs and cats placed in Foster Homes are up 203% (75 to 227);
· Dogs and cats euthanized is down 8.5% (11,439 to 10465); and
· The number of dogs and cats taken in by Animal Services is down 5% (27958 to 26587).

If this trend continues Animal Services is on track to euthanize fewer than 18,000 dogs and cats in 2006. This would be an all time low for the City of Los Angeles. But this will be a challenge requiring all our friends, volunteers, and partners to help us get the word out the LA Animal Services is “the” adoption center of choice in Los Angeles and that all pets need to be spayed or neutered and licensed or microchipped.

Dog and Cats Statistics for July 06
· Dog and cat adoptions were roughly equal to July 05 (1366 to 1330):
· New Hope placements were down 19% (591 to 477);
· Return to Owners were up 2.25% (488 to 499);
· Dogs and cats in Foster Homes was up 957% (7 to 74);
· Dogs and cats euthanized was up 4% (2496 to 2593); and
· The number of dogs and cats taken in by Animal Services was up 6.5% (5097 to 5425).

Dog Statistics for July 06:
· Dog adoptions were roughly equal to dog adoptions in July 05 (832 to 826);
· New Hope placements for dogs were up 5% (318 to 333);
· Returns to Owners for dogs were equal to July 05 (466 to 465);
· Dogs placed in Foster Homes were up from 0 to 28;
· Dogs euthanized were up 16% (741 to 863);
· 37% of the dogs euthanized were pit bulls or pit bull mixes (320);
· 45 were orphaned neonates (5%);
· The number of dogs taken in by Animal Services was up 13% (2456 to 2779);
· 22% of the dogs taken in were pit bulls or pit bull mixes (613); and
· 33% were owner relinquished (922).

Cat Statistics for July 06:
· Cat adoptions were down 5.6% (534 to 504);
· New Hope placements for cats were down 47% (273 to 144);
· Return to owners were up 54% (22 to 34);
· Cats placed in Foster Homes was up 557% (7 to 46);
· Cats euthanized were down 1.5% (1755 to 1730);
· The number of orphaned neonate kittens euthanized was down 4% (939 to 903) but this number represented 53% of all cats euthanized; and
· The number of cats taken in by Animal Services was roughly equal (2641 to 2646); and
· 22% were owner relinquished.

37% of all dogs and 55% of all cats euthanized were pit bulls and orphaned neonate cats respectively. This data clearly demonstrates where our limited resources must be focused. LA Animal Services will be announcing more programs to address these critical areas soon. 

All Animal Services actual numbers and statistics are available on line for the past five years at www.laanimalservices.com Click on Statistics to see break down by dogs, cats, rabbits and others.

Top 10 Reasons for Cat Relinquishment in July:
1. Owner felt they had too many cats.
2. Landlord/zoning problems.
3. Owner was moving.
4. No time for the cat.
5. Family member allergic to the cat.
6. Cat was sick.
7. Cat did not get along with other pets.
8. Owner evicted/homeless.
9. Owner died.
10. Cat did not get along with a new baby in the home.

Top 10 Reasons for Dog Relinquishment in July:
1. Owner moving.
2. No time for the dog.
3. Landlord/zoning problems.
4. Dog was sick.
5. Owner felt they had too many dogs.
6. Owner died.
7. Owner could not afford medical bills.
8. Dog did not get along with other pets.
9. Dog aggressive towards people.
10. Owner cannot contain dog in yard or home.

LA Animal Services’ Operation Safety Net will monitor these reasons to study seasonal trends. Strategies and partnerships are being developed to help Angelinos keep their pets whenever possible and appropriate.

The Big Fix Results: The close of Fiscal-Year 2005-206 for the Big Fix Spay and Neuter programs show a dramatic increase in sterilizations compared to the prior year. The two Mobile S/N Vans, and a greater issuance of books and Rescue Organization participation resulted in an increase of 12,255 sterilizations for the Fiscal Year. Last Fiscal Year 26,075 animals were sterilized compared to 38,300 for Fiscal-Year 2005-2006.

This is a 48% increase in spay/neuter surgeries in LA.

The Discount Coupon Program redemptions for FY 2004-2005 were 4023 while FY 2005-2006 redemptions were 4308. Fewer restrictions on the program and an increase in the monthly distribution of Discount Coupon books to participating Rescue Organizations have increased the rate of redemption for the year by 7%. While the increase may not appear to be that significant, it represents 285 more dogs and cats sterilized. An additional number of books were printed due to the demand by rescue partners.

The FELIX (Discount Coupon Feral Program) saw the largest increase of all the Big Fix Programs. FY 2004-2005 feral cat redemptions were 2699 while FY 2005-2006 redemptions were 5887. This is a 118% increase in the number of feral cats the Department and its rescue partners were able to sterilize.

The Free/Senior Citizen Certificate Program redemptions for FY 2004-2005 were 7234 while FY 2005-2006 redemptions were 6948. The Free/Senior Citizen Certificate Program was strongly impacted by the effectiveness of the Mobile Spay & Neuter Vans in Fiscal-Year 2005-2006. Many of the same City residents who now use the s/n vans would have accessed this program in the past. But, despite this offset, there was still only a 4% decrease in the number of sterilizations while the overall number for low-income and senior citizen sterilizations increased 56%.

Across the country and here in LA we are seeing there is no “silver bullet” to solve the problems associated with pet overpopulation. There is no amount of “consulting” or “criticizing” or “condemning from the sidelines” that will make a lick of difference. The only way to solve this problem is for all of us to work together, because it is only by working together that we can make LA the safest community in LA for our pets!

I want to thank all our volunteers, employees, partners and the community for stepping up to focus on helping the animals of LA Animal Services. Together we are making a difference in their lives and we will continue to do so.