How To Help Save Lives by Ed Boks

Everyday people ask me how they can help LA Animal Services achieve its No-Kill Goal. The key to achieving this goal is funding life saving programs, programs we may not be able to afford through our budget. Animal Services has many life saving programs and giving opportunities. And now, making a donation to one of our life saving programs has never been easier.

TO MAKE A DONATION all you have to do is click Here

The two main funds that LA Animal Services accepts donations through. They are:

The Animal Welfare Trust Fund
The Animal Sterilization Trust Fund

Funds may also be donated for specific programs and services and shelter operations.

LA Animal Services has developed and will continue to develop programs designed to reduce LA’s euthanasia rate as we increase our live animal placement rate through adoptions, our New Hope program, returning lost pets to their frantic owners, and by humanely reducing feral cat populations in our neighborhoods.

If you would like to help join Animal Services war on pet euthanasia, please send a tax deductible financial gift to:

LA Animal Services
221 N. Figueroa Street Suite 500
Los Angeles, CA 90012

You can designate your gift to the general Animal Welfare Fund or to any one or more of the specific programs described below:

Big Fix sponsors low/no cost spay/neutering services for pets in low-income households.

New Hope is a network of over 70 of LA’s pet rescue, support and adoption agencies in Southern California who work with LA Animal Services in the process of locating permenant loving homes for the animals Animal Services rescue.

Safety Net helps pets and their families stay together through difficult financial times or relocations.

STAR (Special Treatment And Recovery) program provides medical treatment to severely injured, abused, and neglected animals rescued by Animal Services.

TLC (Teach Love and Compassion) provides at-risk youth with the employment training in animal care. This is an intergenerational program in which our community’s elders work with our youth teach love and compassion through the care and love of animals.

Volunteer Dog Training Program trains Animal Services volunteers to improve the quality of life and adoption rate of sheltered dogs through behavior training provided by our community’s most reputable volunteer dog trainers.

FELIX (Feral Education and Love Instead of X-terminations)provides low or no cost spay/neuter service to feral cats managed by a trained feral cat colony manager trained by one of Animal Services feral cat partner organizations.

Foster Program trains volunteers to provide temporary homes for special needs animals until they are healthy enough for adoption.

If you would like your donations to be used for specific programs and services, please specify.

Please make your check or money order payable to:

Department of Animal Services
221 N. Figueroa Street, 5th floor
LA, CA 90012
Your donations are tax deductible and your generosity will be acknowledged.
Even if you cannot make a financial contribution today, there are other ways you can help. Our Animal Care Centers always need blankets, newspaper, and other items. For more details, take a look at our six Animal Care Centers to understand their specific needs. And of course we always need volunteers.
By working together, we can make LA the safest City in the United States for our pets! Thank you for your support and gifts!

When a Community Rallies for the Animals… by Ed Boks

We have often heard the adage that it takes a village to raise a child. The same advice holds true for solving our pet overpopulation and animal cruelty problems. Its going to take all of us working together to solve the animal welfare issues in Los Angeles. A few days ago the LA City Council announced their acceptance of a $200,000 donation from Best Friends Animal Society.

Clearly Best Friends Animal Society shares LA Animal Services’ commitment to helping end the killing of adoptable animals in Los Angeles. They are funding an independent, professional assessment of the scope, causes and contributors of pet overpopulation in Los Angeles. The independent assessment will be conducted by LA City Controller Laura Chick and a team of professionals.

When this assessment is complete it will be up to Animal Services to orchestrate the implementation of the solutions and recommendations made by these professionals. This assessment will be the basis of a subsequent No-Kill Strategic Plan that will organize the city’s resources – both internal and across the community- toward realistic, sustained reductions in the causes and contributors of pet overpopulation.

This is wonderful news, but it doesn’t stop here. There is a growing synergy in LA towards achieving No-Kill. Over the past several months an organization of well informed, compassionate LA residents formed a new 501c3 animal welfare charity called SALA (Shelter Animals of Los Angeles). SALA also means “living room” in Spanish and reflects the goal to help find loving homes for all of our companion animals in Los Angeles.

SALA’s purpose is to support, on an exclusive basis, LA Animal Services in a joint mission to save animals’ lives and find permanent, loving homes for the thousands of lost, homeless, abandoned, neglected and abused companion animals rescued by LA City Animal Services every year. The ultimate goal of SALA is to assist LA Animal Services achieve “no kill” in all of our city shelters.

SALA believes a functional and efficient city shelter system that receives much needed private funding will ultimately benefit everyone: from pet owners to rescue organizations and, most importantly, the animals themselves.

Through the Big Fix ProgramSALA will aggressively invest in spay/neuter with high volume clinics in all of the new Animal Care Centers, funding more mobile spay/neuter vans and offering spay/neuter/vaccine services to low income residents and asking for donations only, rather than charging a low fee that depends on proof of income. We are also partnering with Western University’s Veterinary School on including cutting edge intern and residency programs using LA Animal Care Centers as teaching schools for up and coming veterinarians.

Through the STAR Program (Special Treatment & Recovery), SALA will provide funding to help sick and injured animals rescued by LA Animal Services. Any animal treated in the STAR Program will not be euthanized.

Through Operation FELIX (Feral Education & Love Instead of X-termination) SALA will work with groups and individuals to help maintain feral cat colonies by implementing strong TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return) programs and ultimately create a comprehensive database system that will help track all feral colonies in the LA area.

SALA will establish a Safety Net Outreach Program to help all citizens of Los Angeles including our non-English speaking residents by conveying the importance of spay/neuter, as well as promote adoption and foster care. SALA will also provide outreach programs that will guide the public to resources that will help pet guardians better care for their companion animals. This outreach effort can be achieved in a variety of ways. Articles, stories, ads in newspapers and on local TV and radio, billboard messaging, educational workshops at community centers, and networking community resources to help residents responsibly keep and care for their pets are just some of the ways to get the message to the people who need to hear it most.

Volunteers are the backbone of any organization, and shoring up the LA Animal Services Volunteer Program is an important item on SALA’s agenda. Besides the important work of providing care for the animals in the shelters and at mobile adoptions, volunteers can also work as Adoption Counselors to help people find their new best friend. Volunteers can also participate in the previously mentioned outreach programs that can be conducted in community centers, churches, youth centers, etc. to teach people how to be great pet guardians.

Other projects SALA has under development include:

Shelter Dog Training Program: A partnership with trainers who will assist in socializing dogs in the shelter and prepare them for their forever home. Since behavioral issues are at the top of the excuse list for owner surrender, easy access to accredited trainers while the dogs are in the shelter, as well as help in settling them into their new home, will promote pet retention rates.

A House is Not a Home Without a Pet Program: An alliance with all rental homes, apartments, and senior citizen homes, etc., to provide incentives to encourage landlords to welcome residents with pets. SALAwill also provide mediation assistance for neighbor and landlord/renter disputes that involve pet issues, etc.

Teach Love and Compassion (TLC): To promote humane education programs in the LA school district that will ultimately become part of the regular curriculum to be taught in all our elementary and middle schools. TLC will also provide learning opportunities for “at risk” kids by teaching love and compassion for “at risk” animals in our Animal Care Centers.

Animal Services and all of LA is deeply indebted to Best Friends Animal Society, SALA, our New Hope Partners, Volunteers, Employees, and donors for their commitment, dedication and compassion for the lost and homeless pets of Los Angeles. When a community rallies together for the animals we truly demonstrate what it means to be a humane society as we commit ourselves to making LA the safest City in the United States for our pets.

Report to the Mayor: Part III by Ed Boks

This is the third and last part of my blog containing excerpts from my six month Report to the Mayor. This blog identifies some of the programs Animal Services is relying on to help ease the overcrowding of our current shelters and reduce our community’s euthanasia rate. These programs substantially depend upon our employees, volunteers, partners, donations and community support to succeed:

At the same time Department of Animal Services is opening the new Centers described in yesterday’s blog, we have also renewed our commitment to our community’s expectation to end euthanasia as a means to control pet overpopulation. Animal Services is demonstrating this commitment through the implementation of several new programs. The following programs are either fully implemented, partially implemented, or in the planning stage:

The Big Fix is the consolidation of the many and sundry programs to provide low/no cost spay/neutering services for pets in low-income households. A description of these many programs can be found on our website. Animal Services will soon have a Request for Proposals (RFP) on the street for managing and operating our six new Spay/Neuter Clinics. These clinics will provide spay/neuter surgery to Animal Services’ adopted animals and the pets of our community’s low-income pet owners and feral cat colony managers. Animal Services is also working with the Amanda Foundation to increase their aggressive mobile spay/neuter services. At the same time, we are working with the Sam Simon Foundation to immediately initiate operation of our South LA spay/neuter clinic until an RFP for these services can be awarded. This arrangement – turning over the mobile clinic operation to the Amanda Foundation and the South LA Clinic to the Sam Simon Foundation – is a win/win for the animals, the City, and our partner organizations. Animal Services experienced a 35% increase in voucher subsidized spay/neuter surgeries in Fiscal Year 06 compared to Fiscal Year 05 and a 50% increase in feral cat surgeries during this same time period. Thanks to the City commitment to Animal Services Big Fix spay/neuter programs dog and cat intakes are down 24% over the past past five years, and down another 7% in the first six months of 06. Expanding Big Fix exponentially remains one of our primary goals.

New Hope is a program designed to partner with the vast network of pet rescue, support and adoption agencies throughout Southern California and beyond in the process of locating homes for the animals that Animal Services rescues. We now have over 70 New Hope Partners and expect to double that within the next six months. This program gives New Hope Partners 24/7 access to the shelters to select animals from the New Hope Alert at no charge. This includes spay/neuter surgery, microchip, and vaccinations. It is Animal Services hope that this program will permit all our partners to maximize their limited resources in our shared mission to save lives. Each Center has one employee designated as the New Hope Coordinator. This employee is available to all New Hope Parnters by cell phone and serves as their “personal shopper”. New Hope Partners also get a daily email of all animals at risk of euthanasia that they can have at no charge. Animal Services and HLP have also made a sophisticated animal management software program available to New Hope parnters at no charge. If all partners take advantage of this offer, it would represent nearly a $500,000 gift to the rescue community.

Safety Net helps pets and their families stay together through difficult financial times or relocations by networking the entire animal LA welfare community through Animal Services Call Center. The Call Center will serve as a referal service for all animal welfare issues, including pet friendly apartments, attorneys specializing in pet law and landlord disputes, low cost boarding, behaviorists, etc.

Call Center will provide a “one-stop shop” for any and all animal questions, concerns, and problems. It will serve as the clearing-house to help Angelinos find the solutions they seek to pet, animal and wildlife related issues and problems. The development of a centralized Call Center in one location will also free six field officers who now man six separate dispatch stations, one in each Animal Care Center, to respond to problems in the field. The Call Center will also serve as the Field Operations Dispatch. This program brings much-needed efficiency to the department, allowing shelter staff to focus on the customers and animals in their Centers rather than being pulled away from these important responsibilities to answer the phone. And it frees Field Officers to serve the public and the animals out in the community. It will also dramatically reduce the waiting time the public experiences on the phone.

STAR (Special Treatment And Recovery) program provides medical treatment to severely injured, abused, and neglected animals rescued by Animal Services. This program provides treatment for animals that historically may have been euthanized because they were beyond the capacity of Animal Services to treat. This program also includes many partner veterinarians in the community. Soon Animal Services will have an x-ray machine in every Center that will seriously enhance the triage capabilities of the department in helping animals with life threatening injuries.

TLC (Teach Love and Compassion) provides at-risk youth with employment training in animal care. This program, currently in development, is designed to be intergenerational allowing our staff and community’s elderly to work with our youth to teach love and compassion through the care and love of animals. TLC will be an umbrella program dealing with many animal welfare issues, such as hoarding, the link between domestic violence and animal abuse, humane education, and much more.

Anti-Cruelty Task Force is a partnership with LAPD and the City Attorney. Together we investigate animal cruelty and abuse complaints, including dog and cock fighting, as well as cases of physical abuse and neglect. A database for tracking and reporting on these cases is being developed, and these statistics will be in each month’s General Manager Report to the Commission, which is also available to the public on our website. As could be expected with any multi-departmental effort, there are some coordination and growing pains, but we are working diligently with our partners to address them.

Volunteer Dog Training Program trains Animal Services’ employees and volunteers to improve the quality of life and adoption rate of sheltered dogs through behavior training provided by our community’s most reputable dog trainers.

Orange Dot Program is designed to identify and encourage improved behavioral response from shy dogs in a shelter environment; this program is effectively used in other shelters to help ensure dogs are provided every opportunity to be safely placed in a loving home.

My Castle, My Crate is a program using kennel crates for dogs in isolation or with behavioral problems to provide a stress free “safe house” in the kennel. Benefits include improved recovery time from illness, injury or improved behavioral manifestations caused by stress. The new shelters provide this safe space in all the kennels.

FELIX (Feral Education and Love Instead of X-terminations)provides low or no cost spay/neuter service to feral cats managed by trained feral cat colony managers trained by one of Animal Services feral cat partner organizations. Animal Services experienced a 50% increase in voucher subsidized spay/neuter feral cat surgeries to date in Fiscal Year 06 compared to the same time period in Fiscal Year 05. FELIX will play an important role in our pending Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) program, currently in development. Animal Services is partnering with almost all the local feral cat organizations, and welcomes any not now participating.

Foster Program trains volunteers to provide temporary homes for special needs animals until they are healthy enough for adoption. There are several facets to this program which includes our Bottle Baby Program to provide care for neonate orphanes. Animal Services provides training to volunteers interested in providing this life saving care. Animal Services has also started an Evidence Animal Foster Program. Historically, animals rescued from abusive or neglectful conditions were left to languish in shelter kennels for months while the legal proceedings were under way. Today, animal victims of cruelty and neglect can be fostered into loving homes until a judge decides in the matter. Overall, the Foster Program provides a safe place for animals that Animal Services historically could not properly care for or had to euthanize. This program will only be as successful as the community wants it to be because it relies on the community to provide this much needed love and care to our neonate, sick, injured, abused, and neglected animals. All the animals would have been killed in prior years. Volunteers developed a 7 minute informational CD for foster parents.

FEV Testing and Vaccination Program has been implemented as a pilot program. Designed to enable new cat owners the opportunity to determine any “at risk” factors that may affect their newly adopted cat and any cats at home upon introduction. Animal Services is also providing free dog vaccinations in all our Centers thanks to a donation received for that purpose. By making vaccinations more readily available to our community’s pets we will see less disease in our shelters.

Make-Over Program is in development phase to include outside vendor participation. At this time, Center personnel and volunteers that have grooming experience provide grooming for animals that need such attention. Best Friends volunteers continue to support grooming needs for large-scale adoption events.

Legal Issues: Animal Services is working with the City Attorney’s office and members of the public on no less than 30 legal issues, statutues, ordinances and/or programs, such as a new animal control ordinance dealing with mandatory spay/neuter; the aforementioned TNR program designed to humanely reduce the number of feral cats in LA; a possible rooster ban in LA to curtail cock fighting; allowing evidence animals to be fostered in a loving home rather than languish in our shelters; and neighborhood intervention programs that solves problems with potentially dangerous dogs before anyone is hurt or bitten, and much more.

Rabbit Brigade: rabbits have become the number 3 preferred pet in Los Angeles. Animal Services rescues hundreds of rabbits annually. All rabbits are now spayed or neutered prior to release. Animal Services partners with a number of rabbit rescue organizations and volunteers under the leadership of the nationally respected House Rabbit Society.

LAAnimalServices.org – nothing demonstrates the transformation of Animal Services more than our new website. Designed to make information easily accessible with a look that is easy on the eyes and is intuitive in function. Much more detail can be found on our website including a Blog from the General Manager, a 20 plus page monthly report from the GM, and details on all of Animal Services many programs and initiatives. Animal Services’ and the City’s websites both feature a Pet of the Day function to help improve adoptions. It is our hope other City departments will put this feature on their website. Instructions for doing so are available at www.laanimalservices.com.

Pet of the Month program initiated by Council member Herb Wesson highlights the City Council’s support of Animal Services’ efforts to increase adoptions and reduce euthanasia. Every animal featured at a City Council meeting since the practice of showcasing them at Council meetings on alternate Fridays was instituted early this year is now in a loving home! Check out our website to find instructions on how to put this feature on your website.

Lost and Found Bulleting Board: Animal Services is working with partner organizations to develop a lost and found bulletin board that will allow good Samaritan citizens to reunite lost pets with their owners without the animals ever having to suffer the trauma of a shelter experience. Keep your eyes open for that!

Match Maker: Animal Services has initiated its own Match Maker program. By going to our on-line Match Maker program found on our website, you can describe the type of pet you are looking for. Every time a pet matching your description becomes available, you will be notified by e-mail with a picture and description of the animal and its location.

Home Shopping Petwork is a high quality, 30 minute television program on Channel 35 that highlights the programs, events, employees, volunteers, and most importantly the animals of Animal Services. The program can be viewed several times per month. For a listing of the show schedule, visit http://www.lacity.org/ita/itacv1.htm

SALA – (Shelter Animals of Los Angeles) is a 501c3 Animal Services fund raising organization comprised of influential volunteers, residents and business owners wanting to help Animal Services raise funding for the life saving programs described above which are designed to facilitate achieving LA’s no-kill goal. The SALA Board is currently in formation.

Dog Licensing Program: 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 grateful owners, a rate four times higher than other large cities. Animal Services returns over 4,500 lost dogs and cats to their owners each year. 100% of the animals that Animal Services rescues with a current license go home, unfortunately, 90% of the animals we rescue come in with no identification and never go home again.

License Canvassing program: Animal Services is asking the Mayor’s Office and the City Council to reconsider funding the License Canvassing program that was deleted in this year’s budget. Conservatively, there are an estimated 700,000 pet dogs in the City of Los Angeles. Only 120,000 dogs are licensed and this number decreases each year. The program consisted of 15 Department personnel who go door-to-door and collect canine license fees.

This program was not functioning properly until February 06. Since then we immediately began to show positive results. Beginning in March 06 additional staff was recruited for the program and the number of licenses and revenue began to increase from 790 new and renewal dog licenses representing $24,373 in revenue in March to 2,498 new and renewal dog licenses representing $84,093 in revenue in June. Animal Services projects with a full contingency of fifteen canvassers we could conservatively generate $750,000 in license revenue in the first year. Because licenses must be renewed annually this revenue will continue to increase and compound per annum. This revenue would greatly supplement Animal Services budget and allow us to better provide the level of care LA residents expect.

Animal Services is deeply committed to achieving the Mayor, City Council and our community’s ultimate goal of ending institutional euthanasia as a method for controlling pet overpopulation! The above-mentioned programs combined with established initiatives and programs under the Mayor, City Council, and Commission’s leadership are already producing significant demonstrable results. 

Together we are making LA the safest city in the US for our pets! Thanks to everyone playing a constructive role in this exciting challenge!

The 17 Camels by Ed Boks

Imagine waking up every morning with saving 55,000 animals on your mind. Many of you do, I know. That is the number of animals LA Animal Services rescues every year. That’s an average of 150 lost, homeless, sick or injured animals that depend on the compassion, care and skill of LA Animal Services every day of the year.

These are daunting numbers in light of Animal Services’ goal to achieve No-Kill. No-Kill is a term to describe a goal that will be achieved when Los Angeles is using the same criteria for determining when to euthanize an animal that a loving pet guardian or veterinarian uses. We are not there yet. We still have hundreds of healthy and treatable animals dying just because we don’t have enough room in our Animal Care Centers or because we don’t have the necessary resources to provide the care they need.

Angelinos have been wonderful in their response to this crisis; both adoptions and the number of animals placed by our partners have increased every year for five years in a row causing the euthanasia rate to decline 50% during that same time frame, with nearly another 20% decrease so far this year compared to the same time frame last year! But even with these remarkable improvements, Animal Services still needs help to find homes for hundreds of lovable pets. Clearly, we will never adopt our way out of this crisis.

The best way to achieve No-Kill is through aggressive spay/neuter programs that assist our community’s needy pet owners so fewer unwanted animals are born. Animal Services is working feverishly to open eight new spay/neuter clinics over the course of the next several months. This will help tremendously. We are also partnering with several wonderful organizations that specialize in spay/neuter.

But Los Angeles is a complicated town, with many people and organizations feeling strongly they know how best to solve LA’s pet overpopulation problems. Some feel there is no solution, they feel killing unwanted animals is just a fact of urban life in today’s society.

I am convinced pet overpopulation is a problem we can solve, but it is going to take all of us working together, implementing all our ideas and strategies together. Every one of us has a piece of the solution whether we understand it or not. Let me tell you a story that explains what I mean. This is a story told to me by a very wise person many years ago, it is called, “The 17 Camels”.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a far away land, there lived a poor elderly nomad. He lived a long and happy life, but the time came when he was about to die. The poor, old man had three sons, and he wanted to distribute his belongings to them before he died. Among his possessions were 17 camels.

As his death grew close, he gathered his three sons around him to tell them what their inheritance would be.

He told his eldest son he was to get ½ of the camels.
He told his middle son he was to get 1/3 of the camels.
He told his youngest son he was to get 1/9 of the camels.

Then he died. The three sons were saddened and perplexed. They sincerely wanted to honor their father’s wishes, and they all wanted all of their inheritance. But how, they wondered, could they possibly divide 17 camels in accordance with their father’s wishes? How do you divide 17 camels in half, or by one/third, or one/ninth? It was impossible!

Then the youngest son remembered that out in the desert there lived a wise old man in a cave. He suggested they take their problem to him and let him solve it for them.

So, the next day they packed up their 17 camels and went to the cave where the wise old man lived. When they arrived, the old man welcomed them with open arms. That evening they all sat around the camp fire and the three boys told the old man their problem. How, they asked him, could they possibly honor their father’s last wish and divide the 17 camels in accordance with his direction? It was impossible!

The wise old man thought about their problem for a while, and after a long silence concluded that he could not help them. He told them they would have to solve this problem for themselves. However, the old man said he had a camel that he no longer needed and that he would be happy to give his camel to the boys if they wanted him.

The boys were happy to accept the additional camel. As they were preparing to leave the next day the eldest brother realized that now that they had 18 camels they could honor their father’s wishes.

The eldest son could now have ½ of the 18 camels = 9
The middle son could now have 1/3 of the camels = 6
And the youngest son could now have 1/9 of the camels = 2

Imagine their surprise when they divided up their inheritance and discovered that it came to 17 camels. They now had one extra camel. So they gave the wise old man his camel back which he accepted with a twinkle in his eye…

We should remember this story when we think making LA a No-Kill City is an impossible problem. It may be in that moment that you grasp the fact that you have the missing piece, the piece that will solve the problem for everyone! And in the end, you will get back all that you give!

So ask not what Animal Services can do to help the animals, ask what you can do to help Animal Services, because together we will make LA the safest City in the United States for all our pets, and even our camels…