The Signal Tribune newspaper

Filed under Carousel, Community

Ruff reception

‘No kill’ advocates vocalize concerns during LB Animal Care Services workshop

A+resident+and+advocate+of+a+%E2%80%9Cno+kill%E2%80%9D+shelter+in+Long+Beach+%28center%29+speaks+during+a+Long+Beach+Animal+Care+Services+strategic-plan+community+workshop+March+3+as+two+of+the+City%E2%80%99s+hired+consultants+listen.+
Back to Article
Back to Article

Ruff reception

A resident and advocate of a “no kill” shelter in Long Beach (center) speaks during a Long Beach Animal Care Services strategic-plan community workshop March 3 as two of the City’s hired consultants listen.

A resident and advocate of a “no kill” shelter in Long Beach (center) speaks during a Long Beach Animal Care Services strategic-plan community workshop March 3 as two of the City’s hired consultants listen.

Photos by Anita W. Harris | Signal Tribune

A resident and advocate of a “no kill” shelter in Long Beach (center) speaks during a Long Beach Animal Care Services strategic-plan community workshop March 3 as two of the City’s hired consultants listen.

Photos by Anita W. Harris | Signal Tribune

Photos by Anita W. Harris | Signal Tribune

A resident and advocate of a “no kill” shelter in Long Beach (center) speaks during a Long Beach Animal Care Services strategic-plan community workshop March 3 as two of the City’s hired consultants listen.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






As a first step in developing its new strategic plan, Long Beach Animal Care Services (LBACS) conducted a public workshop– which became contentious– on Sunday, March 3, at the El Dorado West Community Center.

“A strategic plan for Long Beach Animal Care Services will be an important blueprint to continue our work of saving more animal lives and implementing important reforms,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. 

Attended by over 100 residents, many holding signs reading “no kill,” the workshop began with Gerardo Mouet, director of the Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine Department, giving an overview of the strategic-planning process and the mayor’s animal-care visioning taskforce, which he said has had four meetings so far.

“At the end of the seven-month process, there [will be] a document that has a mission statement and goals and objectives, based not only on the taskforce as a key stakeholder– and the mayor and council– but the public,” he said. “This is a public session to listen.”

Advocates displayed a banner during a Long Beach Animal Care Services strategic-plan community workshop March 3 designed to promote pet adoptions at the City’s shelter as a way to reduce euthanasia.

Jyothi Robinson, Laura Maloney and Betsy McFarland– representatives from JVR Shelter Strategies and Adisa, consulting firms specializing in animal care hired by the City to implement the plan– then introduced themselves and the process, saying that the meeting’s purpose was to solicit community input, not answer questions.

Staycee Dains, the new LBACS manager as of January, said she appreciated the large turnout and thanked residents for attending and providing input.

“Animal-care services in any city cannot succeed without the support of its citizens,” she said.
Despite a recent two-part audit indicating management problems, LBACS said in a statement that it has continued a 10-year trend of increasingly positive results for shelter animals, citing a 13-percent decrease in the number of impounds and about a seven-percent reduction in euthanasia between 2017 and 2018.

David Dykstra, an animal advocate for 17 years, publicly commented that he counted Mouet and the consultants using the words “strategic plan” 47 times, calling it a “show of force.”

“Make sure you know where those numbers are coming from,” he warned workshop attendees.

Two hours of heated commentary by residents followed, each with three-minute speaking slots. Most expressed the interests of No Kill Long Beach (formerly Stayin’ Alive Long Beach), an advocacy group demanding that LBACS enhance programs– such as promoting adoptions and spaying/neutering– that minimize the euthanasia of animals at its shelter.

“LBACS needs to make the No. 1 priority of the shelter to be adoptions,” the first resident speaker said, drawing loud audience response and sign-waving, as did most other comments. “Adoptions save lives.”

A woman named Bonnie brought her 11-year-old black dog, Zoe– wearing a kerchief– to show that the dog was quite adoptable despite being deemed unadoptable by LBACS because it had been returned by two other owners.

Ashley Summers, a resident and member of an international organization to save animals, deplored the unnecessary killing of potential pets at the shelter.

“I would think that we would do everything we could […] before sticking a needle into the arm of someone who doesn’t want to die,” she said. “Something as simple as putting up a sign or having better customer service– encouraging adoptions rather than giving people the run-around.”

Many residents further called for a separation between LBACS and spcaLA (the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles)– which has partnered with LBACS since 1991– saying that the dual entrances to their shelter facilities are confusing and that spcaLA discourages adopting pets from the LBACS side, leading to the deaths of those animals.

A few residents stated they have been told by spcaLA staff that they couldn’t adopt from the LBACS side of the shelter and that they resent how spcaLA operates businesses on its side.

“We have to either cut our relationship with them or they need to play by the same rules as the City with regard to transparency, disclosing outcomes and letting people take pictures,” one resident said.

During a Long Beach Animal Care Services strategic-plan community workshop March 3, an animal advocate named Bonnie spoke about her 11-year-old dog, Zoe, which she adopted from Long Beach’s shelter, despite being told that the dog was “unadoptable.”

“spcaLA– get out of Long Beach,” another resident implored.

Many residents also expressed frustration and betrayal about the lack of transparency and response from the mayor and city council, among them Candice Lawrence, a high-school English teacher and animal advocate.

“I do not understand why this city has been so effing recalcitrant to ‘no kill’ for so long,” she said. “We’ve had protests, we’ve had petitions, we’ve been to city council […] and nobody seems to pay us the slightest bit of attention, including our mayor, who promised when we helped get him elected that he would look very seriously into ‘no kill.’”

This prompted questions from the audience of “Where is he?”

Lawrence also asked the three consultants a “yes or no” question about whether they had experience leading shelters to practice less euthanasia, though the consultants had made it clear at the beginning of the workshop that they couldn’t respond.

“Obviously it’s ‘no,’” Lawrence concluded. “Glad you earned your $50,000 [fee].”

Tom Kelch, a lawyer and professor, asked Mouet how much money is actually being paid to the consultants to develop the strategic plan, which prompted a few in the audience to ask, “How much?” and say, “It’s our money.”

Mouet said he could only respond after the meeting, since neither he nor the consultants could answer questions during this part of the strategic-planning process.

“Instead of wasting money on this process,” Kelch said, “[implementing ‘no kill’] is what ought to be being done.”

Christine O’Malley, a resident and supporter of No Kill Long Beach, said that the mayor has deliberately excluded the organization’s presence.

“Mayor Garcia has kept ‘no kill’ voices silent in the restructuring of LBACS,” she said. “He has excluded ‘no kill’ voices on the task force […]. He has hidden the [Facebook] comments of Long Beach residents who’ve asked him– respectfully– about having a ‘no kill’ shelter […]. He has not addressed in any way the fact that the City has allowed spcaLA to call the shots at LBACS, even though that was raised as a concern in the audits.”

Only a couple of residents expressed support for the efforts of both LBACS and spcaLA, and one, Maryann James, listed positive economic benefits if the City were to embrace a “no kill” animal shelter, including increased business, tourism, grant eligibility and adoption revenue.

At the close of the workshop, when residents pressed about next steps, the consultants said they didn’t know because they had to process the input and meet with the task force.

“We’re all here to demand the city go to ‘no kill’ as fast as possible,” one resident summarized. “Nothing else is really going to be acceptable.”

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • Ruff reception

    Carousel

    ‘Good morning, gays’: City reopens Harvey Milk Promenade Park

  • Ruff reception

    Carousel

    Medicine and machinery meet

  • Ruff reception

    animals

    Smitten for a kitten?

  • Ruff reception

    Carousel

    SH City Council selects nine to serve new commission terms

  • Ruff reception

    Carousel

    The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Long Beach Landmark Theatre

  • Ruff reception

    Carousel

    Slideshow: Grand re-opening of Harvey Milk Promenade Park features induction of three community leaders onto Equality Plaza Honor Wall

  • Ruff reception

    Carousel

    Candidates for state Senator position debate immigration, housing

  • Ruff reception

    Carousel

    Honoring furry companions– living and beyond

  • Ruff reception

    Carousel

    CSULB students vote ‘sharks’ as new mascot of college

  • Ruff reception

    Carousel

    Taking the plunge

Navigate Right
Serving Bixby Knolls, California Heights, Los Cerritos, Wrigley and Signal Hill
Ruff reception