The Untruths about LA’s Spay Day

VOICES-“Politicians and diapers must be changed frequently, and for the same reason.”  -- Mark Twain 

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council brought celebrated International Spay Day to help spread awareness of the ongoin g plight of too many animals being born into a world with tragically too few quality families for them. 

The presentation was led by City Council president Herb Wesson – a genuine mensch in both my private conversations with him about humane issues, as well as his public deeds for animals.  He truthfully spoke of the extraordinary work of Found Animals Foundation, an invaluable asset to humane efforts in the city (including my own charity’s spay/neuter work) and to communities across the country.  

But if spay/neuter is so important to the city’s leaders, why was there no press release posted about Spay/Day LA on the LA Animal Services website? Where is the city’s message about the pet population to the Spanish speaking communities, let alone those who speak Korean, Mandarin or Tagalog?  

In fact, the website’s last posted press release -- on any subject -- was June 17, 2014.   

Ironically, the city’s website does have Spanish content on how to apply for a breeder’s license for both dogs and cats. But the city refuses to provide a comprehensive list of its breeder permits despite repeated CPRA requests.  More on that in the near future.  So much for preventing animal births…  

As usual, the Councilmembers fell over themselves to say how important spay/neuter is, but falsely represented that the city’s irrelevant spay/neuter law is “mandatory.”   It is not only far from mandatory, it is poorly enforced, including the city’s sale of less expensive “altered” dog licenses for dogs that are actually “intact,” which is based on the honor system of fining people less in the hope that owners will suddenly do the right thing and have their animals fixed.  

The city has virtually no follow-up system for this risky, illogical approach to pet population control, resulting in more animals born, killed and at greater cost to the city when they wind up in our shelters.  I have raised this issue countless times with Wesson, Mayor Garcetti’s office and City Controller Ron Galperin, who has yet to examine why this is tolerated.  

In fact, the city has so many animals being born (i.e., the consequence of poorly run spay/neuter programs) that it now ships tens of thousands of them born here to other cities across the country.  Why isn’t Los Angeles preventing those animals being born in the first place instead of allowing them to be conceived, born and dumped elsewhere?  The city’s ridiculous excuse is that “those cities don’t have Chihuahuas, so we can send them ours.”  

In furtherance of this charade, the city created a misleading statistic called “live release,” in which it claims that if an animal gets out of the shelter alive, it’s a good thing.  But it is a red herring to cover up for our spay/neuter failures. 

Live release is not the only false humane statistic promoted by Los Angeles Animal Services.  More than a year ago, I exposed that the city was transferring animals from some of its shelters to another one of it shelters – the one run by Best Friends – and then touting them as “adoptions.”  

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When I brought this to the attention of David Zaft, an attorney who is the LAAS commission president, he said that the public should be told about it.  “Assuming that the reports on the website are changed to separately show the Best Friends transfers (and I agree with you that they should be, but this is a decision to be made by the Commission), I believe it would be appropriate for some explanation of the change to be given.” 

The city’s false adoption stat was almost immediately reversed after I filed a public written complaint about it with Galperin’s office.  But the public was never advised of those false claims or the reversal.  

Zaft’s email is on page 4 of my six-page letter to Galperin. While my letter says that 5,000 animals were miscategorized this way, the actual number is 8,807.    

One day, perhaps soon, Controller Galperin will shine a bright light on spay/neuter in Los Angeles to compare the things that City Hall claims about it versus reality. Right now, spay/neuter in Los Angeles is nothing more than a superficial concept that is poorly applied, and more for the benefit of the politicians than the animals themselves.    

 

(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a writer who lives in Los Angeles.)

-cw

 

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 17

Pub: Feb 27, 2015