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LA Animal Services’ Dog Posted for Adoption After 2nd Attack – Where’s GM Dana Brown?

ANIMAL WATCH-Colby Jack (shown in photo), an 8-year-old “mixed breed” dog, was surrendered by his  owner to Los Angeles Animal Services’ North Central shelter on June 18, 2021, after a dog-bite incident, and was so aggressive that the shelter veterinarian could not perform a  medical examination, according to LAAS records. 

At LAAS “mixed breed” usually indicates at least partial Pit Bull lineage, although Colby Jack’s photo shows a stronger resemblance to German Shepherd. (The owner may have provided more specific breed information that included Pit Bull.) 

He was made available for adoption although no information about the bite is contained on the impound card  (restriction to “Rescue Only” was noted after  second bite.) 

CA law requires any dog that bites and breaks the skin to be quarantined for ten days,  and the shelter to file a mandatory bite report with the LA County Public Health Department. (This was also missing in the CPRA response by LA Animal Services.) 

COLBY JACK PLACED ON DRUGS 

Colby Jack was so aggressive at his intake photo-op, the comment was entered, “Unable to photograph at this time due to behavior.”  

Another entry states, “Unable to take through medical for intake evaluation. Dog is unpredictable and not fond of restraint. Use caution!” 

On April 19, 2021, Chief Veterinarian Dr. Jeremy Prupas explained at the LAAS Commission meeting  that impounded dogs and cats exhibiting stress or anti-social behavior would be drugged with anti-anxiety medications to modify their reactions and speed up adoptions. (See  Dogs, Cats Will be Drugged in LA Animal Services “No Kill” Shelters ...) 

If the LAAS “No Kill” save rate is already over 90 percent -- why does LAAS need to drug impounded animals? Is it so that their true behavior is not evident to adopters? 

According to shelter records, it was decided by the vet that Colby Jack needed to be placed on drugs to reduce his fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS), although he was not rated on any of these factors on the kennel evaluation form.  

The tragedy of the politically correct “No Kill” policy is it claims it will find an obviously dangerous dog (which cannot be handled by shelter experts), a ‘’furrrever” home through a “rescue” or -- more likely -- isolate him to a lifetime in a cage.  

So the shelter veterinarian opted to put Colby Jack on Trazodone for seven days without an exam and do a reassessment at that time, and on June 18, a veterinary note states, that the dog was “barking” and “tries to bite when handling. Start on Trazadone 100 mg 2 tabs…for 7 days.” 

According to the records, CJ was administered Trazodone less than three hours after impounding and that dosage was continued twice daily (apparently for the safety of the shelter staff.)  

WHAT IS TRAZODONE? 

Trazodone was first developed and prescribed for humans as an anti-depressant under many brand names -- taken for “major depressive disorders, and anxiety and, with other meds, for  alcohol dependence.” 

“It’s common side effects include suicide, mania, irregular heart rate and pathologically prolonged erections,” according to Wikipedia. 

“It’s commonly prescribed to dogs (and cats) for anxiety, fear, and other anxiety-based behavioral disorders,” Rover.com explains, but, “Possible side effects include sedation, lethargy, gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting and/or diarrhea), ataxia, priapism (prolonged erections), increased anxiety, and aggression.” 

(Aren’t the last two reactions what the shelter veterinarian hoped to reverse in his behavior?) 

Let’s see how Colby Jack reacted! 

On June 25, a behavioral note by a volunteer states, “BE CAUTIOUS APPROACHING DOG FROM THE FRONT.” This was the volunteer, who was later bitten by Colby Jack. 

Here’s the rest of his warning: 

When I approached him from the front and reached toward him, body language got extremely stiff.  He backed up as though he was about to charge and barked at me. [I] Backed off and he calmed down. Used caution when returning him to the kennel for that reason.

As described above, drugging a dog with severe anti-social behavior is definitely not predictable and has rarely been a  dependable solution for an animal that, not only doesn’t like you, but has violently demonstrated that he doesn’t like others also. 

In Colby Jack’s case, it turns out he wasn’t fond of other dogs either.  

Since nobody got the message, it was not unexpected that he soon bit the volunteer who thought they were becoming buddies. (Maybe Colby Jack was off his meds that day or maybe he was tired of playing nice. From a dog’s perspective, some people just don’t get the message until you put some teeth into it!) 

DUELING VOLUNTEER STATEMENTS 

On July 3, 2021, a behavioral note by a volunteer states, “USE EXTREME CAUTION WHEN HANDLING – DOG IS UNPREDICTABLE  -- recommend handling in pairs.” 

However, on that same day, the volunteer determined to “save” Colby Jack -- and also the one CJ later bit -- entered a contrasting assessment on the same day -- which didn’t end so well: 

Was friendly and approached me in the kennel, want[ed] me to leash and walk him with no issue.” 

Brought another DOG TO THE FENCE. Colby Jack started getting worked up, we moved the other dog away.  

Another handler stepped on his leash to keep him way, he redirected on her.

Grabbed the leash and walked him out of the yard and he calmed down and allowed us to put him back [in the kennel] without issue. 

COLBY JACK HAD ENOUGH. . . 

On July 17, the same volunteer admitted, ‘DOG IS EXTREMELY AGGRESSIVE AND UNPREDICTABLE.’ 

The second bite occurred at the North Central Shelter play yard on that same day. It shows the date of occurrence as July 17, 2021, and the kennel-card entry identifies a “bite” to the left hand of a 42-year-old male volunteer. But the only treatment was “WASHED HANDS.”   

Here’s the report of the victim, who minimized the “bite.”   

Went with Marissa [LAAS Acting Volunteer Coordinator] to move dog outside. . .He was easy to leash and walked well. Decided to leave him in the yard for a moment to decompress--dog turned almost immediately and tried to bite. Made contact with gloves and latched on. Was able to get away and left dog in yard. ACT Jason came with a pole and moved him. Bite caused bruising but did not break skin. 

MORE VETERINARY NOTES 

The final note on July 18, 2021, was to “Rescue only due to behavior.” (LAAS is still trying to get this dog adopted.) 

On July 20, 2020, a veterinary note states, “. . .dog was placed back on Trazodone to reduce anxiety and hopefully make him safe to handle while in shelter. If needed to be handled, should still use extreme caution when interacting and continue to be considered a dangerous/aggressive dog even while on medication.” 

On July 21, 2020, the same volunteer (who is determined to be around a dog who has already bitten him) entered the note that the dog “jumped up and took meds gently from my hand.” 

Why was Los Angeles Animal Services allowing this (or any) volunteer to administer meds to a dog that had bitten four days earlier? And why was anyone (other than employees) allowed with this dog after the warnings of the veterinary staff? 

WHOOPS, SUPERVISOR WAS NOT ADVISED OF THE ATTACK 

Following is a shortened version of the reaction by the very experienced and competent and very concerned shelter supervisor when she was advised five days later that Colby Jack bit the volunteer. Apparently, the Acting Volunteer Coordinator who was with him did not report the incident to the supervisor and allowed him to just wash his hand and go home. (Names are omitted for privacy and it was written originally in all-caps.) 

ONCE I WAS NOTIFIED, I CALLED (VOLUNTEER) AND ORDERED HIM TO REMOVE THE BANDAGE ON HIS HAND AND HE WAS RELUCTANT AT FIRST. I TOLD HIM THAT…NOW THAT I AM INFORMED, I NEEDED TO SEE IT NOW…HE REMOVED THE WRAP AND CAME TO MY OFFICE AND I SAW 4 MARKS ALL LOOKED LIKE RED CIRCLES AND THERE WAS ONE THAT WAS NEAR THE PALM THAT WAS ALSO RED BUT QUESTIONABLE BECAUSE IT HAS LIKE A WHITE CENTER WHERE MAYBE IT COULD HAVE BEEN HEALING TISSUE.  ....DISTRICT SUPERVISOR INSTRUCTED US TO DO A BITE REPORT AND QUARANTINE THE DOG. 

The next kennel note regarding Colby Jack is on July 22, 2021, and states, “Not to be handled by Volunteers after quarantine period.” 

WHAT IS CONSIDERED A ‘DOG BITE?’[ – IMPORTANT INFORMATION 

Carlson & Jones, P.A. describe the varying dangers of a dog bite: 

Even when a bite doesn’t break the skin, there is a potential for injury. A bite could lead to crushing or tearing even if infection isn’t likely. For example, if a dog bites down on you and you are wearing a coat, your skin might not break. You could still suffer from a broken bone or torn ligament. You could also have nerve damage. A loss of sensation or inability to move a body part could indicate that a nerve has been severed or impacted by the attack.  

They advise, “. . .look at the wound. Is there swelling or discoloration? If so you could have damage to the underlying muscles, tendons or bones. Redness around punctures could indicate the beginning of infection. Pus is also a sign of infection.” 

LAAS PLAYING RUSSIAN ROULETTE WITH THE LIVES OF ITS EMPLOYEES 

Why are these employees/volunteers forced to work with Colby Jack and thousands of other dangerous animals so that Best Friends Animal Society can declare Los Angeles a “No Kill” city? (See: LA Animal Services' Employee Mauled by Pit Bull ... Who Cares?) 

It was hoped that incoming General Manager Dana Brown would indicate immediate concern about current policies which create the above dangers to employees and the public and realize that many dangerous and unpredictable dogs are being offered at discount rates to low-income families with children. 

It was hoped that she and her “management team” would decide people’s lives matter also and that their trust outweighs risking their safety for politics. 

It was hoped that her first announced emphasis would be on the safety of Department staff, the lack of resources at the shelters, and the animals who are in our care without choice.  

HERE’S GM DANA BROWN’S AUG. 9, 2021 ANNOUNCEMENT RE APPOINTMENT  

On June 24, 2021, Mayor Garcetti nominated me as the permanent General Manager of Los Angeles Animal Services. I am pleased to announce that on Friday, August 6, 2021, the Los Angeles city Council confirmed my appointment and I was duly sworn in by the City Clerk. I am humbled for this opportunity and I look forward to continuing the phenomenal work we are doing with our rescue partners. I also want to grow the partnership with the community we serve and our Community Cat Program is a great place to start…Together we will thrive.” 

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.