ANIMAL WATCH-On September 9, 2016, important changes to Los Angeles Municipal Code Sec. 53.63 -- BARKING DOG NOISE were agendized for consideration by the City Council. But, with only ten council members present, it was rescheduled for September 20. 

If there is a dog in your home or in your community, or if you own or operate any business in Los Angeles, this could affect you at any time. We never know when our quality of life, and the welfare of our family, may be impacted by a new dog in our neighborhood that barks incessantly and/or seemingly without reason -- or is barking because of neglect or improper care. We also don't really know how much our own dog barks when no one is home! How do we want the impact measured by the City in the event of a dispute? 

There is another aspect of this law that can have a serious impact on business locations. Please review all the proposed changes and the existing clause that should be changed. There is still time to comment. 

BACKGROUND--In December 2011, LAMC Section 53.63 was amended by Council, as recommended by LA Animal Services, to define ‘excessive dog noise’ as “barking that is continuously audible for ten minutes or intermittently audible for 30 minutes within a three-hour period.” 

However, these parameters did not work well, according to General Manager Brenda Barnette’s letter and report on April 22, 2014. Over the next two years it became apparent that having to record exact minutes of barking over a period of time placed too onerous a burden on victims of barking dogs that unduly disturbed their lives, sleep and quality of life. She also claimed it limited the ability of the Department of Animal Services (DAS) to effectively address concerns and complaints that did not fall into these specific, limited patterns. 

Defendant dog owners at Commission appeals contended there was no way to ascertain whether such recordings were the result of intentional provocation from the complainer who may be standing on the other side of a wall with a recorder -- or from outside stimulation, such as a mail carrier making deliveries on the street. 

Also, with a timeframe as the sole determiner of violation, there was no way to address the possibility that the barking might have been due to of lack of proper care and attention by a negligent or uneducated owner. 

In April 2014, the Animal Services Commission approved the Department’s request for revision of this LAMC section to allow more discretion for hearing officers to consider factors other than strict time standards in recommending options, i.e., training, improved care and conditions, or changed housing options such as requiring that the dog(s) be kept indoors during certain hours. They expressed their belief this would also permit the Commission, upon appeal, to explore additional remedies if the initial recommendations by the General Manager/staff had not resolved the problem(s). 

Commission President David Zaft emphasized that dogs are rarely ordered to be removed from a home because of barking, since most owners -- rather than give up their pet -- will comply with conditions and restrictions to protect neighbors from excessive noise. But, occasionally, when there are obvious indicators that the owner is not acting responsibly in other aspects of caring for the animal and does not intend to make needed improvements, removal can allow the dog’s needs to be better served by rehoming it through the shelter or a rescue organization. 

The revision was approved by the PAW Committee on June 3 and adopted by Council on September 10, 2014, with the request that the City Attorney prepare the ordinance. It then disappeared for almost two years, until a new report and the ordinance were placed on the PAW agenda for August 26, 2016, (the motion expiration date) and fast-tracked to Council. 

HOW THE ORDINANCE WOULD CHANGE--The proposed definition of ‘excessive noise’, in the Ordinance to be considered on September 20, 2016, adds reasonable and pertinent factors that the Department may consider other than strict periods of time of prolonged barking: 

For purposes of this section, the term “excessive noise” shall mean noise which is unreasonably annoying, disturbing, offensive, or which unreasonably interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property of one or more persons occupying property in the community or neighborhood, within reasonable proximity to the property where the dog or dogs are kept. Factors that the Department may use to determine whether the barking is excessive may include, but are not limited to, the following: 

(i)    the nature, frequency and volume of the noise;

(ii)  the tone and repetitiveness;

(iii) the time of day or night;

(iv) the distance from the complaining or affected party or parties;

(v)  the number of neighbors affected by or complaining about the noise;

(vi) any other relevant evidence demonstrating that the barking is unduly disruptive; and

(vii) whether the dog is being provoked. 

Several letters of opposition in CF14-0681, claim this wording is too vague: 

“Eliminating a clear definition of excessive noise and replacing it with something entirely subjective and essentially unprovable will only result in more dogs being removed from their homes.” 

A letter of support from A. Bold states: 

Please approve the proposed changes to LAMC 53.63. I am a victim of nuisance barking and have had a great deal of experience with Animal Services and LAMC 53.63. 

When it comes to nuisance barking, only Animal Services can help. Not the police and not community groups. The courts will only help if there is an Animal Services Order. So it all comes down to Animal Services and LAMC 53.63. 

LAMC 53.63 currently in place is unjust because it allows only two very specific scenarios to be nuisance barking. This is completely unrealistic when it comes to any noise nuisance.

Current LAMC 53.63 is also very onerous to prove and, I allege, is therefore discriminatory. 

THE BUSINESS IMPACT: DID KORETZ OVERLOOK (OR PLAN) THIS?--In 2013, LA’s Chief Zoning Administrator Linn Wyatt issued a Zoning Administrator’s Interpretation (ZAI), exempting “pet shops” from the requirements for dog “kennels,” if they offer four or more adult shelter or rescued dogs for sale. 

The Planning Dept. said this was requested by LAAS GM Brenda Barnette to enhance Koretz’ ban on the sale of commercially bred puppies in pet stores. 

Historically, pet shops are in commercial (C-2) zones and only offer puppies under four months of age, which exude small amounts of easily disposable waste and do not bark. This ZAI presumed that "adult shelter or rescued dogs" do not bark as offensively as adult dogs in commercial boarding or training facilities -- which can operate only in proper zoning, or under a Conditional Use Permit. 

After four months of age, pups are considered adults (dogs). If more than three adult dogs are maintained on any premise in the city of LA, they are automatically regulated as kennels by LAMC Section 12.03 of the Zoning Code and prohibited unless in ‘M' (light manufacturing) zones -- and at least 500 feet from residences.

On May 27, 2015, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell ruled that the, “City of Los Angeles Zoning Administrator’s Interpretation … exceeded the Zoning Administrator’s authority and is thus an abuse of discretion.” 

Koretz has subsequently sought to have the Planning Dept. change the kennel code to allow unlimited adult rescued/shelter dogs in ANY C-2 zoned "kennel/pet shop" in any area --including those which adjoin residential communities. 

Proposed revised LAMC Sec. 53.63 – BARKING NOISE, retains the following wording

"The provisions of this section shall NOT apply to any commercial animal establishment permitted by zoning law." (Emphasis added.) 

An industry expert opined, “This means that this change in zoning would deregulate an entire aspect of the animal industry in the city, leaving affected business owners, or residents within 500 feet with no recourse for the overreaching negative impact of ‘excessive noise’ from such operations and no way to file complaints, as provided for other city residents or businesses.” 

How can the City effectively address the disruptive impact of barking dogs on the surrounding community -- whether measuring only the exact length the noise is made or weighing a multitude of factors -- while exempting every commercial animal operation?

Shouldn’t this be changed/clarified while Sec. 53.63 is being revised? Or, is it part of Koretz’ plan? 

WHAT DO YOU THINK?--Chronic or static barking that repeatedly interferes with living and sleep patterns of animals or humans is a serious health and safety threat. 

Should the City focus on the exact number of minutes or hours a dog barks as the measure of a nuisance or consider the total disruptive impact on neighbors and other stakeholders in the community? 

(Animal activist Phyllis M. Daugherty writes for CityWatch and is a contributing writer to She lives in Los Angeles.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.                                                        

ANIMAL WATCH-On May 24, Councilman Joe Buscaino introduced a motion instructing LA Animal Services to make recommendations to “further control the coyote population in the City’s residential neighborhoods.” He seemed to be commendably addressing demands of his constituents, horrified by coyotes killing beloved companion cats and dogs, alarming mothers with children, and lounging menacingly in front yards.  

However, his recent submission to the Council File makes us wonder if -- and why -- the Councilman is back-pedaling about the severity of coyote dangers in Los Angeles and possibly making a joke of it. Could the strong advocacy claims that contend coyotes were here first and just want peaceful coexistence have influenced the former LAPD officer’s bravado? This may have some 15th District voters rethinking their choice for Council in the upcoming election. 

At the August 3 meeting of the Council’s Personnel and Animal Welfare (PAW) Committee, chaired by Councilman Paul Koretz, Buscaino had the opportunity to submit credible local and national scientific research (reference to which has also been placed in the file by concerned residents) providing options for encouraging coyotes to move away from busy central locations and densely populated areas of the city and to assure education regarding rabies in the event of an attack on a human or pet -- something LA. Animal Services GM Brenda Barnette seems unwilling to do. 

Instead, Councilman Buscaino, who earns almost $200,000 a year plus other generous monetary perks, submitted a Wonkblog chart, citing its sources as: “CDC reports, CDC WONDER database, Wikipedia, Florida Museum of Natural History.” On it, cartoonish caricatures represent statistics on animal-caused human fatalities in the U.S. between 2001 and 2013 (other than by coyotes).

The assortment of “killers” includes cow faces and explains, “…cows killed about twenty people a year in the mid-2000s. That makes cows about 20 times as lethal as sharks.” 

It also shows dog faces (all resembling Pit Bulls) and says they have killed 28 people during the same period.

Is this supposed to make Angelenos feel more comfortable that coyotes have, thus far, merely eaten their pets? Is this is where the Councilman gains his wisdom for managing city challenges? 

LA Animal Services’ General Manager Brenda Barnette also demonstrated her failure to take the Councilman’s motion seriously by reporting to the Animal Services Commission on August 9 with a smile and a chuckle that Councilman Buscaino agreed other animals were more deadly than coyotes but is still worried about leaving his dog in his back yard. 

Buscaino has the opportunity and obligation to demand the public be informed on the realities of the increasing boldness and danger of coyote attacks, which are now including humans across the country, and insist that the romanticized fairy tale of living with wildlife also provides full disclosure of the health and safety aspects. 

Montebello Closes Park after Three Coyote Attacks on Humans 

Attacks on three people within eight miles of downtown Los Angeles caused Montebello officials to close down Grant Rea Park on August 9, 2016, until the errant coyote(s) could be located. Andrew Hughan, information officer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told the LA Times, “People are not food for coyotes.”  

Two victims were forced to seek treatment for possible exposure to rabies. The first attack, a teenage girl, occurred July 22. A coyote came up and bit her on the leg while she was sitting alone in the park, and then made off with her shoe, Hughan said.

The girl’s mother told CBSLA her daughter was given a rabies shot, antibiotics and will forever be scarred. “She has a claw. She has three teeth marks on the top of her foot and bottom. So he latched her,” Marie Ruvalcava explained. 

The second attack was August 6, about a block from the park. A man lying on his back working underneath a car in his driveway was bitten on the leg and threw a wrench to scare the coyote away. He had eight puncture wounds and was taken to the hospital for wound care and post-exposure rabies treatment. 

A homeless man was later attacked while searching through trash cans in the park. He sustained 19 puncture wounds on his legs, according to reports. He was also treated for rabies, although authorities did not know if the coyotes were infected.  

“The most ‘unbelievable’ case is the third one, because the man was standing and making lots of noise,” Officer Hughan told the Times, (This contradicts the widely held theory that “hazing” -- waving your arms and making noise -- is the ultimate deterrent to an approaching coyote.) 

Wildlife officers reportedly shot and killed five coyotes at the park and sent them for testing. They also will help educate the public in prevention techniques. 

Coyote Who Bit Father Protecting his Children Tests Positive for Rabies 

On August 1, 2016, a coyote that bit a father’s leg as he protected his two daughters from attack in Lincoln Borough, PA, tested positive for rabies, Allegheny County confirmed. The man has started rabies treatment. 

The victim told Pittsburgh Action News 4, "the coyote's teeth went through denim jeans, into skin." 

Coyote that Bit Person in Roswell Tests Positive for Rabies 

A rabid coyote that bit a person on July 11, 2016, has been captured in Roswell, GA, and euthanized. It tested positive for rabies, according to the North Fulton News. (The victim’s identity was protected.) 

Coyote attacks NJ man walking dog; 2nd attack in county in month 

A coyote attacked a New Jersey man walking his dog on a Norwood road and then ran away —this was the second attack in Bergen County in April 2015, according to WABC.  Officials weren’t sure if the coyote had rabies, but the victim was given rabies treatment (which consists of 3 to 5 shots.)  He and his dog are both recovering. 

Earlier in April, a coyote that tested positive for rabies attacked a 77-year-old Bergen County man and his dog in Saddle Brook. He was treated for leg injuries and given rabies post-exposure vaccine.  

His dog, a Labrador retriever named Jack, needed 30 stitches to close his wounds and was quarantined for six months because his rabies shot was not current. 

Rhode Island Woman Bitten by Coyote Proven Positive for Rabies 

A woman was treated for possible rabies exposure after she was bitten by a coyote at a Warwick apartment complex.  

Patti Elderkin told NBC 10 News on August 9, 2016, that the coyote approached her and her two Pug dogs, and bit her right leg, causing her to fall. The coyote then bit her other leg while she was on the ground. 

She said she received four shots at the ER that night, including starting the rabies series, and had to go back for more. 

Police shot and killed a coyote at the complex that tested positive for rabies and believe it is the one that bit Elderkin, but Health Department authorities said there's no 100 percent certainty. 

Another resident told NBC10  he was in his car Monday morning at the same apartment complex when a coyote approached the front of his car and bit the bumper, commenting that the coyote had no fear of him or the car. 

Jogger in San Diego Bitten by Coyote Receives Rabies Shots 

On December 1, 2015, a female jogger was bitten by a coyote in the Kensington area of San Diego. "All of a sudden, I feel something bite my leg," Janet Snook told 10News, "I look down, and you know, it's a coyote." 

She said she turned to run backwards and face the coyote, while she screamed, yelled and waved her arms, and made as much noise as possible but the coyote would stop briefly and then kept running toward her. 

Snook drove herself to an urgent care facility for wound treatment and post-exposure rabies shots. "Even if it's a mild kind of abrasion, you still can have micro tears in the skin," she said. 

The Department of Fish and Wildlife told 10News it considered the coyote a public threat and planned to remove it from the area. 

And, lest we forget, the most common victims in the news of coyote attacks are pets we love and cherish. 

Brookside killing of pet dog prompts coexistence questions.” 

A poignant Tulsa World article on August 5, 2016, about the growing presence of coyotes in central Tulsa was subtitled, “Brookside killing of pet dog prompts coexistence questions.” It describes Sean Phillips witnessing a coyote kill a small dog. 

It’s a scene not often witnessed but not unusual in cities across the United States, from New York to Los Angeles…I heard a commotion and this little dog ran into view,”  (Sean) Phillips said. “It was little, black and white, maybe a Maltese or something like that, and a full-grown coyote came up from behind and grabbed it and shook it. That killed it. It was still and it didn’t yelp anymore, and the coyote trotted off across the road to the river.” 

“[When] the animals adapt to areas closer to the center of town, questions and controversy arise about how close is too close,” Tulsa World asks. 


It is important to emphasize that attacks on humans -- until now -- have been extremely rare; however, predators, including coyotes, have not been as pervasive in urban communities. Although they have historically lived quietly on the outskirts of cities and in natural habitat areas and adjoining parklands, with occasional treks into inhabited areas, “coexistence” has not included daytime strolls down busy streets or hunting expeditions in the yards of highly populated areas. There is no question that “urban coyotes” have lost their fear of humans, but their aggressive behavior may also be attributed to illness, including rabies, experts say. 

“Human rabies encephalitis acquired from dogs and other terrestrial mammals remains 100% fatal,” writes Mary Warrell, faculty member of F-1000 Neurological Disorders. “The unvaccinated patient who recovered from rabies encephalitis in the USA was bitten by a bat. The distinct group of bat rabies viruses in the Americas have proved less pathogenic than dog viruses.” 


Rabies is an infectious disease that is caused by a virus and can enter the body at any break in the victim’s skin, usually a bite by an infected animal, or through the mucous membranes in the mouth, eyes or nose and travel to the brain. 

The rabies virus infection leads to acute viral encephalomyelitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord) and ultimately, death. 

In humans, symptoms usually develop after three to eight weeks. In some cases, symptoms have appeared as early as nine days and as long as seven years after exposure. 

If you are bitten or scratched by an unknown animal, wash the wound (or mucous membrane) immediately with soap and water and remove any clothing that may be contaminated with saliva. Contact your doctor or go to a local emergency room. Rabies can be prevented in humans with the administration of a post-exposure rabies treatment, or prophylaxis, as soon as possible following an exposure. 


A search of the LA Animal Services’ website showed only ONE mention of rabies in conjunction with getting a vaccination to license your dog. 

The Wildlife Section and “Encounters with Coyotes” brochure also does not mention dangers of rabies. In fact, after stating, “Do not attempt to pet or otherwise make physical contact with wildlife. Coyotes are wild animals and should be treated as such,” it shows a photo of an Animal Control Officer holding a young coyote against his/her chest with a bare hand! Which message is the stronger? 

The report provided to the PAW committee by LA Animal Services contains no “plan” to protect residents or their pets from coyotes. It is merely a re-hash of information that has been collected by various Wildlife Officers over the past several decades. During that span, the problems of unimpeded, rapidly increasing urban coyotes has escalated. That fact is being denied by GM Brenda Barnette. 

Her Plan does not mention the interaction of coyotes with the homeless and their citywide encampments, where food is stored in tents and disposed of at the most convenient location. It does not include education and outreach to the communities of low-income immigrants in the central city who walk with young children and small dogs in areas where the smell of freshly cooking meat by street vendors permeates the air and open trash cans overflow. 

The tired documents presented as a Coyote Management Plan -- and not seriously questioned by the PAW committee -- are merely the history and guide to how this problem has grown and how city government has enabled it. Without serious intent to diminish the sources of the problem, it is obvious the PAW committee, and now possibly Councilman Buscaino, are merely kicking the can down the road. 

NOTE: Rabies is often transmitted by other mammals, such as coyotes, being bitten by infected bats. The increase in rabid bats in Los Angeles County indicated in this chart should be considered in any study of wildlife policy for this area.                                                                     

(Animal activist Phyllis M. Daugherty writes for CityWatch and is a contributing writer to  She lives in Los Angeles.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

ANIMAL WATCH-The exploding coyote presence in Los Angeles -- and obvious lack of concern by LA Animal Services GM Brenda Barnette and other City officials -- has apparently caused some individuals to take things into their own hands. 

Two recent criminal acts may indicate that public patience is wearing thin and desperation is setting in. Is it possible that mounting anger over inaction regarding marauding coyotes is also symbolic of a seething rebellion against the greater issue of Los Angeles’ pompous, detached and inept local government, which acts without facts and worries more about the political and financial favor of advocacy groups than the safety of the electorate (and their pets)? 

The coyotes’ increasing boldness toward humans and the killing of furry or feathered family members has been treated by City Hall as just another irrelevant and ignorable quality-of-life issue until a recent motion by San Pedro Councilman Joe Buscaino instructed the Department of Animal Services to report with a plan to reduce the number of coyotes in Harbor communities -- a priority for constituents in his densely populated district. It’s also critical to uscaino’s upcoming re-election campaign -- and a wake-up call to other LA politicians. 

On July 1, the LA Times reported, “Mystery Shooter Kills Coyote in Silver Lake,” explaining that a Silver Lake resident found the dead coyote lying in front of his parked car in June and a gunshot was later determined as the cause of death. LAPD, the Animal Cruelty Task Force, plus the Department of Animal Services are all looking into the shooting. 

The Times states, “…some neighbors believed the killing was just the latest example of resident’s frustration with coyotes in Silver Lake,” which they describe as increasingly bold. 

“We’ve had them on our front lawn, 10 feet from the front of the house,” said one Silver Lake resident, lamenting that many cats have been taken and she worries about her toddler and five-week-old infant. 

Her husband added, “I love coyotes, but I love my dog more.” This expressed the attitude of most Angelenos, who enjoy living peacefully with wildlife, as long as it is reciprocal. 

In what appears to be an unrelated incident on May 24, LA Animal Services’ GM Brenda Barnette issued a media alert entitled, “WANTED injured coyote & illegal trapper,” announcing information about a coyote “whose leg was stuck in an illegal leg hold trap” in the Valley. Animal Control Officers (ACOs) responded immediately, the release stated but, “…unfortunately the coyote had disappeared.”  

On May 27, there was a second call that the trap was found, “along with one of the legs of the coyote still locked in the trap.” Barnette advised that, “ACOs are continuing patrols for both the distressed coyote and the illegal trapper.” Although the injured coyote was purported to have subsequently been seen in the North Hills area, no word of its capture followed. 

Los Angeles abhors the suffering of any domestic or wild animal. However, caustic comments on news coverage of the trapping compared LA Animal Services’ slow -- or nonexistent -- response to dog attacks or to coyotes killing pets and threatening humans, to the concern (and sudden availability of staff) for the trapped coyote.

An obsequious report by Animal Services on Wednesday, June 29, assured coyote advocates and Paul Koretz’ Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee that LAAS, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the National Park Service all agree that the coyote population has not grown, but the same coyotes are being reported by multiple people on social media. 

Interestingly, the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife has posted prominently on its website, Coyote Attacks: an Increasing Suburban Problem  (White Paper from the Hopland Research and Extension Center, University of California.) 

And, LA County Department of Public Health reports that coyote attacks on humans increased from two in 2011 to 15 in 2015, according to the Daily Breeze. Locally, a child and an adult male were bitten in Elysian Park last year in separate incidents. 

Reports from all over Los Angeles indicate alarm not just for the numbers of sightings but also because of the comfort-level evident when predators closely related to wolves are lounging on front lawns. 

A San Pedro resident told the Daily Breeze that, when he left for work before dawn in June, there were five coyotes spread across his yard. He added, “I’ve never seen anything like that in the past.” 

In January 2016, the National Park Service announced that a young female coyote, discovered with at least five pups living in the Echo Park area on September 23, 2015, was found drowned in MacArthur Park lake. 

“In the short time C-146 was tracked via a GPS collar, her travels displayed unusual behavior for a species that is territorial, the NPS report stated. “Since captured near the LA River in Northeast LA, she traveled as far south as downtown Los Angeles via the LA River, throughout Elysian Park, and into the Westlake neighborhood where she met her fate in MacArthur Park.” 

“They’re not coming from anywhere, they’re just here,” Niamh Quinn, advisor at the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, told the Daily Breeze, “They’re now established in urban communities and they’re reproducing successfully.” 

Dr. Quinn also clarified that declining food and water in the hills is NOT the reason for the coyotes’ increasingly aggressive behavior. It is the ease of raiding garbage cans in yards rather than exerting the energy to hunt and catch dinner. 

A Westlake/Echo Park unofficial coyote-watch networker advised this week that a coyote with a cat in its mouth was reported on Park View St. near Temple. A man walking a Chihuahua on Glendale Blvd. near the 101 Fwy. bridge reported that, “a coyote came out from under a car, grabbed the pup and ran up the hill with it.” And, another animal rescuer said she saw two coyotes near Hoover and Sanborn, each with a cat. 

In response to Buscaino’s motion, LA Animal Services posted a Report Back on the Coyote Management Program on June 24, recommending that Council “Receive and File.” Barnette states that the Department does not plan to trap or otherwise remove any wildlife and that “coyotes cause few problems that can’t be resolved with better coexistence training and compliance on the part of the city’s residents.”

So far, her plan has not produced a noticeably positive result. 

Buscaino advised in a prepared statement, “I will continue to gauge the situation and the public comment and respond appropriately.” At the end of the one-hour discussion, Koretz stated, “I’m not sure we’ve completely exhausted this subject. We’ll have a further hearing to see if anything can be added to the program.” Is either sincere? 

It is insulting to residents who have lived peacefully with wildlife for decades for City Hall officials to accept Brenda Barnette’s pathetic, condescending explanation that there is no increasing coyote problem -- just a social-media illusion. 

There is no problem with coyotes being predators and acting on their natural survival instinct to kill and eat the most available prey. However, that cannot continue to be pets -- beloved family members. And Angelenos cannot live under the threat that children (or even adults) may be next. 

Where is the compassion for the innocent cats and dogs who experience unfathomable terror when snatched from their owner or yard in a coyote’s jaws and suffer horrific deaths being crushed or torn apart alive by its teeth? Has even one humane organization publicly mourned them or decried their deaths? 

While there is still time, and before the coyote population becomes overwhelming, City Hall must consult with experienced experts on the most humane way to drive coyotes away from heavily populate areas and back to a natural habitat, and then implement a plan. 

If not, escalating fear and desperation may cause more law-abiding residents to take the law into their own hands to protect those they love -- and voters will not forget. 

(Animal activist Phyllis M. Daugherty writes for CityWatch and is a contributing writer to  She lives in Los Angeles.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams. 


Above graph appeared in

ANIMAL WATCH-On June 15, the Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee (PAW) of the LA City Council agendized a hearing on the May 24 motion  by San Pedro/Harbor-area Councilman Joe Buscaino, instructing LA Animal Services to report back by July 1 with recommendations “…that will further control the coyote population in the City’s residential neighborhoods.” 

Torrance, a neighboring South Bay city which shares coyotes with San Pedro, scheduled a Council meeting on June 14 on the same subject. Prior community meetings indicated that Torrance residents wanted serious steps taken to deter the city’s coyote invasion. 

Coincidentally -- or possibly to let Torrance set the benchmark -- PAW Chair Paul Koretz, cancelled the June 15 LA hearing. 

Despite emotional pleas and protests from wildlife advocates that trapping and removing urban coyotes is inhumane and will not solve the problem, on June 14 the Torrance City Council adopted an urban coyote management plan emphasizing public education, but also including “lethal removal of problem animals when the safety of residents is at risk.” 

Residents cited that coexistence without protection has resulted in the City responding to nearly 150 coyote sightings already this year, including 84 in April. 

Torrance encompasses almost 21 square miles, with an estimated 2013 population of 147,478. Its consistently low crime rate ranks it among the safest cities in LA County. 

Coyotes have killed an estimated 60 mostly domestic animals so far this year, including 37 cats, seven dogs and one tortoise, according to the Daily Breeze. 

ABC 7 News reported that wildlife advocate Matthew Duncan advised food and water bowls left outside, free roaming cats, and small unattended dogs are what draw coyotes to neighborhoods and removing these issues “will likely solve the problem.” 

It is inconvenient for Councilman Koretz, who is seeking support for re-election and has staked much of his political career on being an ‘animal-lover,’ that the Torrance Council approved lethal action -- the possibility of which is also implied in Buscaino’s motion, seconded by Koretz. 

Attorney Mark R. Steinberg, resident of the Los Feliz Oaks area for over 40 years, lost two beloved border collies to coyotes inside his fenced yard last year. He has submitted to the Council File  an adaptable, comprehensive plan for coyote management developed for The Town of Parker in cooperation with the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) and put a lot of thought and research into this issue. 

He also has made some very astute suggestions, including that a requirement for tracking and reporting coyote sightings/incidents and making updated information available to the public on the Animal Services website be incorporated into Councilman Buscaino’s motion. 

Mr. Steinberg recently told the Daily Breeze that the relationship of residents with coyotes has changed radically in the past few years. “People are being confronted (by emboldened coyotes) in the streets, there’s regular killing and maiming of pets, some of them the size of the coyotes themselves,” he said. 

A Simi Valley coyote rehabilitator also filed a letter recommending education for the public, “…alleviating any fears they had on wild animals being a danger.” 

LA Animal Services' GM Brenda Barnette admits to not keeping statistics on sightings or attacks on pets in the city and she has not issued a promised public response to distraught residents after holding community meetings last year. The Department also does not respond to coyote threats or attacks on pets or humans. (Human attacks are reported to the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife.) 

The LAAS website has an obscure Wildlife Section which states, “It is not the intention of the Department of Animal Services to remove wildlife from residential areas. Rather, the Department is hoping to rectify most problems through neighborhood education and individual homeowner attention.”

It also reassures us that, “Statistically the chances of wildlife attacks on humans causing fatality are low when compared to 43,000 people killed by auto accidents, 13,000 people killed by falls, and on the obscure side 13 people that are killed by vending machine’s [sic] falling on them every year.” 

As if Chief Charlie Beck is not busy enough preparing for potential terrorist attacks in LA, Lt. Kent Smirl of CA F&W told reporters last year that coyotes have recently entered homes chasing dogs or cats through pet doors. In an OC case, a coyote followed a woman through her front door, wrestled her dog away from her in the living room and disappeared into the neighborhood with the dog in its jaws. 

Any immediate crisis of this nature in LA would undoubtedly be called into 911, so I asked a Senior Lead Officer what training LAPD has received for such situations where humans are also endangered and what action would be taken. He responded that they had not received any training and would probably try to deter the animal with fire extinguishers.

Mange in coyotes may result in more contact with humans. 

Many reports of coyote sightings in LA include the comment that the animal is extremely thin and missing hair. 

A team of Canadian researchers found that coyotes that live in urban areas and have mange, are more likely to have an inadequate diet based on human food. They published their 2015 study, “Poor health in association with the use of anthropogenic resources in an urban carnivore,” in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

GPS collars were applied to 19 coyotes and their hair was sampled periodically. Eleven coyotes appeared to be healthy and eight were visibly infested with sarcoptic mange, a mite that causes hair loss. Diseased coyotes used more developed areas, had larger monthly home ranges, were more active during the day, and assimilated less protein than coyotes that appeared to be healthy. 

Sarcoptic mange is caused by a mite that burrows under the skin and can migrate and infect other animals (or humans). Untreated, this condition results in extensive hair loss, decreased body-weight and constant itching and scratching that causes additional self-inflicted skin wounds that become infected. As the disease progresses the skin becomes thickened and takes on a wrinkled appearance and is usually hairless and discolored. (The Canadian researchers also noted that pet owners should be aware that dogs can get mange from coyotes.) 

A thesis by Evan C. Wilson, Graduate Program in Environment and Natural Resources, Ohio State, in 2012, The Dynamics of Sarcoptic Mange in an Urban Coyote (Canis latrans) Population,  proposes that, “Disease, specifically sarcoptic mange, is a potential reason for some individuals [coyotes], to ignore their wariness of humans, and behave in a manner that makes them become a ‘nuisance’ animal.”

Could this possibly explain reports that some coyotes seem less leery of noise and are seen wandering in congested areas of LA during daytime? 

The Canadian research team speculates that human food provides a low-quality, but easily accessible food source sought by diseased coyotes. In turn, that dependency on food from human resources promotes more encounters with people. 

Councilman Buscaino is right -- it is time for Los Angeles’ officials to get serious about this exploding public safety/health issue affecting animals and humans. Coyotes in cities have evolved beyond the traditional characteristics of timidity and fear of humans for numerous reasons, and Los Angeles is woefully unenlightened and unprepared.


(Animal activist Phyllis M. Daugherty writes for CityWatch and is a contributing writer to  She lives in Los Angeles.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

ANIMAL WATCH-Hollywood celebrities, friends and animal lovers gathered on the roof-top deck of PETA’s LA headquarters in Echo Park last week to celebrate the life and loves of Prince—especially his compassion for animals. On June 7, 2016, Prince would have turned 58. 

This was an opportunity to not only learn about Prince’s involvement with PETA but also attain insight into PETA’s activities and goals for their Los Angeles office at 2154 Sunset Boulevard. 

Among those in attendance at the gala affair were Pamela Anderson and her son, Brandon Lee; Russell Simmons, the force behind the hip-hop revolution and creator of Phat Farm fashions; Belinda Carlisle, lead singer for the famous all-women’s pop band, The Go-Go's; Davey Havok, lead vocalist with rock band AFI, and other celebrities who have used their talent and fame to support and promote animal-rights. 

Mayte Garcia, Prince’s ex-wife, co-hosted the dazzling but respectful event and gave a touching speech about Prince, the private man, who spoke out passionately and candidly against animal cruelty in any form. "Prince didn’t want to celebrate birthdays, but to live life, to elevate and educate to the next level of enlightenment,” she said. 

The “Purple Rain” icon--whose life and music defied convention and boundaries--is widely quoted for proclaiming, “A strong spirit transcends rules.” He explained his aversion to celebrating his birthday to a Dutch television interviewer in 1999, "I don't celebrate birthdays. It stops me from counting days, which stops me from counting time, which allows me to still look the same as I did 10 years ago." 

He believed time was a trick and told The Guardian in 2011 that he did not age because "time is a mind construct...It's not real." 

In 2001 Prince, whose real name was Prince Nelson Rogers, became a Jehovah’s Witness, a decision he called a “transition,” rather than a conversion. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate birthdays or holidays. 

He was a member of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in St. Louis Park in Minneapolis, where he was remembered fondly, according to E! News. A source is quoted as saying, "He was kind and gentle, funny and he liked to laugh.” 

In 2006, Prince was named PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity. He explained his vegan lifestyle simply, he didn't “eat anything with parents” because “”Thou shalt not kill’ means just that!” 

When critics pressed him for justification of his concern about animals in the face of widespread human suffering, Prince responded, “Compassion is an action word with no boundaries.” 

PETA chose this occasion to re-release “Animal Kingdom,” the song he donated to serve as a musical invitation to its 20th anniversary party in 1999. 

Mayte Garcia said she is working alongside the charity to mark June 7 every year to encourage Prince’s fans to support his legacy. 

Most Angelenos don’t realize that PETA--which has a history of stirring controversy with flamboyant campaigns--has been working quietly and steadily in Los Angeles since 2005 on popular and lauded local animal-protection issues. 

Lisa Lange, Senior VP of Communications, who heads PETA’s Los Angeles branch, told me: 

When we first opened an office in L.A. in 2005, we had a little one-room space in Silver Lake in the Roger Building on Rowena. . .but we grew too big for the space after we moved our marketing, corporate, youth, and social media divisions to L.A. 

We fell in love with Echo Park and the building we're in now. Thanks to Bob Barker's generous support, we now reside in one of the coolest neighborhoods in town. We love our neighbors, the proximity of Echo Park Lake, and all the vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants. 

I asked her if we will see PETA involved at City Hall, testifying on local concerns. She responded: 

PETA has been a presence at City Hall for some time, weighing in on issues such as the wonderful bullhook ban, celebrating the City Council's decision to implement Meatless Mondays, and encouraging the City to enforce the strong spay/neuter ordinance that's been on the books (but largely ignored) since 2008.”  

Lisa said she started with PETA in 1992 as a campaigner before moving into the Communications Department and, among other progressive measures, developing PETA Latino.  

She also oversees the Animals in Film and Television Division, which has been successful in persuading filmmakers and the TV industry to stop using wild animals in productions and opt instead for computer-generated imagery and animatronics (such as in Noah, The Jungle Book, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes). 

I asked about her primary goals for PETA in Los Angeles in the near future. She responded thoughtfully: 

Locally, I am very concerned that in recent years, some groups have taken the focus off the real solution to the homeless dog and cat overpopulation crisis—which is to create a ‘no-birth’ city by actively enforcing the spay/neuter ordinance and making spay/neuter surgeries available to lower income households. 

There are groups that like to blame the shelters for the need for euthanasia, and that's simply neither fair nor useful. 

We want to see an end to the NEED for euthanasia. We want to see an end to animal homelessness and suffering. There are too many animals living on the streets—getting hit by cars, being hurt by cruel people, dying slowly of disease, never knowing where their next meal will come from, and so on. This is the cruelty that we need to bring to an end. 

Author’s note: I think Prince would agree with that!


(Animal activist Phyllis M. Daugherty writes for CityWatch and is a contributing writer to  She lives in Los Angeles.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

ANIMAL WATCH--Councilman Paul Koretz’ naive doublethink now has the City Council ensnared between powerful competing groups—coyote advocates and feral cat feeders--that may soon be fighting mad. And, Koretz and Animal Services GM Brenda Barnette are caught inextricably in the middle.  

This is just one more example of why LA Animal Services must be moved from the unilateral decision-making by Koretz, Chair of the Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee, and restored to oversight by the Public Safety Committee, where there might at least be discussions regarding potential unexpected consequences of animal-related policies.  

Koretz lacks personal expertise regarding animals and continually makes decisions based solely upon the advice or propaganda provided by affluent/influential animal-rights groups with political interests, without considering the negative impact on LA residents and--as in this case--their pets. 

On May 24, Councilman Joe Buscaino, who represents the San Pedro area, introduced a motion which Koretz seconded, instructing Animal Services to “…report on or before July 1, 2016, with a detailed plan on the Department’s Coyote Management Program…and recommendations for improvements to that Program that will further control the coyote population in the City’s residential neighborhoods, including any ordinances or City policies that will support the effort.” 

One day later, on May 25, the City Council, which is advised by Koretz on all things animal, approved $800,000 in the Mayor’s 2016-17 Budget for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on cats, with the goal of authorizing official Trap/Neuter/Release (TNR) of feral cats (re-abandoning altered cats into the streets)—under the guise it is the only way the city will reach “No Kill.” 

It is important to understand that “No Kill” pertains ONLY to shelter populations and does not count the animals that die in the streets, which provides the impetus to NOT impound strays nor address problems that might cause more animals to be brought to the shelter.  

Neither Koretz nor Barnette was transparent with the Council prior to the vote on the $800,000 cat report.  Koretz did not advise his colleagues that TNR is already legal in L.A., with sterilizations of abandoned and/or unsocialized animals well funded by private grants, large pet-supply corporations; such as PetSmart, and major humane organizations, including Best Friends. 

Barnette did not disclose that “feeders” throughout LA trap street cats, have them altered and release them constantly, providing food outdoors to large groups of feral cats in “colonies” daily with no interference by L.A. Animal Services. 

The $800,000 EIR is intended to overturn a court injunction which prohibits using City funds to perform or promote TNR, without including mitigating measures to reduce the sources of the problem.  The goal of the injunction was to reduce the decimation of birds and small wildlife necessary to maintain the environmental balance, and to reduce public health risks posed by millions of outdoor cats. 

The City could simply negotiate humane safeguards such as, a “non-roaming” ordinance to require owners to keep their cats inside or in their own yards; mandatory licensing/microchipping of cats, and the right of property owners to remove nuisance feral cats by taking them to the shelter. 

Both Koretz and Barnette have absolutely rejected any measures placing accountability for cats on owners (as we do with dogs)—opting instead to spend $800,000 of taxpayer’s money for consultants to justify the fiction that millions of outdoor, ‘wild’ cats have no negative impact on the environment. 

But Councilman Buscaino’s coyote-report motion—to which Koretz added his name—is aimed at “…prioritizing resident’s [sic] safety through deterrence of these wild animals in our neighborhoods, in addition to the Department’s efforts to educate residents about coyote behavior.”  

 This is in direct conflict with the anticipated outcome of the $800,000 EIR.  

LAAS estimates there are 3.5 million feral cats in Los Angeles.  Creating feral cat ‘colonies’ all over the city, maintained by “feeders” who dump cat food in accessible areas and provide containers with fresh water, also attracts rodents and other wildlife to the location—including coyotes.    

Experts in coyote control unanimously agree that NOT feeding pets outside and NOT leaving pet food and water bowl outdoors is fundamental to any coyote-control program.  

In fact, on June 1, L.A. Animal Services Wildlife Officer Hoang Dinh told Fox 11, "Most importantly, it’s important to keep pets inside and doors closed when there are coyotes roaming neighborhoods. Dog and cat food is a big clue to the coyotes that there is food nearby in the form of someone's pets." (He either inadvertently or intentionally omitted feral-cat feeding.)  

There is another important aspect of humans providing food to feral cats, which in turn become food for coyotes. When a feral-cat feeding station appears in a vacant lot or urban alley, appreciative coyotes quickly realize a human has set up a smorgasbord.  

 This teaches them two things:  (1) humans are not the coyotes’ enemy; and (2) the intended benefactors—the feral cats themselves—also become a food source that does not require hunting. 

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife provides an informative section on avoiding coyote conflict, including:   

  • Coyotes eat wild species, but they are known to eat pet food, garbage, garden crops, livestock, poultry, and pets (mostly cats).
  • Don’t feed feral cats  (domestic cats gone wild).Coyotes prey on these cats as well as any feed you leave out for the feral cats.
  • Humans increase the likelihood of conflicts with coyotes by deliberately or inadvertently feeding the animals, whether by handouts or by providing access to food sources such as garbage, pet food or livestock carcasses. When people provide food, coyotes quickly lose their natural fear of humans and become increasingly aggressive. They also become dependent on the easy food source people provide. Once a coyote stops hunting on its own and loses its fear of people, it becomes dangerous and may attack without warning.

Buscaino’s motion claims, “While coyotes typically pose no threat to humans, these interactions create safety concerns for parents and owners of small pets who are unsure of the coyote’s aggressiveness.”  

That’s not exactly accurate according to residents who say they have observed the aggressive nature of the “urban” coyotes in L.A. who are born and raised in or near highly populated communities and have lost their fear of humans. 

We also can't ignore the four children attacked in Orange County within three months last year, including a three-year-old inside a garage with her father present. Plus, KTLA reported two attacks in Elysian Park in 2015—one a 3-year-old girl and the other an adult male. 

UC Davis published an important GUIDE to identifying progressive problem coyote behavior, which is well worth reading in its entirety.  Here are several excerpts: 

  • Recognizing Problem Coyote Behavior

As coyote numbers increase in cities, they become accustomed to the presence of people, especially if the people do not harass them. Studies of coyote attacks on pets and on humans have revealed a predictable pattern of change in coyote behavior in these environments. This progression is accelerated when coyotes are provided abundant food, either unintentionally or intentionally, in residential areas.

When it reaches the point where pets are being attacked or coyotes are seen in neighborhoods in early morning or late afternoon, area-wide corrective actions are recommended to prevent an escalation to attacks on humans . . . (See Responding to Coyote Aggression and Attack.)

  • Sequence of increasingly aggressive coyote behaviors
  1. Increase in coyotes on streets and in yards at night 
  2. Increase in coyotes approaching adults and/or taking pets at night
  3. Coyotes on streets, and in parks and yards, in early morning/late afternoon 
  4. Coyotes chasing or taking pets in daytime 
  5. Coyotes attacking and taking pets on leash or near owners; chasing joggers, bicyclists, other adults 
  6. Coyotes seen in and around children’s play areas, school grounds, and parks in midday
  7. Coyotes acting aggressively toward adults in midday
  • Hazing and Behavior Modification.

Using sound or visual stimuli to keep coyotes away from livestock or other resources will provide only temporary effectiveness, if any. . . In the absence of any real threat, coyotes quickly adapt or habituate to sounds, flashing lights, propane cannons, scarecrows, and so on.

Will Paul Koretz and Brenda Barnette ignore the warnings of scientists and other experts?

How will Koretz (who had 19 cats as a child and has made TNR a priority) resolve the looming undeniable conflict between the vocal advocates for coyotes and TNR/feral-cat feeders without negatively impacting his current fundraising efforts or re-election?

Is seconding Councilman Buscaino’s motion a sincere attempt by Koretz to determine and implement coyote deterrence for public safety or merely lip service and a ploy to assure the status quo is not changed in regard to coyote management?                                               

(Animal activist Phyllis M. Daugherty writes for CityWatch and is a contributing writer to  She lives in Los Angeles.)

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