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LA’s Hypocrisy on World Spay Day: ‘Backyard Breeders’ Get a Pass

ANIMAL RIGHTS-It’s another LA City Council meeting with breathless declarations shining sunny sentiment on cloudy realities. This was spread on especially thick during Tuesday’s predictably dubious presentation for World Spay Day. 

Councilmembers jostled for camera time to praise puppies cuddled in towels by shelter volunteers.   But the pups’ mere existence was evidence of the city’s failed spay/neuter policy, non-existent outreach to poor communities and lackluster enforcement. 

“Please adopt a dog rather than buy one,” Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and Bob Blumenfield echoed for their colleagues to the public. The pointless birth of animals, they correctly pointed out, results in immeasurable suffering. 

But here’s the reality: 

On a small side street in Van Nuys, a filthy tire repair business was sold breeder permits by LA Animal Services for pit bulls and Chihuahuas -- the two types of animals LA kills more often than any others, except for young and newborn kittens. For just the few hundred dollars paid to the city by such backyard breeders, the Councilmembers’ sweet sentiment disappears.

Councilmember Nury Martinez has known about this and similar situations since her first days in office but has taken no known corrective action. 

So-called “legitimate” dog breeders get a break in LA, too. Two years ago this month, Councilmember Mitch Englander honored a championship beagle breeder at a City Council meeting. But LA Animal Services has refused multiple public records requests for that breeder’s complete permit history.

At Venice Beach, you can still buy pit bull puppies from either the homeless or, as was the case not too long ago, at a breeder show which, when people finally complained loudly enough, was shrugged off by LAAS as having been permitted not by itself, but by Parks & Recreation. 

Recently, new Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson commendably asked LAAS for information about, among other things, the innumerable and infamous packs of homeless dogs that roam his impoverished District 8. But his closed-door policy toward rescuers who live the problem every day, and have for many years, limits his ability to effectively deal with the problem. Limit your information, and you limit your options. 

That’s because LA, like many other governments, uses cute and vague statistics like Woof Stat and Noses-In, Noses-Out that shield the real problems and their causes.

For example, until I recently exposed it, LAAS counted as “adoptions” the moving of 8,807 shelter animals from cages in one city-owned building to cages in the city-owned building occupied for free by the wealthy Best Friends organization. The city does not track (as it does with all other rescue organizations) what happens to animals who are sent there without traceable city microchips. It doesn’t want to know -- and doesn’t want you to know either -- what ultimately became of them.

LA appears afraid to confront its humane challenges. No politician wants to be the one on whose watch long-standing and misleading claims about animal life and death issues are exposed. 

City Controller Ron Galperin is well-informed of the troubling claims, none of which were touched on in his recent “limited scope” audit, which turned out to be as pointless as the one conducted by his predecessor, Wendy Greuel. 

If LA truly wants to drive home the reality of pet population growth, they should show -- or allow others to record and show -- video of the shelters’ “bump rooms” after the latest slaughter, complete with lifeless bodies splayed on the floor. Then they should share it across social media.  

Such a graphic approach would not be unprecedented. 

In front of a packed 2013 City Council meeting, Councilmember Paul Koretz held onto an elephant torture device while playing a hideous recording of baby elephants tortured by circus handlers. The point was effectively made then, but not today because, while it seems okay to display animal abuse when it’s done by someone else, it’s not okay if it involves killing done by the city. 

And then there’s the phrase “no kill.” 

To the uninitiated, it actually means killing a substantial number of happy, healthy and highly adoptable animals. It is a righteous sounding thing promoted by well-intended people. But it is pointless unless you know what’s going on in your own shelters and streets. It devalues the meaning of killing by not counting killing as killing. 

Mayor Eric Garcetti has dangled the idea of a comprehensive external audit of LA Animal Services, but has taken no known measure to make it a reality. So far, it has been used only to discourage humane protestors from standing in front of his Hancock Park home, something that was done as recently as this weekend….which is now Garcetti’s excuse for not doing it at all. He refuses to embrace the truth.

 

(Daniel Guss, MBA, blogs on humane issues at http://ericgarcetti.blogspot.com/)