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Blog: Animal Issues in Los Angeles

Animal Issues Will Be A Priority In My Mayoral Administration

Kevin James is a Candidate for Mayor of Los Angeles

@James4Mayor

As the proud guardian of a rescued Dachshund named Lisa-Marie, I have taken an active and vocal role supporting animals for many years.  Lisa-Marie's previous guardian dropped her off at a Bakersfield shelter with serious injuries to her head and mouth.  Therefore, she was considered a "special needs" rescue.  After a few trips to the vet, plus lots of TLC at home, she has been in excellent health for five years now.  I feel lucky that I have often been able to bring her to work with me. 

I went through the dog adoption process to obtain Lisa-Marie on-the-air on my KABC radio show.  A listener from Thousand Oaks put me in touch with the Dachshund rescue center where I adopted Lisa-Marie.  Pets have shared my home my entire life.  Lisa-Marie is a very special dog - she seems to have figured out that she's got a pretty good gig.  

My record working in the community to help animals in Los Angeles dates back many years  when I worked with the PAWS/LA program at AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).  I served on the all-volunteer board of APLA from 1995 through 2000, and was a volunteer with APLA dating back to the late 1980s.  PAWS/ LA was founded in the late 80s in response to the companion animal related crises faced by LA residents who were financially and physically debilitated by HIV/AIDS and who needed assistance in keeping and caring for their pets.  The program recognizes the value of the loving bond between people and their companion animals, and seeks to preserve that bond.  The program has now expanded its scope to assist any low-income individual living with a chronic or life-threatening illness who needs assistance with their pet.  

As my broadcast career grew in Los Angeles, I used my radio show to raise public awareness of animal issues. I assisted in the pet adoption process by featuring pets that were in need of a home.  I also hosted radio segments featuring many non-profit humane organizations working on the pet rescue, adoption and care industry in Los Angeles, including Operation Blankets of Love.  

I also used my radio show to assist volunteers seeking to raise money to pay for uniforms for the city's Reserve Animal Control Officers (RACO).  RACO officers are volunteer animal control officers that work with the city's full-time animal control officers.  Because of city budget cuts, Los Angeles shockingly only has one or two animal control officers on duty on any given night. 
 
During the 2009 Station Fire, I used my radio show to inform the equestrian community  of immediate shelter locations to protect their horses.  Also, the city must be prepared to address other critical issues facing the equestrian community (e.g., Building and Safety issues on barns and corrals).

I have already voiced my opposition to the use of bull hooks on elephants in our city, and my support of the city ordinance precluding the use of such bull hooks.
My work within Los Angeles on animal issues over the past two decades has prepared me to meet the many challenges the city's Animal Services department (LAAS) currently faces.  

There are several issues facing LAAS that I will make a priority as Mayor.
First, LAAS must implement a genuine "no-kill" plan to bring down the killing of animals in our shelters.   This is an important humane goal on which almost everyone agrees.   Reportedly the recent "No-Kill December" relied heavily on transports and was not "no-kill" at all.  We must be honest with Angelenos about the numbers.

Second, LAAS must work harder to reduce the number of homeless animals.  With fewer homeless animals, the shelter intake numbers will be reduced.   Lower shelter intake obviously results in lower LAAS costs, and less killing.  Emphasis should be placed on animals at highest risk:  Pit Bulls, Chihuahuas and cats.

Third, LAAS must increase adoptions to the public.   This saves animals' lives, and with animals leaving the shelters, LAAS costs go down.  LAAS must also develop strategies to help owners keep their companion animals.  Educating the public about the wonderful animals for adoption in LAAS shelters is a big part of increasing adoptions, as are more strategic marketing and better customer service.  Deep discount adoptions often result in returns, so public education is key in avoiding this problem.  Positions supporting New Hope Partners and volunteers should be restored.

Fourth, LAAS must restore spay/neuter as a top priority and enforce the city's ordinances.  This is a key remedy to the high number of impounds, high kill rates and high LAAS costs.  Enforcement of the city's ordinances will bring revenue which can then be used to provide greater access to more affordable more spay and neuter services.

Fifth, LAAS must work to solve the animal services challenges rather than relying so much on transports.  Transported animals are reported to the public as "live release" when in fact many of the animals are simply being moved from LAAS shelter cages to other shelter cages.  The actual outcomes of the transported animals are not known.  Transports save lives, but such heavy reliance on transports should not enable LAAS to postpone solving its own problems.

Sixth, LAAS must enforce the city's animal license law.  This is a significant revenue generator for the city.  Conservative estimates put the number of dogs in the city at 750,000, yet only one out of six is licensed.  At $20 per license, the unlicensed 625,000 dogs would bring in at least $12.5 million in revenue each year.  Having a consistent working knowledge of our dog population through licensing is also a public safety benefit, and an effective licensing program will increase spay/neuter through the license fee structure.  Furthermore, animal license fees should not be cost prohibitive.

Seventh, LAAS must enforce anti-cruelty laws which includes working with law enforcement and the offices of the City Attorney and District Attorney.  This is a serious humane issue as cruelty, hoarding, tethering, and neglect cannot be tolerated.  Many animal advocates are concerned that LAAS has no real anti-cruelty plan in place.

Eighth,  LAAS must continue to strengthen and expand its outreach and education.  Effective public outreach and education strategies will increase shelter adoptions, increase owner responsibility and owner retention, and bring in new volunteers, fosters, rescuers and community resources.  Outreach and volunteer recruitment should be open to all segments of our diverse population.  An emphasis needs to be placed on helping the public solve animal issues.

Ninth, LAAS must do a better job at accountability.  LAAS leadership should be accountable for achieving real results.  The public deserves transparency.  Better decisions are made with complete information.  There are numerous opportunities to partner with non-profit organizations, private companies and foundations that can all provide much-needed financial resources to the department.  However, to be successful in such partnerships, LAAS must operate efficiently and effectively and be responsive to the requirements of these organizations as well as to the public at large.

Tenth, LAAS must demonstrate that it respects appreciates and supports its volunteers and each of the individuals and groups working hard to help companion animals, wildlife and other animals.  LAAS cannot succeed without their dedicated life-saving assistance.

Finally, I am also concerned that our city does not have a comprehensive disaster plan for animals.  Our city's emergency preparedness plan needs to include shelters that allow animals when a family or individual is forced to seek shelter assistance because of an emergency or tragedy.  Time and time again we have seen individuals or families refuse to go to a shelter if the shelter will not allow their pets.  Pets are part of the family and our city government should recognize this fact when planning for emergencies.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lauren January 23, 2013 at 12:31 AM
YES YES YES-- A THOUSAND TIMES YES! Wow, I am so delighted that a mayoral candidate has taken such a strong stance on responsible pet ownership!! It is something that people usually overlook. This is very relevant to my life as I, too, have taken in 2 "special needs" rescue dachshunds over the past couple years.
nonoise January 23, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Pot hole King is finally out of office. Finally a candidate that cares about animals.
Laura Tompkins January 23, 2013 at 07:05 PM
Finally a mayoral candidate who recognizes that our animals are family and they are dependent on us to care for them. There are more people than ever choosing to be child free and their four legged children are just as important as other's human children. A genuine relationship with a domesticated animal is just as life changing as with a human child with one caveat - a pet parent knows that their child is most likely going to die before them. Parents of exclusively human children cannot even consider this possibility, where pet parents do and must. The lessons a pet child can teach us are based on unconditional love and mutual understanding of each others needs through non verbal communication. Our pet children make us better people, if we only listen to them.
nonoise January 24, 2013 at 04:27 PM
Kevin James will save more pets than Mayor V every did!
John Goldfarb January 24, 2013 at 04:54 PM
Here's a moral dilemma: can I vote for an anti-union Republican who is also an outspoken progressive on the issue of animal rights?
Nimby pimp January 24, 2013 at 05:14 PM
I guess that depends on how much you privilege the rights of pets over those of working men and women.
Rev M G Martinez, ULC January 24, 2013 at 05:44 PM
The problem with partisanship, is that it leaves people with the false impression, that somehow the issue of animal rights, and being "anti-union"(anti-union, or just pro-reasonable compensation?) Republican, are exclusive of each other. They are not. I am a registered Green, however I believe in fiscal responcibility. I am a Liberal, democrats primarily are part of the New Left. They abdicate the cause of We The People, in favor of the Banner Of Special Causes. Kevin James is progressive in the mode of Teddy Roosevelt. Not only will he reinstill sanity to our Budget Process, he will be the true champion of our pets, and our great outdoors. He will be a Mayor FOR ALL!
John Goldfarb January 24, 2013 at 06:41 PM
@Nimby pimp: I privilege the rights of all animals, not just pets, very highly, as I do the rights of working men and women. That's what makes it a moral dilemma. People have ways of taking care of themselves and each other that animals, whose welfare depends largely on humans, do not. While I can't identify as directly with the suffering of animals as I can with that of humans, animals suffer, too. @Rev Martinez: It is certainly possible to be anti-union and a champion of animal rights at the same time, but it's an unusual combination in a politician.
nonoise January 25, 2013 at 04:25 PM
Kevin James adopted a shelter dog! What a headline that shows a candidate that cares about animals. I have never seen a candidate that did that before and was proud of it. Good Luck, Kevin James that is running for mayor. The Lacy Street Shelter is in need of a washer and dryer and some volunteers.
derric wilson January 26, 2013 at 09:58 PM
I am strongly in favor of unions, but let's be objective. City employees have high salaries and fantastic benefits b/c of the unions. But, we need to examine ways of cost cutting. James , and others, are talking about a 10% contribution for city workers which is still well below the norm for city workers in the US. City Councilmen also need to get a pay cut and make a contribution for their benefits. Times have changed-we need leadership that will be more fiscally responsible .
ChickenBoyFan January 28, 2013 at 04:21 PM
ATTN: To Kevin James, or anyone who may know Kevin James: The Lacy Street Shelter in CD1 needs a commercial laundry system. The other shelters under the umbrella of LA Animal Services all have working commercial systems. Lacy Street has 2 older household washers, 1 Samsung newer washer, but must dry their stuff by hanging it outside,on a fencing panel. Animal urine/feces cannot be cleaned effectively in this type of operation.It's dis- heartening for the shelter workers. The city is supposed to remodel Lacy Street,but the 18-24 month project will not start till later this year. The council office has promised to help cut the red tape to install a system,but we need to find a donation of one. If you know Kevin James, or if you have a system to donate,please contact me through Dave Fonseca, the editor of the Patch.Highland Park/Mount Washington. I have much more info, and would love to share it.
Rob Tossberg January 28, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Kevin, my neighbor up the block feeds all the feral cats. Literally there are around 8-10 hanging around all the time. This neighbor refuses to spay/neuter the cats. My view is that cats (house cats excluded) decimate the bird population. I'd like to see all these feral cats rounded up and euthanized. What's your solution, Mr. James?
ChickenBoyFan January 28, 2013 at 04:44 PM
PS: Kevin James: It has been this way( no proper laundry system) at that particular shelter(Lacy Street) for years. I want them to be able to operate as a well funded city entity,in the 2nd largest city in the country, in the 21st century. Let me help you, Kevin. You have an army of animal activists to support you, although it may be like herding cats, since many of us operate free range, we will help you rock this issue.
Nimby pimp January 28, 2013 at 05:45 PM
@Rob. My sympathies. I too have such a neighbor. We appear to be suffering from a population explosion of cats and dogs in these parts, most of them poorly cared for. I too am in favor of large scale euthenasia.
Monique Bryher February 24, 2013 at 04:20 AM
It's not a matter of being anti-union. I traditionally vote Democrat but the unions are running the City into the ground. I can no longer support candidates with strong City employee-union backing when most of the City's budget goes to payroll and pensions because if elected, the problem will only get worse because they're afraid to stand up to the unions. What are they going to do if the City goes bankrupt, which is exactly where it's headed. I like Kevin James because he's not owned by anybody. The Mayor's first priority is to work for the best interests of all residents. City employees are civil servants; it is not the taxpayer who is the servant. Having a strong record of protecting animals is frosting on the cake.

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