ANIMAL WATCH - An Animal Care Technician was severely injured in a vicious surprise attack by a Pit Bull which then redirected its fury to a supervisor who attempted to save her employee on October 21, 2022.
The victim’s injuries were categorized as Level 5—with Level 6 on dog-bite charts being fatal.
This is just the latest in many attacks at Los Angeles Animal Services shelters, due to former-General Manager Brenda Barnette and now, her protégé Interim-General Manager Annette Ramirez, adhering to senseless and cruel “No Kill” policies promoted by Best Friends Animal Society—and which even BFAS has admitted have failed.
The “keep-them-all-alive” mantra brings in big-money donations but ignores the warning signals which indicate the dog is unsociable or dangerous to other animals and/or humans.
This latest attack happened with no warning—as have most of the others. But the tenacity and determination to debilitate and, potentially, kill was obvious to the staff who could not get the dog to release its hold and to the two Los Angeles Police Department officers who were coincidentally at the shelter to adopt a dog and interceded to save the victim’s life.
DOES SOMEONE HAVE TO DIE?
The attack was launched at approximately 9:45 a.m. on October 21 by a tan-colored Pit Bull, named “Oxford” by the shelter staff when impounded. Oxford weighed 62 pounds and was estimated to be two years old.
He was picked up and brought to the LAAS North Central shelter—near Ave. 26 and North Figueroa—by an animal control officer on September 30 as “possibly hit by a car.”
He was listed as a “stray” and received immediate veterinary care for lacerations on the right side of his neck and near his right ear, which could have also been caused by a conflict with another dog or any number of causes. He healed well under the care of the shelter veterinary staff and was available for adoption to the general public on October 5.
He was described by the impounding officer as “very sweet and mellow upon initially picking him up.” She wrote on her report, “He allowed me to leash him and showed no signs of aggression.”
DOG SHOWED “NO CLOSE ATTACHMENT TO HUMANS”
However, according to notes by a volunteer who took him for a walk him on 10/15, “he did not show a close attachment to humans.”
The notes that day on Oxford read, “His response to being on a leash was pulling, but not too bad. In the yard the dog stayed close but was very distracted by all the smells. Really did not connect much with the dog. Didn’t touch much. Dog just wanted to take in all the smells.”
SUDDEN ATTACK – NO WARNING
Then, on 10/21/22 an Animal Care Technician (ACT) was cleaning the Obs area--where dogs are held when first impounded, but where any dog may now be kept due to the appalling overcrowding. She went to Oxford’s area to clean at approximately 9:45 a.m., Oxford viciously attacked her without warning.
The Accident/Incident Report by the supervisor who tried to stop the attack states:
“While cleaning kennel, dog chased and latched onto calf and below kneecap of victim’s left leg causing several puncture wounds. L.A.F.D. (Los Angeles Fire Department) paramedics transferred victim to USC County Hospital for treatment.”
Another report by an employee who witnessed this terrifying event, states
On October 21, on or around 9:45 am, I heard a commotion on the receiving area of the shelter. As I got near the aforementioned location, I noticed ACT C. on the floor as she was getting bitten by a dog.
According to ACT C., she was cleaning the Dog Obs area. As she went into Dobs 02, she picked up the blanket of this dog’s bed to clean up, when the dog latched onto her left leg and did not let go. She managed to get to the back side of the receiving area while the dog was still latched onto her leg. At this point all I heard was “get the dog off me.”
Supervisor W. tried to get the dog off of ACT C. but got bit. The dog continued to latch onto ACT C. There were other ACT’s who were assisting in trying to get the dog off her leg. One ACT tried to distract the dog with a mop, other with a transfer cage. The Veterinary doctor brought an ACD.
There were also some LAPD officers at the shelter at that time who wanted to adopt a dog at the time of this incident.
An L.A.P.D. officer tried to help but the situation was so tense ….The officer then pulled out his mace and sprayed the dog. It was here that I got the ACD [Animal Control Device] from Dr. A. and was able to securely move the dog away from the staff putting the dog back into a kennel.
I came back into the receiving area and at this time the police officers had placed a tourniquet on ACT’s leg to stop the flow of blood.
L.A.F.D [Los Angeles Fire Department] was called and were able to attend ACT C.
Once the paramedics took her to the hospital is when Supervisor W. noticed she had bite wounds to a couple of her fingers. She was sent to the doctor to care for her wounds.
THANKS TO THE HEROES
A huge thank you to this shelter’s Supervisor for acknowledging the employee as a “victim” in a situation where the report by Interim-GM Annette Ramirez was read at the next Commission meeting without emotion, and the Commission was assured that: everyone is fine; all the employees received emotional help [counseling]; and all were “taken care of” and eager to get back to work.
Apparently, this was not exactly the way the employees experienced it.
And thanks to the Los Angeles Police Officers who undoubtedly saved the victim’s life with their fast thinking and first-aid response.
HOW SEVERE WAS THE DOG BITE?
Los Angeles Animal Services reported that the victim ACT sustained a Level 5 (severe) dog bite.
According to the NYCACC chart, Level 5 means the incident involved two or more Level 4 bites and the injury could have resulted in death. A Level 6 attack means the victim was killed.
It is worth noting that statistically the vast majority of bites will be Level 1 or Level 2 and severity worse than this is relatively rare.
As of last week, the “victim” Animal Control Technician had reportedly not returned to work.
Our hearts also go out to this Supervisor, whose job it is—on a daily basis—to instruct her employees to work under conditions that could without notice become life-threatening or fatal.
Oxford was euthanized later on the day of the attack. However, following is the happy note that is posted in bright red on the LA Animal Services new website when you enter his Impound No. A2054094: “We couldn't find the pet you are looking for. This pet may have been adopted but there are many others waiting to meet you!”
NO REPORT OF DEBRIEFING OR COUNSELING
Once again, as in the incident where an owner cut his dog’s throat in front of the shelter because he was told he needed an appointment to surrender the dog, the employees will carry this terrifying event in their hearts and minds for the rest of their lives and it will affect their daily confidence in their work environment and, often, their ability to sleep at night.
There was no description by the IGM Annette Ramirez of bringing in or arranging for critical-incident debriefing--which is a different and specialized form of counseling--and none reported by employees, although the fear and emotional impact on them is palpable.
NO INDICATION OF BEHAVIORAL ASSESSMENT
Oxford was at the shelter well beyond the ten-day requirement for rabies observation and the legal hold period for an owner to claim him. If Oxford had been professionally assessed for behavior after that period, his aloofness with humans would have undoubtedly triggered concern, and it is likely that there might have been some warnings that he could show potentially dangerous aggression.
However, under the LAAS “No Kill” policy, would it have mattered? Would he have still been made available to be adopted into someone’s home—potentially with other pets and children?
At what point does the General Manager, Commission and the Mayor become responsible for the reckless endangerment of these employees and the public—which is asked to take dogs such as Oxford into their homes?
And during this gruesome experiment, how many more lawsuits will be settled from funding by taxpayers?
Are we just waiting for an employee or visitor death to occur in our shelters? And then what will be done?
(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a contributor to CityWatchLA and a former Los Angeles City employee.)