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Sun, Apr

Petition Calls for Removal of LA Animal Services GM Amid Euthanasia Controversy

ANIMAL WATCH

ANIMAL WATCH - On March 4, 2024, CityWatchLA reported on an e-mail sent out by Los Angeles Animal Services Adoption Coordinator, Jake Miller, warning of the pending euthanasia of 800 dogs within the next four weeks due to inhumane overcrowding of shelters and lack of adoptions, and urging volunteers and rescuers to take more animals and the public to come to the shelters for a pet. 

 (See: LA Animal Services 'No Kill' Plan Falls Short: GM Staycee Dains Announces Euthanasia for 800 Animals 

However, in an e-mail to volunteers, staff and rescuers later that same night, General Manager Dains wrote that, “The allegation is simply not true,“ and she assured that the City of Los Angeles will not euthanize any healthy animals at its shelters. She also called the email by the Adoption Coordinator, "shocking" and "100% incorrect."

 L.A. City Councilman Kevin de Leon Also Denies Euthanasia Plan by LAAS


L.A. City Councilmember Kevin de Leon appeared on ABC7 news  to assure the public, "Unless your pet, your loved one, is severely ill and is in a lot of pain and discomfort, then there's no reason why we should be euthanizing hundreds of animals." 

But there was this admission, “Overcrowding, however, is a real issue for local shelters.” 

"I would hope that regardless of where you live in the city of L.A., if you want a loving pet please go to your local city of L.A. shelter," de León added.

The report included the plea by LAAS general manager Staycee Dains, “calling on animal lovers in the city to foster, adopt, volunteer and help rescue the animals.”

THE “EUTHANASIA PLAN” ANNOUNCEMENT

On March 1, 2024, Jake Miller, LAAS Adoption Coordinator, sent out an e-mail to “All Volunteers”  (quoted in its entirety here) defining the problem of shelter overcrowding and the plan for incremental euthanasia of 800 dogs over a four-week period, based upon the condition (physical and behavioral) of the dogs impounded at the City’s six overcrowded animal shelters. According to a reliable source, this was purported to have been reviewed by Assistant General Manager Annette Ramirez in the absence of GM Staycee Dains.


The bottom line of this very detailed and thorough e-mail by Jake Miller, a 22-year veteran employee, is that “Our shelters are and have been over-capacity for many months and through no lack of trying are not receiving the care they should be as a result, due to several factors ranging from staffing shortages, a finite number of kennels, barriers to public access to spay/neuter and an economy that makes it difficult for people to keep their pets.”

 

GM STAYCEE DAINS’ RESPONSE 

 

GM DISPUTES  E-MAIL BY VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR AS “INAPPROPRIATELY AND IRRESPONSIBLY SENT” and “100% INCORRECT” 

Later that same day (March 1, 2024) at 8:16 p.m., LAAS GM Staycee Dains sent out a two-page e-mail to LAAS Volunteers, throwing the LAAS Volunteer Coordinator under the bus. It is quoted in part below: 

“Hello, LAAS Volunteers,”

“Today you may have received an email that was inappropriately and irresponsibly sent, causing misconceptions and stirring conspiracy theories that I want to dispel immediately.”  

GM Dains attempts to separate herself completely by stating, “The email was 100% incorrect in any implication that LAAS has plans to euthanize a large number of dogs in a set period of weeks.  The e-mail was shocking to me, as I’m sure it was to you.  It has caused unnecessary fear, anxiety and stress in our community, and I regret the distress this may have caused.” 

It is glaring that she publicly chastise--but does not promise to discipline--the knowledgeable and articulate 22-year veteran of the department, Jake Miller, for a gross violation of issuing a false and damaging statement as a member of City management, nor does she indicate that corrective measures will be taken to assure he does not repeat this same alleged misconduct, which she later refers to as a “conspiracy theory.” 

The absence of proposed disciplinary action makes this entire scenario appear to possibly be just a ploy to stimulate volunteers, rescuers and residents of Los Angeles to panic and “pull” or adopt more animals from the shelters.  If that was the intent, it was not persuasive and resulted, sadly, in exactly the opposite response, which is shown below in their petition. 

MORE OF GM DAINS’ PLEA: 

Here are a few more highlights from GM Dains’ two-page e-mail to volunteers and rescuers (italicized merely to emphasize quoted material.):

 I’m reaching out to you this evening to correct the swirling rumor mill before the weekend:

  • First, L AAS will not euthanize healthy and friendly animals, ever.
  • Second, LAAS will always ask for help for animals who are less than healthy but who are treatable and can be assisted to find a permanent home.
  • Third, as I mentioned above, the morning’s mail was 100% incorrect in any implication that LAAS has any plans to euthanize a large number of dogs in a set period of weeks.  This is not, nor will it ever be, the plan for LA Animal Services.

LAAS currently houses more dogs than the shelters were built for, which for years has resulted in a heavy strain on the animals, staff and you—our valued volunteers.  As you know better than anyone, this is an unacceptable situation to be in and we must continue taking urgent action. 

Since I took office in July 2023, we have succeeded in bringing LAAS overpopulation down by 50%, even as we have taken in an average of 115 animals per day. Our department has worked to be transparent about the challenge that we are still 800 dogs over capacity, which inhibited us from properly caring for all of the animals in our shelters.  Again, any implications by anyone that we have plans to rapidly euthanize a large number of dogs in a set period of weeks has never been considered in any forum.  This conspiracy theory is false. (Emph. added.) 

WAS THE “100% FALSE” ANNOUNCEMENT PANIC OR A PLOY? 

She added: Both the department and I personally are committed to finding homes not only for the number of dogs that come into our shelters on a regular basis, but also to find placement for dogs already in our care In the shortest number of weeks possible.  Achieving this goal will mean better outcomes for all of the lives In our care, and better experiences for adopters, staff and volunteers. Reaching this goal will require all of us working together to place even more animals than ever, and to find the loving homes that these dogs deserve.” 

“I hope this email has clarified any misunderstandings caused earlier today.” 

VOLUNTEERS RESPOND:  “STOP STAYCEE DAINS: CALL FOR MAYOR BASS TO IMMEDIATELY TERMINATE LAAS GENERAL MANAGER” 

It appears that the volunteers did not take the bait that it is their responsibility to solve the Department’s issues; and, rather than uniting volunteers and rescuers, Ms. Dains explanation has alienated them to the point where on March 4, 2024, the following petition appeared on Change.org

VOLLUNTEERS AND SUPPORTERS POST PETITION 

(Note: This is not an endorsement nor promotion by the author or CityWatchLA  to terminate Los Angeles Animal Services GM Staycee Dains.  The petition is presented in its entirety to provide information and an indication of how serious this situation has become to the volunteers who have posted it and all those who have signed it.) 

https://www.change.org/p/stop-staycee-dains-call-for-mayor-bass-to-immediately-terminate-laas-general-manager

 

 

Started

March 4, 2024

Petition to

Mayor of Los Angeles Karen Bass and 16 others

Why this petition matters

Started by Stop Staycee Dains

We, the animal welfare volunteer and rescue community of the City of Los Angeles will suspend all support for Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS) on FRIDAY, MARCH 15TH, 2024.

Pending the immediate termination of General Manager, Staycee Dains, we will not volunteer, foster, or perform rescue operations for the City's six animal shelters. 

This is not a decision entered into lightly. 

Not a single one of us wants to abandon the animals in our City's shelters. Our community is left with no choice, as Staycee Dains has silenced our voice. We are left to weigh which is ultimately worse for the animals: 

a walk-out by the shelter's support system at a time of true crisis

OR 

subjecting the animals, staff, volunteers, and rescue community to the continued rudderless leadership, defined by knee-jerk reactions, dishonesty, hostility, and all-around unprofessionalism?

Since taking office in July 2023, Staycee Dains has proven herself, daily, to be unqualified to hold the position of General Manager of the Nation's largest municipal animal services department.

Her actions on and since  Friday evening, March 1st cannot go unanswered. 

Jake Miller is a dedicated shelter employee of twenty years who follows orders. That is what Jake was doing when he "took one for the team" and sent the email he did on the morning of March 1st that set the animal welfare community on fire.

Jake sent an email outlining, in great detail, a new LAAS policy to mass euthanize dogs; the email was sent to the volunteer program he oversees from his department email account. 

Jake Miller would never take sending an email about mass euthanasia lightly. He would never write an email going into great detail about new, official shelter policy unless he was directed to do so. If you know Jake, you know this to be true.

This extremely unpopular email went viral and made its way to the press. General Manager Staycee Dain’s plan to mass euthanize dogs resulted in an across-the-board response that was deafening!

What Staycee Dains did next defines who she is as a leader and for this poor decision and the many, many, poor decisions she has made since taking on the role of GM, among them: refusing the intake of cats over 8 weeks, Dains has earned a vote of no confidence from the Los Angeles Animal Welfare community!

Friday evening, March  1st, GM Dains took to email and stated the email Jake Miller sent to shelter volunteers earlier that day shocked her, was irresponsibly and inappropriately sent, and contained false information; she went so far as to refer to the information contained in the email as conspiracy theory. Dains has doubled down and allowed the media to report that not only was the information inaccurate, that it was sent by a volunteer.

GM Dains proves once again that she lacks the leadership skills and business acumen required of a General Manager of a City Department.

Staycee Dain's word is meaningless, nothing she says is to be believed.

Staycee Dains has no support inside, or outside of Animal Services. Morale has never been lower.  Dains has demonstrated that she is incapable of delivering LA Animals Services out of the current crisis.

It is for all of these reasons that we will not resume our support roles with Los Angeles Animal Services until Staycee Dains is removed as General Manager, before more harm comes to the department.

A nationwide search for her permanent replacement must be agreed to by Mayor Bass. An interim GM must be put in place while the search is conducted. 

To the LAAS staff, we wish to extend our appreciation for all you do, and offer our condolences for abandoning you at this time of need. It is our sincerest wish that Mayor Bass takes swift action so that we may return to assist you and the animals in your care however we can!


SIGN THE PETITION & LEARN MORE AT: STOPSTAYCEEDAINS.COM

We call upon our community to unite and exercise our collective power. We urge everyone to sign and share our petition, contribute not just in social media networking but in the field; let's raise our voices to stop Staycee Dains - Let’s come together to save shelter animals on scale that is deeply impactful - this IS the moment.  

 

“NO-KILL” SHELTERS ARE A MYTH, BUT A PET IS A LIFETIME COMMITMENT 

An animal shelter is not an option to fall back on when you don’t want a pet. Its purpose is short-term housing for animals that are lost or escape from a yard/home, not to collect and permanently house unwanted animals. Becoming a permanent depository under Best Friends’ Animal Society’s “No Kill” edict has resulted in untenable conditions in animal shelters nationwide. 

It must be addressed by increased shelter staffing and volunteer programs, but also by additional field officers to assure strict control of backyard breeding through (1) enforcement of Los Angeles’ mandatory spay/neuter law for dogs and cats; (2) reinstating LA’s prior three-dog limit per residential property and the requirement for a kennel permit in proper zoning to keep more dogs; (3) not finalizing breeder’s permits for those without a business license/tax permit, and (4) by having the City’s finance agency enforce taxation on sales of animals by private parties (who advertise freely on-line) in the same way that is required of any at-home business and for garage sales. 

Efforts are made by shelters to re-home adoptable pets that absolutely cannot be kept, but we must face the fact that even any healthy animal that enters a shelter may be euthanized due to injury sustained from another animal, contagious diseases, if the animal’s behavior poses a threat to or attacks humans or other animals, or if the facility runs out of space. 

Every pet owner can become part of the solution by shelters stressing to them the seriousness of the decision to get a pet. They should not be used as a free “unconditional love” commodity or to advertise commercial businesses or sports teams that donate to the shelter or local politicians; and there must be an emphasis on acceptance by ALL pet owners that your new best friend is also your “forever” commitment and responsibility.

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former Los Angeles City employee, an animal activist and a contributor to CityWatch.)