LA Animal Services GM Barnette Again Wants Puppies Born in Shelters to Increase Revenue

ANIMAL WATCH-Shame on LA Animal Services GM Brenda Barnette! She apparently talked to the media behind the backs of the Board of Animal Services and Councilman Paul Koretz.

With the help of panicked rescuers, she decided to try to implement her 2013 plan to allow pregnant dogs to have puppies in the shelter. 

John Welsh of Riverside County Animal Control admonished that most of the pregnant dogs that come in are Pit Bulls. So LA can expect a spike in that breed in the city! In 2013, and again in 2019, Brenda says these puppies can increase revenue to shelters and retail rescue pet shops. 

Brenda also says the revenue from the sales will pay for the food and extra items needed after puppies are born and used that as a rationale for urging the Commission to stop late-term pregnancy spays. 

Brenda omitted some important information in her January 18, 2019, report, stating that, "After a careful, detailed and heartfelt discussion, [the Commission in 2013] determined that the Department did not have the resources to add a foster program for puppies, and that, since we were still putting down dogs for space in city shelters, it was not appropriate to kill adult dogs to make space for newborn puppies." She explains that at the end of calendar year 2018, 93+% of dogs entering LA city shelters were either adopted, reunited with their families or released to New Hope or other adoption partners. 

Since hoarding in LA is widespread and many claim to be "rescuers" and get their animals from the red-list (free) at shelters, the city still has an overpopulation problem. (This issue is unaddressed by LAAS in homes unless continued complaints force response. Some residents say they are told the extra animals may be put to sleep in order to discourage additional calls.)  

GM Barnette also did not mention that Councilman Paul Koretz called a special meeting in 2013 and issued a letter (below) stating that creating more puppies was not the intent of his puppy-mill pet shop ban.  

She also didn't explain that in 2013 this proposal brought outrage from LA rescuers, after their years of work to bring pet population down and decrease euthanasia. 

FAST FORWARD - 2019 RESCUE PANIC ATTACK 

But, one of the hundreds of stray unwanted pregnant dogs dumped in the street or at the South LA shelter is being used to try to bring pressure on the Commission to pass a policy that bypasses late-term spays and sabotages the expressed desire of Councilman Paul Koretz and the intent of State law. 

The Orange County Register article, showing a poster and advising of e-mails to Barnette and, undoubtedly to the Commission, silently scream that a late-pregnancy relief for this old dog as a "Barbaric decision" and "abject horror." 

The dog is estimated to be at least seven years old, has probably had at least a litter a year and, therefore, has dental disorders (probably caused by the calcium deficiency which will increase as she nurses puppies -- again.) But Barnette was convinced to stop the scheduled surgery and let her have the puppies. 

The person who created the Facebook group does not identify her location. She probably is not in Los Angeles, and it is easy to get people to sign up for just about anything on Facebook, based on emotion. Dogs that have killed are regularly saved this way! 

Here's what she also wrote, demonstrating a lack of experience and knowledge, plus immaturity: 

People who put dogs in rings and/or cause the death or abuse their animals are charged with criminal offenses. This termination [of pregnancy] is truly criminal. Dogs grieve, just like humans do, and if you think that ripping this mother's litter from her womb is a logical choice, then please turn in your license since you should not be in operation. 

And, of course, this mother is "hoped" to get a forever home. She is small and probably will be adopted, but she is also old and having these puppies will not help her health. 

Another consequence of stopping late-term spays is that, as the number of available homes decreases due to the increase in puppies, thousands of unwanted dogs will follow her into the streets--and once again boxes of puppies will pour through the doors. Remember, most will be Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas, because other breeds are more likely to be spayed/neutered. 

In fact, the other photo in the article is a shepherd-mix (typical 'junkyard' dog--that is a real licensing category) whose many spotted puppies could easily be part-Pit Bull. Both breeds typically have litters of ten to thirteen puppies. 

RESCUE HEAVEN -- PUPPIES! 

Of course, these young rescuers -- or older rescuers who know the value even better--want to save puppies! Everybody loves puppies and, under Brenda's proposal they can 'pull' and keep them until they are eight weeks old. Volunteers may be hard to find for large litters because puppies exhaust fosters once they gain mobility and teeth (even tiny teeth). Puppies are a lot of work, a lot of expense and--unless you live in a very isolated location--can create very offending noise and odor. 

If they are in the city of LA. It won't matter because LA Planning Dept., as part of the retail-rescue zoning plan, removed most restricted zoning and kennel codes. This leaves neighbors with no right to object and no legal basis on which to base a complaint about the number of dogs. 

The plan says an exemption could allow New Hope Partners to serve as foster volunteers and keep the mother puppies and sell them without returning them to the Department. They can sell the puppies for hundreds, and even thousands of dollars each, if they are purebred or a very close mix, and the shelter will be deprived of that revenue. However, Brenda says they will assume all costs. That is not legal if the City still owns the animals. LA Animal Services will be responsible for needs and liable for any damages -- such as an overprotective Momma dog biting a curious child. 

 When the public learns the shelter guarantees a home, the breeding will increase. Many cultures in our city refuse to be pressured into interfering with their dogs' reproductive rights and others just don't want to be bothered.  

BREEDERS BECOME 'RESCUERS"  

This can also increase the breeders who are already saying they just "rescued" puppies they deliberately bred, according to a recent KFI Radio commentator's personal experience. The "rescued" feature actually adds value in that it relieves the buyer of the guilt of going to a breeder, and these "rescues" can positively identify the breed, which provides a better chance at estimating innate genetic personality, behavior and appearance traits.  

(LA City shelters no longer list breeds -- all are offered/sold as mixed-breed.) 

ONCE A BREEDER, ALWAYS A BREEDER 

Brenda loves poodles, according to WA news articles, and when she was at the Seattle Humane Society, there were media reports on her sending her staff out to pick up the puppies when a breeder was busted and caring for them herself until they could be sold. 

Brenda Barnette was not only a dog breeder in her former life (before entering the humane society/rescue world) but her daughter is a "responsible dog breeder," according to Best Friends Animal Society.  

Brenda was also the American Kennel Club legislative liaison in Seattle, which including sending out AKC advisories to all the breeders in the area, she stated. 

The first issue Brenda tried to pass when she arrived in LA was to remove the limit or increase the number of dogs each household could have. Revealing e-mails from her breeder friends appeared accidentally in the City Clerk's file when Louis Krokover became desperate and was pushing one of the deputies in Paul Koretz office about the fact that they (the breeding community) MUST get the increase.   

COUNCILMAN KORETZ TAKES A HUMANE STAND IN 2013 

In July 2013, Councilman Koretz wrote to the Board of Animal Services Commissioners: 

Dear Commissioners, 

After learning that your commission was being asked to consider changing the department’s policy regarding the spaying of late-term pregnant dogs, I felt it was important I voice my opinion. 

It’s my understanding that under current Department policy, staff is not allowed to adopt out pregnant dogs to private parties or rescues unless the animals are spayed, or unless they have a medical reason for not being able to undergo surgery. This policy is in conformance with state law. 

Changing this policy so that pregnant dogs can birth their litter without being spayed is a step in the wrong direction. Allowing pregnant dogs to give birth to their puppies, instead of spaying them, will only result in more overpopulation in LA City animal shelters. It was not my intention in authoring the City’s puppy mill ordinance for our animal shelters to fill the role of breeders in adding more puppies to our already overburdened shelters. Our priority should be on getting the puppies and dogs we currently have in our shelters adopted. I don’t believe the contemplated action fits into the moral fabric of the City’s intentions to reduce pet overpopulation, as there already is an abundance of animals in the shelters waiting to be adopted. 

In my opinion, it’s not a good idea for the department to pursue a change to this policy, which, by all accounts, has been working. Also, the current policy has been adequate in leaving the medical decisions to our staff veterinarians. If this policy change does move forward, I will do whatever I can to fight it at the Council level. 

Thank you for your consideration. Please turn down this counter-productive policy change. 

Sincerely, 

Paul Koretz

 

THE VINCENT BILL 

The Vincent Bill, passed by the State legislature in 1998, (Fd. & Ag. Code 30503) is very clear and took into consideration all factors needed to decrease the massive overpopulation and high euthanasia necessary for the safety and health of animals (sheltered or not) and humans: 

"No public animal control agency or shelter, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelter, humane society shelter, or rescue group shall sell or give away to a new owner any dog that has not been spayed or neutered."  

The intention was to decrease the number of animals capable of reproducing and ensure that there could be uniform enforcement.  

In those cases where a veterinarian is not available to perform the surgery (or a veterinarian has determined the animal is not fit for sterilization at the time of adoption), a deposit must be held by the shelter to ensure that the animal is spayed/neutered, and proof of sterilization is provided. 

The introduction to the 1998 Vincent Bill (Senator Edward Vincent) states:  

“(a) The Legislature finds and declares that overpopulation of dogs and cats in California is a problem of great public concern. The overpopulation causes public health problems, adversely affects city and county animal control departments, and results in needlessly euthanized dogs and cats. 

“(b) It is the intent of the Legislature, by enacting this act, to reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats in California. In order to reduce the number of stray dogs and cats on the streets, and the number euthanized in shelters each year, the birth rate must be reduced…The single most effective prevention of overpopulation among dogs and cats is spaying and neutering.” 

The currently proposed plan by Barnette will quickly dissolve into "exceptions" and there is NO follow-up in the LA Animal Services system on the forms for deferred sterilization. 

The State law does not allow "pregnant" dogs to be released from the shelter unaltered. There is NO need to increase dogs because, as the Commission regularly hears, the LA shelters are packed to overflowing at all times. 

There is no way for the shelter to follow up on a released pregnant dog as to how many puppies are born, and not all rescuers will be honest. Rescues can be for-profit as well as non-profit under the law. Rescuers cannot adopt out unaltered puppies because they cannot charge the required spay/neuter deposit.  

LA SERVICES' ANIMAL SHELTER CONDITION 

Although five of the six city shelters are less than 15 years old (and another is being renovated), Brenda is unaware of the conditions. She needs to visit her shelters occasionally or hire Assistant GM's with shelter experience who will tell her the concerns, rather than increasing the problem with puppies that need ultra-safe and sanitary conditions to protect them. 

Los Angeles was the national trendsetter for reducing the thousands of stray animals that combed city streets.  We should not risk going backward.  It results in far more deaths to clean up the streets by bringing in truckloads of dogs every day to be euthanized than to reduce the population in the kindest and most economical way -- spay and neuter before more are born! 

ARE 'PREGNANT SPAYS' SAFE? 

According to both private and shelter vets, late-term surgical sterilizations are safe! 

Both private and shelter vets state that it should be up to the shelter veterinarian to determine if a pregnant animal should or should not be sterilized -- not the General Manager or Commission or the public.

 

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a contributor to CityWatch and a former LA City employee. She is currently employed by the U.S. Postal Service.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.