Fri, Aug

Garcetti Flunkies Fumble Double Piggy Rescue

@THE GUSS REPORT-Government is great at snatching failure from the jaws of success, isn’t it?

Take for example this columnist’s recent offer of assistance for two helpless, abandoned pigs currently residing in the deadly, high-kill Los Angeles Animal Services, LAAS, which was in response to its October 26 plea for help for a porcine duo named Peppa Pig (above left) and Wilbur (above right). 

A few years ago, my friends at Sherman Oaks-based START Rescue and I got another pig with a bleak future released from a desolate Yucca Valley impound, spayed and transported up to our friend Sue Parkinson of Lil’ Orphan Hammies in Solvang, California. KTLA did this story on that rescue as 245 pound “Patti” recovered from her surgery at the home of another piggy guru.  

The offer and several follow-ups to it were ignored by Brenda Barnette, and the five volunteer commissioners Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed to oversee her job performance. 

I eventually told LA City Council that there isn’t anyone else knocking on the City’s door offering help for the pigs, and that if the City didn’t move soon, the two spots I had arranged for them at LOH would be taken by other pigs facing deadly circumstances.  

Barnette, whose 2018 salary and benefits totaled $314,534.20, remained silent, as did the five Garcetti Commissioners, Larry Gross, Olivia Garcia, Alisa Finsten, Jose Sandoval and Roger Wolfson, in violation of their pledge to the City, but consistent with their absenteeism and lack of preparedness for most meetings. 

Sure enough, word came down last week that the two spaces for Peppa Pig and Wilbur went to pigs from Los Angeles County’s deadly Lancaster impound and another one from the tragic remains of the failed Wildlife Waystation. 

Oh well, at least a good faith effort to help the pigs was made by Councilmember Paul Koretz’s office for what would have been a complex rescue endeavor. 

Complex, as in rescuing pigs is a far cry from dog and cat adoptions, requiring: 

  • finding and coordinating with a veterinarian who can, and who is properly equipped, to spay or neuter a pig; 
  • arranging large, low-rise vehicles with ramps; 
  • identifying other safe, reputable sanctuaries for them to live out their lives; and 
  • handlers who know how to get pigs up and walking if they decide that isn’t in the cards right now.  

There is no shortage of people seeking assistance from the few dedicated pig rescuers who do it with stunning coordination. It only requires money and a willingness to work together, both lacking at LAAS. . .unless Garcetti’s proxies were being vindictive for this column exposing things like their falsification of adoption statistics, withholding public records, etc. 

LA City Hall wouldn’t be vindictive. . .would it? 

With that blown opportunity, Koretz’s office – and this column – finally reached the right people and got them talking to see what, if any, other options are available for the pigs.  

As soon as that happened, Sue from Lil’ Orphan Hammies, who is preparing for medical leave, said she would somehow reconfigure things to make it work if the City cut through its red tape, had the pigs neutered (or “shooting blanks” as it were) healed and safely transported to the sanctuary. 

None of this needed to play out this way, and the City’s indifference now requires it to spend additional money caring for the boys until everything is readied and rolling, assuming Koretz’s office gets this to the finish line. If it doesn’t accomplish that soon, it will be many months before LOH is next available to help. 

But it raises two questions. 

One, if it took Paul Koretz’s involvement, why is Garcetti still paying Barnette all that taxpayer salary and pension dough, which is more than Councilmembers get and almost as much as the Mayor himself gets?  

And two, whether Garcetti firing his Commissioners, i.e. making them go wee, wee, wee all the way home for good, is another too-embarrassing failure for him to acknowledge?   

By the way, have you noticed that Garcetti never unequivocally admits he failed? 

This column will let you know how things turn out, including whether the City tries to gloss-over its willful disregard for Peppa Pig’s and Wilbur’s well-being and eventually claims it as a success; a ruse it often pulls when misleading KTLA News viewers during Barnette’s appearances. 

Lil’ Orphan Hammies is a 501(c)(3) non-profit animal charity and always needs tax-deductible donations and volunteers. See its link near the top of this column.


Daniel Guss, MBA, is a member of the Los Angeles Press Club, and has contributed to CityWatchLA, KFI AM-640, iHeartMedia, 790-KABC, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Star News, Los Angeles Downtown News, and the Los Angeles Times in its Sports, Opinion, Entertainment sections and Sunday Magazine, among other publishers. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.  Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.