Los Angeles Animal Services is in total chaos. In March this year employees submitted a letter of no confidence to the Mayor. Animal Services is a department and a department head is appointed and answers only to the Mayor, not the City Council. This letter was basically ignored by the Mayor. But the City Council has now taken note and special meetings this week brought all of this to light.
LAAS is run by Ed Boks. Boks had claimed on his resume that he brought Maricopa County, AZ to no kill and was on the way to no kill in New York City. He was hailed as the savior of LAAS by the majority of the humane community. The only ones who knew the truth about him was oddly enough, the ADL-LA.
For the first year it appeared that all was well with LAAS. The numbers given out by Boks were showing considerable improvement and that LA was on the road to no kill. The ADL-LA was still insisting that all was not the way it appeared and continued to hound the City into hiring Nathan Winograd. Then the end of the year numbers were submitted and the story changed.
There are many blogs that have all the sordid details of this fiasco in LA, I won’t repeat. What I want to do is compare Ed Boks, a proclaimed “guru of no kill” and Nathan Winograd, another proclaimed “guru of no kill”. The similarities are there and they are disturbing.
Boks and Winograd, both, suffer from over inflated egos, neither will allow themselves to accept any responsibility when it comes to mistakes and failures. The documented demise of Boks makes this very clear. Winograd only takes credit if it is good, never if it is bad. Look at Philly, he first proclaimed it a success, now he yells the loudest that it is a failure. And his reasons for it failing were things he did not take into account when he did his consultation. The aging facility should have been enough to determine that going “No Kill” was not a good idea at that time. It would appear from Winograd’s accusations why Philly failed that certain things must be in place before one can achieve success. He is real big on yelling commitment. He determines commitment in financial terms, throw enough money around and it will happen. Sorry, Whino, that hasn’t proven quite true. Rancho Cucamonga, CA was definitely committed if that is the standard. They pay to the tune of $12+ per person per year for their commitment and still can’t make it work.
Boks and Winograd, both, fail to identify resources that might make their plan work. Winograd in Rancho, failed to identify any “North Shore League” that could take one third of Rancho’s animals like they did for him in Tompkins County. Rancho itself has little to nothing in the way of “rescue” groups, they would have to come from other areas. Boks is claiming a tremendous increase in “rescue” groups under his “New Hope” program but yet the number of animals these groups have taken out have fallen and continues to fall.
If you do read the blogs about Boks, you note that Boks is in denial about everything. And same with Winograd. He is in denial about his true animal control experience or rather lack of it. I have yet to hear the Whino admit anything is wrong or needs changing with his program. He offers no disclaimer that certain criteria must be met before his program has a chance of working. He sells his program to those totally unprepared to carry through on it nor do they have the means to carry through. The only one I know of that had the ways and means was the Rancho Cucamonga shelter.
Rancho has a beautiful shelter in a prime location. Most places would give all to have such a shelter. The City of Rancho owned the building but contracted with the County of San Bernardino for field services and shelter staff. The “No Kill” program was installed and within three months, the shelter was overcrowded with crates and carriers in the hallways. They had an outbreak of ringworm and failed to notify the public who may have been exposed. And did the people respond, you bet they did. Public surrenders increased from 50-100 a year average to over 4000 a year. Owner surrenders increased as well but many of the public surrenders were actually owners who wanted to avoid the staff’s hard looks, lectures, and surrender fees.
The surrenders were so bad that the director announced in two newspaper articles that they were not no kill. Staff has left in record numbers blaming poor management. Volunteer hours were reported on the city web site as only 10 hours average a day. It is plain to see that staff was overwhelmed and became burned out. Rancho has an average of 400 animals a day when the shelter was designed for about 100-150. Rancho taxpayers now pay $12 per person per year for animal control. Considering that most are paying under $3 per person per year, this says how committed Rancho is and was to go “No Kill”. But it didn’t happen, couldn’t happen.
Boks has also enjoyed the support of the City of LA as far as funding goes. They have opened new shelters during his tenure. Vets have been hired. Yet LA can’t make it work either. The argument is that the management is incapable.
Winograd always relies on that argument to explain away his failures too. The fact is that the program itself is flawed and no one is capable of pulling it off. Rancho proves that all the money in the world, being in an affluent community, and commitment doesn’t make it work in an open door shelter.
Boks claimed to have made two other cities/counties as no kill. Winograd has claimed to succeeded at making some no kill. The truth is coming out and this isn’t quite true. Winograd lays claim to making Tompkins County SPCA a no kill when actually they were trying to achieve this prior to Winograd and were close. Winograd always uses San Francisco as an example. First, SF doesn’t handle that many animals to being with. But there are several shelters that service the whole of SF and one needs to look at these shelters before calling SF a true no kill city. That leaves Nevada and Charlottesville. Both are non profits and don’t share info with the public. Rumors abound about both of these shelters.
So the similarities are there. The claims of successes which are questionable at best. The egos that won’t admit failures. Both are masters at manipulation of the media. Both are masters of giving people what they want to hear. Both make no kill look doable and good on paper. Both claim to be the only way to achieve no kill.
Personally I am not looking for the second coming of Christ as being in our shelter system.