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Comprehensively Audit Deceptive, Inefficient Practices at L.A. Animal Services

This petition had 3,411 supporters

We demand an audit of Los Angeles Animal Services, LAAS, the animal regulation and shelter system run by the City of Los Angeles.

There is a consistent and well-documented recent history of LAAS’s deceptive and inefficient practices during the tenure of General Manager Brenda Barnette, some of which she inherited upon taking the job, and some of which she has exacerbated as GM.

In order to correct these problems, a clear, comprehensive and collaborative assessment must be done, and this can only be achieved with a comprehensive independent audit.  We also believe that an audit will exonerate against false claims, if any exist.

In 2013, City Councilmember Dennis Zine said that LAAS “should be audited from top to bottom.”  Here are some of the reasons why:

Tens of thousands of unaccounted for animals transported across the U.S.

- LAAS refuses to provide status updates and spay/neuter confirmation, which is required by California law;

- LAAS disproportionately punishes rescue partners for late updates if they criticize this program, and issues written threats to suspend if criticism is shared on social media;

- LAAS has not addressed the impact of transported animals on homeless animals who are already in these jurisdictions, and whether organizations in these destinations kill or transport to other, unknown, destinations; whether they are sold to vivisection laboratories or pet food rendering plants;

Misrepresentation of 9,000 animals as “adopted” when only transferred to cages in other city-owned shelters

- LAAS falsely represented in its “adoption” statistics more than 9,000 animals that it transferred from its shelters to a shelter that it still owns, and is currently run by Best Friends;

- Simultaneously, LAAS counted animals transferred to other local rescue partners as “transfers;”

- LAAS used these inflated adoption statistics to solicit millions of dollars in donations, grants and bequeathments;

- LAAS recently quietly lowered its false adoption statistic, but failed to explain why to the public;

Suspicious RFP process led to no competitive bidding for $19.5 million “Mission” shelter

- LAAS received only one proposal despite the GM telling City Council that she issued more than 1200 Requests For Proposals;

- LAAS GM failed to disclose to City Council and public that Best Friends, the only proposer, employs her daughter;

- City Council did not delay the vote to give Best Friends the “Mission” shelter despite many other humane organizations claiming that they never received the RFP;

- There are no fair bidding practices in place to prevent the same problem from happening when the Best Friends contract expires later this year, or when the SLA shelter goes out to bid;

- LAAS refuses to provide list of the 1200 organizations to which it sent the RFPs;

Misconduct by Best Friends / Violations of Agreement with City of LA

- Documentation proves that “fake” shelter impound numbers were requested by Best Friends from LAAS supervisors to circumvent requirement that all animals it takes in come only and exclusively from LAAS shelters;

- Best Friends is given shelter animals for free, which is not provided for in their agreement with the city, while other local rescue groups must pay for their bailed animals;

Failure to conduct timely enforcement of its various humane laws

- LAAS failed to timely investigate and effectively stop illegal dog sales ranging from a used appliance store in South LA; an auto repair business in Van Nuys; sidewalk merchants in Santee Alley; backyard breeders on Craig’s List, where rescuers dug up all of the identity/location information;

- LAAS allowed a rabbit hoarder to "place" dozens of animals after being given evidence of severe abuse of rabbits, including some with broken backs;

- LAAS fails to enforce its proper care guidelines; guard/sentry dog guidelines; spay/neuter laws; tethering laws; and licensing and dog breeding permitting;

Failure to collect millions of dollars in dog licensing/dog breeding revenue

- LAAS fails to collect tens of millions of dollars in dog licensing and dog breeder permit revenue, and uses its “lack of funds” to explain why it doesn’t pursue mass spay/neuter and have enough Animal Control Officers (ACOs) in the field;

Failure to enforce dog licensing, spay/neuter and related laws on elected officials and dog breeders

- Documentation exists to demonstrate that 26 LA officials, elected and un-elected, may not be paying their dog licensing fees to the city; documenting their dogs’ spay/neuter status; or payment of late fees as required of other residents, reminiscent of the Gold Card Desk scandal from a few years ago;

- Documentation exists to demonstrate that the LAAS GM may have given breaks to professional dog breeders on overdue dog breeding permit fees

Whereabouts unknown: status of funds set aside exclusively for Spay/Neuter Trust Fund and Reserve Animal Control Officer (RACO) programs

Documentation exists to help determine whether LAAS misallocated funds that are supposed to be used exclusively for these programs;

Lack of “outreach” spay/neuter and related humane programs in impoverished, multi-lingual communities

- The city continually fails to create programs to address pet overpopulation in multi-lingual communities where humane conditions are at their worst. 

Multiple, unfair bidding attempts to replace animal inventory software system “Chameleon”

- LAAS granted multiple, unfair opportunities to PetPointe to make presentations that were not also afforded to other vendors of animal inventory software systems

- LAAS refuses to provide CPRA documentation that would show whether the LAAS GM ever identified any specific problems with Chameleon or made any attempt to correct them with its parent company

- LAAS GM attempted to switch providers despite Commission’s unanimous vote that such decisions need to be made by an independent panel

LAAS regularly violates California Public Records Act, CPRA, guidelines

- In several instances, LAAS took as long as three years to reply to a single CPRA request, due to the negative information that documentation would expose

The Best Friends deal may cannibalize the adoption programs run in the city’s other shelters

- LAAS has not provided documentation on the impact of its Best Friends deal on the effectiveness of humane programs in the city’s other shelters

- LAAS is apparently unaware of the true cost of its Best Friends deal, including free utilities, free property tax, free security, free maintenance, no adoption fees and a free $19.5 million shelter

LAAS GM says she "lost" thousands of files pertaining to cruelty and illegal pet sales investigations

- After years of delaying CPRA responses, how can members of the public have better access to LAAS's records than its own GM claims to have "lost?"

And so on, and so forth…

History shows that the city’s kneejerk response to inquiries is to evade, avoid, marginalize and deny the existence of those problems, when clarity, openness and an all-cards-on-the-table approach is the best way to find out what is being done poorly; what or who is the cause of those problems; who prevents/roadblocks efforts to expose and fix the problems; and how to fix them for the betterment of everyone from city employees and taxpayers to rescue partners and the animals themselves.

Our last point is that this must be a COMPREHENSIVE audit because the previous Controller, Wendy Greuel, did one that politically danced around the critical issues, thus accomplishing nothing...other than political expediency.

Thank you for considering this petition, and our collective demand for a comprehensive audit of LA Animal Services. 

We look forward to your reply.

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