August 21, 2007 Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced on the steps of City Hall that Los Angeles Animal Services was the number one and largest pet adoption agency in the nation. That's wonderful news except for the fact that it's completely untrue. LA Animal Services isn't even the largest or best in the immediate area. LA County Animal Control takes in more animals and adopts out more animals. Other shelters save more animals and euthanasia fewer than the City.
Marcia Mayeda who runs the much larger LA County Animal Control got wind of his press release and sent this to the media.
"Yesterday, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced that the City of Los Angeles’ Department of Animal Services is the largest animal adoption agency in the United States.This claim is inaccurate. The County of Los Angeles’ Department of Animal Care places more animals each year than the City of Los Angeles.
The City of Los Angeles placed 25,279 animals last year, compared to 28,309 animals placed by the County. In the 2005-06 fiscal year, the City placed 24,515 animals compared to 27,670 for the County. In the year prior to that, the City placed 24,190 animals and the County placed 28,203."
The Mayor made a few other "inaccurate" statements. He stated "for the first time in LA history, LA's animal shelters have saved and adopted out more animals than euthanized." This again is not true. LA City has saved more animals than it's euthanized since 2004, two years before the Mayor appointed the new General Manager Ed Boks and a year before Villaraigosa himself was elected Mayor. Does anyone in his office bother to check their facts?
The Mayor's press release went on to say “LA Animal Services has consistently reduced euthanasia over the past five years in the double digits." They have "cut the euthansia rate in half since 2002." Again, not true. The euthanasia rate did not go down at all during Boks' first year on the job in 2006. Very recently it's gone down a small percentage due to number manipulations. Boks is putting more animals in each cage so he doesn't have to euthanize them. Twice as many animals are dying from disease and fights caused by this overcrowding. He also is refusing to take in some animals. The current small reduction in euthanasia is equal to the increase in animals dying from overcrowding and the reduction in intake. There has been no double digit decrease ever. The records clearly show the euthanasia rate has not been cut in half since 2002.
Next the Mayor said that they reunited 16% of cats and dogs with their owners. Try 9%. The year before that it was also 9%, before that it was 10%. Fewer animals and a lower percentage are being reunited and the City is lying then bragging about it?
The Mayor's staff contacted ABC reporter John Gregory to cover this "historic" event, and that's when the story gets even wilder. Gregory reported that "L.A.'s Animal Services Department received a very special honor on Tuesday. The department's animal adoption agency won top national honors." The only thing is that the Department didn't win an award of any kind from anyone for anything. The Mayor merely framed a certificate of appreciation and showed it at the press conference. In effect he called a press conference to give a certificate of appreciation to himself. Many reporters have said that our Mayor has a big ego but this indeed does take the cake.
Reporter Gregory had one last thing to add, "City shelters have a no kill policy, but that doesn't mean animals are not euthanized." The shelter does not have a nokill policy which is exactly why they are euthanizing them by the thousands per year. The City has since blamed the mistakes in ABC's reporting on the reporter.
99% of what the Mayor said in his press release and at the press conference was untrue. I only tried to verify this one press release. It makes you wonder how many other press releases for other Departments are completely untrue. It also makes you wonder why the Mayor is supporting and promoting a General Manager who most likely provided him with the untrue information. Ed Boks has made the Mayor look a fool.
Ann Angeleno AnnAngeleno@yahoo.com