(Sept. 2, 2006) -- A highly visible rift has appeared among LB's animal advocacy community following LB City Animal Control's seizure of nearly 300 animals from "Noah's Ark," a non-government animal rescue group.
On August 23, LBPD officers noticed a strong odor allegedly coming from the "Noah's Ark" facility in the 1300 block of Redondo Ave. Animal Control officers responded, concluded animals were living in seriously unsatisfactory conditions and police arrested Alexiea Kyrklund (founder and now self-described volunteer at Noah's Ark) on charges alleging animal cruelty...which Ms. Kyrklund and Noah's Ark supporters strongly deny.
Noah's Ark retained counsel and obtained a temporary restraining order forbidding LB Animal Control from euthanizing any of the seized animals until a Sept. 8 court hearing. Meanwhile, LB Animal Control is assembling evidence seized on the property for presentation to the L.A. County District Attorney after Labor Day.
On Sept. 1, LB Animal Control invited media to attend as professional groomers donated their services to groom some of the Noah's Ark dogs, including those with heavily matted hair.
On Saturday September 2, with LB and L.A.-market media present (CBS2/KCAL9, NBC4), about forty Noah's Ark supporters assembled with signs and a portable audio amplifier (repeating "Save Noah's Ark!") outside the Animal Control/Nature Center's Spring St. entrance. The signs urged drivers to honk in support...and a number of drivers did.
Among the signs: "Long Beach Animal Control Kills. Noah's Ark Saves."
Another: "We Love Noah's Ark."
When we arrived at about 11:45 a.m., we spotted a few counter-demonstrators carrying signs supporting LB Animal Control...but they'd departed by the time we parked at the interior Animal Control parking lot and trudged down the long driveway back to Spring St.
The high-visibility controversy has prompted Friends of Long Beach Animals (FoLBA) to place a statement on the matter near the top of its website (www.folba.org).
"Friends of Long Beach Animals supports the recent action taken by Long Beach Animal Control and the Long Beach Police Department with regard to the recent removal of all the animals from a facility on Redondo Avenue," the statement says in pertinent part.
LB Animal Control takes in stray animals as well as those dumped by their owners as no longer convenient. With few exceptions, animals not retrieved by their owners are ultimately killed (euthanized) if Animal Control deems them a risk to the public or otherwise unfit for consideration in adoption, or if SPCA-LA doesn't select them for adoption at their adjoining facility.
So isn't this really about the City of LB not having a no-kill policy? Ms. Kyrklund (present at the Sept. 2 demonstration) replied, "Oh yes! We were all under the impression as a rescue community that with the arrival of the SPCA we were going to work towards a no-kill policy. Five years later, we're still killing..." She added, "If there was no-kill in Long Beach, Noah's Ark wouldn't have to be here."
After a bruising battle, the City of Los Angeles hired Ed Boks to head its Dept. of Animal Services. His L.A. city webpage blog says he was "executive director of both Maricopa County and New York City Animal Care & Control...[and] established the first municipal no-kill shelter in the United States while in AZ. Ed was recruited by [NYC] Mayor Bloomberg to replicate his programs in New York City in 2003. While there, pet adoptions increased 125% and euthanasia decreased 30%. Ed established strategic no-kill plans in both communities and now plans to do the same in Los Angeles..."
Later in the day, we telephoned Friends of LB Animals president Shirley Vaughan. Some years ago, that group changed its name from "Friends of the LB Animal Shelter" to "Friends of LB Animals" to emphasize first loyalty to animals...although it maintains good relations with LB Animal Control staff and has spoken highly of LB Animal Control's new management under chief Wesley Moore.
We asked Ms. Vaughan about a "no kill" shelter policy. We heard a long sigh on the phone...and after some reflection she replied, "It is a sad reality that as long as municipal shelters have to accept animals from the public, the animals outnumber the adopters. That's what we're dealing with."
And for the record: City of LB policy on a kill vs. no-kill shelter isn't decided by Animal Control; it's ultimately decided by the City of LB's policy setting body: the City Council.