|(April 17, 2019, 7:35 a.m.) -- LB Councilmembers and Mayor Garcia praised, and voices among LB's animal advocacy community gave initial support to policies city management described as "Compassion Saves" that avoid using the term "no kill" but recite its basic goals. The April 16, 3:30 p.m. City Council special meeting, labeled a "study session," was agendized simply to "receive and file a presentation on the City’s Animal Care Services."
A city management Power Point presentation described "Compassion Saves" as "no healthy animal is euthanized" and "no treatable animal is euthanized without an aggressive search for a positive outcome." City management didn't provide specifics on exactly how it will implement those stated policies, indicating those decisions will be made by new animal shelter manager Staycee Dains, who received widespread public plaudits.
No Kill Long Beach founder/leader Dr. Patricia Turner, PhD said she was quite pleased by some of the things she heard but voiced concern over lack of specifics on how Long Beach management would actually apply its stated policies. Dr. Turner noted that "Compassion Saves" still allowed management to kill otherwise medically treatable animals, lacked specifics about more robust adoption procedures and lacked funding sources.
The "Compassion Saves" policy is coupled with management's stated support to keep Long Beach an open-admission-shelter city.
No city staffer or Councilmember uttered the words "no kill" until Councilwoman Suzie Price did so. Indicating she'd learned much from speaking with members of the community about what No Kill does and doesn't mean to them, Councilwoman Price invited a public colloquy on the issue with Shelter Director Dains. LBREPORT.com provides an on-demand audio clip of this significant discussion (initiated by Councilwoman Price) on what Shelter Director Dains acknowledges are differences between commonly-described No Kill policies and those planned/advocated for LB's Animal Shelter as well as their real-world impacts.. To hear their colloquy, click here. (10:36, MP3). (Thereafter, LBREPORT.com didn't hear the words "no kill" spoken by any other Councilmembers, and only a momentary mention of the term by Mayor Garcia in thanking No Kill among a number of animal advocacy groups.)
Management's announcement of its "Compassion Saves" policy was a response to continuing advocacy (including in political terms) by No Kill Long Beach and Dr. Turner. Yet with the sole exception of Councilwoman Price's April 16 significant colloquy with Shelter Director Dains, neither LB's Mayor nor the LB City Councilmembers ever explicitly discussed "no kill" animal shelter policies (or allowed No Kill advocates an opportunity to formally present their position, beyond limited public comments..) The April 16 study item agendized by management didn't mention "no kill," nor did management's Power Point or other presented materials.
City staff's full PPT is visible here
[Scroll down for further.]
Management hid its stance from public view until just minutes before a 3:30 p.m. "study session" (in which policy-setting Councilmembers would have no opportunity take voted action.) LB Parks/Rec Director Gerardo Mouet described "Compassion Saves" as an "approach that would be a model "unique to Long Beach." Animal shelter manager Dains referred to "Compassion Saves" as policy already in practice in LB and indicated that she and city management will now develop it further (initially in a May meeting with a management-hired consultant outside of public view, then in a management-offered "Strategic Plan" it will announced this summer.)
LBREPORT.com was first (again) to report management's position, spotting it online at roughly 2:45 p.m. ahead of the 3:30 p.m. start of the study session. [LBREPORT.com had objected to management's refusal to make the content of its study session materials available for public study prior to the study session.]
Members of the public who'd previously voiced support for no-kill policies voiced support and gratitude for management's stated policy (which they had no opportunity to consider prior to its presentation.) Their comments were then further limited by the Mayor (citing lack of time) to 90 seconds (later 60 seconds) citing multiple speakers and lack of time. Mayor Garcia invited public testimony only after Councilmembers had unanimously spoken in support of management's policy (in comments that consumed roughly an hour.)
Following staff's presentation (ran from 3:45 p.m. to 4:18 p.m., Mayor Garcia gave the floor to Councilmembers, who then spoke for roughly an hour in support of staff's presentation and new Shelter Director Dains. At 5:12 p.m., Mayor Garcia spoke and, for the first time to our knowledge, publicly included "No Kill" advocates among groups he publicly thanked for their animal advocacy. (Garcia had previously sought to marginalize the group, which endorsed his 2014 election but declined to support his 2018 re-election and criticized him for his record; he then declined to include publicly visible No Kill Long Beach advocates on a "Task Force" he created, whose meetings were conducted by city management, to oversee "visioning" for the animal shelter's future.)
Noting that the City's lease with SPCA-LA is a landlord-tenant lease that doesn't address adoptions, Mayor Garcia voiced support for continued partnership with SPCA-LA on adoptions but also indicated that the City should pursue a robust adoption program of its own separate from SPCA-LA (a position supported by No Kill advocates that drew audience applause.) No reps from SPCA-LA spoke.
During her limited 90 seconds to speak, No Kill Long Beach leader Turner she was quite pleased by some of the things she'd heard but voiced concerns. She cited a lack of specifics on how Long Beach management would actually apply its stated policies. Dr. Turner quickly noted that LB's declared policy still allowed the shelter to kill some otherwise medically treatable animals, lacked specifics about more robust adoption procedures and lacked funding sources. She thanked Mayor Garcia for his comments and said she looked forward to speaking with him.
No Kill advocates voiced support for new shelter manager Dains but several said it was important to ensure that the policies she's stating now are put in place so that they'll remain after her tenure ends and after current electeds are gone.
Representatives and supporters of PETA (a group not previously audible in the long-running LB controversy) warned against policies, in which they included No Kill, that they said could lead to closed admission shelter policies. (No Kill supporters called this an avoidable outcome.)
Some LB animal advocates who've previously opposed No Kill practices supported city staff's recommended policy while continuing to criticize the No Kill concept. Among them was Judy Crumpton, a member of the Mayor's animal care "visioning Task Force," who in her individual Council comments called "no kill, no good" and voiced concern that No Kill could cause LB's shelter to shift to closed or managed admission practices (which city staff said it doesn't support.)
In describing the history of the proceeding, city management credited Mayor Garcia for seeking a City Auditor audit of Animal Care Services and creating the Mayor for creating an animal care "visioning" Task Force. But that chronology omitted salient facts.
The current proceeding stems from advocacy begun over five years ago (Dec. 2013) by Dr. Turner's No Kill LB group under its former name "Stayin' Alive Long Beach." Dr. Turner broke new ground with "Stayin' Alive Long Beach" by publicly criticizing euthanasia rates at LB's animal shelter and alleged a number of shelter management issues under its previous management (which the Auditor's audit effectively validated.)
Dr. Turner's group also openly supported making LB animal shelter policies an issue in Mayor/Council election/re-election campaigns. Its openly confrontational stances with city officialdom produced a rift in LB's animal advocacy community; some prominent individuals chose to remain silent while others became defensive of shelter management and elected officials (noting continuing drops in the LB shelter's euthanasia numbers.)
No Kill Long Beach continued to advance the issue, publishing annual "report cards" unflattering to the Mayor. After endorsing his election in 2014, it declined to do so in 2018...and criticized him for stopping short of supporting the group's "No Kill Equation."
In January 2019, no kill supporters ignored a rainstorm and held an unprecedented public demonstration outside the Mayor's "State of the City" message. They also began delivering comments at each week's Council meetings critical of the Mayor/Council's animal shelter record (using the period for public comment on non-agendized items as the Mayor/Council refused to agendize the no-kill policies for discussion and action.)
In early March 2019, city management held a public meeting on the animal shelter's future, where newly named Shelter Manager Dains observed a roomful of animal advocates carrying "no kill" signs and heard multiple speakers support "no kill" policies.
To date, the LB City Council never discussed an agendized item on no-kill shelter policies. Its' April 16 study session was agendized simply to "Recommendation to hold a study session to receive and file a presentation on the City’s Animal Care Services." The Council took no action at its study session beyond voting to receive and file management's presentation (8-0, Mungo exited after initial comments.)
And while official City of LB mention of no-kill was taboo, management has now advanced a "Compassion Saves" approach that recites No Kill goals with LB specifics now developing that remain to be seen.
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