' City Mgm't/Mayor Cite Fewer Animal Shelter Killings; <i>Stayin' Alive Long Beach</i> Disputes Metrics, Blasts Mayor, Says City Hall Could Do More To Promote Adoptions/Reduce Killings; Mgm't Proposed FY18 Budget Includes Two New Animal Shelter Staffers (Health Tech For Intake + Communications Specialist) '

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City Mgm't/Mayor Cite Fewer Animal Shelter Killings; Stayin' Alive Long Beach Disputes Metrics, Blasts Mayor, Says City Hall Could Do More To Promote Adoptions/Reduce Killings; Mgm't Proposed FY18 Budget Includes Two New Animal Shelter Staffers (Health Tech For Intake + Communications Specialist)

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(Aug. 5, 2017, 12:10 p.m.) -- Long Beach Animal Care Services [animal control] has released figures from the first half of 2017 that (again) show fewer killings (euthanasias) at the City-run animal shelter (details below.)

Within hours, management's measurement methodology was disputed on Facebook by Stayin' Alive Long Beach, a grassroots animal advocacy group that has for several years argued that LB City Hall could and should decrease its taxpayer-paid animal killings with more effective adoption programs.

Within hours of Stayin' Alive's response, Mayor Garcia's office posted a message on the "Long Beach Mayor" Facebook page and Garcia sent a mass emailing from his City Hall domain that didn't acknowledge or answer the points raised by Stayin' Alive, reiterated the metrics cited by city management, thanked unnamed animal advocates for their work and indicated he has proposed adding two animal shelter staffers in City Hall's FY18 budget.

[Scroll down for further.]

City Hall's release (emailed at 9:03 a.m. Thurs. Aug 3) is visible in full at this link and cites "a new record low in impound and euthanized animals and a new record high for Live Release Rate."

[City of LB release text] The following statistics show increasing progress being made at the animal shelter and are the best numbers ever reported:

  • More than 200 fewer cats and dogs impounded at the shelter, a 6% reduction.
  • Euthanasia is showing another steep decline with over 290 fewer dogs and cats euthanized, a reduction of 64% for dogs and 34% for cats. Compared to 2015, euthanasia is down 79% for dogs and 57% for cats, representing 725 fewer dogs and cats euthanized.
  • Live Release Rates of 95% for dogs and 76% for cats, compared to 89% and 63%, respectively.

...View the Dog and Cat Impound Euthanization Numbers and Live Release Rates for 2011 to 2017.

The Live Release Rate is the percentage of animals that come to the shelter and leave with a positive outcome such as return to owner, adoption or transfer to a rescue organization.

...With the help of our entire community we look forward to reaching more milestones in the future and continue to reduce pet overpopulation and find new forever homes for animals at the shelter.

In the release, Mayor Garcia stated, "I'm proud of the hardworking team at Animal Care Services and the numerous volunteers, rescue groups, animal partner groups, and advocates who continue to save more animal lives...We still have more work to do, but I'm thankful that we've decreased euthanasia every year for the past three years, and will continue to do so."

Just over 23 hours later on Fri. Aug. 4 at 8:25 a.m., Stayin' Alive Long Beach had a detailed response on its Facebook page that said "if Long Beach had a strong adoption and foster program, a medical and behavioral rehabilitation program, and other progressive programs, we would be No Kill by now. If LBACS did just seven more adoptions per day, we'd be saving more than 90 percent of our shelter animals..."

[Stayin' Alive Long Beach FB text]

  • LBACS has never in its history had an actual live release rate of 89% for dogs. In 2016, the year-end live release (save) rate was 85% - that is a full 4 percentage points lower than the number cited in the press release. The year-end rate is the only accurate method for reporting live release rates -- mid-year press releases distort the true numbers and are used by the City as a smokescreen to inflate the numbers and deceive the public. With Mayor Garcia running for re-election and scurrying to curry favor with the animal-loving community to win its vote, it's no surprise to see the renewed zeal with which LBACS is reporting the numbers this week.

  • The inflated and grossly inaccurate figure of 95% for 2017 the City reports completely leaves out the high-kill months of July-November, which are the worst months of the year for dogs at LBACS. When those months are finally factored in at the end of this year, it is highly likely that LBACS' actual save rate for dogs will be significantly lower.

  • The City's claim of a 76% save rate for cats is as misleading as it is heartbreaking: we are in the middle of kitten season, the deadliest season for kittens at LBACS. LBACS has killed over 250 kittens so far this year, and with several months of kitten season remaining, that number will only increase. It is impossible for the City or anyone else to accurately say at this point what LBACS' save rate for cats and kittens will be by the end of this year, but we do know the numbers from last year -- more than 800 kittens and 400 cats were killed in 2016. In other words, the killing season at LBACS has only just begun, and calling out live release rates at this point of the year is both irresponsible and inaccurate.

  • The double-digit decreases in euthanasias that the City cites are not only inaccurate; they're also dishonest because they intentionally utilize a method for reporting decreases that is not the industry standard and is clearly utilized to deceive the public. Stayin' Alive has written a report detailing the inaccuracies in these reports of progress, which you can read here

...Note that the only numbers these press releases ever mention are numbers of impounded animals and euthanized animals -- the number of adoptions, fosters or other outcomes are never mentioned. So here are the numbers the City and Mayor Garcia DON'T want you to see:

  • Let's start with 285. That's the number of adoptions LBACS has done so far this year. In the first six months of 2017, LBACS adopted out only 285 cats, dogs, kittens and puppies. These numbers are extremely low when one considers that Sacramento adopted out nearly 10 times that number of animals in the same time frame. From January to June of this year, Sacramento has adopted out 863 cats and kittens and 1411 dogs and puppies for a total of 2274 adoptions. Sacramento continues to literally run circles around Long Beach in terms of adoptions. Mayor Garcia knows about Sacramento and got elected by promising to increase adoptions, and yet he has done almost literally nothing to increase the number of adoptions done by LBACS since he was elected. (Two Kitty Halls do not an adoption program make).

  • Next is the number 3 (yes, THREE). That's the number of animals that have gone into foster homes in the past six months at LBACS. Sacramento routinely has 200+ animals in foster homes during any given month. Foster programs are a key part of shelter lifesaving. The fact that LBACS still does not have a robust foster program is beyond outrageous, given the fact that LBACS boasts a huge animal-loving community that would no doubt be willing to foster animals for a City-run program.

  • The next number is 36. That's the heartbreakingly-low number of kittens that have been adopted out by LBACS since January. During the same period, LBACS killed over 250 kittens, and the number is rising. If LBACS had a proper foster program, the majority of those lives could be saved, but LBACS continues to resist taking responsibility for having its own foster program, preferring instead to foist the task off on overworked, under-resourced rescues who don't have the reach and influence that a city shelter has and are left to flail under the weight of doing the job that the animal shelter in the 7th largest city in the 6th largest economy in the world should be doing.

About an hour after Stayin' Alive's Facebook statement, Mayor Garcia's Facebook page ("Long Beach Mayor") told its followers: "Long Beach hit a new record low in the number of impounded and euthanized pets. How? It's because of people like you who foster and adopt pets in need of a home" and offered a link to the City Hall release and linked to a story on LBPOST.com that cited the figures in City Hall's release without including any response from Stayin' Alive which has previously criticized the city's euthanasia metrics. (A PressTelegram story filed online on Aug. 3 reported both sides of the story with comment from Stayin' Alive before the group uploaded its Aug. 4 Facebook response.)

Shortly after the PT story appeared, Garcia sent a mass emailing from his City Hall (taxpayer paid) email domain citing the Animal Care Services metrics, reiterating his quote from the City Hall release and stating: "In addition, I asked our City Auditor to launch a comprehensive audit of Animal Care Services to ensure we are using best practices to save every animal possible. In the meantime, as we await the results of the audit, I've included 2 more staffing positions in the city budget for Animal Care to prepare for the changes ahead."

However Mayor Garcia didn't exactly include two more staffing positions in the proposed FY18 budget; city management did so and the Mayor has recommended approval of management's proposed budget. City management's proposed FY18 budget indicates the change amounts to 1.33 positions and will cost $77,512 for "an additional Animal Health Technician for a higher level of intake services and a Community Information Specialist dedicated to marketing ACS and better connect with community partners, particularly through social media." [Source: Management's proposed FY18 budget narrative, pp. 343, 345.]

Mayor Garcia's emailing continued:

We are bringing back a popular event, Kitty Hall, on August 11th. Last year we set a record for adoption events, with 38 cats/kittens adopted. Join us at Kitty (City) Hall from 11 am to 3 pm next Friday and help us break our record and take home a new best feline friend.

With the help of our entire community we look forward to reaching more milestones in the future and continuing to reduce pet overpopulation and find new forever homes for animals at the shelter.







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