Group Recommends Measures It Says Would Mean Fewer Kills At Long Beach Animal Shelter, Vows To Tell Voters Which Councilmembers/Candidates Support/Oppose

Releases report critical of status quo

(Oct. 5, 2013. 4:00 p.m., text updated 7:10 p.m.) -- Seeking to change Long Beach City Council policies (not merely animal control management practices) and make Long Beach's animal shelter a lesser-kill (90% of more animals saved) facility, a group founded by a Long Beach property owner (who now lives in northern CA but remains concerned about LB's animal kill rate) has published a report saying LB Animal Care Services' current euthanasia rates are too high and can be lowered by implementing programs, many of them run by volunteers, now being successfully implemented elsewhere.

"2014 is an election year in Long Beach. We're hoping to make this a campaign issue," says Patricia Turner, Ph.D., in a release from Stayin' Alive Long Beach. "It's not unreasonable for concerned citizens to insist that change happen for the animals of Long Beach and that it happen in a transparent and principled way. ACS receives taxpayer monies. The agency needs to be accountable to the people of Long Beach."

Dr. Turner told that she was spurred to act after two meetings (the first in 2012, the second in 2013) with Long Beach Animal Care Services management (the first by her predecessor, the second by her personally). The meetings were unproducive, and Dr. Turner indicated she's now focusing on the policy-setting City Council where occupants of six Council seats are now seeking higher office, and there'll be at least five (and perhaps six) new Councilmembers by this time next year.

Dr. Turner said that as a first step in that process, Stayin Alive Long Beach released its 39 page report -- What's Happening to Long Beach's Shelter Animals: A report on the effectiveness of Long Beach Animal Care Services and recommendations for change. The report (released Oct. 3) can be viewed at spoke at length with Dr. Turner, and provides on-demand audio of our Q & A. To hear it, click here (approx. 25 minutes).

Below is the press release text accompanying release of Stayin Alive Long Beach's report.


[subhead] The report by Stayin' Alive Long Beach finds that Long Beach Animal Care Services euthanizes more than half of the shelter animals in Long Beach every year and fails to implement effective programs to decrease the killing.

[text] Long Beach, CA (October 2, 2013) -- No Kill Advocacy Group Stayin' Alive Long Beach has released a 37-page report detailing the efforts of Long Beach Animal Care Services (ACS), the city agency charged with the care and control of stray and homeless animals in the City of Long Beach. The report finds that Long Beach ACS currently underperforms in its animal care capacity by euthanizing more than 50% of shelter animals every year and the agency routinely misleads the public in this regard. Major findings of the report include:

High Euthanasia, Low Adoption Rates -

  • In 2012, ACS euthanized more than 53% of companion animals and has euthanized nearly 41,000 animals (companion and other animals) over the past 6 years. Furthermore, the number of animals ACS euthanizes has not appreciably declined over the past 3 years.
  • ACS achieves an extremely low shelter adoption rate, adopting out a mere 3.3% of the companion animals it took in in 2012.
  • ACS euthanizes 77% of cats and kittens in its care and in 2012 saw an increase in the number of dogs the agency euthanized.

Reduction in Spay/Neuter Funding - From 2010 to 2012, ACS decreased its funding of its spay/neuter discount voucher program by 77% to less than $25,000 in 2012 while more than doubling revenue from animal licensing to $1.2 million.

Lack of Programs Aimed at Decreasing Killing - ACS lacks critical programs that have increased lifesaving rates upwards of 90% in communities like Austin, Texas and Reno, Nevada. These programs, known as the No Kill Equation, include a comprehensive adoption program, a community foster program, increased cooperation with rescue groups, programs to reduce owner surrenders of animals, reduced fees for owners to get their pets back from the shelter once turned in, increased spay/neuter and a vigorous volunteer program to drive the implementation of new programs. Most of these programs can be accomplished at little or no cost to the agency.

Inflated Adoption Statistics - Long Beach ACS also inflates its adoption statistics by including wildlife and animals transferred to known high-kill shelters in its adoption numbers. In 2012, ACS overstated its adoption/redemption numbers by nearly 300 percent.

"It's time for the people of Long Beach to know the truth about what's happening to shelter animals in Long Beach," said Patricia Turner, Ph.D., Stayin' Alive Long Beach's co-founder and spokesperson. "For years, animal advocates have been trying to reduce the killing in the Long Beach animal shelter -- they've gotten a lot of lip service but few real results. We're bringing this to the attention of the public so that ACS understands that it needs to bring its practices into alignment with the values and priorities of the animal-loving public in Long Beach."

"2014 is an election year in Long Beach. We're hoping to make this a campaign issue. It's not unreasonable for concerned citizens to insist that change happen for the animals of Long Beach and that it happen in a transparent and principled way. ACS receives taxpayer monies. The agency needs to be accountable to the people of Long Beach," Dr. Turner said.

Stayin' Alive Long Beach analyzed more than 300 pages of data on ACS programs and activities obtained through a series of public records requests made from February to September 2013 to produce the report.

"ACS's continued resistance to putting into place comprehensive lifesaving programs on an ongoing basis is the number one reason the kill rate in the Long Beach shelter is at 53%," Turner said. "It is up to the citizens of Long Beach to be the voice for the voiceless -- the more than 5,000 companion animals euthanized at the Long Beach shelter every year -- and demand that ACS put in place 21st century lifesaving programs that have been proven to increase shelter animal save rates across the nation." provided a copy of the report to LB Animal Care Services chief Ted Stevens on Thursday night Oct. 3. Mr. Stevens indicated on Saturday (Oct. 5) that he's preparing a statement in response to the report. plans to add it here as received.

LB Animal Care Services has publicly said that its current euthanasia levels are lower than in previous years but routinely adds that it would like to see them lower than they are now. At its most recent annual open house, Animal Care Services presented data showing fewer euthanasias in some categories but acknowledged they remain high especially among cats.

Under City Manager Pat West, Long Beach City Hall renamed its animal control operation "Animal Care Services." From a facility in ELB near the Nature Center, it operates alongside SPCA/LA to facilitate adopting animals that both entities deem adoptable. SPCA/LA selects animals from LB Animal Care Services that SPAC/LA believes are good candidates for adoption. (These were not counted by Stayin Alive Long Beach in its low cited percentage of adopted animals.) Dogs and cats that aren't chosen by SPAC/LA can be euthanized, although in recent years Animal Care Services has in some cases taken the additional step of contacting private animal rescue groups to try to adopt animals that haven't been chosen by SPAC/LA or otherwise adopted.

The Stayin Alive Long Beach website states:

Each day, thousands of homeless animals are being put to death in animal shelters across the country. No animal should die just because it is homeless. The mission of Stayin' Alive Long Beach is to be a voice for animals and promote an end to the unnecessary killing of adoptable, healthy animals in the Long Beach Animal Care Services shelter. We will accomplish this by advocating for the implementation of responsible, cost-effective policies and programs that will reduce population growth and increase adoption rates. It is our goal to see Long Beach Animal Care Services comprehensively implement these policies of responsible municipal sheltering to make Long Beach a safer place for animals and for humans.

New models of sheltering, based on innovative, non-lethal programs and services, have proven effective in progressive cities across the nation, and we will work to create a similar benefit to the people and the animals of Long Beach, CA. Ultimately, our mission is to create a No Kill city.

A Long Beach City Council majority sets policies that city management implements.


Update: The initial text of this story has been clarified: (1) the volunteer programs advocated by Stayin Alive Long Beach would be run by volunteers. (2) Of the two meetings with LBACS management, only the second involved Dr. Turner while the first was with her predecessor; (3) text has been added noting that the adoption figure cited by Stayin Alive doesn't include SPAC/LA adoptions; we ask Dr. Turner about this point and she responds in her telephone conversation with us (audio linked above.)

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