A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Apr 17, 2019

Compassion Saves model made possible by a Village!

Left-Phil Pitchford, BettyWhite,me Right-Clear the Shelter 2017 event
with Telemundo
I commend the City of Long Beach for formally introducing a "CompassionSaves" approach to animal control to their City Council. This was truly made possible by our "it takes a village" ethic! 

At a study session meeting of Long Beach City Council on April 16, 2019, new Long Beach Animal Care Services (LBACS) Bureau Manager, Staycee Dains, made a presentation about the past, present, and future of LBACS.

Long Beach has always been a compassionate and innovative community.  It took real vision more than twenty years ago to look at the old Willow street shelter and imagine the first public-private partnership in animal welfare. But, that’s exactly what Long Beach city leaders, spcaLA, and our community had when we created and built the P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village and Education Center in El Dorado Park. Since spcaLA and the City of Long Beach opened the Village in 2001, LBACS has transferred over 40,000 animals into the care of spcaLA. The Village set a replicable benchmark in cost-effective, life-preserving care for abandoned and abused animals.

During her presentation, Dains emphasized the significant increase in positive outcomes for animals entering LBACS at the Village since 2010, including a 49% decrease in dog and cat admissions and an 82% decrease in euthanasia for the same. Further, Dains reported an 84% live release rate for LBACS cats and a 94% live release rate for LBACS dogs, in the 2010-2019 reporting period.

spcaLA facilitates the adoptions for animals at the Village, and also prepares them for a healthy life by spaying and neutering them before they go to their forever home. spcaLA thereby allows LBACS the luxury of space and time to work with responsible and vetted community helpers to manage animals that would not thrive in a shelter environment and give the pets a chance at a home.

I am proud spcaLA could help LBACS -- an open admission, municipal shelter -- realize these momentous achievements in animal care. In addition to caring and finding new homes for homeless and abused Long Beach animals, for decades, spcaLA has provided the Long Beach community violence-prevention initiatives and other education programs; dog training and specialty classes; and the fundraising for, and, the providing of buildings, flea treatment, food, litter, and other supplies for animals in the care of LBACS. 

We knew this would work 20 years ago!

Dains further discussed broad strokes for the Compassion Saves model of animal care which would continue positive trends through intervention programs meant to keep animals out of the shelter (high-volume spay/neuter, pet retention programs) and programs aimed at improving the lives and outcomes of pets in the care of LBACS (foster care, behavior and training programs), as well as the creation of standard operating procedures, staff training, and professional development.

When we work together, we can make great strides in the welfare of animals and our community, We look forward to the continued partnership between the city of Long Beach and spcaLA.

Apr 10, 2019

Pre-nuptial agreements for pets!

Courtesy of Google images
This year California became one, of a handful of states, to consider the best interests of a pet in divorce cases. Judges, as is the case with other property, can consider who bought, the pet, was he/she a gift, who cares for the pet, will children be negatively affected, and, other typical factors weighed when fighting over the custody of property. This is an example of the unique status of pets, who are legally property, but have some rights more akin to those of sentient beings. 

In California, judges now must take the best interests of a pet in determining sole or joint custody during a divorce or legal separation. This standard is much more significant and specific, as rather than determining custody on the bases of initial purchase, the California standard allows judges to say regardless of the above, what will be most beneficial to the pet. By the way, the judge can also determine who will care for the pet during the proceedings.

Fights over pet custody during divorce is quite common and not just an American oddity. In London, there is now an increase in resolving this issue via a pre-nuptial document - which they term a "pet-nup" in order to settle the matter before even getting into a relationship! 

And why not? Pets are people too!!