A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Feb 21, 2020

Pigeons and MAGA hats glued to their heads! STOP

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As national attention turned to Nevada amid a Presidential visit, a Democratic debate, and Saturday’s Democratic Caucus, one group chose to make their political point using live pigeons. A group calling itself Pigeons United to Interfere Now (P.U.T.I.N.) took credit for gluing small hats, and one wig, on aflock of pigeons before releasing them in Downtown Las Vegas on Tuesday, February 18, 2020.

Can we please leave animals out of politics? It is unconscionable to affix items on these birds, inhibiting their eyesight and exposing them to other potential dangers for the sake of a political or any prank. Our animals belong to no party but will still love you regardless of yours.

Did they suffer while the items were glued onto their heads? I bet it hurts to take them off. Will others make them victims of new pranks, or try to capture them? What about copycats? (No insult to cats intended.)

Come on - STOP

Feb 18, 2020

"Leadership is an action not a position"

The subject of pit bulls and other "bully" breeds has always been fraught with agita as we have steadfastly fought against breed specific legislation and bias while focusing on the owner. Even so, there has been an acknowledgement that sometimes nurture loses to nature and that shelter personnel must responsibly make difficult decisions that allow for the adoption of these dogs while considering public safety issues as well. It neither fosters trust in the shelter i.e. to place a dangerous dog in a home, nor protects adoptable dogs of a certain breed from negative media hype and bias.

Sadly, the fear of these dogs results in adoptable ones not being chosen, euthanized, and banned completely from placement opportunities. I write now as two stories crossed my desk today. One, a twenty year old pit pull ban in Denver was about to be repealed and then vetoed at the eleventh hour, while reports of other bites, here in Los Angeles and elsewhere surfaced.

The inroads that were made in stressing reasonableness and responsibility have given way to the ignorant ideologue chants of place everything. They pressure shelter directors around the country to sanitize files, to use euphemistic words to mask aggressive behavior, and to tell well-meaning adopters that just a little love will cure all. The result is more bites, negative press, and lawsuits, which creates shelters full of wonderful dogs that the public is afraid to take home. Again, victimizing the dogs for the sins of those who should and are in a position to know better is cruel. Allowing these pets to languish in shelters creates an appearance that bully breeds are all that shelters offer - so the family turns to puppy mills, Instagram, Craig's' List peddlers, and other questionable sources for a healthy, reliable dog. This leads to warehousing of dogs, hoarding, and overcrowding - again - driving people away from the shelter.

This is not fair at all. Running an animal shelter means leading, managing, and protecting both the shelter pets from harm at the hands of the public as well as protecting the public from dangerous dogs at the shelter. It does not mean running away from difficult decisions.

"Leadership is an action not a position"  Donald Mcgannon

P.S. spcaLA never stopped placing pit bulls and other bully breeds despite the trend to do so, nor will we place a demonstrably unsafe dog into a home. Animal evaluation is not a perfect science - but- our supporters appreciate that we try.

Feb 4, 2020

The Empty Cage Outrage Game

In 2016, six dogs came into spcaLA’s care in very dramatic fashion – their owner let them loose on the 710 freeway during a police pursuit.  After the requisite holding periods, spcaLA transferred in all six dogs from Long Beach Animal Care Services.

Four were puppies and adopted very quickly, but two of the dogs - Honey and Brittney - were adult Pit Bull mixes, who were in poor condition, under-socialized, and clearly presented an adoption challenge.  

For the next year, spcaLA staff and volunteers worked with Honey and Brittney, rehabilitating them physically, including grooming, and veterinary care. Training staff worked on socialization and basic commands so that they would be successful in their new homes. The effects of this attentive and expert attention began to show, and the dogs improved dramatically. These training, grooming, vet care, and education activities all take place outside the kennel. At the end of 2016, Brittney began working with children in spcaLA’s award-winning violence prevention program, Teaching Love and Compassion (TLC ™). Each day, she would leave the shelter to train with the students, her kennel was cleaned and left empty for her return. 
Sadly, there are ignorant agitators who see an empty cage and accuse Brittney of causing the death of another dog who needed that cage. How irresponsible and ridiculous. What true animal lover would not want a dog to be taken out of the cage and be seen? There is no correlation between an empty cage and occupancy. Ask yourself, does a hotel put other occupants in a room while a guest is out sightseeing? No.

This empty cage outrage game is common everywhere animal welfare exists. Those spouting these alternative facts are not serious thinkers and certainly not actual helpers. Their business model is to simply agitate and to recite false facts.

At spcaLA, we have the benefit of 140+ years of animal welfare experience to draw upon to help pets like Brittney and Honey. All of the in-shelter programs, training, vet care, and more is done with one aim in mind: rehabilitating pets and getting them into permanent homes. But, what if you do all the work, and no adopter comes forward? Luckily, we have multiple adoption locations and relationships all over the country to give animals a chance. One pet that gets no looks at one location, can be moved to another, and low and behold, the perfect adopter inquires. Why wouldn’t we, as animal welfare professionals, give a pet every opportunity and benefit possible for a good home including sending them to another location and vice versa?

Does a world class city like Long Beach want to be known for building a wall around their borders to prevent the network of reciprocity between shelters to find homes for difficult to place pets? (A suggestion of the agitators.) Of course, this wont help the pets.

The uninformed recite the same talking points even when educated to the facts. Saddest of all, the agitators find willing vessels in those that prefer to mimic and recite rather than to think and learn for themselves.

Unfortunately these people find those most susceptible to finding similar parasites to spread their nonsense. Fortunately, most thinking individuals see through them. 

spcaLA and our colleagues will continue to do what is best for the animals including  that they be seen by all sorts of potential families. Brittney and others like her will get out of their cages and thrive - whereas the agitators and their infected are doomed to remain in their cages, surrounded by a wall, and wait for the puppeteer to send them their new thoughts.

For those interested in more about Brittney and Honey - see below:

Video of their story: https://youtu.be/y7a5cg3dgxg
Video of Brittney at TLC in East Whittier: https://youtu.be/h4xd-ExU-Po