ACS Open House: All Four Feet Forward
- By Kate Karp
- | Friday, 01 February 2013 12:53
Former Animal Care Services (ACS) manager John Keisler made it the shelter’s mission to make Long Beach “the safest city in California for people and animals.” He swiftly went far and above the mission statement in his three years of leadership by enabling shelter adoptions, launching low-cost mobile vaccination and licensing clinics in the city’s public parks, hiring a full-time vet for the shelter, and most importantly, steadily effecting a lowering of euthanasia rates while at the same time increasing the number of pet adoptions and live releases. His accomplishments can be accessed here.
When Ted Stevens took over as manager in January 2012, those grateful for what Keisler had accomplished wondered whether Stevens would be able to catch the Frisbee that his predecessor tossed and run with it. Now, a year later at the 2013 ACS Open House, Stevens’s dedication has fetched plenty.
The event agenda included a meet-and-greet, a “report card” of ACS’s accomplishments, and a projection of what’s ahead for the shelter’s animals, followed by tours of the facilities conducted by the shelter’s Explorers and facilitated by staff members. Parks, Recreation and Marine director George Chapjian opened the event to a full house of attendees, followed by comments from Denise Jacksy, the senior operating manager of spcaLA, which shares the P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Facility with ACS, and Shirley Vaughan, president of Friends of Long Beach Animals (FOLBA).
Folba president Shirley Vaughan, humane educator Deborah Turner, and Tim Patton, aide to Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal. Patton just took home Harmony, a Peke mix, from ACS.
Jacksy spoke of spcaLA’s partnership with ACS, which was forged during Keisler’s leadership and continues under Stevens’s.
“We can educate adopters in this way,” she said. “We’re the professionals in adoption, and they’re [ACS] are the professionals in enforcement.”
The all-volunteer nonprofit FOLBA has been a partner with ACS since its foundation in 1990. Vaughan described the organization’s history with the shelter, including fund-raising for and purchase of supplies and medicine; SNIP (Spay/Neuter Incentive Program) that provides vouchers through ACS for low-cost altering of pets, and helping to facilitate adoption of so-called unadoptable animals.
“In the old days, the opinion was that shelter pets are throwaways, no good. That’s just not true!” Vaughan said. “And thank goodness Ted took the helm and made it easier to get medical supplies.”
Stevens reported expenditures of $3,855,596, revenues of $2,141,391 and a $1,714,205 on the general fund, the cost to the four cities that the shelter serves (Long Beach, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach and Cerritos, the cost to the rest of us is $2.87 per person (see below for more stats). Aside from the usual services, this has gone to fund a number of benefits for pets and their owners or owners-to-be. These includes pet licensing for dogs and cats, which comprises the Fast Track microchip program, which quickly reunites pets with their owners; the Free Ride Home program, which will return an animal at no cost to the owner the first time he’s lost and will further prevent disease spreading to the other shelter animals; the Extended Stay program, which provides veterinary shelter care for a pet for 14 days before putting him or her up for adoption; and the Vacation Pet Alert program through which a pet owner can inform shelter staff as to how to contact him or her and who will be caring for the pet. Stevens reported a 20 percent increase in licensing this year.
Notably, there have been 5,800 shelter-facilitated spay/neuters in 2012; cat rescues went up 90 percent through partnership with area veterinarians and programs like 9 Lives for $9 and Twelve Pets of Christmas; and further partnerships and outreach. Brand-new cat and puppies condos have been set up for the animals’ stay. The cat condos, purchased through the Theresa Sears Trust Fund, have their own “bathrooms” and are enclosed so that disease cannot be passed from cage to cage through petting the cats. The puppies’ cages are similarly protected; below are a couple of examples of the enclosures and their residents. Ain’t they cute? They’re up for adoption.
Dilbert, orange male tabby, 9 mo. A485698
Red mini-pin, female, 3 months old , A486095
The ACS Explorer program continues with enrollment double the size of the first year. December saw 22 young people graduate, with eight returning as mentors., and the new partnerships with Found Animals http://www.foundanimals.org/ and others already mentioned has given forever homes to previously hard-to-adopt animals like senior cats, pit bulls and animals with medical problems. Dr. Margaret Lee, the full-time veterinarian, and the low-cost mobile clinics continue to keep the herd healthy.
What this all leads to is a 39 percent increase live release, a 35 percent increase in adoptions and a 25 percent reduction in euthanasia. The latter has been decreasing steadily from 2007, before John Keisler took over, from 7,876 to 5,880 in 2012.
“I want to congratulate Ted, who’s turned out to be so capable of slipping into those big shoes of John Keisler,” said Antje Hunt, cofounder of Long Beach Spay and Neuter.
Ted Stevens, the ACS staff and the animal community aren’t done walking. Besides working to keep moving the adoption and live release upward and the euthanasia rate downward, there are a number of surprises, mainly for the pets, in store for 2013, to wit, increasing license canvassing (thus helping further live-release rates), improved response time to calls, increased outreach, and a couple of pretty edgy shelter improvements. These include an open cattery with healthy cats to adopt, a smart-phone all-ACS-inclusive app, a digital X-ray machine that will enable the owner of a lost pet to take the results to his or her vet, music in the kennels that was facilitated by Judy Crumpton (disclaimer: I am so proud to have written with her!) and the iPet companion, which is software you can plug into to maneuver actual toys in the catteries and have fun with the cats. Stevens said that every shelter using this software has seen a dramatic increase in feline adoption. Easy to imagine why—how can you resist running in and taking home the animal you’ve been playing with?
A number of animal activists and advocates were honored with awards. Tracy Guido, a volunteer with the shelter’s Rescue Partners Program, was given the Spirit of Dr. Loren Eslinger Rescue Partner of the Year award, named for the owner of the Belmont Shore Animal Hospital. Before passing away in December 2009 from cancer, Dr. Eslinger devoted more than 20 years of veterinary volunteer work at the shelter before stepping in professionally as the shelter’s consulting veterinarian. The Rescue Partners Program volunteers, headed by shelter outreach coordinator Kelly Miott and rescue/adoptions coordinator Alexandra Fernandez, work hard at making animals adoptable through socialization, grooming, training, and conducting special events, helped along beautifully by the professional-quality pictures taken by photographer Sara Cozolino.
Antje Hunt and Lorraine Fishman, founders of Long Beach Spay and Neuter (LBSN), were honored for their success with TSNR (Trap, Spay/Neuter, Release), a procedure that humanely traps feral cats, takes them to get altered, and releases them to their colony. Most adult ferals cannot be socialized, but this action prevents more litters being born and as a result more shelter overflow and euthanasia. LBSN holds adoptions for the kittens and socialized adults.
Fishman and Hunt thanked Stevens and the shelter staff for helping their organization achieve its mission, particularly in not automatically euthanizing wild or sick animals. “Without the voucher program, we couldn’t do it,” Fishman said.
“I used to think of Long Beach as a killer city, but it’s now on its way to becoming a no-kill city,” Hunt added.
City Prosecutor Douglas Haubert received an award for his support of the shelter for hosting the first-ever animal-cruelty conference in March 2012, which was attended by 200 people. Haubert said that his office has prosecuted individuals who have beaten, starved and even stabbed animals and stressed the connection between individuals with a history of animal abuse who go on to commit violent crimes against human beings.
Stevens expressed satisfaction about how many abuse cases have gone forward.
“Our mission is to make Long Beach the safest city for people and animals,” he said. “I can’t say enough about all the support Doug’s given our office.”
Another conference, more accurately titled the Animal Care and Cruelty Prevention Conference, will take place March 21. Haubert thanked his office staff for making the conferences successful and particularly acknowledged deputy prosecutor Kay Watson, who helps with the animal cases, and Judy Crumpton [my former writing partner for the Pet Post!] for lighting a fire under him to get the conference going in the first place. Crumpton received an IMPACT award from the city prosecutor’s office for being the main instrument in orchestrating the conference.
Eagle Scout Nathan Wiggins was honored for his Eagle Scout Project, Wiggins, 18 and a senior at Poly High, raised over $1,000 for materials to build a medical suite at the shelter in a little-used space in the cat area and if that weren’t enough, gathered friends and built it himself at a fraction of what it would have cost to have it constructed.
Finally, Animal Match Rescue Team (AMRT) founder Carolyn Stern received the city’s highest honor for animal care and population control. The One Too Many Award, established in 2008, established in 2008, recognizes outstanding contributions of shelter staff, residents and local organizations to animal welfare.
AMRT regularly goes to the shelter and pulls pets who have been sick, are frightened, or have some sort of disability—in 2012, they pulled 75 of them. They then foster and socialize the animals and conduct home checks on potential adopters of the animals (if you want to be one of the lucky ones, come to the Petco on the corner of PCH and 2nd Street Saturdays and Sundays between 11 AM and noon).
The project has been a huge commitment of time and finances to Stern and her volunteers, but like any bunch of rescuers and advocates, they don’t believe in the word unadoptable.
“It takes a community to take care of the community’s animals,” Stevens said.
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
~ Mark Twain
For information about ACS and its programs, visit the shelter website.
I just got word that spcaLA, which is located in the Pitchford Companion Animal Village at 7700 E. Spring Street, has accepted the pets of Susan Curtis, who was killed as she rode her bicycle across Bellflower Boulevard at Atherton Street. I checked the adoption page, but didn’t see them—they may have been renamed. As soon as I can find photos to post, I will. Names and descriptions are as follows: Loki, white male cat; Belle, black female cat; Polo, black-and-white female cat; Spotty, gray male tabby cat; and Sadie, black boxer-dog mix. Call (562) 570-7722 for information.
Southern California Pet Expo, Saturday, Feb. 2, 10 AM–6 PM, Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach
Enjoy a free event that will feature exhibits on pet care, grooming, food products, training, veterinary care, travel and fun activities centering on cats, dogs, bunnies, reptiles, fish, birds and all things eight- , six-, four- three-, two- and no-legged. There will also be discounted vaccinations, adoptions and a costume contest. Pets are welcome (on a fixed lead, with proof of vaccinations). Meet Shorty Rossi and his canine sidekick, Hercules, both stars of Animal Planet’s Pit Boss. Terri Steuben, animal communicator and author, will offer tips to pet owners and sign copies of her book, Secrets of a Pet Whisperer: Stop Telling Your Animals to Misbehave. Steuben is one of a number of experts who will meet with the public at the event; she will offer advice on communication, behavior, holistic health approaches and pet emergency preparedness. Have fun at contests like pet/owner musical chairs, enjoy agility demonstrations and shop, shop, shop for your best friend. Don’t have one? No fear—the highlight of the day is the mega-adoption event hosted by Banfield Pet Hospital. The Southern California Pet Expo is organized by Amazing Pet Expos, which currently produces more than 37 pet expos around the country; all of them indoors and free to the general public. For more information on the expo, click here .
Haute Dogs Doggie Contests, Saturday, Feb. 9, from 9:45 AM, Marine Stadium, 5225 E. Paoli Way, Long Beach
Do you have a bulldog? A Chihuahua? A poodle? A dachshund? A dog who does tricks? A dog who’s a fashionista? An ugly dog? A dog? Somewhere in this plethora of pageants, there’s at least one for you and your best friend. Visit the contest’s website for details and entry form, and we’ll see you there for a full day of romps!
SpcaLA Adoptions, Saturday, Feb. 23, 10:30 AM–3:30 PM, PetSmart, 7631 Carson Blvd., Long Beach
Come meet the adorable adoptables who need and deserve forever homes, and purchase anything you need to make your new friend healthy, well cared for and happy.
A Second Chance Pet Adoption Event and St. Patrick’s Day Pet Pageant/Pet Fair, Sunday, March 10, 10 AM–3PM, Good Neighbor Park (2800 Studebaker Rd., Long Beach
The Pet Post USA in partnership with Pet Sit Pros pet sitters and dog walkers, will host a fun and exciting community event created to support a very important cause: pet adoption. The pet-loving community will enjoy music, entertainment, shopping food vendors, and a special St. Patty’s Pet Pageant. Nearly a dozen nonprofit dog and cat rescues groups will be onsite, seeking to find homes for hundreds of displaced pets. A special pet food and pet supply drive will take place and the collection, along with remaining proceeds from the event, will be donated to Homeless with Dogs (yay!), a unique organization that helps care for pets of the Long Beach homeless society.
Animal Care and Cruelty-Prevention Workshop, Thursday, March 21, time and location TBA
The Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office will host its annual conference in response to the great success from Long Beach and the surrounding communities. The conference will address two subject areas: humane education and legal issues for animal care professionals, prosecution statistics, conviction rates and stats about the animals housed in our local facilities. Deborah Knaan, deputy DA in charge of animal cruelty prosecution and Rebecca Johnson, sergeant of investigations with ACS, will speak, along with other professionals.