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Lawsuits filed against the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control part I


Courtesy of LACDACC Watch Blog

Warning: this article contains images that may be offensive to some readers. Discretion is advised.

This is the second installment in a series on alleged statutory violations committed by the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control. According to Ryan Olshan’s Los Angeles County DACC Watch Blog, at least three lawsuits have been filed against the Department regarding alleged noncompliance with policies and laws in the last two and a half years.

In August 2006, A Dog’s Life Rescue filed a complaint against the Department concerning its policies and practices related to owner-relinquished animals. The organization was responding to an incident where two dogs that had been fostered were turned over to a shelter and killed within an hour of impoundment though neither were ill nor suffering irremediably. A settlement was filed in L.A. Superior Court in early January of this year, in favor of the plaintiff, stating the Department would comply with the Hayden Act that provides protections for shelter animals. The Hayden Act requires shelters to not kill dogs or cats for four working days after impoundment. Also known as SB 1785, it mandates shelters release animals to nonprofit animal rescue or adoption organizations after the requisite hold period under certain circumstances. It requires shelters to provide services to restore lost animals to their owners and to keep certain records for three years after an animal’s impoundment ends. Standards of care, redemption and adoption are also specified for other animals under this law.


Courtesy of LACDACC Watch Blog

In January 2008, D.E.L.T.A. Rescue filed a lawsuit against the County, the Board of Supervisors, the County CEO, William Fujioka, the County Auditor-Controller and the Director of the Department, Marcia Mayeda, for alleged fraud and misappropriation of funds. D.E.L.T.A. Rescue had been reporting violations to them for years without meaningful response though the plaintiff’s claims had been confirmed. In return, the Department retaliated against D.E.L.T.A. Rescue and its President, Leo Grillo. D.E.L.T.A. Rescue alleged the County had allocated millions of dollars to animal control services for years yet animals at all six County shelters lacked necessary medical treatment and suffered inhumane conditions and cruelty. According to D.E.L.T.A. Rescue and the LACDACC Watch Blog, the allegations included:

• The wrongful use of controlled substances for euthanasia, the failure to obtain required licenses and refusal to maintain records of storage and use of such substances which lead to an audit by the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency with the threat of incurring fines of tens of millions of dollars
• Fabrication of euthanasia records and destruction of paper trails to cover up and obstruct justice
• Unlawful and inhumane killing of animals without sedation, holding them down by stepping on them
• Injection of euthanol into the abdomens of animals and routinely missing the area
• Errors in amounts of euthanol administered due to lack of veterinary supervision
• Animals disposed of and taken to rendering plants still alive
• Euthanization of adoptable animals before mandated holding dates expired
• Wrongful euthanizations due to routine failure to check records for accuracy or to scan for microchips
• Wrongful euthanasia due to improper medicating of animals leading to erroneous assessments of animals’ responsiveness to treatments
• Lack of lawfully required veterinary care, medical treatment and equipment
• Routine failure to conduct intake exams, vaccinations and correctly medicate animals
• The release of animals with detectable, treatable medical conditions to the public undiagnosed and untreated
• Impoundment of animals in unsanitary, unhealthy conditions, forced to live in their own waste
• Routine failure to sanitize cages, sanitize between contacts and isolate sick animals from the general population
• Unqualified employees medicating animals leading to errors and waste due to lack of follow through – medications routinely found on floors of cages
• An employee dragged a dog with a broken back across shelter grounds banging its head on the ground and was not held accountable
• Another employee injected cleaning fluid and water into animals to kill them and was not held accountable
• Targeting and retaliation against employees, volunteers and citizens who report these violations through termination or barring them from adopting animals
• Routine refusal to provide necessary medical treatment, refusal to provide such treatment to adoptable animals and refusal to allow the public or rescue organizations to provide needed veterinary care to animals
• The employment of persons not qualified to perform the duties hired for who charge, and are paid by the County, for work not performed or performed incompetently
• Fabrication and inflation of fees for services not performed passed on to taxpayers and cities that contract with the Department
• Misrepresentation of the amount of money spent on animal care
• County enforcement of false reimbursement claims leading to seizure of citizens’ property
• Routine failure to follow fiscal policies and procedures and maintain records in obtaining goods and services


Courtesy of LACDACC Watch Blog

An independent, unaffiliated and qualified third party commission is needed to oversee the Department on an ongoing basis. The Department has repeatedly demonstrated it is unreliable and unwilling to comply with the law and basic humane treatment of animals even when ordered to do so time and again by the court. The Department is costing taxpayers large sums of money by having to repeatedly be brought before courts just to follow law and do what they should already be doing.

Please help bring an end to this avoidable travesty by signing the petition demanding the L.A. County CEO’s office and the Board of Supervisors hold the LACDACC Director, Marcia Mayeda, accountable for violating the public trust. Contact County officials and representatives of your district and demand a third party commission be established to oversee the L.A. Department of Animal Care and Control, hold it accountable and prevent further unnecessary violations, waste and animal suffering.

The next article will be on a lawsuit filed against the County, the Department and its Director in December 2007 by the No Kill Advocacy Center, Cathy Nguyen, volunteer animal rescuer and Rebecca Arvizu, L.A. County taxpayer and animal rescuer.

 

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