Last year animal welfare workers from throughout Southern California appeared before the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to beg for help with uncooperative Devore Shelter managers who are hell-bent on dissuading adoptions of healthy animals and killing animals while rescue workers are in the lobby filling out paperwork to pull them. Instead of then-Chairman Josie Gonzales thanking these volunteers for caring so much about the county’s animals, she chastised them for volunteering in “my county” and not first helping homeless people.
Gonzales went so far in her attempt to intimidate volunteers that she required each speaker to publicly state their home address for the record, a direct violation of California’s Brown Act. Several attendees have reported retaliation since the meeting.
San Bernardino County is the largest county in the United States. Devore Shelter is the county’s central detention and killing facility. It is known nationwide as one of the worst run shelters in the country. It is located in Supervisor Gonzales’ district.
Despite Gonzales’ efforts against reform, the remaining supervisors eventually voted to approve the creation of the Animal Care Community Outreach Commission. Commissioners could have been appointed as early as last August. Only one has been appointed to date, effectively preventing the commission from performing any oversight of the shelter.
San Bernardino County is hardly atypical. Rather, the unwillingness by elected officials and appointed bureaucrats to enforce animal welfare laws and the willingness to violate laws to intimidate and harass volunteers are more common than not. And that is where one group of activists has decided to up the ante.
Animalsvote.org is the brainchild of Alex Aliksanyan and Brenda Bush, a husband and wife team who previously founded The Buddy Fund, a very successful animal welfare organization. After almost a decade of dedicating their lives to helping animals around the world, they realized true success will not be achieved until we change laws and how and who applies those laws.
According to their website, “AnimalsVote.org is a national organization that will act as a political advocacy group for the benefit of animals everywhere. It will tackle legislation and candidate specific campaigns in federal, state and local venues. Our single minded focus will be to bring an end to the killing of animals in this nation's shelters.”
In other words, it is time for elected leaders such as members of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to become “animal friendly” or they could be looking for a new job. Like any other political action committee, the group will promote candidates that support their cause and target those that do not.
Animalsvote.org is embarking on a nationwide membership drive to further its cause. Membership is $15 a year. For more information, check out the website at www.AnimalsVote.org.
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If you have an animal-related story you would like to share, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.