Culver City Star
September 7, 2006
by Anna Scott
Council in the dog days of summer
City Hall: Officials OK program to canvass for unlicensed dogs, but issue remains unsettled.
City Council has decided to start a canvassing program to register unlicensed dogs, but the new initiative leaves at least one council member and local animal control advocates feeling excluded from the decision-making process.
In June, the council's animal control subcommittee, made up of Mayor Gary Silbiger and Vice Mayor Alan Corlin, met with representatives of the grassroots organization Friends of Culver City Animals to discuss several issues, including the problem of unlicensed dogs.
"[At the meeting] there was a long, protracted discussion about canvassing," Corlin recalled. "I suggested, why don't the Friends go [door to door]" to offer licensing services to residents known to be current or prior pet owners.
"But [Culver City Friends of Animals Director] Deborah [Weinrauch] said no, she wanted someone under the color of authority to do the canvassing," Corlin said.
The program approved at last Monday night's council meeting will have an L.A. County animal control official conduct the canvassing, and should therefore meet Weinrauch's criteria, Corlin concludes.
Weinrauch, however, claims that the issue was not decided either way at the June meeting and that the Friends were not properly notified before Monday of city staff's proposal.
"We are pro-licensing and we are pro-vaccinations," Weinrauch was careful to make clear first. "We pro mote... returning pets to their owners whenever possible."
"But.. we had not resolved any issue [in June]. [Monday] night the tone was that we thoroughly debated it. It had been brought up, there were ideas bantered about, but it was merely in the discussion stage. We were informed [of the proposal] at the same time as the rest of the public."
Because she had not yet had a chance to confer with other Friends members, Weinrauch said, she did not wish to comment on whether or not the group is pleased with the new program.
If there are objections, however, they might be based on the fact that a County official will conduct the canvassing, rather than a local authority.
The Culver City Friends have long lobbied for a local animal control officer, which officials have said the city can not afford.
Currently, Culver City's animal care and control services including licensing, public safety operations and humane control of domestic and wild animals , are contracted through the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, located in Carson, which Friends representatives argue is too far away to provide prompt responses to animal-related emergencies.
" They want an animal control officer.. but they don't have any idea of what the real costs are," Corlin said this week.
Regardless, he added, at the June meeting there was "a discussion of specifically getting someone from the County [to do the canvassing]. What came out of that meeting was, somebody's got to do it."
Weinrauch, however, isn't the only one who takes issue with the subcommittee's process. On Monday, Silbiger, who reportedly left the June meeting early, said, "During the time I was there, there was no discussion of this."
"The process wasn't done properly," the mayor said, arguing that the proposal had not passed through the proper channels before coming before the council for a vote.
"It went thoroughly through the subcommittee," Corlin shot back, going on to point out that the mayor was aware after he left the June meeting that it would continue without him.
"Just like if I were to leave [the council meeting] now, I wouldn't expect you to stop," Corlin said.
Despite the disagreements over procedure however, the council voted unanimously Monday to adopt staff's proposal and local pet license canvassing will begin in early 2007.
As required, the city will notify residents of upcoming canvassing efforts through local newspapers, its community calendar, public service announcements and cable crawlers on Channel 35.