Los Angeles Wave
Nov. 13, 2008
by Arin Mikailian
"Unanimous vote clears the way for stray pets to be housed at a Hawthorne facility"
To the satisfaction of the more than 110 local residents in attendarlce, . the. CuI ver City Council unanImously -approved to sfgn a contract with a new animal shelter on Monday, one council members and city staff agreed would be safer and more sanitary for local pets.
With a 5-0 vote in favor of the contract, spcaLA will now house all of the animal sheltering services that were once centralized in a facility owned an operated by Los Angeles County in Carson.
The spcaLA shelter Culver City will utilize is located in Hawthorne, which many local pet owners said is a welcomed change because the Carson shelter was too far away.
According to city staff reports, the cost of running animal shelter services out of spcaLA's Hawthorne site is estimated to cost $2,452 monthly, totaling $29,424 annually.
The funds will be drawn from the $129,000 set aside for the new animal control officer position created in June.
During the meeting, pet owner after pet owner spoke out against the Carson shelter, each sharing their own horror story of how the facility was unsanitary and not managed very well.
Local resident Debra Weinrauch presented a slide show that depicted dogs in cages full of feces and a dead dog lying on top of a cage occupied by a living dog.
Weinrauch then showed a picture of a dog named Zephyr laying dead in a cage at the Carson shelter, who she believes died as a result of poor care.
Zephyr's death resulted in a lawsuit against the Carson shelter on behalf of the dog's owners.
Then she showed pictures of the spcaLA facility in Hathorne, which depicted larger and cleaner cages for stray animals.
"I ask each of you, if you lost your pets where would you prefer they go?" Weinrauch asked of the Council. "Where would you like your pets to be sheltered when they were lost and in need of help?"
Culver City resident and pet owner Roger Maxwell also criticized the Carson shelter and coined the phrase ABC, or "anything's better than Carson."
Although Culver City will no longer use Los Angeles County's facility, it will still use the control officer provided by the County to work alongside the city's own officer once a person is hired to assume the position.
Councilman Andrew Weissman said he was comforted by the fact that either the county's or Culver City's animal control officer will be able to drop off pets at anytime, especially after the spcaLA Hawthorne shelter is closed.
The animal control officer will be given a key to allow them to enter the shelter at anytime during the night and drop off an animal, according to city staff reports.
"As long as there is a gate clicker or a key and that the animal is going to be dropped off at Hawthorne resolves some of my concerns," he said.
An official from both Los Angeles County and spcaLA agreed to the late-night drop off idea, but Weissman said he would like the agreement to be made in writing so neither party would be able to back out.
Councilman Mehaul O'Leary agreed, saying that perhaps the item should be brought back as a consent calendar item next week, which would not require a discussion, to incorporate the agreement.
Then, council members entered a heated debate on whether the item should be approved that evening or the following week.
Vice Mayor Gary Silbiger and Councilman Christopher Armenta, who both sit on the animal control officer subcommittee, said they wanted the item to pass on Monday night and that signing with spcaLA was "long overdue.
""I want it tonight," Armenta said. "As I said, I have no idea why the county would want to go back on their word ... , The public deserves a decision on this issue tonight."
Silbiger added the issue had grown into "a matter of life and death."
Mayor Scott Malsin criticized Silbiger and Armenta for wanting things to go only their way, even though Malsin said he was confident the item would pass with five votes.
"This is politics at its worst," he said.
At one point City Clerk Martin Cole stepped in and offered a suggestion that the council unanimously agreed on.
Cole recommended that the contract be approved Monday night and that he himself would call both Los Angeles County and spcaLA to verify the agreement.
If either or both parties backed out, Cole said the item would be brought back next week for a discussion on other options the city could take.
"But the probability that we will have to return to you is very small," he said.