Thursday, April 16, 2009

ZINE Moves to Find Mary O'Connor's Service Dog, Hambone

On April 13, 2009 , although the Board of Animal Services Commissioners had canceled their meeting for the same day, due to the Easter holiday, Jack Weiss's Public Safety Committee was at work and held a meeting. At that meeting, I gave testimony which the full council had heard before both from Mary O'Connor and from me. I asked the Committee to make whatever moves are necessary to force Ed Boks and Linda Barth to make a meaningful effort to find and return Hambone, Mary O'Connor's service dog which is beleived to have been stolen from the pound. See this post and this petition.

On April 14, 2009 Councilmember Dennis Zine made the following motion in an effort to get information from Ed Boks and Linda Barth +/- Read more... as to their procedures and protocols which pertain to finding stolen animals, especially those that have an "owner." Not suprisingly, the motion was seconded by Councilmember Cardenas. Zine and Cardendas , along with Richard Alarcon are on the warpath headed right for Ed Boks's head and this flagrant deprivation of Mary O'Connoer's rights by the Department Animal Siezures is just the thing to incensed the following constituent groups: Women, disabled persons, rape survivors, low income citizens, pet owners and critics of the Department of Animal Services. That's a lot of votes. We at BoardWatch commend Mr. Zine's action to make this motion...we just wish it had been made on March 27 when Mr. Boks and Mary O'Connor were both present at council's meeting. However, we understand that it takes time to investigate allegations made by the public and it appears that Mr. Zine, retired police officer has found enough evidence to support Mary's claim. We look forward to swift action on this case, now that Council has recognized the need for it.



April 14, 2009

(Click HERE to see the Original Motion)

Recent public testimony at City Council and Committee meetings has indicated that a
dog that was impounded at a Los Angeles Department of Animal Services (LAAS)
shelter is now missing and may have been stolen. Any breach of security that would
allow an impounded pet in the care ofLAAS to be stolen or otherwise taken by an
individual other than its owner should be thoroughly investigated.
In the course of the Department's daily work, many animals that do in fact have owners
are found or seized and then taken into custody at LAAS facilities. While this
impounding function is critical to preserving the safety of animals and the general public,
pet owners also have a reasonable expectation that efforts will be made to reunite them
with their lost pets. LAAS policies should be reviewed to ensure that impounded pets are
successfully reunited with their rightful owners whenever possible.
I THEREFORE MOVE that the Department of Animal Services report to the Public
Safety Committee with a detailed accounting of its policies regarding found, seized, or
otherwise impounded animals and the procedures in place to reunite them with their
owners, including a plan to correct any security deficiencies that may lead to the theft of
animals that are held at the City's shelter facilities.

PRESENTED BY : Dennis Zine

Councilmember 3rd district

SECONDED BY: Tony Cardenas

Saving Brindi

From The Coast
Halifax, Nova Scotia (that's Canada folks)

The city wants to kill Francesca Rogier's dog. But with a pack of supporters and a court judgment on her side, Rogier refuses to roll over for the bureaucrats.
by Lezlie Lowe
March 9, 2009

Sometimes you have to laugh, so that you don't cry. Just ask Francesca Rogier.

"I wouldn't believe this story if somebody told me," she says. "Honestly."

And yet...the fantastically far-fetched plotline that belongs to the story of Brindi the dog---Rogier's five-year-old brown mutt that was seized by the city after three attacks on other dogs, saved from euthanization by a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge, and that continues to be held at the Dartmouth SPCA---is the third-rate novelist's narrative Rogier is living.

"I can't explain why things are the way they are," she says.

The conflict started in August 2007, when Brindi was tied up by a thin leash in front of her East Chezzetcook home while Rogier ran inside to change before driving to the store.
+/-

The city wants to kill Francesca Rogier's dog. But with a pack of supporters and a court judgment on her side, Rogier refuses to roll over for the bureaucrats.
by Lezlie Lowe
From The Coast Halifax, Nova Scotia

Sometimes you have to laugh, so that you don't cry. Just ask Francesca Rogier.

"I wouldn't believe this story if somebody told me," she says. "Honestly."

And yet...the fantastically far-fetched plotline that belongs to the story of Brindi the dog---Rogier's five-year-old brown mutt that was seized by the city after three attacks on other dogs, saved from euthanization by a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge, and that continues to be held at the Dartmouth SPCA---is the third-rate novelist's narrative Rogier is living.

"I can't explain why things are the way they are," she says.

The conflict started in August 2007, when Brindi was tied up by a thin leash in front of her East Chezzetcook home while Rogier ran inside to change before driving to the store.

"The next I knew," Rogier says, "there was screaming."

Brindi had broken free and dashed her front yard's length to the road, attacking a leashed dog that was walking by. Rogier says it was a shock: "On the last day of obedience training. I had her in a 'lie down and stay' in the middle of a classroom and about 40 dogs were trailing past."

Rogier apologized and offered to pay to have the dog checked out. "Everyone around here is either connected by family or church or time. So I wanted them to understand that I was trying to do the right thing."

Rogier got a written warning from Animal Services.

Seven months later, in April 2008, Brindi and Rogier were in the yard. Brindi was unleashed and far enough away that, Rogier says, "I just couldn't reach and grab her." A dog on a leash was approaching. Rogier gave Brindi a command to stay.

"And then she kind of flexed."

Before Rogier caught up, Brindi attacked the second dog, causing tooth puncture wounds to the animal's chest.

Animal Services delivered a muzzle order for Brindi for any time the dog was not inside or secured on her own property.

Fast forward three months. July 2008. Incident three. Rogier says, "I'll never stop regretting what I did that day."

Rogier was bringing Brindi out back for a pee one early Sunday morning. She slipped out of Rogier's hands before her muzzle was on and ran around to the front of the house. "She knew there was a guy walking a dog. Without even seeing, she knew. If I had known I wouldn't even have touched the door."

The man was walking one dog, with another smaller dog in his arms. As Rogier turned the corner, she saw the man kicking Brindi in the head.

Four days later, two HRM animal control officers arrived at the door with another order paper. "It says that they are going to take Brindi and they are going to euthanize her. That's it. It was like they were speaking Chinese. I couldn't fathom how and why."

So the conflict started in August 2007. But the story---the real story---begins here. Because before Brindi's euthanization date---scheduled for two weeks after she was seized---Rogier sought legal counsel. And she thereby launched her official journey into sainthood or crackpotdom. Depending, of course, on your take.

Francesca Rogier arrived in Nova Scotia from Kentucky with Howard, a deaf half-collie, half-setter with a bad coat and scabs. After Howard died, Rogier decided her new dog would not---repeat: not---be high-needs.

What's that saying about god having other plans?

She saw Brindi's ad on Month after month, she scrolled on by. "She seemed like a good dog," Rogier says, "but not a good fit for me because I wanted to take the time to work on the house."

Ah, the house.

The house is the circa-1862, one-and-a-half-storey Cape Cod Rogier bought for $55,000 in January 2006---furniture, dishes and linens included. It needed a new foundation and Rogier, an architect and former prof at the University of Kentucky, had drawn up plans for a reno, too.

In June 2007, Rogier ended up visiting the Cape Breton shelter where Brindi was living. She had been taken in two years earlier after being found tied up in the rain with a litter of puppies. She was not socialized, not spayed, never trained. She had never really had a home.

"You'd have to be a real creep to walk away from a dog that had been there for two years. You'd have to be a really big stinker," Rogier says.

She took her for a walk. Brindi, she remembers, was excited but well behaved. She filled out the paperwork. "Mutts are my favourite thing."

The shelter owner wouldn't take the standard fee for Brindi. "She just said, 'take her and give her a good life.'"

After Brindi was seized to be killed---that is, after the shock wore away and she could think---Rogier formulated a position: "It doesn't fit into any pattern of enforcement."

And with that argument, Rogier took the city to court.

She won. At least in a manner.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge Duncan Beveridge quashed Brindi's original euthanization order because the city failed, he wrote, to accord Rogier "even the most minimal requirements for procedural fairness." One example? In what the city called its "complete investigation" of the third attack, no one bothered to take a statement from, or even contact, Rogier.

Beveridge awarded Rogier costs. But he didn't order Brindi released---Rogier is unsure if her lawyer never asked or Beveridge never offered. But the city didn't get an order so it didn't budge. It continues, today, to hold Brindi at the SPCA shelter on Scarfe Court in Dartmouth.

Rogier---who had only ever been to court before the Brindi mess once, to fight a parking ticket ("and I paid it," she says)---goes back to court June 5 to answer to the city's second try---new charges stemming from the third attack incident.

But win or lose, it might not end there. HRM spokesperson Deborah Story says, "We'll wait until the present charges are seen to. Then we'll decide what course of action to take."

Neither party is backing down.

The city, you see, views this as black-and-white:

Here is a dog that has attacked three animals and whose owner is unable, or unwilling, to follow restraint orders. "Our bylaw clearly states the criteria for declaring a dog to be dangerous. And in this case that is what happened," says Deborah Story.

Francesca Rogier? She sees the story of Brindi in shades of grey:

Here is a dog that has had a terrible life, whose owner took her on when no one else would. "I got her spayed, I got her microchipped, I did her obedience training, I got her shots, I gave her regular baths...I tried to do everything right that I could," Rogier says.

"She had a problem [with territory]. I had mess-ups. We needed to do more training. I needed a fence. That's a little different than killing her. Taking her out of my home and killing her."

But black or white or grey, the question is: How can someone fight this for so long and so hard and risk losing so much?

Remember Francesca Rogier's house?

Rogier---about 50, short, wavy black hair and a black Columbia fleece---sits at her clutter-topped kitchen table dusting with her bare palm under random items---a Brindi donation jar, a calculator, envelopes, deodorant. Brindi's dried up beef bones still kick around the kitchen. Behind Rogier, a bumper sticker on the side of the fridge reads: "Well behaved women rarely make history."

The house has a striking view of Chezzetcook Inlet out the back, the calibre of vista that only approaches affordable anymore on Nova Scotia's eastern shore. Inside, the generous mouldings are intact and there's a built-in corner cabinet in the dining room. The floors, as you might expect with a 150-year-old house, are off-kilter.

Except "off-kilter" is the understatement of the century.

The back door is open. Well, let's call it ajar---a curtain's jammed in the crack and Tuck Tape holds it all in place. Another door? Same thing. Open a closet, look down and you can see a skating rink of ice. See, there's no foundation here. So there's no heat. No hot water. No water at all. A wobbly ramp leads to the kitchen door. "Why don't you sit in the sun? It's warmer," Rogier offers. The oven is turned on and left open in a fight against the cold. February, for its part, is winning.

The house has been jacked up since last summer---see-through where houses aren't supposed to be see-through.

The footings were poured July 12 and everything with Brindi and the city started two weeks later. "We're talking February here," Rogier says. "I have stopped my life cold, thinking if I devote 100 percent of my time to this, I can get her out faster." Rogier's architectural plans are still up on the kitchen wall. But in the meantime, the contractor has gone bankrupt.

"I'm facing everything in ruin," she says. "I don't know what to say."

Rogier may owe lawyers (she's now looking for her third) in the $70,000 range. By June, the $25-a-day shelter fees, if she is ordered to pay them by the provincial court, will hit $8,000. The city is using its no-added-cost in-house legal.

The elephant in this very cold room is the suggestion that perhaps Rogier is being made an example of.

"That is totally not the case," says HRM's Deborah Story. "We have developed these bylaws which are legal and binding. We have to operate under the terms of that bylaw. For us to just say, 'Oh, in this case we won't or in another case we won't [go this far]'...then the city has not performed its job."

Rogier says this. "If [the city] took someone else's dog tomorrow and they even did it the right way---like, let's say they did do an investigation, let's say they did charge them [at the time of the incidents]. Do you think that owner is going to fight to get that dog back? After what happened to me? I don't think so."

If not---or if not only---being made an example of by the city, Rogier has certainly become an example of a cause bolstered by online social networking. She started a blog about her experiences, which led to a Facebook page started by a Calgary supporter she's never met. "Brindi's Angels" are firing off letters from across the country and into the southern United States.

To these dog-lovers, Rogier is a saint.

To some others? A crackpot.

She's probably neither, and at the same time a little bit of both. She may have started this fight because she believed the process for seizing her dog was unfair, and she may have had that belief confirmed by a judge. But mostly she can't win no matter what.

If she succeeds June 5 in provincial court---if she gets Brindi back---she'll be, to some, that lady with the dangerous dog on East Chezzetcook Road. Small town rumours die hard.

If she loses? If Brindi is euthanized or sent to another shelter for re-adoption? She'll be, to some, that crazy lady who lost her dog and a big chunk of her money along with her.

"There will be people who are angry with me no matter what I do," Rogier says.

And still, she keeps doing it.

We're standing at the kitchen table now. The snow is coming down in a shag carpet and there's sanding only on East Chezzetcook Road. But it's hard to get away because two hours later there's still more to this story---death threats, a hunger strike, Rogier's take on the SPCA.

Rogier laughs. She laughs. It's pretty much all she can do. She laughs in awkwardness and sincerity and exasperation---"If you can't save a dog, what good are you? There's a lot of things you work for in your life. You work for poverty, you work for peace. But just saving a dog's life shouldn't take that much trouble. Really. Especially a dog like this. You know, people ask me: 'Why don't you just let it go?' It's like, what hope do I have of accomplishing anything if I can't save a dog?"

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Animal Services Board Takes Aim on Death Star

OUR FIRST BREAKING NEWS!: Ed Boks and Linda Barth Guilty of Misappropriating Funds?

The meeting that wasn't supposed to happen turned the L.A. North Central Animal Care and Control center upside down, this afternoon, as the Board of Commissioners took out their blasters and put the Evil Empire, helmed by Barth Vader, square in it's sights.

When we last left the Board at their March 23 City Hall meeting, the next scheduled meeting was to take place on April 27. But, due to some heavy whining on our end, the Board quietly announced on Friday last that they would indeed meet twice in April and that their first meeting would today at 1PM at the NC "shelter." The room was small and initially stuffy as we trudged though the agenda. Ed Boks was absent again as he has been from every meeting, his own or City Council's, since Council skewered him in late March which was quickly followed by Councilmember Alarcon's "NO CONFIDENCE" motion.

Laura Beth Heisen, Bobby Dorafshar and Rachel Papp presented the Spay Neuter Advisory Committee's preliminary report which called for lots of things to happen which will further our goal to be a "No Kill" city. For 2 hours, the report was bandied about until finally, the Board voted to implement whatever measures could be quickly implemented as the report makes it way through the bureaucratic maze. Essentially, this dedicated and hardworking volunteer Committee has done the Department's job (for which we pay Boks and Barth dearly) for them and has proposed real procedures and protocols to alleviate the stall of the opening of the system's own spay/neuter clinics as well as other measures our highly paid management team should have been working on for the last 3 years.

Next, came the seemingly innocuous item 4: Discussion of a "Verbal update on Spay / Neuter Program Expenditures," This discussion began as simple presentation of "where does the money go," but soon, ever diligent Vice President Kathy Riordan wanted answers about why the Department (you, the taxpayer) has paid out--or been billed for-- $179,000 to the Sam Simon Foundation for Mobile Spay/Neuter surgeries, when Sam Simon has NO CONTRACT WITH THE CITY TO PROVIDE THESE SERVICES. You see, the Administrative Code provides that any expenditures to a vendor over $20,000, and which take place over more than a year MUST be only to a vendor who has an APPROVED CONTRACT with the City. Simon lost this contract to the Amanda Foundation 2 years ago, so why is he billing--more importantly, WHY ARE WE PAYING HIM ANYTHING?

The Amanda Foundation holds the current "spay/neuter van" contract with the Department and today was awarded a further 3-year contract. It seems that Sam Simon (billionaire (millionaire?) producer on the "The Simpsons" gravy train) has been billing the Department--and been getting paid--$80 per surgery- with no discount coupons being presented. Without a city contract, this puts him in direct competition with approved vets who are being asked to accept less money for their surgeries. In her comments to the Board, Teri Austen (Amanda Foundation) was "incensed!" She even asked the City Attorney's rep whether Boks and Barth making these payments amounted to "misappropriation of funds" which is a big "no-no" in government. City Attorney: "I can't answer that question." I answered it for her in my comment, "Yes, it is misappropriation of funds." I was incensed--the whole room was incensed but for Barth, who tried to wriggle out by saying that she wasn't there when the Simon contract was terminated and the Amanda contract took over. Linda Barth was there to approve payments to Sam Simon even though she knew damn well that Simon held NO CONTRACT and should have been paid exactly $0. Mention was made of Simon's 60 Minutes interview from which everyone assumed that Simon was paying for all of these surgeries out of the goodness of his deep pocketed heart. Not so, apparently. If this is not the death toll for Ed Boks and Linda Barth, then Lord only knows what it will take.
More coverage tomorrow including:
  • a heroic "Save Stu" motion by Commissioner Quincey.
  • a demand from the Board for an investigative "closed session" regarding the theft of Mary O'Connor's dog, "Hambone." The session will be "closed" because employees are accused of being involved in the theft of this disabled woman's dog.
  • a demand for a report on why Danielle of Diamonds in the Rough (DIR) rescue is being harassed by the Harbor shelter ACOs, why she's been banned from pulling animals, and why her New Hope card was pulled. Danielle says, that ACOs who admired her work have been transferred out of Harbor. Seems like the current District Supervisor has it in for DIR and the Board wants to know why.
This was a meeting to be remembered. Too bad Ross Pool couldn't put it together to have a tape recorder there. Hope he took good notes.

Unhappy Update on Kim's Cat Cole

4/13 UPDATE: I was waiting for Kim to let people know about this but others have called the vet and posted this sad news elsewhere. Having a tough time with that one. Sadly, I must report that Cole has passed on to another life somewhere else. He died in his sleep on Saturday night after pulling through his 3rd surgery: Amputation of the leg. He will be missed and remembered with lots of love. His brother, Will survives him, so we hope Will will pass our love and messages on.

There is still a bill lingering and payments due to people who loaned us the cash to get Cole into surgery faster that we could raise the money required by the vet. Please help us clear this up, if you can.

4/11 UPDATE: Poor little Cole. The photo at left was taken just before Cole was admitted for surgery to mend his broken leg.
After the surgery, he seemed to be doing fine. Then after only one day, while still in hospital, he broke the leg again. This required a second surgery to repair the break with larger pins.

After the second surgery, he would not eat and was lethargic. The doctor told Kim that there was a lot of "necrotic" tissue around the leg and that it may not heal correctly; amputation may be necessary. Because Cole was not eating, they sedated him and inserted a feeding tube, but what came out of his stomach may be the worst news possible. A gold-ish fluid which the vet says is THE sign of FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis). Cats do not normally recover from FIP and Dr. Hahn broke the news to Kim that Cole may have to be euthanized due to the FIP which most often results in a painful death for kitties. More blood tests were done for FIP on Friday and we hoped to get the results back on Saturday but they did not come back from the lab. Dr. Hahn called Kim and said that infection in the leg (from the necrotic (dead) tissues was progressing quickly and that amputation must be performed immediately).

There was doubt that Cole would survive the third surgery in 5 days. He did, as far as we knew as of this afternoon. He came through and was stil sedated when Kim spoke to Dr. Hahn at about 2:30 PM. We're still waiting for the blood test re: FIP. Poor little Cole is by no means out of the woods. This is a tough long weekend for Cole and for Kim, so please send good thoughts and prayers for both.

Donations have dried up and we want to be able to pay Dr. Hahn for his services and kindness. We're down about $900 total. A good friend of Cole put up, as a short term loan, the $450 necessary to get Cole into surgery but that wasthe friend's car payment which he absolutely needed to have repaid from donations by Friday 4/10. Well, the car payment is not made and this friend is in his own financial straights.
Please contribute what you can in the ChipIn boxes below. If you would like to donate via a 501(c)3 and receive a receipt for your taxes, Forte Animal Rescue has agreed to accept targeted donations which will go straight to Cole's surgery fund. Email us at to contribute this way and we'll set it up for you in a very easy manner. We were hoping that Cole would have been releases and recovering at home by now so that he could attend the blessing of the Animals at Olvera Street today. But no Cole, no Hambone and a very sad Easter all around.
Hereare the first two EXPIRED Chip-ins from Kim's site which tells more of her own story. We are putting all current/expired Chip-ins here for transparency. All donations go to the same account. Plese use the BLUE #3 ChipIn for donations. Thank you.
~Jeff de la Rosa (Stu's Dad).

4/7 UPDATE on Donations for Cole's surgeryActors and Others for Animals has donated $75 and has secured low cost surgery at East Valley Animal Clinic. We thank them both.

The goal is now reduced to $1669 including the initial exam at Animal Emergency Clinic from March 28. We have raised $767 . We are short $967. Please do what you can. Thank you.

Monday, April 13, 2009

>Special Meeting of the Board< By popular demand of one.

+/-

As frustrating as it is to have to continually tell the Board of Commissioners and Linda Barth (Is Ed Boks still around?) how to act like a board and not a garden club, sometimes the hours of work pay off. You may recall the post we did a while back which shows that the Board , by law, must meet AT LEAST 2 times per month according to the L.A. Charter and Administrative Code. For the most part, except for Riordan, this plea/demand/notice has fallen on deaf ears. However, at the March 23 Board Meeting, Jeff informed Commissioner Kathy Riordan that "Staff" had cancelled the meeting scheduled for today, April 13. Jim Bickhart was eavesdropping on this conversation and may have been instrumental in scheduling tomorrow's Special Meeting. That's the good.

If you know one person who knows of this meeting being held at the Los Angeles Animal Services North Central Animal Care and Control Center (Shelter), please tell us whom that may be. Hoss Fool, Board Secretary, has never been able to put together a way for y'all to be notified by email of meeting. Yes, you can ask, prior to every meeting, to be notified, but this is a big City--we have the technology. Council has the technology. You see, "Staff" (Barth, Boks, Bickhart) would rather NOBODY show up for these meetings. That way, the public will not be able to complain about the Department's negligence, lameness, boneheadedness; or just plain arrogance regarding all matters under their control.

So here it is--Your notice that there is a forum for you to air your thoughts, suggestions, ideas, gripes etc.



Tuesday, April 14, 2009
1:00 P.M.
North Central Animal Shelter
3201 Lacy St.
Training Room
Los Angeles, CA 90031

Tariq Khero, President
Kathleen Riordan, Vice-President
Irene Ponce
Archie J. Quincey, Jr.
Ruthanne Secunda

What they won't be discussing or taking action upon:

1. The Mary O'Connor Case which involves a shelter employee stealing a disabled woman's service dog.

2. The "Stu" case, which needs Board action to tell the Court of Appeal that the record is defective and should include documents which show that Due Process was violated on the road to kill Jeff's dog, Stu, who, if you ask anyone that matters, including: Bobby Dorafshar, George Mossman (hearing examiner), Captain Dedeux, Richard Polksy, Ph.D. --they will tell you (as they have told the Board) that Stu is NOT DANGEROUS and should not be killed.

(YES--BOTH OF THESE ITEMS WERE REQUESTED TO BE ON THE AGENDA BUT LINDA BARTH AND ED BOKS BLOCKED THEM). We're still waiting for the neutered Board to rent some balls and take control of their meetings, their agendas and the department. (See minutes which aren't there of 3/23/09 Board Meeting at which Kim Carnochan demanded the very same in her address during Public Comments.)

3. The Board's own NO CONFIDENCE motion regarding the inept General Manager Ed Boks. City's Council's motion of NO CONFIDENCE IN ED BOKS, has mysteriously been laid dormant. We suspect--um--WE KNOW that City Attorney candidate Jack Weiss is stalling the passage of this motion until he is elected. That way , he can be the City Attorney responsible for ridding us of Ed Boks. Please...your campaign before the lives of animals and the people who love them? Shame on you , Jack Weiss.

So gather up you civic duty and mosey on over to this meeting on Tuesday, April 14, 2009.

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