LA’s Animal Services Boks Resigns: Mandatory Spay/Neuter A Catalyst?

by Mary Haight on April 25, 2009

Ed Boks, a transplant from NY City, resigned yesterday from LA’s Department of Animal Services (LAAS) amid an avalanch of on-going criticism from the animal welfare community following installation of Mandatory Spay Neuter and the suspension of the low cost spay/neuter program, the latter of which he had to reinstate after the LA city council stepped in to the fray. thelongdrivehome

The job of GM in LA must be something else, given that Boks was the fourth appointment in four years. His tenure now ended at three-and-a-half years, Nathan Winograd, who–if you don’t know his background–once ran a shelter himself, states that it’s time animal advocates and other stakeholders have a say in who takes this position.  Winograd points out that Nevada’s Washoe County animal control has an intake more than three times that of LA, yet they manage to save 90% of dogs and 85% of all cats.  The No-Kill plan has taken root and flourished there.  And did I mention that there’s no backing of mandatory spay neuter anywhere in this plan?

After the institution of Mandatory Spay Neuter law in LA last October, dog kills increased 24% and cats 35%.  A shame for Boks record, as before he pushed that legislation through, his kill  numbers were trending down, according to the LA Times.  LAAS had to hire more officers to enforce the law, increasing budgetary stress, and resulting in non-compliance fines imposed on the population least able to afford it.  

To my mind, one of the best things Boks did for the animal welfare community occurred during his testimony to the California legislature last year, where a Senator asked “Mr. Boks, this[mandatory spay neuter] legislation doesn’t even pretend to be about saving animals, does it?” Boks responded, “No Senator, this is not about saving dogs and cats.”  This testimony becomes an important citation to use against HSUS which regularly interferes in local political processes.  It is helpful in combating the false impressions left by proponents of this legislation.  As later revealed, mandatory spay neuter is about increasing the power, influence, and budget of the animal services/animal care and control departments.

I know there is a long list of other reasons why this resignation occurred.  Yet it appears that the cost and punitive measures attached to mandatory spay neuter coupled with the failure of the program netting higher kill and intake rates for the first time in a decade, helped set the stage for a “last straw” scenario.

For more on this story, read on

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