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The Hon. Yvonne B. Burke Board of Supervisors Hall of Administration, Room 866 500 West

The Hon. Yvonne B. Burke Board of Supervisors Hall of Administration, Room 866 500 West Temple Street Los Angeles, CA 90012

January 6, 2008

Re: Hearing on Death of Puppy at Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control

Dear Supervisor Burke,

By way of introduction, our agency is one of the plaintiffs in the recently filed lawsuit against Los Angeles County, its Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC), and the department’s director Marcia Mayeda for illegal and inhumane treatment of animals at its six facilities. We are writing in connection with the upcoming hearing into the death of a puppy named Zephyr while in the custody of DACC.

On either November 31 or December 1, a ten-month-old puppy named Zephyr died while in the custody of DACC. A subsequent necropsy revealed the cause of death to be pneumonia, with marked emaciation (“starvation”). According to records, the dog at one time had been prescribed antibiotics for kennel cough, but records do not indicate that the medication was given. Administration of the antibiotics does not appear in the original Shelter Management Software (SMS) records. In other words, it does not appear she was actually treated.

Moreover, the prescription was only for five days of antibiotics, twice per day, and was not continued. According to Carson Mayor Dear’s Office, DACC staff “admitted” they only medicate once per day, meaning if Zephyr was even given the prescribed medication, it was not given according to the requirement of the antibiotic and treating veterinarian. Subsequently, the puppy developed a case of pneumonia and stopped eating leading to physical signs of emaciation, which went untreated. The dog died in her filthy kennel, without intervention by DACC staff, and without treatment or release from her suffering. The enclosed photographs demonstrate the change in her condition, which DACC staff did not respond to either humanely or according to the dictates of law.

Nonetheless, as part of a public records demand, we received records on Zephyr from DACC that raise additional troubling issues. According to Zephyr’s original SMS records, she was not given vaccinations against the type of pathogens that exist in a shelter environment; particularly a shelter like the Carson facility, that as the enclosed photographs and videotape evidence (mpg) demonstrate is marked by substandard care and falls below the legally acceptable standard. Nonetheless, the records provided in response to the demand under the Public Records Act claim that she was vaccinated on November 27,


Since the original SMS records and the records produced in response to the Public Records Act request do not match, this raises the suspicion that the latter was “doctored” to make it appear Zephyr was vaccinated, when she was not. According to the latter documents, Zephyr was vaccinated on November 27, 2007. In addition, the records include an 11/27 notation that Zephyr was “very ill” and should be killed (i.e., the “PTS” notation which stands for “put to sleep.”). Under these conditions, vaccination would be




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The Hon. Yvonne B. Burke Board of Supervisors January 6, 2008 Page two

medically contraindicated. In other words, why would they vaccinate a dog when she is very ill and they are planning to kill her? And why would they wait a month to do so? Not only is it DACC policy that all animals should be vaccinated on intake, which did not occur as she was impounded into the facility in October, but good veterinary medicine requires that vaccinations be given before prolonged exposure to conditions which would lead to illness, such as those found in the Carson facility because of substandard cleaning and care.

Finally, if it was noted that she was very ill, if it was obvious that she was not eating and suffering from “marked emaciation,” and if it was recommended that she be killed on November 27, why was she allowed to suffer and subsequently die in her cage several days later?

Zephyr’s death is tragic in that it was painful, prolonged, and wholly preventable if DACC staff simply followed basic sheltering standards. They also failed to follow the law, making their actions illegal. But Zephyr’s inhumane treatment and death is not an aberration that can be resolved with a narrow inquiry. Zephyr’s treatment and death are part of an endemic problem at DACC. What happened to Zephyr happens to countless animals on a regular basis. It just happens that Zephyr was photographed by volunteers healthy , sick and then dead.

We appreciate that you are holding a hearing on Zephyr’s death, but urge you to broaden the scope of the inquiry to address the endemic problems at the County shelters of which this death is simply one tragic example. We also urge you to inquire of the Department of Animal Care and Control why it has illegally retaliated against rescuers and volunteers who have helped to bring these matters to public attention, by denying those individuals the opportunity to aid additional animals at the shelters. In all of these matters, we stand ready to consult with you at any time to assist in your efforts to bring about the necessary change at the County’s shelters that is so desperately needed.

Very truly yours,

shelte rs that is so desperately needed. Very truly yours, Enclosures: Nathan J. Winograd 1. Images


Nathan J. Winograd

1. Images of filthy conditions at Carson facility run by DACC.

2. Video images (mpg) showing filthy conditions at Carson facility run by DACC.

3. Images of Zephyr healthy, sick and dead.

4. Original SMS records showing Zephyr was not vaccinated on impound or on 11/27.

5. Inconsistent records in response to Public Records Act request showing Zephyr was vaccinated on 11/27 though she was “very ill” and recommendation that the dog be killed.

6. Necropsy showing pneumonia with emaciation.