John Keisler, the recently hired bureau manager of Long Beach Animal Control Services (ACS) unleashed a discussion about the facility’s contribution to the idea of change at an Open House at the P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village on the afternoon of Jan. 24.

“We want to be the safest city in the country for people and animals,” Keisler told an audience of more than 80. Participants included LB Health and Human Services Director Ron Arias, councilmembers Rae Gabelich and Gerrie Schipske, Animal Match Rescue Team members Louise Montgomery (who provided hot It’s A Grind Coffee and snacks) and Lynda Montgomery, community organizer Justin Rudd, Friends of Long Beach Animals board members, and author Deborah Turner, who is recovering along with her literary Chihuahua Wheely Willy from a bad tumble on the stairs.

Keisler acknowledged that the facility’s procedures had defects that came to a head in a public outcry over the mishandling of euthanization procedures in April 2008. He referred to “lessons learned” and said that changes are already being made in operations improvement, medical protocol and listening to what the community has to say. At the same time, he was adamant in his belief that not just city government but also the public are on the hook for the positive changes to become permanently effective.

“We mean business,” Keisler said, adding that the newly restructured ACS will be a “culture of us.”

Keisler said that the facility’s new goals include public safety, humane treatment of animals and a community engaged through outreach, availability of resources and fostering responsibility for pets. ACS will be taking a proactive stance in dog licensing and will be sending staff door to door to find unlicensed and unregistered dogs. Other changes and additions include the addition of Dr. Loren Eslinger, DVM, a semiretired vet from the Belmont Shore Veterinary Hospital who agreed to be the consulting vet; and emergency preparation to make ACS a refuge for pets stranded in a disaster. The new Website, designed and run by staff member Richard Cranston, offers a wealth of animal and shelter information as well as updates on news and events.

ACS’s facility is shared with spcaLA, which offers pet adoption, training, humane education and DART, a disaster animal response program. The organization’s president, Madeline Bernstein, described the joint occupancy as “a collaboration between likely an unlikely partners” because of the red tape involved in combining a nonprofit with a city government office and responding to concerns of neighbors who may not have wanted such a large facility in the neighborhood (note that the Companion Animal Village is located in Eldorado Park, with no residences in the immediate location). Bernstein described spcaLA’s objectives as prevention through education, intervention through law enforcement, and mentoring through fostering a bond with animals and humans, particularly children.

“It’s very important to teach a child to count,” Bernstein said. “It’s even more important to teach a child what counts.”

“I liked her speech,” said Gene Miner, an animal activist who was visiting from Utah. “Anything can be done if you put forth the time and effort.”

After the presentation, Keisler and Bernstein answered questions, and guests were invited to tour the facility and view the inside of an animal control vehicle.

Messages of hope, optimism and positive change notwithstanding, Keisler is realistic.

“Yearly, we get 18,000 calls, an intake of 15,000 animals and a medical evaluation of 11,000,” he said. “How many more are there out there?”

“How we treat our animals is a reflection of how we treat each other.”
ACS Bureau Manager John Keisler, paraphrasing Mahatma Gandhi

ACS manager John Keisler answers a question from a guest at ACS’s Open House

FOLBA President Shirley Vaughan and Vice President Nona Daly enjoy the ACS tour. They’re standing at the facility’s Memorial Garden

Nothwithstanding the unfortunate blink at the camera’s click, Rae Gabelich and son Guy found the presentation and tour eye-opening

Random Clawings:
City Will Review Programs Subsidized by General Fund Support

Programs subsidized by the general fund are scheduled for review by the City of Long Beach on Tuesday evening, Feb. 3. These programs include the Breeding Enforcement Program [6.16.190: Restricted Dog Breeding and Dog and Cat Transfer] a valuable piece of legislation developed by the city and local animal activists that helps to stave off pet overpopulation.

“Essentially, this is a responsible thing to do and good management,” said ACS Bureau Manager John Keisler, who naturally favors a subsidy.

A portion of the agenda attachment reads as follows:
Animal Care Services

The proposed changes to the FY 09 fees reflect full cost recovery on the majority of services provided to residents of Long Beach and the four contract cities (Signal Hill, Cerritos, Seal Beach and Los Alamitos). These changes result in an additional $37,561 in fee revenue to the General Fund . Fee levels also include the development of new programs, including microchipping and door-to-door license canvassing to better promote the mission of Public Safety and the Humane Treatment of Animals, as well as the implementation of an administrative citation program to encourage greater compliance with local laws . The Health and Human Services Department is recommending a subsidy for a portion of the Breeding Enforcement Program . Each year over 12,500 animals are abandoned or impounded at the City Shelter . The average cost for animal care at the Shelter is $161 per animal . Curbing the illegal breeding and selling of animals in the City of Long Beach is an important strategy for improving public health and reducing the costly flow of thousands of animals in the City Shelter . Over the coming months, administrative citations will provide Animal Control Officers with the tools to enforce regulations and generate revenue that will offset the costs of the program. Currently, the program is contributing over $27,000 a year from indirect revenues (licenses, impound fees and penalties for unaltered animals) and achieving even greater cost avoidance. The total subsidy projected for this program is $109,550.

Please address any opinions to Keisler at (562) 570-PETS. For feedback for the City Council, the meeting begins at 5 p.m. in Council Chamber at City Hall.


Free Spay-Neuter Clinic for Feral/Undomesticated Cats, Feb. 15

All feral cats over 4 months welcome from both inside and outside the Long Beach area. Cats will be sterilized, vaccinated, treated for fleas, wormed and ear-tipped. Microchips are available to caregivers/trappers at cost—$11. All cats must be in humane traps—no exceptions. Location to be determined. Reservations required, volunteers needed. E-mail the Stray Cat Alliance at [email protected] for details.

National Bulldog Beauty Contest, Pug Pageant, French Bulldog Pageant, Senior Dog Pageant and Pet Adoption Fair, Feb. 15

Snuffly dogs everywhere. The Senior Dog Pageant is open to all breeds and mixes! $20 entry fee. 10 a.m.–3 p.m. at Marine Stadium, 5225 E. Paoli Way, Long Beach. Vet onsite. Click here for full details.