Fri, Apr

LA Animal Services 'No Kill' Plan Falls Short: GM Staycee Dains Announces Euthanasia for 800 Animals 


ANIMAL WATCH - On March 1, CityWatchLA received a forwarded e-mail advising that Los Angeles Animal Services’ General Manager Staycee Dains announced the City animal control department will be “Disposing of 800 Animals,” due to shelter overcrowding.  A review of the LAAS website to see the animals potentially affected showed a first page dominated by Pit Bulls and kittens. In fact, 6 out of the 9 dogs on the LAAS first page are Pit Bulls, followed by 3 out of 4 dogs on the second page, again surrounded by impound photos of small kittens. 

However, the statistical count for year results in the “Live Save Rate “of 88.36% for cats; 93.72% for kittens; and 94.76% for dogs, which meet the Best Friends Animal Society required level to be “No Kill.” Does this mean that, although alive, these animals are deteriorating to the point they will not be adoptable? 

It undoubtedly because the suffering experienced by animals in these overcrowded conditions is so great and the overcrowding so dangerous that Dains, along with her staff, believe that the only humane way out is to euthanize a large number of the animals before they hurt or kill each other, or there is an epidemic outbreak of disease.  

Another consideration in the notice provided by a volunteer is that animals are confined in small areas where they can barely eat and often go without water or have “green” water because of the lack of staffing to clean and refresh the bowls. This is inhumane. 

The dogs also do not have space to urinate or defecate other than in the cage where they are confined, and cleaning is not regular because of limited staffing.  Many do not get out of their cage for days nor walked in more than 10 days, according to volunteers.  

See:  Los Angeles Animal Services Plays Russian Roulette with Dangerous Pit Bull – Two Volunteers Attacked

Another Pit Bull Attacks Volunteer at L.A. Animal Services “No Kill” Shelter 


Many observers feel that Stacy Dains does not have the experience to run a sheltering organization of this size and political complexity, and there has been speculation that she was chosen for this position partially for that reason, meaning she wil not disrupt the power that resides in the “partnering” with the City. 

But, there is also reported disturbing descension within the department and claims that Dains is “naïve but hungry for power.” 

Several reliable sources have referred to her as “intimidating and that she has openly made employees are fearful for their jobs,” with one describing her actions and management style as “creating an uncomfortable atmosphere.“ 

Following is the e-mail sent out by Jake Miller, Volunteer Coordinator of LAAS, which sounded the alarm: 

From: Jake Miller <[email protected]>
Date: March 1, 2024
Subject: All Volunteers Please Read This
Reply-To: [email protected]

This email is being sent out to all active volunteers who have put in at least 1 hour of service in the last 6 months. It is long, so I ask that you completely read it. For those of you whom I have not had the chance to meet, I am Jake Miller the Volunteer Coordinator for Los Angeles Animal Services. I have been an animal care technician for the last 22 years and spent nearly half of that time as a volunteer liaison doing my best to help guide volunteers, ensure their safety, foster teamwork, and serve as a confidant for those struggling with the stresses that all experience from time to time operating in an open intake municipal animal shelter.

The Background…

I am writing to you today to bring attention to the current state of our 6 animal care centers and the state of our animals housed in them. This is not an easy thing for me to communicate, so I ask that you please read this and take responsible steps to help. While the subject mostly revolves around dogs, all volunteers need to understand whether you are engaged with our dog population or our cats, small mammals, exotics, outreach, and pet food pantries.

Our shelters are and have been over capacity for many months and, through no lack of trying, are not receiving the care they should be as a result due to several factors ranging from staffing shortages, a finite number of kennels, barriers to public access to spay\neuter and an economy that makes it difficult for people to keep their pets. 

For the past month, a team consisting of kennel supervision, life-saving liaisons, and volunteer liaisons have been identifying all of our dogs into categories 1 - 4. Every dog and its category have been reviewed by this team and our General Manager Staycee Dains has gone through all of the notes from volunteers and staff to make sure it has been properly categorized. The team, including myself, has responded to many emails from her asking for clarification and in many cases to re-evaluate and move dogs into different categories. A special meeting with dog volunteers was convened to explain the categories and to work out arrangements for dogs in category one that may require a modified approach. Below is an explanation of the categories (bite levels are based on the Ian Dunbar Dog Bite Scale): 

Category 1 – Dangerous

This dog should not be available to the public UNLESS the dog is stray.

If the dog is Owner Surrendered with a history of biting at a level 3 or higher or causing injury to another dog requiring surgery, then these dogs should be immediately euthanized after impound. Bites are NOT a result of teasing, extreme pain, or abuse. They should not be held for owner redemption, rescue, or adoption.

A dog is considered Category 1 if ANY one of the following is true:

· History of biting and giving at least a level 3 bite or higher. Level 3 bite is a deep puncture. The bite cannot be a result of teasing or trespassing

· After the holding period, the dog is attempting to bite during normal, noninvasive handling such as gentle exam, leashing, petting, walking nearby, approaching

· Has attacked or seriously injured another dog AND is difficult to redirect

STRAY DOGS IN CATEGORY 1 ARE LISTED AS EXPEDITED for 3 days, not including the day of impound. The third day is the last day the animal can be rescued. The euthanasia date should be the day after this. This date must be entered into the Review Date in Chameleon.

Category 2 – Unsafe

This dog may be able to be safely kept in a home under specific management but is not safe to keep in the shelter. A dog is considered unsafe to keep in the shelter if ANY one of the following is true:

· History of biting and giving a level 1 (tooth contact but no broken skin) or level 2 bite (broken skin minor surface scratch)

· May attempt to attack other dogs but is easily redirected

· May seem fine outside of their kennel, but while in the kennel, they are at times escalated and may lunge, growl, and/or try to bite

· They do not interact safely in their kennels with people and/or other dogs  

· Has killed another dog or injured so severely dog lost their life or was euthanized due to injuries

Dogs in Category 2 are Red Listed for 2 weeks, not including the day the dog was identified as being unsafe. These dogs may be adopted with proper disclosures (behavior and/or bite). They are not available for foster care.

Category 3 – Suffering

This dog is not injuring people or dogs. He makes no attempt to lunge, growl or bite. However, he is experiencing extremely high FAS and it is not humane to allow this dog to continue to be in our care. Longer term confinement is no longer an option. Interact safely with people and dogs both in and out of their kennel. Dogs are considered suffering when ANY one of the following is true:

· Spinning

· Self-harm (self mutilation or interacting in their environment in ways that cause injury i.e. happy tail, eating non-food items, getting head stuck in openings, etc.)

· Vertical exercising

· Incessant barking – ONLY stops during sleep

· Weight loss due to over exercising in kennel

Dogs in Category 3 are Red Listed for 4 weeks, not including the day the dog was identified as suffering. These dogs may be adopted and fostered (day out, etc).

Category 4 – Thriving

These dogs have demonstrated NO behavior issue with people or other dogs. These dogs are ANY combination of:

· Friendly

· Shy/Fearful (they may be trembling, avoiding, licking their lips, cowering. They are NOT baring teeth, NOT growling, NOT trying to bite)

· Exuberant (hyper, they are NOT leash climbing and using their mouth to grab things)

· Solicits attention from or avoids people (rather than growl, or tries to bite)

· Responds appropriately to other dogs (giving and accepting reasonable corrections)

 Where we are now…

Last night before our regular Thursday volunteer meeting with Staycee, she called me to tell me that she was stuck in traffic and unable to attend the meeting and gave me the details about what I would be discussing and very specific language and directives to give to our volunteers about the state of our centers and what needs to be done in the weeks to come. Since not everyone can attend the meeting because of their schedules, I am repeating what was said to the full program of volunteers, so it is clear.

We have completed the process of identifying our dogs into categories 1 - 4. Currently, there are approximately 250 dogs in categories 1 - 3. There are another 450 dogs in category 4 that we do not have the space or resources for. We need our volunteers to focus all of their efforts on dogs found in category 3 and in category 4 that have been in our care the longest.

Here is the hard news… Red Listing our dogs has begun today. Red Listing is what the department does when they request our General Manager to authorize euthanasia for an animal. It shows up on a list and is publicly available for transparency and offers rescues the opportunity to take that animal if they can. There is a team of more than 10 professionals and automated emails are sent out to over 300 rescue groups so they are aware and can make arrangements for what they can take. Reaching out personally to these groups on your part is a duplicated effort that could be used by you to help get our easier-to-adopt dogs out faster.

Category 1 dogs will have 0-72 hours depending on if they are strays or owner surrender

Category 2 dogs will be given 2 weeks

Category 3 dogs will be given 4 weeks

Category 4 dogs are not eligible for euthanasia for behavior

For volunteers that network online and on social media, which is not an expected role or responsibility of volunteers, you are not allowed to network as a volunteer, dogs in category 1. The department cannot be associated in any way with encouraging anyone (and rescues) to take category 1 dogs. This is because dogs in this category run a serious and known risk of causing serious and sometimes fatal injuries to people and\or animals and lawsuits against the department.

Every volunteer has signed an agreement before they begin their service that “I will not speak on behalf of the City of Los Angeles or LAAS, or give the impression that I am doing so, without direct authorization from LAAS.” This means that Category 1 dogs should not show up on volunteer pages or be networked by you in your capacity as a volunteer in any way. What you do on your own page is up to you but, we have 800 dogs that can and need to be networked safely and responsibly which would be a far better use of your time and efforts to make our centers better.

Today, our General Manager Staycee Dains will be interviewed on local news and give a straightforward explanation of all of this to Los Angeles, and the world through the syndication in hopes that people will understand clearly that these dogs need to get out as soon as possible and that our centers should be a place where animals go when there is no other option left. That our centers are housing the animals that truly need to be in them. That people should be fixing their pets. People should be adopting a pet in need before purchasing one elsewhere. There will also be an accompanying press release. If you miss the live interview, it will be posted on our official social media channels shortly.

So you may ask in the face of news like this…

What can I do to help?

· Be present - We need all hands on deck enriching environments, providing customer service, counseling adoptions, recruiting fosters and volunteers, smiling when you see the public, and working as a team with staff·  

· Offer solutions - We need to place 800 DOGS IN THE NEXT 4 WEEKS and this means we are beyond the point of complaints and conversations about reforms and programs. We have spent the last several months having these conversations with volunteers and staff. We have heard you and understand. So now we need solutions. If you have some great ideas for moving those 800 Dogs, please send an email to me at  [email protected] with the subject line “800 Ideas” so I know what the email contains and can work on it with our leadership team.·  

· Show up to offsite events - Many people may not know to go to the shelter or want to go to the shelter to get a pet and we have several offsite events taking place this March and April. This is our chance to bring dogs for adoption and also advertise in a personal way that the shelter is just down the road. Please answer the call when you receive our emails about events.·  

· Engage in your local community - Already one great idea was mentioned by Volunteer Lara Shea during the meeting and you can see the attached fly below to try it yourself. You can make a flyer about a dog that is category 3 or 4, make a video link to a QR code, and take it to your Starbucks or grocery store. This puts a personal plea out and highlights that dog in an intimate way our website, social networking, and press releases can't.·  

· Lean on one another - We are all one BIG team, volunteers AND staff. This is hard for us all. Please understand this and listen to what your body is telling you. Let’s burn out and talk to me and your liaison when you need to. We are here to help.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you for being a great person for stepping up to volunteer! Thank you from our whole department for your support!


One L.A. Animal Services supervisor with more than 25 years of experience said Staycee  has made comments that could imply prejudices that have resulted in complaints to the Mayor’s office. 

However, in regard to the euthanasia, he stated, “She will not euthanize 800 animals.  In fact, she will not euthanize 400; and probably none. She has a hoarding instinct, and I am willing to bet no animals will be euthanized under this program.” 

And, truly, we hope it is not necessary and that all these animals find a place they can call “home.” 

See also:  Dog-Bites Soar at LA Animal Services – Will Shelter Donations Become the Mayor’s New Slush Fund?

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former Los Angeles City employee, an animal activist and a contributor to CityWatch.)