NKLA = Massive Marketing + “Shelter Math”


What is NKLA (No Kill Los Angeles)?  According to their website, www.nkla.org/About, their plan is straightforward: provide spay/neuter services where they are needed most so that fewer animals go into shelters, and increase adoptions so that more animals are placed into new homes.

NKLA About (Low Res) by marlukha13

Other than a massive marketing campaign, complete with billboards and posters at bus stops and other locations throughout Los Angeles, nobody really knows what Best Friends is doing to make Los Angeles a no kill community.  Based on my correspondence with Marc Peralta, Executive Director of Best Friends Animal Society – Los Angeles, it seems that Best Friends intends to keep it that way.

From what I can tell, NKLA relies heavily on shipping animals out of Los Angeles. In the animal rescue world, it’s known as transporting. In the real world, it’s making LA’s homeless animals someone else’s problem.  As long as the animals aren’t killed in LA, Best Friends can chalk up more points for its NKLA initiative and Los Angeles Animal Services’ General Manager, Brenda Barnette, can artificially inflate that agency’s success rates by counting the transported animals as “adoptions” even though they have not gone to permanent homes.  It looks great on paper, but it raises a number of questions that will likely only be answered with judicial intervention.  Higher “live outcome” figures make for great advertising and make both Best Friends and Los Angeles Animal Services look better if the only thing that matters is getting animals out the door.

What happens to the animals once they leave LA? Apparently Best Friends doesn’t want to talk about that.  Where do the animals go? Apparently Best Friends doesn’t want to talk about that either.  They might go to no kill facilities in other states, but Best Friends and LAAS aren’t telling.  Exporting animals to other communities only gives the illusion that animals are being saved in LA “shelters”.  In the meantime, what happens to the animals that are in the receiving facilities?  Or to the animals in high-kill facilities in those communities?  Are local animals being killed in other communities to make room for the imports from LA?  It’s really nothing more than a shell game and is beneficial if the priority is to increase numbers of animals getting out of LA facilities alive no matter what.

In February of this year, Best Friends sent out an e-mail newsletter with “Huge No Kill News”.  The newsletter claims that Best Friends and its NKLA Coalition Partners have reduced the killing of healthy and treatable animals by nearly 50%.  Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? It’s really not. In fact, it’s really not even true.

Words like “healthy” and “treatable” (and others like “adoptable”) are terms of art and have become very common in the lexicon of shelter management and others employing “Shelter Math” as an alternative to actual improvement.  Why make real changes when you can change the accounting instead?  In recent years, bad shelter managers and others have simply changed their accounting methods to give the appearance of shelter reform.  Using words like “healthy” and “treatable” allows them to kill the animals that don’t make the cut while still claiming to save lives based on words that they refuse to define.

* “SHELTER MATH” = a type of calculation created by management and marketing personnel for poorly run animal “shelters” (and related organizations) that gives the illusion of reform and improvement while maintaining the status quo.  Typically it involves re-naming columns/rows of data and/or creating entirely new categories for the purposes of making inflated claims of success in reducing the killing of animals.

BF Huge No Kill News 2.6.2014 by marlukha13

After reading the Huge No Kill News from Best Friends, I sent a letter to Marc Peralta to ask him for further information about how they achieved such great success.  Best Friends claims that its NKLA initiative can serve as a model for communities across the nation, so it seems perfectly reasonable to ask how they do it.  Among other things, I thought it reasonable to ask for written definitions for words like healthy and treatable as used by Best Friends.  My letter is below:

BF Records Request 2.13.2014 by marlukha13

Mr. Peralta responded in an e-mail on February 21, 2014, on which he copied an attorney in Utah, Joan M. Andrews.  It strikes me as odd that he felt the need to contact an attorney just because someone was asking for information about the NKLA program. In any event, in his e-mail he gave a pathetic excuse for not providing any information.  He says, “Due to our already demanding workload, we are unable to dedicate staff time to respond to individual requests for records such as this one.”  He then told me to contact Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS) for the information I requested. The fact is, I’ve been requesting records about the NKLA program and transfers of animals between LAAS and Best Friends since November 2012 and have yet to receive a response of any kind from LAAS, much less any records.

BF Records Request Response 2.21.2014 by marlukha13

I couldn’t have been less impressed with Mr. Peralta’s response.  It seems to me that a reputable organization would gladly provide information to support its claims of such stellar success.  After all, a 50% reduction in killing of animals is practically a miracle.  Why wouldn’t Best Friends want to tell the world HOW they did it? T o that end, I wanted to give Mr. Peralta another chance to explain, so I followed up with an e-mail.

Reply to Peralta 2.21.2014 by marlukha13

Mr. Peralta responded a few days later with some classic “Shelter Math” in a bizarre attempt to explain how Best Friends had arrived at the 50% reduction in killing figure.  His explanation is so convoluted that no matter how many times I read it, I’m still surprised at the creativity it took to concoct such a result.  I suspect that the average person reading the “Huge No Kill News” would not think for a second that there were any such calculations involved. Nor should anyone have to think that.  The concept should be straight-forward.  It shouldn’t require a lengthy explanation based almost entirely on hypothetical outcomes and wishful thinking. But, alas, it does.

This is directly from Mr. Peralta’s e-mail to me:

“Ms. Taucher,

As described on the NKLA website: http://nkla.org/ProblemSolution, we used the commonly accepted threshold of a no-kill community – a 90% save rate ( see also Outthefrontdoor.com). We are committed to ending the killing for lack of space or safe place to call home for 90% of all live cats and dogs entering LAAS which we have called in that release, healthy or treatable pets and calculated the number of additional lives that would need to have been saved in 2011 to for LA to have been a no-kill city by that definition. The number was approximately 17,000. In 2013, the number of addition lives needed to be saved for LA to be considered no kill was approximately 9,000. The reason we looked at the calculation by numbers remaining to be saved, was to provide a target number rather than a percentage in order to give those committed to this campaign a “lives-to-be-saved” goal which we feel is more immediate and compelling than a percentage.

So the metrics are as follows:

2011: 23,012 cats and dogs killed – 5,614 euthanized for medical/behavioral (10% of 56,138 live intakes) = 17,398 healthy/treatable pets killed

2012: 18, 792 cats and dogs killed – 5,416 euthanized for medical/behavioral (10% of 54,157 live intakes) = 13,376 healthy/treatable pets killed

2013: 14,085 cats and dogs killed – 5,002 euthanized for medical/behavioral (10% of 50,020 live intakes) = 9,083 healthy/treatable pets killed

(The live intake number is the total intake on the LAAS website for cats and dogs minus dead on arrivals or DOAs)

Hope that helps.”

BF Records Request Response 2.24.2014 by marlukha13

How is that supposed to help?  All it helps is to see that Best Friends’ claim is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.  See how many times you have to read it until it even begins to make sense.  Why should anyone need such a complicated “metric” to decipher what is presented as a very simple claim?  Why wasn’t this explanation included in the “Huge No Kill News”, even as a footnote?  Could it be because it would expose the truth, that the 50% reduction in killing is really not what it appears to be on its face?  Or maybe Best Friends really doesn’t want its donors to know that it uses Shelter Math to formulate its claims of success.

Whatever the reason, I thought I would give Mr. Peralta another chance to provide the records I requested.  I don’t think it’s too much to ask him what happens to the animals or to define words like “healthy” and “treatable”.  It’s perfectly reasonable to expect that Best Friends would have those definitions in writing to avoid any misinterpretation.

Reply to Peralta 2.25.2014 by marlukha13

Here is his reply, patronizing as it is:

BF Records Request Response 2.25.2014 by marlukha13

Given the response from Mr. Peralta it’s very clear that Best Friends is not going to give me any information to back up its claims, at least not voluntarily.  That complete and total lack of transparency doesn’t give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about Best Friends and only makes me more suspicious of what’s beyond the marketing.

It’s time for TRANSPARENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY.   Contact LA city officials to ask for information about what is happening behind closed doors with Best Friends and LAAS, particularly with the NKLA initiative.  The Los Angeles City Council has a Personnel and Animal Welfare (PAW) Committee that meets on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 3:00 in Room 1050 of City Hall.  Contact information for the members of the PAW Committee is:

Paul Koretz
Phone: 213-473-7005
e-mail: Paul.Koretz@lacity.org

Mitch O’Farrell
Phone: 213-473-7013
e-mail: councilmember.ofarrell@lacity.org

Felipe Fuentes
Phone: 213-473-7007
e-mail: councilmember.fuentes@lacity.org

“Operation Desert Dogs” – Part 2 – The Raid

Continued from “Operation Desert Dogs” – Rescue or Publicity Stunt?

The plan came together on the morning of January 22, 2013. The day started like any other for Rutgard, who was out in his backyard, cleaning after feeding his dogs. His cell phone rang at about 8:30 a.m., and when he answered it, he was told by Officer Tisdale of Palm Springs Animal Control to come out in front of his house because she was there to get some of his dogs. When Rutgard walked out his front door, he was shocked at what he saw. There were about 40 people gathered in front of his house, including uniformed police officers, animal control officers, and a group of “volunteers” in a park across the street all wearing matching t-shirts with emblems on their sleeves that looked suspiciously like uniforms of a sort. There were also a number of assorted official city vehicles in front of his house, many with flashing lights for added drama. They even called in some Palm Springs Fire trucks to embellish the scene.

As it happens, it’s no accident that the Animal Rescue Corps shirts look like uniforms. Haisley likes to give the appearance that he and his band of followers are operating in an official capacity (under color of law), alongside city officials, and have the authority to be doing what they’re doing. It’s that impression that’s landed Haisley in court more than once, but that apparently hasn’t deterred him. He had brought in people from Los Angeles as well as from other states to raid Rutgard’s house in a plan that was orchestrated with Palm Springs Animal Control, Palm Springs Police, and members of the Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter.

The whole scene would have been way over the top if it were really for the “rescue” of 13 dogs. As it was it made for spectacular video and photos, which is really all that mattered to the organizers of this outrageous publicity stunt. The whole escapade was captured from start to finish by a professional videographer that Haisley brought in from Los Angeles. It was also all photographed by Aimee Stubbs, a professional photographer from Tennessee with whom Haisley has worked extensively for years. These appear to be some of the most important players in this “rescue” event. The volunteers are more or less extras who probably by and large really thought they were rescuing animals (other than the ones on the board of Friends, Tanya Petrovna and Carl Johnson, who knew exactly what they were doing and why). I wonder how many of the volunteers would have been so gung-ho to trespass on private property to take animals that didn’t need to be rescued if they had known the truth.

I also can’t help but wonder what they were told about the situation in advance to convince them to take part in the “rescue”. The warrant that was obtained by Palm Springs Animal Control sheds some light on the extent of the fabrication of facts to justify the raid.

If the images don’t display properly, go to the full screen view at the bottom right of the image.

Warrant by marlukha

It was issued on January 18, 2013, but at no time was it served on Rutgard, a fact which is confirmed in the return of warrant filed with the court. Animal Control Officer Nickerson submitted a sworn affidavit in which he made material misrepresentations to establish probable cause for a warrant to be issued by the court. The misrepresentations include:

Item 3 – Nickerson states that the affidavit is in support of the search and seizure of twenty (20) to thirty (30) dogs from Rutgard’s property. Nickerson could not have reasonably believed that there were 30 dogs on that property in light of the number of times he had been to Rutgard’s property. However, he had an incentive to inflate the number to increase the likelihood that a warrant would issue.

Item 4 – Nickerson states that the City of Palm Springs received complaints about unsanitary conditions on Rutgard’s property on or about April 20, 2012. He states that he investigated the incident further and found numerous piles of feces. However, Nickerson does not make any notation of such a finding on the notice he issued to Rutgard on April 21, 2012. He only noted too many dogs on that document. See Exhibit 2 of Part 1 of this story.

Item 5 – Nickerson states that on or about June 2, 2012, he responded to Rutgard’s property and saw excessive amounts of animal feces and waste in the front and back yards. However, Nickerson did not make any report of his findings and introduces that information for the first time for the purpose of the affidavit.

Item 6 – Nickerson states that he responded to a call to Rutgard’s property on August 2, 2012 for what he describes as a dog “impaled” on the wrought iron fence. Veterinary records do not support Nickerson’s characterization as the dog having been impaled, but it sounds more dramatic.

Item 9 – Nickerson states that on September 27, 2012 he noted that the property had been cleaned, but that there were approximately 20 bags of feces that needed to be removed. Nickerson made no such notation about bags of feces on the notice issued to Rutgard.

Item 10 – Nickerson states that on January 6, 2013 Animal Control Officer Tisdale observed that several dogs belonging to Rutgard were seriously injured. Nickerson cites a January 6, 2013 Police Report (Exhibit B of the affidavit), as support for his statement. However, the Police Report states that only two dogs were bloody. In fact, two dogs had injuries of unknown cause(s). Once again, Nickerson exaggerates to make the situation appear worse than it was. In the Narrative Report by Palm Springs Police Department (Exhibit B of the affidavit), Officer T. Beckert makes a number of false statements based purely on his own speculation. For example:

a) “no evidence of food or water were [sic] evident, at least in the front yard.” Of course there was no evidence of food or water outside. It was all inside the house.

b) “Suspect Richard Paul Rutgard left a large amount of adult dogs on his unattended property and for extended periods of time without proper care and attention, resulting in significant physical injury to at least two dogs, in violation of 597.1(a) PC”. Officer Beckert had absolutely no basis for stating that Rutgard had ever been away from his property for “extended periods of time”, much less on that occasion. In fact, Rutgard had been at the grocery store on that occasion and returned home within minutes of the call from Tisdale.

c) It is also noteworthy that Officer Beckert states that Tisdale told him that she could not take the dogs because there was no room for them at the animal “shelter”. It was only about two weeks later that the same dogs were in fact taken to the “shelter” as part of the much publicized “Operation Desert Dogs”.

Item 11 – Nickerson states that on January 10, 2013 Palm Springs Police Department was called to “the scene” of a veterinarian’s office for suspected animal cruelty. What Nickerson fails to mention is that the veterinarian is Dr. Kunz, President of the Board of Friends, who had been treating Rutgard’s dogs for approximately two years. By January 10, 2013, Dr. Kunz and Friends had already been working with ARC and had planned the raid on Rutgard’s home. Dr. Kunz was giving Palm Springs Animal Control and Palm Springs Police Department the “evidence” they needed to justify seizing Rutgard’s dogs.

Item 13 – Nickerson states that he suspects that Rutgard may be housing animals at a warehouse he owns. Nickerson does not cite any evidence to support his suspicion.

Item 14 – Nickerson states that he has information that Rutgard’s dogs were being treated at two animal hospitals and gives only the addresses of those facilities. He omits the fact that one veterinary hospital is VCA Palm Springs, where Dr. Kunz is Medical Director. The other animal hospital is VCA Indio which is affiliated with VCA Palm Springs and whose staff had been communicating and cooperating with Dr. Kunz to generate “evidence” against Rutgard.

Nickerson Affidavit by marlukha

***The most remarkable aspect of the Affidavit is not what it contains, but what it omits. Nickerson conspicuously fails to even mention the fact that Rutgard had tried to relinquish nine (9) of his dogs to the Palm Springs Animal Shelter two (2) days earlier. Nickerson was undoubtedly aware that a judge was not likely to issue a warrant for seizure of dogs that Rutgard had been prevented from voluntarily surrendering just days earlier.

The existence of the warrant was a moot point anyway, though, because it was never served on Rutgard. As Haisley explained in one of countless interviews about himself and his acts of heroism, he’s learned that it’s to his advantage not to take people’s animals pursuant to warrants, because typically when animals are taken with a warrant, they are impounded and kept by animal control until the conclusion of any criminal prosecution. Instead, Haisley claims that it’s better to have animal owners voluntarily relinquish their animals to ARC.

To conduct a warrantless search and seizure of property, police and animal control would have needed Rutgard’s consent. But that seems to have been too much bother. Why ruin a perfectly good plan with the possibility that Rutgard would say no? Why ask for consent? Better to just invade his property and take his dogs without asking any questions and hope nobody figures it out. In fact, no such consent was given. Palm Springs Animal Control, Palm Springs Police officers, Haisley, and his ARC volunteers were all trespassing on Rutgard’s property. But, who was he supposed to call? The Palm Springs Police? They were already there!

Not only were they all trespassing, they then proceeded to take all of his dogs, take tons of photos and video and then plaster them all over the internet. Just hours after the raid, there were 61 photos on the websites of ARC and Friends as well as on their respective Facebook pages. They kept adding more photos because they were so proud of what they had done. They also supplied the local television stations with their professionally produced (and edited) video to show on the evening news. All of the publicity served the dual purpose of self-promotion and solicitation for donations, because, as Haisley explained, rescue work costs money.

Props for Dramatic Effect by marlukha

Captain Testosterone Commanding His Troops by marlukha

A Lot More People Than Dogs at Rutgard's House by marlukha

Ellen Lavinthal at Rutgard's by marlukha

Palm Springs Police Department even issued a press release on the afternoon of the raid touting the success of their joint effort. It’s really pathetic that a police department and animal control would brag about being so incompetent that they had to bring in a private self-proclaimed “rescue” group, dozens of volunteers, police officers, and animal control officers just to take 13 dogs from a private citizen who had tried to surrender most of the dogs to the city less than a week earlier.

PSPD Press Release January 22, 2013 by marlukha

In one of the many news stories, then Director of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, Pat Brayer, even admitted that the shelter refused to take Rutgard’s dogs when he tried to relinquish them.

Owner of 15 Dogs Speaks About Giving Them Up by marlukha

If Dr. Kunz and the rest of the members of Friends, Haisley, Palm Springs Animal Control and Palm Springs Police Department were genuinely interested in animal welfare and upholding laws related to animals in Palm Springs, why didn’t they raid the homes of their fellow Board members, Tanya Petrovna and Tamara Hedges? They both had more animals than Rutgard did. From what I’m told, at the time of the raid on Rutgard’s home, Tanya Petrovna had approximately 15 dogs and dozens of cats at her house in the City of Palm Springs, in violation of the very law that city officials alleged was violated by Rutgard. She claims to be doing TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) of “feral” cats in Palm Springs. Apparently, she’s modified it somewhat and opted to skip the return part in favor of housing cats in a cattery that she had in her front yard until Palm Springs Code Enforcement made her take it down because it violated city ordinances.

I was at Tanya’s house a couple years before the raid on Rutgard’s house and I saw a lot more than three dogs (at least ten) and a lot more than three cats even at that time. From what I’m told, she had amassed an impressive collection after that. She had enough cats that she built an illegal structure, a cattery, in front of her house for the cats. Tamara Hedges had well over the legal limit of animals at her residence in Palm Springs at the time that she and other Friends’ board members were planning the raid on Rutgard’s. Last time I was at Tamara’s house, a few years ago, she had two dogs and a dozen cats. She posted photos of three dogs and mentions cats (plural) on her Facebook page. Why weren’t Tanya or Tamara cited even once, much less multiple times, for having too many animals? Why no raid on their houses?

Tamara Sophie Sam and Cats by marlukha

Tanya Petrovna can be seen in photos of the raid carting off Rutgard’s dogs like a good little ARC minion. How she could possibly do that, knowing that she had way more animals at her own house, is incomprehensible! What’s even more appalling is the comments she made about Rutgard on Facebook after the raid. She actually had the audacity to call Rutgard a hoarder in one of the posts about the raid.

Carl and Tanya at Rutgard's by marlukha

It’s beyond me how she could fail to see the hypocrisy of what she did to him and what she said about him, knowing that she had more animals at her own house than Rutgard did. Maybe she just thought the people involved in the “rescue” would be hailed as heroes for their daring “rescue” and no one would question them. Or maybe she figured that she was a board member of the Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter and special rules apply to her. Whatever her reasoning, her actions were despicable.

Tanya Petrovna Comment on FB by marlukha

Tanya Petrovna Comment About Hoarding by marlukha

A few weeks after the “rescue”, Palm Springs Animal Control officers Nickerson and Tisdale responded to a complaint about the number of animals at Tanya’s house. According to an e-mail from Nickerson to employees of Palm Springs Code Enforcement, they counted at least 15 cats and could hear at least one dog in the house. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tanya hid several animals at a house she inherited from her father that’s a few miles from her house. In any event, the visit by animal control wasn’t a surprise to her. She had been notified in advance, so she had time to do whatever she needed to do to avoid letting city officials see how many animals she had.

E-mail From Tedd Nickerson to Code Enforcement 2.14.2013 by marlukha

Tanya Petrovna wasn’t the only one that trashed Rutgard online. She was just one of the most blatantly hypocritical. In response to photos that ARC and Friends posted on their pages, there were plenty of people who couldn’t resist weighing in to defame Rutgard even though they knew nothing about what had really happened. They believed the story that was fed to them without question and commented accordingly, and viciously. They bought the narrative that Haisley created for them as part of his self-promotion. They believed Haisley when he told them that the scars on Bowser were from fighting with Rutgard’s other dogs over food or other resources. How were they to know the truth, that Bowser was the dog that Rutgard rescued off the street when he was left for dead after an attack by several other dogs?

Haisley wouldn’t have told anyone the real story if he’d bother to find out, and it’s not likely that Dr. Kunz would tell him or anyone else. It wouldn’t have mattered to Haisley anyway, because the facts would have just gotten in the way of the plan. The truth didn’t fit Haisley’s narrative; that Rutgard’s animals were all neglected, and that the conditions were deplorable, there were high levels of ammonia, etc. Haisley uses virtually identical language in many of the videos he uses to solicit donations after ARC raids. When you watch several of Haisley’s post-raid “interviews” back to back, it all starts to sound eerily familiar, as if he has a pre-written script and creates a scene to match his pre-existing narrative. Dr. Kunz knew the truth because he was the one that treated Bowser when Rutgard took him off the street. I guess he didn’t feel compelled to set the record straight.

The photos of Rutgard’s house did not depict a house that would be a candidate for Better Homes and Gardens, but again, no one bothered to ask why it looked like it did. Had they asked, they would have found out that Rutgard had been remodeling the house before he ended up with all the puppies. He suspended construction inside of the house and instead built an enclosed patio in the back of the house with special dog-proof screen material, big dog doors to the backyard, and two swamp coolers. The house wasn’t the cleanest in the world, but the penalty for having a dirty kitchen is not invasion of privacy, confiscation of property and widespread defamation based on lies and fabrication.

Kibble on the Floor by marlukha

If you really look at the photos, you won’t see any feces or urine spots. The sofa was destroyed, but isn’t that the kind of photo that people show on Facebook with clever subtitles to make people laugh? In this context that photo was used to destroy a person’s reputation by people who had no business being in Rutgard’s home and for their own self-serving reasons. What you will see in the photos is a lot of kibble that was reportedly spilled intentionally to create a more convincing scene. There are also trays of freshly cooked skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Do any of the dogs in the photos look like they’re underfed? Do any of them appear to be unsocialized and badly behaved? If they were, would it be possible for an army of strangers to intrude on their territory without anyone so much as being scratched, much less bitten? In fact, there is at least one photo of Haisley carrying one of the dogs out of the house. If that dog were as unsocialized as Haisley claimed, why would he hold the dog inches from his face? Nonetheless Haisley had a metal wire pulled tightly around the dog’s neck, much like a noose, undoubtedly for dramatic effect. It gives a macho feel to the whole testosterone fueled raid.

Haisley With Rutgard Dog on Wire by marlukha

After a couple hours of photography, videorecording, and taking Rutgard’s dogs, Palm Springs Animal Control officers insisted that Rutgard take them to his warehouse nearby. They claimed, without any basis in fact, that he was hiding dogs there. Standing outside the entrance to the warehouse, Haisley’s sidekick, Karla Goodson (aka “Cupcake Girl”), presented Rutgard with a document for him to sign without bothering to explain what it said or what it was. She only told him that he would have to sign it if he wanted a copy of the list of dogs they took from him. She insinuated that he would be arrested if he didn’t sign it, and gestured toward a police car standing by.

ARC Transfer of Guardianship by marlukha

As it happens, the form was a Transfer of Guardianship that purportedly granted ARC ownership of Rutgard’s dogs. This is apparently what Haisley considers a voluntary relinquishment of animals. In fact, considering the circumstances, there was nothing really voluntary about it at all. The form was presented to Rutgard hours into the whole ordeal, under duress, and with no explanation about what it was and what it meant. But, who’s checking? If this were legitimately a voluntary transfer, it would be easy enough to capture the entire transaction on video in case anyone should question it later. After all, the videographer is already there taking all kinds of footage of the raid. How hard would it be to sit with the animal owner for a few minutes at the beginning of a raid to explain exactly what the document means, the legal effect of it, and what would happen next? If the idea is to have a person voluntarily relinquish his animals, why wouldn’t that conversation be recorded?

Within hours, ARC and Friends were bragging all over the internet about their successful “Operation Desert Dogs”, as the raid was dubbed. Nothing says publicity stunt quite like a clever moniker and photos plastered all over the internet within hours. How much money was given to Animal Rescue Corps in the name of this “rescue”? What was the real purpose of this event? Was it really to “rescue” 13 dogs that the owner had already tried to relinquish to the animal shelter less than a week earlier?

Stay tuned for more of this saga and the “Sunshine to Maritimes” transport of these and about 40 more dogs which were inhumanely crammed into a RV for an eight day drive to Nova Scotia in the dead of winter………..

For a Salary of About $200,000 a Year, Is It Too Much To Ask That the Person Charged With “Enforcing” Animal Control Laws Actually Knows the Laws?

It may be too much to ask in Riverside County. In response to intense criticism of abusive and intentionally intimidating tactics, Robert Miller, Director of Riverside County Department of Animal Services (RCDAS) issued a press release (see below for copy with comments). Under Miller’s command, RCDAS staff have targeted low income areas of Indio (and other parts of the Coachella Valley) to issue citations for alleged “violations” of law.

The citations, which are issued whether a person is in compliance with the laws or not, are for $400 per dog, $100 each for “violations” of Riverside County ordinances requiring that dogs are licensed, vaccinated against rabies, microchipped and spayed or neutered (even though that’s not really a requirement). Interestingly, Mr. Miller makes reference to state law several times in his press release, but he fails to cite even one applicable state law.

Hint: There is only one, but I’ll let him figure out which one that is. Call me crazy, but I think for his salary of about $200,000 he should at least be able to cite the laws he is referencing. At the very least, it would increase his credibility, particularly since he’s the guy in charge of enforcing animal laws for the whole County of Riverside.

This is a developing story…..stay tuned.

RCDAS Press Release Dog Licensing 5.29.2014 With Comments by marlukha


Palm Springs city officials, Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter and Animal Rescue Corps plan a “rescue”, but is that what it really was?

How it All Started

In September 2010, a Palm Springs man, Richard Rutgard, got a dog from the Palm Springs Animal Shelter. The dog, later named “King Kong”, was a three month old large mixed breed dog. About six months later, in early 2011, Rutgard came across two abandoned female dogs that had wandered into the yard at his house in the north end of Palm Springs, California. He took the dogs in and named them “Ginger” and “Daisy”. Admittedly, he should have had the female dogs spayed, but he didn’t think too much about it because staff at Palm Springs Animal Shelter had given him a certificate of sterility when he got King Kong. His not spaying Ginger and Daisy didn’t justify what was done to him.

If the documents are hard to read, click on the full-screen icon below each one to see it better.

King Kong Certificate of Sterility and Receipt by marlukha

It wasn’t until both Ginger and Daisy got pregnant that Rutgard realized that King Kong hadn’t been neutered. It turns out that King Kong had undescended testicles (or some similar condition) that apparently went unnoticed by shelter personnel. Staff at Animal Medical Hospital (which was identified as the facility that performed the sterilization) didn’t catch it either, if he was indeed taken there for any kind of exam before being adopted to Rutgard.

One day while Rutgard was at his warehouse not far from a warehouse he owned near his home, he saw a large black dog being attacked by 3 other large dogs in the street. He ran over to the severely injured dog, put him in his car, and took him to VCA Desert Animal Hospital in Palm Springs for treatment. It took a major surgery to re-attach his rear leg, which was nearly severed, as well as additional treatment to fix the dog, who Rutgard named “Bowser”. Bowser eventually recovered, but he had extensive scarring from the incident.

In November 2011 Ginger gave birth to 6 puppies. Less than a month later, Daisy gave birth to 10 puppies. Needless to say, Rutgard was not sure what to do with all those puppies. He didn’t want to just turn them over to the Palm Springs Animal Shelter because he knew that there had recently been a lawsuit against the City of Palm Springs for violating a number of provisions of state law related to animal shelters. The suit also included a claim for false advertising against the Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter for claiming that the animal shelter was “no kill”, when in fact the kill rates were very high.

The puppies grew very fast and it didn’t take long to see that they were going to be very big dogs. The puppies ate and ate and ate. And they ate very well. Rutgard fed them fresh beef and chicken daily along with 4 different types of premium kibble. In fact, in the year or so that he had the puppies, he spent approximately $30,000 on food for the dogs alone! During that period, Rutgard also spent approximately $30,000 on veterinary care, mostly provided by VCA Desert Animal Hospital, with some veterinary treatment at VCA Valley Animal Medial Hospital in Indio as well. It’s important to note that Dr. Douglas Kunz, DVM was Medical Director of VCA Desert Animal Hospital during this time, and still is. He is also the President of the Board of the Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter (“Friends”), which currently operates the city animal shelter by contract with the City of Palm Springs. Dr. Kunz’s relationships with Friends, the City of Palm Springs, and Rutgard are very important to this story.

When the puppies were a few months old, Rutgard began contacting rescue organizations to see if any would be able to take the puppies for placement with other people. He had very little success finding homes for even one dog, much less all of them, so he felt like he didn’t really have a choice, but to keep them until he found safe places for them. Palm Springs Animal Control did nothing to try to help him, in spite of the fact that they were aware of his dilemma. Instead, they began harassing him, telling him that he had too many animals and was over the limit of animals he could keep at his home.

In August 2012, after receiving a citation from Palm Springs Animal Control for operating an illegal kennel, Rutgard contacted a local television station, KESQ (CBS affiliate), about the situation. They came out to his house to interview him about the City officials’ harassment of him for a problem that they actually created. Here is a link to the print story and the video: http://www.kesq.com/news/Palm-Springs-Man-is-in-the-Dog-House/16045814. After the story aired, Palm Springs city officials began harassing Rutgard even more, never once offering any help or suggestions for finding homes for the puppies.

Palm Springs Man is in the Dog House by marlukha

The City of Palm Springs zoning code defines a kennel as “any lot or premises on which four (4) or more dogs or cats at least four (4) months of age, are kept, boarded or trained, whether in special buildings or runways or not.” Animal Control Officer Tedd Nickerson did an inspection of Rutgard’s home in late September 2012, noting that the property had been cleaned and that he had too many dogs and also suggesting that Rutgard apply for a conditional use permit to be allowed to have more than 3 dogs. Nickerson also noted on the inspection paperwork that the City was willing to work with Dr. Kunz to spay and neuter Rutgard’s puppies at a preset rate. It finally appeared that the City was going to do something to help Rutgard with his dogs. At least they were offering to help him get the puppies fixed for a reduced rate of $50 each. Or, so Rutgard thought.

Palm Springs Citation September 27, 2012 by marlukha

How it Really Worked Out

Unbeknownst to Rutgard, there was a major upheaval in the City of Palm Springs with its Animal Control and Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter and who was going to run the new animal shelter facility that had been built at a cost of more than $8,000,000, mostly of taxpayer money. Friends really wanted to run the facility, and gave all outward appearances of being committed to turning the shelter into a progressive, no-kill facility. The board members of Friends talked a really good game. They held fundraisers and said all the right things.

But, they didn’t do all the right things. In fact, they did all the wrong things. Somewhere along the line, apparently in early 2012, Friends got the bright idea to hire a “consultant” to tell them how to run the shelter. In their infinite wisdom, they chose to hire a man named Scotlund Haisley, president of Animal Rescue Corps (“ARC”), most likely based on a personal affinity for him by one of the Friends’ board members, Tanya Petrovna. It apparently didn’t occur to the rest of the board of Friends to do their due diligence and actually check Haisley’s qualifications (or, more aptly, his lack of qualifications) for the job. If they had, they might have thought twice about hiring him to do anything for them.

All it takes is a few minutes on the internet for any person with a few functional brain cells to see a whole lot of red flags associated with Haisley. He parted ways with the Humane Society of the United States (“HSUS”) in 2010 after working in its emergency services division for a few years. It’s unclear whether he was fired or his departure was strongly urged by HSUS president Wayne Pacelle. What is clear is that during his three year tenure with HSUS, his conduct was questionable at best. So much so that Haisley and HSUS were named as defendants in at least three lawsuits in federal court for deprivation of property under color of law without due process, among other things, stemming from “rescues” they conducted under dubious circumstances. (For those that are really interested the lawsuits are: Christensen v. Quinn, et al; Garwood v. State of Indiana; Pang v. Burns, et. al.) At HSUS Haisley refined his vigilante animal “rescue” tactics, which were praised by Wayne Pacelle at the time, who said that he liked Haisley’s cowboy ways.

That is, until Haisley and his cowboy ways landed himself and HSUS in court one too many times. Then apparently it wasn’t so good. In the short time that Haisley was heading up HSUS’s emergency services, several people in that division quit, citing Haisley’s recklessness and lawlessness and the danger that he created for them and others. Haisley wasn’t going to let something like a few lawsuits (at least one of which is still ongoing) get in his way, after all, they didn’t cost him anything because HSUS hired attorneys to deal with them. In early 2011, Haisley went out on his own, recruited a few true believers, and started his own “rescue” group, and ARC was born.

By his own admission, Haisley doesn’t have much in the way of education, nor does he have much in the way of certification or training that qualifies him to teach others how to run an animal shelter or do much of anything else. But, that’s not enough to stop someone like Haisley from selling his services to others. To some, he must be very convincing, because people seem to take him at face value and not check his credentials before getting involved with him.

Haisley Responses to Interrogatories in pending federal lawsuit by marlukha

Who knows what Haisley told Friends he could do for them, but whatever it was, they fell for it. Given the history and collective wisdom of Friends’ board members, it’s not surprising. They had already blown at least one great opportunity to hire a progressive shelter director. In any event, at some point, Friends, ARC, Palm Springs Animal Control and Palm Springs Police Department all decided to work together, not to help Rutgard, but to stage a “rescue” of his dogs. By late 2012, Palm Springs Animal Control had stepped up its game and began citing Rutgard more, which in retrospect was clearly just intended to lay a foundation for a plan that would be executed in early 2013.

In December 2012, Animal Control issued notices to Rutgard, claiming that neighbors were complaining about his dogs barking. As usual, they did nothing to offer to help find homes for any of the dogs, although they did capitulate and take in two of Rutgard’s dogs on separate occasions in late 2012. Rutgard took them to the animal shelter to relinquish them after he was told by VCA Palm Springs that Dr. Kunz would no longer honor the reduced rate sterilizations that had been agreed upon by the City and Dr. Kunz. The justification given to Rutgard was that the shelter was no longer being operated by the City of Palm Springs (Friends took over running it on November 1, 2012), so VCA would no longer honor any agreements made by the City. (He found out much later, after a thorough review of his invoices and payment records, that VCA Palm Springs had only actually done one sterilization surgery for the reduced rate of $50. He paid hundreds of dollars each for several more.)

On January 6, 2013, Animal Control Officer Leslie Tisdale called Rutgard on his cell phone to tell him that he had to get home right away because his dogs were in the front yard and some of them where fighting with each other. Rutgard was at the grocery store getting more chicken for the dogs and arrived home within a few minutes to see Tisdale and some police officers in front of his house. Their presence right at his fence was making his dogs very agitated. Apparently two of the dogs had gotten into a fight, which was likely provoked by the presence of uniformed officers right outside the fence. Two of the dogs needed veterinary care, and Tisdale ordered Rutgard to take them to VCA Indio, telling him that she would call there to make sure he took the dogs there. Why should it matter to her where someone takes his dogs? Why would Palm Springs Animal Control concern itself with what animal hospital a person takes his animals? That would become clear in a couple weeks.

Palm Springs Police issued Rutgard a citation, alleging violation of California Penal Code §597(b), for “animal neglect/crimes”. The alleged violation was amended the following day to Penal Code §597.1, failure to provide proper care and attention for animals. The reason for the change in “violation” also became clear later. Rutgard had taken his dogs to Dr. Kunz at VCA Desert Animal Hospital for a couple years and continued to do so after he ended up with the puppies. What Rutgard didn’t know was that Dr. Kunz had been in contact with Palm Springs Police Department and had been reporting to them that Rutgard was neglecting his dogs. Apparently it didn’t occur to the police to ask Kunz how he would know that or how much money Rutgard had paid to VCA facilities in Palm Springs, where Kunz is Medical Director, or to the VCA Indio facility. Nor did it occur to them to ask Rutgard how much money he had really spent on veterinary care in the past year. But, then, why should they when they were all working together?

If they had bothered to think about it, it might have occurred to them that the fact that Rutgard spent approximately $30,000 on veterinary treatment for his dogs in a year pretty well defeats a claim that he was failing to provide proper care and attention. But, by early January 2013, the plan was in full swing and Friends, Dr. Kunz, ARC, and the others weren’t going to let the truth get in the way of their publicity stunt. After receiving the citation in early January 2013, Rutgard was advised by an attorney to immediately get any and all veterinary records from both VCA facilities. VCA in Indio gave him the requested records right away, but the bulk of the records he needed were with VCA in Palm Springs, which is where Dr. Kunz is Medical Director. Rutgard tried several times to get records from that facility and was repeatedly told he couldn’t have them with different bogus reasons given every time. Staff initially told him he couldn’t have the records because he owed them money, which wasn’t true. Even if he had owed money to them, they couldn’t legally refuse to give him any records. Another time a staff member told him that he couldn’t have the records because the Palm Springs Police told VCA staff not to give Rutgard his records. Since when can a police department dictate policy for a private veterinary clinic? Still, no records from Dr. Kunz’s facility. Coincidence?

On January 12, 2013, Animal Control posted a Notice of Intent to Seize pursuant to California Penal Code §597.1, on Rutgard’s property. The reason that the code section on the citation was amended several days earlier is because PC §597.1 has a provision that permits a hearing to justify seizing animals, either before or after the seizure. In this case, city officials opted for the pre-seizure hearing, probably just to give the entire operation an air of legitimacy. Rutgard continued to try to get records from VCA Palm Springs, because those would have been evidence that he had actually provided more care for his dogs in a year than many people do in a lifetime.

The pre-seizure hearing was scheduled for January 16, 2013 at 1:30 PM. On the morning of the hearing, a rescuer from the San Diego area met Rutgard at his house to take three of his dogs. Two of his other dogs were at VCA in Palm Springs. One dog, Maxwell, had been there for weeks with no explanation whatsoever of why he was being kept so long. When Rutgard asked staff, they wouldn’t tell him why. That didn’t stop VCA from charging Rutgard for “boarding” Maxwell though. On the morning of January 16, 2013, Rutgard loaded nine of his dogs in wire crates and onto his flatbed truck to take to the animal shelter, because he had been told by shelter personnel that he could relinquish his dogs. Furthermore, PC §597.1 actually instructs a person to bring the animals to a pre-seizure hearing for inspection. When he got to the shelter he was told that they wouldn’t let him relinquish his dogs. He went to VCA Palm Springs to try one last time before the hearing to get veterinary records, but was, once again, told he couldn’t have them.

The Pre-Seizure “Hearing” and Decision

The “hearing” was a hearing in name only. It was nothing more than a charade. The City of Palm Springs was represented by an attorney, Kane Thuyen of Woodruff, Spradlin & Smart (the law firm that Palm Springs uses as its “City Attorney” at a cost of about $1,000,000 per year to taxpayers) as well as Palm Springs Animal Control Officers Tisdale and Nickerson. The hearing officer, Rodell Fick, a local attorney, was selected and paid by the City to administer the hearing and render a decision. Rutgard had brought with him some records from VCA Indio and at least payment receipts from VCA Palm Springs to show that he had, in fact, provided extensive veterinary care for his dogs. The hearing officer didn’t want to see his evidence and didn’t accept it when Rutgard offered it. In his decision, Fick stated, “No relevant exhibits were formally submitted by R. Rutgard for review.” What does that mean? What does he mean by “relevant”? And what does “formally submitted” mean? Apparently trying to hand evidence to the hearing officer and his rejection of it doesn’t count somehow, or maybe it’s just not “formal” enough.

Decision from the Pre-Seizure Hearing on January 18, 2013 by marlukha

On the other hand, the City produced what Fick referred to as “Exhibit 1”, which consisted of 57 pages of evidence that they conveniently forgot to give to Rutgard as due process requires. Undoubtedly just an oversight. It didn’t matter anyway, because the decision to seize Rutgard’s dogs had already been made well before the hearing. In fact, in a police report dated January 16, 2013 10:43 a.m., Officer Tisdale wrote:

“Palm Springs Animal Control, with the assistance of the Palm Springs Police Department and the Animal Rescue Corps intend to seize all dogs and puppies and any other animals found at the property where the animals are being kept at [address omitted] as well as from any veterinary service providers where Mr. Rutgard has animals for treatment as per CA P.C. 597(b) Crimes Against Animals and will be charging the owner, Richard Rutgard, of [address omitted] with animal cruelty.”

What? Officer Tisdale knew the outcome of the “hearing” a full 2 hours and 47 minutes before it even started. How could she possibly have known the outcome of and administrative hearing in advance? The answer is very simple: It was all part of the plan.

PSPD January 16, 2013 Police Report about Seizure of Rutgard's Dogs by marlukha

When City officials and the hearing officer were finished making a mockery of due process, at the end of the “hearing”, Officer Tisdale told Rutgard to take his nine dogs to the shelter because they would let him relinquish them then. When he got to the shelter about 15 minutes later, he was once again told by staff there that they wouldn’t take his dogs. Rutgard was told that some rescue groups would be coming out to his house the following Tuesday or Wednesday to take some of his dogs. That struck Rutgard as odd, but he could never have predicted what Friends, ARC, Palm Springs Animal Control and Palm Springs Police Department had planned for him and his dogs!

To Be Continued………

Los Angeles Animal Services and Its Intentional Misuse of Microchips Will Likely Cost You Your Pet

Will They Really Contact You if Your Pet is Microchipped?

As a pet owner, you try to do everything you can to make sure that your dog or cat doesn’t get lost. Just in case that happens, you get your pet microchipped because you know that when “Fluffy” arrives at the animal shelter, the nice person there will call you to tell you that they have Fluffy. Right?

Well, not necessarily. Whether or not you ever find out Fluffy has ended up at a shelter depends entirely on what happens once Fluffy gets there. If Fluffy ends up in one of the six facilities operated by Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS), you may not ever know about it. It’s entirely possible that Fluffy will be killed or given to someone else without a single phone call to you, even if Fluffy is microchipped and you diligently keep the microchip company updated with your contact information.

How could that happen, you ask? Quite simply, LAAS doesn’t use microchips the way they advertise on their website or the way the microchip manufacturers intended. Unfortunately microchips are only as good as the policies and procedures that are used by the agencies that are supposed to help you get your pets back. In the case of LAAS, that’s a problem.

On its website, on the page called Microchipping your pet, LAAS tells us that a microchip is registered with a national database along with the pet owner’s address and phone number. So far, so good. That much is true. A little further down the page, it says that when an animal is impounded by LAAS, the animal will be scanned for a microchip and if a microchip is found, LAAS will contact the chip manufacturer. Still sounds good, right?

If the documents are hard to read, click on the full-screen icon below each one to see it more clearly.

LAAS Website Microchipping Page as of 5.1.2014 by marlukha

The problem is that’s not what they really do. In fact, according to their own operations manual, their protocol is very different. It’s true that they are supposed to scan for a microchip. Whether or not they do, or whether they do so thoroughly, is unknown. But, in theory anyway, they let’s say they do. Their protocol after that is absolutely ridiculous and completely contradicts what’s written on their website. In short, they’re flat out lying to the public.

Here’s what they really do, and what their policy dictates. If the LAAS employee finds a microchip, he or she does not call the microchip company right away to get the information that the owner has given to the microchip company. Instead, LAAS instructs its employees to first check the owner information in its own records (a computer database program called Chameleon). Only if there is no information in LAAS’s own records related to the microchip number will they contact the actual microchip company like they say they will. This is directly from LAAS operations manual:

“If a microchip is found, the number shall be recorded in Chameleon by the employee who found the chip. The employee shall immediately place a Possible Owner (PO) hold on the animal. If the chip information is not in Chameleon, contact the correct chip company (i.e. AVID or Home Again) for the owner’s info.”

It gets even worse from there. LAAS internal policy is not to actually call the person it identifies as the owner of the animal, but to mail a letter to that person telling him/her that he/she has 7 days from the date of the letter to get his/her animal. That just defies common sense. Why wouldn’t they just use the phone? Who could possibly think that a letter is a good idea in a situation that is so time sensitive? LAAS microchip policy is plain idiotic!

“The clerk shall check the memo in Chameleon and send the letter to the address listed in the owner’s information memo. The letter will allow 7 days for the new owner to redeem the animal.”

OPS 12 Microchip Scanning Final by marlukha

At first that may not seem like a big deal, but there are so many ways that can and does go wrong (I’ll write a real life example soon.) Let’s say that someone lives in Van Nuys and has two dogs that are licensed with LAAS and microchipped. When you license your dog with LAAS it’s not uncommon for the clerk to ask if you want to have your microchip number included in your dog’s records too. That sounds like a really good idea and gives an added feeling of security knowing that LAAS will have all of your dog’s information right there in case Fluffy gets out one day. Great, right?

Not so fast. What you’ve really done is give LAAS just the information they need not to contact the microchip company, because now they have your dog’s microchip number in Chameleon along with all of your contact information. It still doesn’t sound so bad, but keep reading.

If Fluffy somehow gets loose and ends up at one of LAAS’s facilities, if they scan for a microchip and find one, they’ll check in Chameleon to see if they have contact information for you. In that case, they won’t call the microchip company at all, because they’ll find Fluffy’s microchip number in their records with Fluffy’s license information. They’ll mail a letter to whatever address is listed, regardless of whether it’s still your current address. If you get the letter that they mail to the address they have in their records, and if you get that letter within the 7 days they give you to come get Fluffy, you have a chance of getting Fluffy back. What if you’re out of town for a few days and you don’t get the letter in time? It’s entirely possible that Fluffy will be killed or given to someone else. If you’ve moved and your mail is no longer forwarded, you’ll never even know that Fluffy ended up at LAAS.

What makes LAAS’s procedures even worse though, is what will happen if you’ve moved since you last gave LAAS your contact information. You did what the microchip company told you to do, and in fact, what LAAS tells you to do on its website:

“If you move, it is very important to change your address with the microchip company in case your pet gets lost.”

Huh? Why do they tell people to keep the microchip company updated when they move? Nowhere does LAAS tell people to keep LAAS updated if they move. Why not? They won’t even check with the microchip company at all if they have information for you and your pets in their own system. The problem is that the information they have could be outdated.

Here’s an example: Fred and his dog, Fluffy, have lived in Van Nuys for 3 years. Fluffy is licensed by LAAS and has an Avid microchip. Fred has always been sure to keep his contact information current with Avid, just like LAAS tells people to do. Fred decides to move to Burbank one day and immediately notifies Avid of his new contact information. He gets a new license for Fluffy with Burbank animal control because it’s a different city and a different agency. Fred is a model dog owner, Fluffy has a current license and updated microchip information. He’s done everything he should to ensure that he’ll get Fluffy back if she gets loose.

One morning about a year later, Fred decides to go to Griffith Park to go hiking. While he’s tying his shoe, Fluffy sees a squirrel and pulls the leash so hard that Fred loses his grip on it. Before Fred can catch her, Fluffy is lost in the hills of Griffith Park. Fluffy gets picked up by LAAS and taken to the East Valley Shelter, where she’s scanned for a microchip. When the employee finds the chip number, she checks in Chameleon for any records LAAS might have for Fluffy.

Imagine how relieved the LAAS employee is when she finds an address for Fred in Chameleon. LAAS will mail a letter to that address to tell Fred that he has 7 days (from the date of the letter) to come get Fluffy from East Valley. Great, right?

NO! It’s the wrong address! Fred moved to Burbank a year earlier and the odds of him ever getting a letter addressed to his old address are slim to none, much less in the 7 days he has to go get Fluffy before LAAS kills her or sells her to someone else. If LAAS really used microchips the way they say they do, and the way the manufacturers intended them to be used, they would have called the microchip company immediately after detecting the microchip and getting the microchip number. Then they would have called Fred right away so he could come get Fluffy.

Avid Brochure by marlukha

There is no excuse for misusing microchips the way LAAS does. What makes it so much worse is that they outright lie about it. It’s not as if they don’t know they’re doing it wrong. They were sued for it (more on that soon) — they’re very aware of it, but are either too dumb or too arrogant (or both) to change their policy, or at the very least to come clean and tell the public how they really use microchips. At least that way, pet owners who live in Los Angeles, who visit Los Angeles, or those whose pets could ever by chance end up in the City of Los Angeles would know that they should keep their contact information current not only with the microchip companies, but with LAAS as well.

Of course, that completely defeats one of the main purposes of microchips! They were designed to streamline the process of reuniting lost pets and their owners by creating a central database of owner information. Under LAAS’s model, a person who lived in LA with microchipped animals would have to update LAAS and the microchip company every time they change contact information for as long as the animal is alive. That’s insane! Oviously it’s more important for LAAS to be right than to actually do what’s right.