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Ginger GERONIMO. left a comment on the following article:
As soon as I read the name Rebecca Katz, I knew I had read bad things about her in the past so I did a little research & I found an old Examiner article written in 2010 that states the following:
Who is Rebecca Katz? Most San Francisco shelter reform activists know that she is the interim director of San Francisco Animal Care & Control (ACC), having replaced the anti-No Kill Carl Friedman, who retired after two decades at the helm. But if they hoped Katz would bring a fresh perspective and a more progressive orientation, they were in for a disappointment at this month’s Commission meeting. Katz has proven herself to be a misleading defender of the status quo who wants to maintain her discretion to avoid doing what is in the best interests of animals and kill them needlessly. In other words, she is cut from the same cloth as the person she replaced.
Even though she is the director of a public agency which is supposed to be accountable to the people she has pledged to serve; even though her agency is supposed to reflect their values; and even though she has been entrusted with millions of dollars of their money every year and should use those dollars to fulfill their vision, she refuses.
Instead, Katz demanded the right to continue killing animals and demanded that taxpayers and animal lovers stop criticizing her agency. For someone with so many demands against others, Katz refused to accept any demands on her agency or her power. Going down the list of programs animal lovers want to legislate, Katz said those who want these animals saved should save them themselves.
Katz criticized the proposed Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA), model legislation written by some of the most successful and progressive past and current shelter directors, animal lawyers, and shelter veterinarians in the nation and being considered by the Commission. Saying it doesn’t make sense for San Francisco, Katz attacked it with a mixture of subterfuge and red herrings. For example, Katz said that some of CAPA’s provisions are already state law and others are better suited for other communities. But this is misleading. CAPA is model legislation and designed to be modified to fit local situations, as the Commission was clearly told when it was proposed:
“No law can anticipate every contingency and the Companion Animal Protection Act is no exception. It is not intended to be complete or eliminate the need for other animal protection laws. Nor is it intended to reduce stronger protections that animals may have in a particular jurisdiction...
Katz also told the Commission that CAPA requires shelters to kill animals if rescue groups do not pick them up within two days even if the shelter wants to hold them longer. As an attorney, Katz should know better. CAPA provides minimum standards; shelters can always do more than the minimum. It is designed to provide a baseline of care. But the reality is CAPA does not even require what Katz claimed it did. What CAPA says is that before a shelter director like Katz kills an animal, she would have to give rescue groups two days notice that she intends to do so. It does not mandate the killing within two days. In fact, even after two days, Katz would not be able to kill that animal unless other criteria were met, including a certification that rescue groups are unable to save that animal. In addition, CAPA can be modified by the Commission to require shelters to hold them indefinitely, if that is what Katz wants. In reality, she does not. The bottom line is that Katz does not appear to want any accountability in how many and why animals are being killed under her watch.
Dismissing quantifiable, specific accountability provisions, she instead proposed a toothless resolution that does not have any mandates, allows the status quo to continue, but demands that animal lovers stop criticizing her for refusing to save animals. It also puts the entire onus of lifesaving on rescue groups, despite the fact that they already collectively take more animals from ACC than the goliath SPCA next door. What Katz is proposing is a philosophy that allows her agency to take in millions of dollars a year in taxpayer funding, allows her agency discretion to avoid doing what is in the best interests of animals, allows her agency to continue to kill animals in the face of lifesaving alternatives like foster care, allows her to refuse to do what she is paid by animal lovers to do, and instead, transfer the animals to others if they want them saved.
Her resolution disclaims any accountability down to its very name: “Transferring Animals Into Lifesaving Situations.” The focus is not on what her agency can and should be doing to save animals, but on keeping the funding she gets for them and transferring the animals to others to do the job for which she gets paid.
As an alternative, animal activist and former Commissioner Bill Hamilton proposed an ordinance entitled “The At-Risk Animal Adoption and Welfare Act.” The At-Risk Act would make it illegal for San Francisco shelters to kill “any animal except those determined by a licensed veterinarian to be unsavable (medical) or determined by a professional animal behaviorist to be unsavable (behavioral).” It would also give rescue groups access to those deemed unsavable before the pound could kill them.
While Hamilton’s proposal is simple and welcome, it suffers from a central flaw. It assumes the addition of &ldquorofessional” review, namely a veterinarian or behaviorist, would change the outcome for animals currently being killed. Given that Katz has told the media (misleadingly) they are “already there” when it comes to the No Kill goal, this means the animals she currently orders killed will still be killed, with only the additional layer of rubber stamp review by self-picked acolytes. In fact, most of the public comment period at the meeting was taken up by rescue groups who described so-called “unsavable” animals who turned out to be friendly, healthy, and loving companions. In other words, a continuation of the status quo.
But the ordinance is brilliantly simple in avoiding the types of criticism and detailed review CAPA requires, which seems to be above the ability of Commissioners. In that regard, a simple amendment to the Hamilton plan could make it a viable model for achieving a No Kill San Francisco, and from that standpoint, it is a huge step in the right direction. The amendment should make it illegal for shelters to kill these animals unless all of the following conditions are also met:
1.there are no empty cages, kennels, or other living environments in the shelter;
2.the animal cannot share a cage or kennel with another animal;
3.a foster home is not available;
4.rescue groups, after sufficient notice, are not willing to accept the animal;
5.the animal is not a feral cat subject to sterilization and release;
6.all mandates, programs and services of the No Kill Equation have been met; and
7.the director of the agency certifies in writing he or she has no other alternative.
Instead, Katz claimed she could not afford to implement even Hamilton’s Act, conveniently ignoring that San Francisco shelters are, by comparative standards, well funded and that other shelters are saving more animals with less—and in some cases significantly less—resources. It also ignores that despite its funding levels, it has some of the lowest per capita intake rates in the nation and the focus is on saving only one to two additional animals each day in a city with a population estimated to be as much as 860,000 people. “Right now,” correctly observed Hamilton, “ACC is not euthanizing animals because of lack of funding.”
Unfortunately, Katz has found allies with some of her fellow Commissioners who defended the killing, and sought to isolate other communities which have surpassed San Francisco’s rate of lifesaving, by claiming they are “unique” or “different” despite the City’s 15-year head start and more significant resources. By doing so, they utilized the same dismissive tactics once levied against San Francisco in the 1990s when it was on the vanguard of the No Kill movement, and other communities sought to isolate the City’s achievement. In fact, when San Francisco was the safest community for homeless animals in the U.S. in the mid-1990s, rural communities dismissed it by arguing that lifesaving was easier in an urban environment because of a more educated and affluent population, an achievement they argued was impossible in rural communities which they claimed suffered from more poverty and antiquated views of animals. Ironically, a Commissioner dismissed Tompkins County’s No Kill achievement arguing it was “rural” and therefore different, exactly the opposite of what was argued in the 1990s. This not only shows a profound ignorance of San Francisco’s history on the part of Commissioners. It not only ignores that it was the model developed in San Francisco to include the changes being demanded by animal lovers in San Francisco which accounted for success not only in Tompkins County, but in communities throughout the nation. It also shows a level of duplicity some commissioners are willing to engage in to avoid their responsibilities in the face of opposition from their own kill-oriented colleagues.