Next Batter Up
Los Angeles, CA - It was recently reported that Ed Boks -- a leader in the "No-Kill" movement -- resigned as the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services (LAAS) effective June 30. His time at LAAS lasted 3.5 years. Last May, DogsBite.org published a post regarding an audit of LAAS. The audit showed that LAAS, under the reign of Bok, failed to make dog licenses a priority, which cost the agency millions of dollars in revenue.
"The failure to license and renew the licenses of hundreds of thousands of dogs in the city of Los Angeles has cost its Animal Services department millions of dollars in revenue, according to an audit released today. City Controller Laura Chick's audit found the department did not make dog licenses a priority, even though fees collected from those licenses made up more than 70 percent of its revenue in fiscal year 2007-08."
The 3.5 year tenure of Boks has been rife with controversy, as have the leaders that have come before him. According to the L.A. Times, when Boks was appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in 2006, he was the fourth person in four years to hold the top position. While Boks is credited with an increase in pet adoptions at LAAS during his tenure, his period of leadership is also marked with significant failures and blunders including the following:
- Last month, Boks suspended a program that gave vouchers for free spay-neuter services to low income residents (In 2008, L.A. passed a mandatory spay/neuter law with the assurance that such vouchers would be available.) His "budget cutting" action caused such an uproar that Boks reinstated the program. But talk quickly followed the flipflop, including another "no-confidence" vote, which ultimately lead to his recent resignation.
- In 2008, about half of his staff signed a petition stating they had "no confidence" in him as a leader. Staffers voiced their complaints at a public hearing. They faulted Boks for failing to tell them how to carry out his goal of creating a "No-Kill" policy. They also complained that, in an effort to meet the goal, shelters were becoming overcrowded warehouses where animals fought with each other, endangering themselves and shelter workers.
- In 2007, Boks attempted to set up a "Pit Bull Training Academy" which would have employed ex-cons to train and make adoptable some of the city's homeless pit bulls. Boks failed to clear the reckless idea with City Council, and subsequently underwent harsh criticism. Obvious questions about the program focused on liability: "What happens if someone gets hurt?" and "Who's liable?" The program was shelved indefinitely.
- In 2006, another Boks idea came under fire as well. Apparently, Boks had planned a "Hooters for Neuters" event, which would have featured scantily clad female Hooters employees promoting pet sterilization. Fliers for the event were "graphic" and embarrassed city officials, causing Bok to backpedal on the event. At that time and other times, Boks was criticized for failing to inform city officials of his ideas until after the fact.
Attempt to Rename Pit Bulls
Boks' effort to save pit bulls began before his time in L.A. While serving as the director of New York City Animal Care and Control in 2004, Boks tried to rename pit bulls to "New Yorkies" to make the dogs more adoptable. The attempt failed, as did a similar one in 1996, when the San Francisco SPCA (an early No-Kill group) tried to renamed the breed "St. Francis Terriers." Boks' tenure in New York lasted from 2003-2005. The city declined to renew his 2006 contract.
DogsBite.org believes that today's "No-Kill" movement -- some argue it once had noble underpinnings -- has turned into a house of cards. Furthermore, it has ultimately shifted to a "No Kill Pit Bull" agenda. What is important to understand is that the safety of human beings is absent in today's movement, as demonstrated by Boks' dangerous ex-con program, as well as the attempts to rename the breed in hopes of hiding the pit bull's inexcusable safety record.
04/24/09: Drugs, Violence, Criminals and Pit Bulls -- Can They Be Separated?
04/22/09: Report: U.S. Dog Bite Fatalities January 2006 to December 2008
02/19/09: Shelter Adopts Out Biting Dogs to "Save More Dogs" and Dumps Behavioral Testing
05/28/08: LA Animal Services Can't Figure Out Priorities