L.A. Animal Services staffer regrets dog remarks

A senior Los Angeles Animal Services official, who oversees the city’s dog walking program, said this week he regrets his recent comments about hitting dogs and never harming animals.

Juan Rivera, director of volunteer programs, told staff at a recent meeting that he’s afraid of big dogs but can handle small dogs because he can hit them, according to a former volunteer who said he was attentive to Rivera’s comments become.

When asked this week about the statements attributed to him, Rivera expressed regret.

“I would never harm an animal and have never abused one in my life. Although my comment was only about self-defense, I regret my choice of words and understand that it gave the wrong impression,” Rivera told the Times.

Rivera began working at Animal Services in April, according to a LinkedIn profile that was removed shortly after The Times asked the mayor’s office about the profile and Rivera’s lack of experience with animals.

Rivera is a musician and, according to the profile, has experience in the arts, education, and healthcare.

The department relies largely on volunteers to train dogs and do a variety of other work at animal shelters. The Times reported last month that some dogs are not being walked for weeks or months and that Animal Services is facing serious staff shortages.

Media scrutiny of animal shelters has heightened tensions between animal services staff and some volunteers, who face firing if they publicly disparage the department.

Rivera’s comments about the dogs were published by Claudio Kusnier, who had volunteered at the West Valley Animal Shelter for three years before being fired this week. Kusnier called a meeting of the Board of Animal Services Commission the day after his resignation and relayed Rivera’s comments.

Kusnier told the Times he was fired from Rivera for reasons he denies and called himself a “whistleblower”.

Harrison Wollman, a spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, said the mayor has “zero tolerance for any violent behavior towards animals, and his staff is working with Los Angeles Animal Services leadership to ensure the situation is appropriately addressed.”

Wollman said Annette Ramirez, Animal Services’ interim general manager, was aware of Rivera’s comments before they were made public at this week’s board meeting.

“She immediately notified a supervisor for further investigation,” Wollman said.

When asked if Rivera was facing disciplinary action for his comments, Animal Welfare Service spokeswoman Agnes Sibal said the department does not comment on staff investigations. She also declined to comment on Kusnier, calling it a staffing issue.

Councilor Paul Koretz is scheduled to hold a second hearing next week on conditions at the city’s animal shelters. Ramirez said at the first emergency meeting convened by Koretz that the department has enough staff to operate four shelters but operates six.

The lack of staff and an influx of animals stress the department’s system of relying on volunteers to walk and train dogs, staff and volunteers say.

As a volunteer program director, Rivera needs to ensure volunteers are trained to handle large dogs and remove them safely from their kennels, Kusnier told the Times.

“How can he fulfill these duties if he is afraid of big dogs?” asked Kusnier.

Susan Berin, a volunteer at the city’s West Valley Animal Shelter, said Friday it was “very demoralizing” to see volunteers being suspended or fired because it means there are fewer people able to walk dogs .

She declined to comment on Rivera’s comments, but said staff at the department have safeguards that can keep them from losing their jobs, but volunteers don’t have similar safeguards.

“Who is on our side?” asked Bern.

Rivera told The Times he works at Animal Services “because of my love for animals and my desire to give them a better life, and I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure our volunteers treat our animals with compassion.” . ”

According to an email sent to volunteers, he helped organize a pet adoption at Dodger Stadium and asked 100 volunteers to come to the all-day event. Ramirez told Animal Services commissioners this week that it was the department’s most successful mobile event of its kind, with 62 adopted dogs.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-13/animal-services-director-regrets-remarks-about-striking-dogs L.A. Animal Services staffer regrets dog remarks

Alley Einstein

USTimesPost.com is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@ustimespost.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button