A Pasadena firm will lead the search for a new general manager of the Los Angeles Animal Services department, Mayor Karen Bass announced Saturday.
Bass said her office and the city’s personnel department has selected Partners in Diversity Inc. to identify candidates for the position, which has been open since April 2021 when former GM Brenda Barnette retired.
“My focus is to ensure that Animal Services is led by someone with the experience, expertise and passion to lead a high level of care at our shelters, increase adoption rates, and enforce responsible pet care across Los Angeles,” Bass said. “I want to thank the dedicated staff and volunteers who continue to work tirelessly in our shelters and neighborhoods to care for L.A.’s animals, while confronting the challenges of overcrowding, limited enrichment activities and an increased need to spay and neuter. We are looking for a leader who can bring innovative solutions to these challenges.”
On its website, Partners in Diversity bills itself as “a 100% women owned and operated enterprise. We are a full service recruiting and staffing firm providing a complete range of front and back office employment solutions.”
Bass said the firm has considerable experience with executive searches for the city.
LAAS has faced criticism in recent years from volunteers and rescue groups about animals being neglected and staffing shortages. Bass touched on those concerns when she announced earlier this month that a nationwide search would be conducted for a new GM.
“The safety and wellbeing of all animals is a priority of my Administration, which is why a firm will be selected soon to lead a nationwide search for a General Manager for L.A. Animal Services who will improve the level of care at our city’s animal shelters, increase adoption rates and enforce responsible pet care,” the mayor’s statement said. “As part of the ongoing search process, we look forward to engaging with the people of Los Angeles. What we’ve seen recently is unacceptable, and we are committed to improving the care of all animals.”
Some animal advocates said that announcement wasn’t enough.
“I’m glad (about Bass’ announcement), but we need to move now. We can’t wait a year,” Haze Lynn, founder of LA-based Take Me Home Rescue, told City News Service earlier this month.
“We want Bass to see that we have gone back from being a progressive city to being an antiquated town, where animals are sleeping in dirty areas, in their own feces,” Lynn continued. “I have pictures of water and food bowls with feces in them. This is dire, and the animals deserve better.”
In October 2022, former City Councilman Paul Koretz — who chaired the council’s animal welfare committee — released a 46-page report in which he said the department has been the victim of a “chronic budget issue” and is in need of “much more personnel and a drastic increase of its funding.”
City shelters have reached critical levels of overcrowding due to a combination of factors, including continued chronic pet overpopulation, the aforementioned staffing issues and increased owner surrenders brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.