PHS responds to comments made by City Council Members
By Daniel Garay
The Pasadena Humane Society (PHS) became a target of the City Council at the meeting on Feb. 21, adding more drama to a difficult and emotional issue. While the City Council voted to hire a trapper to begin coyote control measures, Mayor Pro Tempore Peter Amundson, Council Member April Veralto, and Council Member Sho Tay voiced their feelings toward the Pasadena Humane Society before voting procedure.
“I appreciate the Humane Society now reaching out to us to help us. But I wished they’ve been there before. Because we pay them… And I am now glad that they are stepping up to it,” said Mayor Pro Tempore Amundson.
“I was disappointed greatly with the Pasadena Humane Society … we contract services .., said Council Member Verlato.
Council Member Tay said, “Many of our residents call the humane society, and they didn’t offer any help. That’s why they’ve been calling us now.”
The Pasadena Humane Society is the Poundmaster of the City of Arcadia, appointed by the City Council via a contract from 2001 renewed yearly. It is the responsibility of the Pasadena Humane Society to fulfill the roles of animal control, pound, and educator and observer of wildlife in the area.
For these services, according to Amendment 14 of the contract (for term extension and reappraised payment), the PHS will have received $79,316.58 by the end of the 2016/2017 fiscal year. Nowhere in this contract, nor in the municipal code, does it mention coyote or other wildlife management other than impound or carcass retrieval must be done by the Poundmaster, PHS.
The contract between the City of Arcadia and the Pasadena Humane Society stipulates on section 20:
“Society shall furnish to the City Manager, monthly reports summarizing the operation conducted pursuant to this Contract for the term of this Contract… Said reports shall include a schedule of performance statistics covering said periods, containing performance line items stratified as to geographic source of performance factor …”
Monthly reports to the City were questioned by Veralto, when she could find no numbers on coyotes. Monthly reports are given to the City. According to the City Manager’s office, those reports are handled by the Police Chief.
Ricky Whitman, Vice President of Communications of the Pasadena Humane Society said, “Being the Poundmaster means that we take care of domestic animals. We don’t have jurisdiction over wild animals. Fish and Game does.” The Pasadena Humane Society, which focuses on mainly domesticated animals, may not provide wildlife control measures, but it does educate and investigate wildlife, including coyotes.
In regards to education and PHS’s responsibilities, Verlato said, “I was very disappointed in that Pasadena Humane Society made so many misrepresentations to the public in all of this, because they acted like the city has not done anything to educate. Yet, it’s really the responsibility of the Pasadena Humane Society to educate – that’s what we pay them for. And, if it’s not effective, and if it’s not working, then it is all on the Pasadena Humane Society.”
The Pasadena Humane Society website contains information on education regarding coyote encounters: how to haze; what to do to when your dog makes contact with a coyote; and how to make your property coyote-proof. Along with other supplemental materials from the Humane Society of the United States, all these pamphlets are free on their website.
“We have offered the city many times to educate – a program to discourage coyotes. Whether you’re seeing them or not, they are a part of this area,” said Whitman.
During the meeting, Council Member Verlato took it one step further, scolding the humane society saying, “One of the services they are supposed to provide for us is addressing the coyotes, and the PHS has no problem killing 43 dogs per year because of overpopulation. We do pay them money to help us with coyote management.” Trying to deflect the responsibility of the issue to the humane society, PHS was quick to wanting to respond. The procedures, however, did not allow for that to happen.
Whitman explained, “‘We have no problem’ is a troubling statement. The difference is that we do not euthanize just because an animal exists. We have worked for years not to euthanize for space. Those are domestic animals. Coyotes are wildlife, a different responsibility.” She explained that there is a misunderstanding and that the Council Members are not as familiar to the terms of the contract.
“I think they failed us,” Veralto continued. “Because they obviously known about this problem … they were here speaking in opposition …”
PHS was speaking in opposition to trapping, a responsibility not theirs, because of their own long history of ethical treatment of domestic animals.
Whitman responded, “I absolutely disagree with her statements … We will post signs where coyotes are spotted … We can research ways to track them. Our monthly reports are public.”
A meeting between the City and the PHS took place on Feb. 16. Whitman described the meeting as a way to strengthen a working relationship with the City: Mayor, Mayor Pro Tempore, Police Chief, and City Manager. Soon that relationship may produce a plan.