Brenda Barnette to head L.A. Animal Services

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2010:
LOS ANGELES–Brenda Barnette, most recently chief executive
officer of the Seattle Humane Society, was introduced on June 17,
2010 by Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as the sixth director
of Los Angeles Animal Services since 2000.
Barnette was hired after a year-long search to find a
successor to Ed Boks, who resigned in April 2009 after just under
four years in Los Angeles. Boks’ immediate predecessor, Guerdon
Stuckey, was fired by Villaraigosa after just 13 tumultuous months
on the job, only days after Villaraigosa took office. Stuckey had
succeeded Jerry Greenwalt, who retired under intense pressure from
activist factions. Greenwalt had taken over from the late Dan Knapp
after Knapp finished his tenure on a prolonged sick leave attributed
to stress.


Barnette, 62, came to the Seattle Humane Society in June
2006. During her tenure adoptions rose from circa 4,500 per year to
6,091 in 2009, the most in the 112-year history of the organization.
Previously, as executive director of Tony LaRussa’s Animal
Rescue Foundation in Walnut Creek, California from mid-2003 to
January 2006, Barnette doubled program spending, halved fundraising
and administrative expense, cut the debt owed for a $16 million new
shelter from $6 million to $3 million, and boosted adoptions from
456 in the year before the new shelter opened to more than 1,800 in
2005.
Barnette earlier enjoyed similar success as executive
director of Pets In Need, in Redwood City, California, and was
development director at the San Francisco SPCA while it increased
revenue ninefold within 10 years of going no-kill in 1984.
Her appointment in Los Angeles was immediately criticized by
several of the most vocal critics of the previous Animal Services
directors.
“She is coming from a private shelter where they could refuse
to take in some animals,” former Animal Services commissioner Marie
Atake told Rick Orlov of the Los Angeles Daily News. “Their website
said they charged $200 for people to drop off animals. That limits
the animals they get. In Los Angeles, she will be dealing with
issues that a private organization doesn’t face. Here, they have to
deal with animal cruelty and pit bulls and cock fighting and
enforcement issues she didn’t have to deal with in Seattle.”
Agreed Animal Issues Movement founder Phyllis Daugherty in an
e-mail to ANIMAL PEOPLE, “I don’t think anyone without Los Angeles
experience and especially someone with no law enforcement experience
can do anything but harm here. We’ve now had a string of outsiders
and they have destroyed what structure we had. I am definitely going
to oppose this move by the mayor. We have very specific needs at this
point. The two assistant general managers who have been in charge
have begun to restore the underpinnings. We need stability, not
change. I listened to her talk. She has absolutely no concept of
what it is like to run a large–or any size–animal control
deparment. Plus she is totally involved in breeding and showing,”
Daugherty charged.
Sherman Oaks activist Daniel Guss wrote in a March 2010 Los
Angeles Daily News op-ed column that “Villaraigosa needs now a
progressive-minded shelter leader,” mentioning Barnette among a list
of nine people he believed fit the definition, but told Orlov that
he is “deeply concerned about the mayor once again failing to seek
broad public input given his disastrous hire last time,” and is also
concerned about Barnette allegedly being a dog breeder.
Barnette was legislative liaison for the American Kennel Club
in Seattle, and acknowledges having bred a Portuguese water dog who
now lives with her 30-year-old daughter, but told Carla Hall of the
Los Angeles Times that “To think I’m a breeder is a little bit of a
stretch.”

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