LOS ANGELES—Last week Mayor Villaraigosa appointed Brenda Barnette as the new General Manager of the LA City Department of Animal Services.  Barnette served for four years as Chief Executive Officer of the Seattle Humane Society and prior to that was the CEO of the Animal Rescue Foundation in Walnut Creek where she directed and oversaw the establishment of its shelter.  Early in her career, Barnette was with the SPCA and during her time as the Development Director there, she used her fundraising skills to help back the nation’s first “no kill” shelter policy, which was instituted in the city of San Francisco in 1994.

In moving to Los Angeles, Barnette brings with her an extremely promising record of public education, lower rates of euthanasia and an effective and highly successful system of shelter adoption and promotion of animal rights. In a press release put out by the Seattle Humane Society, the company bid Barnette a boastful and enthusiastic farewell.  Outlining her success, they state that in 2009, under her guidance, “the Seattle Humane Society had the best year in its 113-year history with the placement of 6,091 animals and a Live Save Rate of 91.4 percent.”  The Society’s Board Chair Chuck Stempler echoed this enthusiasm: “Brenda’s work in Seattle has been marked equally by her compassion and her outstanding achievements, and our staff, volunteers and supporters throughout the Puget Sound Region will continue to build on this record of success.”

Here in Los Angeles, the rates are quite different. Last year, for example, 36 percent of shelter dogs were euthanized.  In their press release, the SHS also noted that Seattle has taken in some of Los Angeles’ overflow in the past when shelter animals could not find homes in the city of angels.

Many see Barnette’s appointment as a life-saving promise for the shelter animals of Los Angeles; however, the nomination has received some opposition as well. There have been questions raised about Barnette’s minimal experience especially concerning the government and budgetary responsibilities that come with the job title.  People wonder how she will deal with the highly influential and extremely powerful Los Angeles Animal Service system.

After the announcement of her appointment, Barnette said of the opportunity, “I am really looking forward to getting to know the community and working with them to make this a safe city for animals and the people who love them.”

With the LA Animal Services department in its current state, community members and animal rights activists hope the appointment of Brenda Barnette as General Manager will bring about the necessary changes and improvements in an effort to see longer and happier lives for the shelter animals of Los Angeles.