Kern Co Pound Director’s Manifesto of Blame

In a 14 page Blame the Community manifesto, the director of the Kern Co pound in CA, Jen Woodard, details the needless killing of pets and blames everybody but those doing the killing.  Ms. Woodard previously worked for Best Friends in L.A. before taking the Kern Co job in October.

In the document, Ms. Woodard states that Kern Co kills any puppy who has parvo-like symptoms and tests positive on a snap test as well as all other exposed puppies less than 6 months of age.  This practice is not based in science and should be discontinued immediately.  Treatment of parvo puppies is possible in a shelter environment and that option should be fully explored by all shelters.  Killing exposed dogs based solely on age, dogs who may in fact be immune, is cruel for the sake of cruelty – it serves no purpose.  A compassionate director would have written 14 pages about that.

Instead, Ms. Woodard runs through a laundry list of members of the community to blame for the killing, including:

  • Local vets, who all suck apparently and are only in it for the dough
  • Mexicans, who don’t care about their pets because of “cultural beliefs”
  • Local animal organizations, who do nothing but bicker
  • The weather, which also sucks
  • Pet owners in general, who don’t want to know how to protect their pets from diseases

And while blaming everybody else for their ignorance, Ms. Woodard demonstrates her own lack of understanding regarding disease prevention.  For example, she states:

And furthermore, most puppy owners don’t know they need a series of 3 of the vaccines to be fully effective in preventing parvovirus and distemper. A pup with 2 vaccines is still susceptible.

This is not based in science.  The number of vaccines a puppy receives is not what confers immunity but rather the timing of the vaccines relative to the presence of maternal antibodies.  Before a shelter director goes blaming the Mexicans, it would be nice to see her demonstrate a meaningful understanding of vaccine conferred immunity in puppies.

The report offers a number of solutions to the killing and improper disease management protocols at the pound but none of them include “Stop needlessly killing animals and start using science based disease management strategies”.  Instead, the report focuses on educating the public about the importance of vaccination, among other things, and includes a volunteer team to walk the streets and another team to call Craigslist ads for puppies to educate the ad placers.  This is a puzzling strategy because earlier in the report, Ms. Woodard notes that one of the problems in the community is ignorance of “basic pet responsibility” which she attributes to the fact that “much of the community is uninterested in hearing this message”.  Will the unwashed masses suddenly become interested if they get a call from someone telling them about spay-neuter in response to their Craigslist ad for puppies?

I am very disappointed in Ms. Woodard’s report, which was apparently not intended to be read by the public.  I can see why.


Local news outlets react to the report: The Bakersfield Californian , Bakersfield Now, and KGET

Koret Shelter Medicine Program:  Canine Parvovirus and Canine Distemper Virus

Maddie’s Fund:  Redefining Vaccination on Intake

(Thanks Clarice for sending me links on this story.)

15 thoughts on “Kern Co Pound Director’s Manifesto of Blame

  1. Now hear this: Anyone who comes on and attempts to post racist comments in sympathy with the above referenced report will be banned. Take your hate and go someplace else.

  2. Let me add a tad bit of clarity to this.

    Ms. Woodard is very new to the Kern County shelter — having started in October. At the time she took the job, the shelter was killng roughly 19,000 animals a year. That’s a lot to overcome.

    Regardless of who is to blame, it’s staggering that there were no low cost spay/neuter programs until just last year. And with 22% of the population living below the poverty line, there should be a LOT of demand for low cost services. It was probably poorly placed blame on culture instead of the lack of options, but the end result is the same.

    Meanwhile, while I think we can all agree that treatment for Parvo is available, I can see how taking over a shelter that killed 19,000 animals last year, that this may not be a priority out of the gate.

    The shelter there is old, I believe 30 years old. However, the population of Kern County has more than doubled in the past 30 years. So I feel safe in assuming that the shelter is not nearly the size that it should be to handle and intake of 32,000 animals a year. Given then, the hold period for dogs will be very short and focusing first on saving healthy animals will give them the biggest bang for their efforts and save more lives faster. Also, most old shelters don’t have quarantine space — so diseases that are easily transferrable can often put the entire population at risk. It sounds like they’re working on trying to create some isolation areas that may later allow for the treatment of parvo, but having inherited a similar situation here in KC, I can sypathize that when resources are limited, and the shelter is a mess, that this wouldn’t be the first priority for a shelter. I confess that it was nearly a year before we started treating parvo puppies here, and our shelter sounds like the dog-mahal compared to the situation in Kern County.

    While I certainly can’t (and wouldn’t) defend everything in the manifesto, I will note that Ms. Woodard has a very good background, with very good shelters and organizations, a very good education and will likely make a lot of improvements in Kern County.

    1. Thanks. I think that insight was very helpful. It sounds like she should use advice from a possible mentor such as yourself.

      1. I don’t think Ms. Woodard needs my help. She’s inherited a very challenging situation, and one that is going to take a bit of time, and some resources, to fix. But she absolutely knows what needs to be done, as long as the wolves don’t eat her first.

      2. From the sounds of it, she has a mentor – in outreach to the Latin@ community – in Supervisor Perez. And I think she absolutely needs it.

    2. One additional thought for consideration. According to their records, Kern County takes in roughly 32,000 animals per year — with a population of 850,000 residents. The city of Los Angeles, which is very close, takes in 54,000 animals but with a population of just under 4 million people. This should help give some indication of the uphill climb and lack of attention to things like low cost spay/neuter that has apparently existed there for quite some time.

  3. Shelters are extremely harsh environments for puppies because there are hundreds of animals in close quarters, with varying levels of illnesses, and an incredible amount of stress. Even the healthiest of puppies will be tested in this environment because they are still developing their immune systems.

    and they say “puppy mills” are bad.. really and this is just the first page..

  4. “Spay your Mama” program. Convince owners to surrender all the puppies in an unwanted litter if they let us spay and microchip the mom. This would need a grant or some type of outside funding.”

    where are you HSUS/ASPCA/PETA.. oh wait.. too busy asking Monopoly to change the Scottie to a mutt.. too busy paying out 9.3 million dollars on the “paid witness’ Rico charge and too busy lobbying to help Bakersfield..

  5. Oh noes. I think this is another incident of Not Enough Reading going on there.

    Now, if they’d be willing to give ME the shelter director’s job, you’d see something quite different. But of course, most aren’t interested in hiring competent people.

  6. It sounds like she is overwhelmed, based on that, her reaction is to externalize rather gather the necessary information although I think some of her ideas are good.

    There looks like there are places that serve Bakersfied in the ASPCA low cost spay/neuter database – . She should have someone check into funding of spay/neuter. There usually are quite a few grants for that going around posted on places such as or Petsmart charities so that they can do free spay/neuters for low income people. There are usually local community foundations who are happy to fund that too. I believe a “spay your momma campaign” could help too.

    Recruit volunteers who work with the press, either journalists or pr firms. Many journalists love animals and are happy to volunteer their spare time to get the word out about free (and low-cost) spay and neuter services as well as recruit foster home.

    Work with animal control to provide vaccs in the field prior to intake as per the Maddie’s Fund article.

  7. Ugh. I’m a vet tech, and we hear weird ideas about puppy vaccinations all the time.

    My favorite is people who say “my puppy had all his shots (plural)” and when you ask them to clarify, they say that means he had ONE shot “of some kind” when he was 6 or 8 weeks old.

    1. Along those same lines I lost track off the number of people who insisted to me that their puppy was vaccinated because they either 1. Purchased from a breeder or 2. (my favorite) they didn’t need any because their puppy was pure bred. Because unlike the unwashed masses of mutt puppies, being pure bred automatically grants immunity to all communicable dog diseases.

  8. Good or bad in what Ms Woodard said, it has drawn attention to necessities needed in the area & surely will eventually bring better results & less deaths.

    Good luck to Ms Woodard & Kern Co Pound & I hope they have it.

  9. I just wonder if they bothered to check this woman’s educational backgound before they put her in this position.  She seems to me not to have even bothered to finish her high school education much less even go as far as to get a GED.  Wow.. I’ll tell you.  Some places will fill a job like this with a person that has no feelings about animals in the first place.  She probably hunts all her food or scrapes up the road kill for dinner that night.  

    Just  My2CentsWorth….              “Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened”                               Kathie


    1. Wow. Just Wow. I think if you actually had a clue about Ms. Woodard’s educational background you’d be extremely embarrassed by this statement. Her educational background is actually pretty elite.

Leave a Reply