City and County of San Francisco

February 9, 2012

1. Call to Order and Roll Call
5:35 PM

Present Commissioners: Jack Aldridge DVM, Pam Hemphill, Philip Gerrie, Sally Stephens, Ryan Young, Susanna Russo, John Denny – SFPD, Geneva Page

Absent Commissioners; Lisa Wayne – Rec & Park, Vicki Guldbech - ACC

2. General Public Comment

No public comment

3. Approval of Draft Minutes from January 12, 2012 Meeting

No Commission nor public comment

Minutes approved unanimously as written

4. Chairperson’s report and opening remarks

A) Update on Joint Zoo Oversight Committee

Comr. Stephens – The investigation into the stolen and returned squirrel monkey last Christmastime is still open and ongoing. No details are available since the investigation is still open. It is suspicious that the monkey went into the backpack of the person that returned it so the reward has not been given out.
There was a lot of criticism on how the injured bison was handled. It was returned, after being treated at the site by the Vet, into the general bison population. The enclosure for the bison is not the zoo’s responsibility but Rec & Park’s. They had originally put it into a separate area since it had broken ribs and a puncture wound but it wanted to get back with the other bison. It was running up against the separating fencing and they were concerned that would do more harm by keeping it separate. Sadly it did die from its injuries.

Comr. Gerrie – Was there an investigation of what had caused the animal to run into the fence in the first place?

Comr. Stephens – The fence is not in the best shape and an off-leash Jack Russell got in and spooked it. There was no more discussion about that since the zoo has no jurisdiction over the enclosure.

Comr. Hemphill – Has SF Dog pursued any education of dog owners of where dogs are off-leash and where wild life is at risk?

Comr. Stephens – SF Dog has always said that part of being a responsible dog owner is having control of your dog. This was a professional dog-walker who did not have control over her dogs. She was at fault and cited.

Comr. Gerrie – What is the fine for having a dog off-leash in an on-leash area?

Comr. Stephens – I don’t know.

Comr. Denny – It is SF’s Health Code 41.12(a)

Comr. Young – Was there any discussion to having bison in the park in the first place?

Comr. Stephens – They have been there for 50, maybe 70 years. Unsure of why they were there in the first place.

Comr. Hemphill – Is it routine for dog walkers to be walking their dogs off-leash close to this fenced area?

Comr. Stephens – Unsure of exactly where this happened. There is a legal off-leash area fairly close to bison enclosure. I don’t know the details.

No public comment

5. Old Business

A) Discussion only, to update creating a Humane Pet Store program that would recognize stores in SF that do not sell live animals.

Comr. Young – Brought this item up last November’s Meeting that would recognize stores that did not sell live animals. Since then, have had discussions with ACC and SPCA. Feedback was that is probably not worth the effort to do such a program. Want to hear today from other Commissioners thoughts and see if it is worth pursuing. If it isn’t worth pursuing we can table it for now.

Comr. Hemphill - We had also talked about asking the Supervisors to commend pet stores that do not sell live animals.

Comr. Young – You mean if we can’t legally do that, ask the Supervisors to do it?

Comr. Hemphill – Yes. They routinely make commendations for different people.

Comr. Stephens – I talked with our City Attorney this afternoon. She said the only way we could do the commendations is if the Board designated us to do so since we are only allowed, according to the Health Code, to make recommendations to the Board. We don’t have that authority but the Board could give us that authority. We couldn’t do it on our own. Just because it doesn’t say we can’t do it doesn’t mean we can.

Comr. Young - Would that be a one time or annually?

Comr. Hemphill – Either way. I would say one time a year.

Comr. Young – So we would make up a list each year and submit it to the Board?

Comr. Stephens – The first step is make sure the Board wants us to do that.

Comr. Gerrie – From previous discussions on this topic, I don’t see this approach as being effective. The list isn’t going to change every year. A sign in a window isn’t going to matter. I would rather focus on getting a version of our previous effort, The Humane Pet Acquisition proposal, passed.

Comr. Russo – I agree.

Comr. Hemphill – What are you saying?

Comr. Gerrie - To not pursue asking the Supervisors to commend or allowing us to commend pet stores that do not sell pets. It would take a long time and hopefully we will have something more meaningful in place.

Comr. Hemphill – I think it is more efficient to just commend pet stores rather than getting something more legal passed.

Comr. Stephens – Another consideration is we have a limited amount of attorney-time and do we want to put a significant amount of that time into this?

Comr. Hemphill – Are we progressing on the other approach? It has been quite a while.

Comr. Gerrie – We have a certain approach and are waiting for a clarification from the City Attorney.

Comr. Young – I think it best that we put this on hold for now and bring it back up if the other approach is not moving.

Comr. Stephens – This was a discussion-only item so we wouldn’t have been able to take any action today anyway.

No public comment

5 (B) Discussion/action to develop a web page that would provide links for animal-related statistics in SF including shelter intake and euthanasias, zoo animal stats, and animals used in research

Comr. Young – We started this discussion last November. Several sites have statistical information but are hard to find on the web. I’ve put together a mock up of what this website could look like. It is just a set of links to existing public information. We talked about who might host this site - possibly our Commission, or another organization, or an individual. I hope we can discuss and decide on potential action tonight.

Comr. Aldridge – Can we point to a resource from our web page?

Comr. Stephens – I don’t believe that would be a problem. I don’t know for sure but I think so.

Comr. Young – That is what I was thinking of. It would be more bureaucratic to get it posted on a city-maintained website. Redirecting it seems to be the best way.

Comr. Gerrie – That does seem like the best way – to got to our website first, than redirecting to a link.

Comr. Aldridge – Have you found anyone person or agency to host it yet?

Comr. Young – No, but will continue working on it.

Comr. Gerrie – I forget why we can’t just have it as a page on our website?

Comr. Hemphill – In previous discussions we learned they won’t let us add pages to our website but we can post links. It’s a cost and a legal issue. Also, on your mock up you don’t list a link to wildlife. They are a separate statistic. Oil-spill birds are another item. In 2008 there were at least 2000 dead birds picked up in the oil spill.

Comr. Stephens – Do you know who has those statistics?

Comr. Hemphill – Bird observatories do. The argument is about when you find one dead oiled bird what percentage is the total number of dead.

Comr. Page – I have a couple of other resources to add. The NIH, The National Institute of Health, has detailed information on tests involving animals. The USDA website has a link to all the AWA inspection reports which also covers the zoo.

Comr. Young – I did have difficulty finding data about the zoo’s acquisitions and dispositions. The Joint Zoo Minutes had some.

Comr. Stephens – The JZ Minutes and agenda always have that information just for the previous month.

Comr. Young – There is a no longer term aggregate?

Comr. Stephens – Not that I know of. On our website we already have, under resources, the animal welfare codes, animal code violations, animal emergencies, animal adoptions that has links to ACC, and Pets Unlimited, disaster preparedness, dog bites, feral cats, free and low-cost spay-neuter resources, lost pets, Veterans, parklands, natural areas, veterinary emergencies, after-hours emergencies, and wildlife which lists just ROMP. Your proposed link would be somewhat similar. Just an addition to this web page.

Comr. Young – How do we add additional information onto our website? Do we vote?

Comr. Aldridge – Do you know how the existing links were vetted?

Comr. Stephens – I know that then Comr. Routhier had done it, which was before I was on the Commission.

Comr. Aldridge – I could research it and find out what the process was. Comr. Young, do you have the availability to host this?

Comr. Young – Yes I can set something up.

Comr. Aldridge – It would be helpful to actually set a draft up so we can see what it will look like by our next meeting, then we can vote on it.

Comr. Young – I can do that.

Comr. Russo – Commends Comr. Young’s work on this issue. It will also broaden the scope of our website by including this information.

Comr. Stephens – Commends the mock-up for looking legitimate. It doesn’t link to any advocacy groups but to unimpeachable sources.

Comr. Young – I can include some of things that you have recommended and work on making it ‘live’ by the next meeting.

Comr. Aldridge – I will talk to Comr. Routhier about how she did it. We should also have a disclaimer so that we are not responsible for the material on these sites.

Comr. Stephens – This draft was also posted on our website under ‘supporting documents’. Future documents circulated to all Commissioners will be posted in that section when we get them in advance. No action will be taken today.

5 (B) Public comment

Corey Evans – The Animal Welfare Act reports are incredibly detailed. We could host the information on our website.

James Yorck – Will the statistics from ACC go back 10 or 20 years for perspective? That would be very helpful.

Comr. Young – If that information was available publicly I would link to it.

Public comment closed

6. New Business

A) Discussion and possible action to recommend to the Board that they change the way the Commission communicates as per SF Health code sec 41.3, “the Commission will send a written quarterly report of its activities to the Board” Other options might include a verbal report.

Comr. Young – Have been concerned that our ideas are not being communicated to the Supervisors. Not sure how our quarterly report is received. This is about considering in addition to or instead of other ways of communicating. We might have a Supervisor working with us or we go to a Supervisor sub-committee meeting quarterly.

Comr. Aldridge – What is the process now? Do we give it to the Board’s clerk or individually to Supervisors?

Comr. Stephens – I take 12 copies to the Clerk of the Board. They keep one copy and distribute the rest to the Supervisors.

Comr. Hemphill – It would be hard for a Supervisor to come to our meeting but maybe an aide once a quarter?

Comr. Gerrie – We would need to change the HC 41.3. We weren’t even following that for a number of years. The report goes to the aides who hopefully can relay relevant information to the Supervisors. The current method is better than not communicating at all.

Comr. Hemphill – I haven’t seen a final copy of the report that goes out. We only see the draft.

Comr. Young – The issue is if the current system is working or tweaked somehow?

Comr. Gerrie – Why don’t we just go talk with the aides to see how it is working? We won’t know unless we ask.

Comr. Hemphill – We talked about putting the quarterly report up on our website.

Comr. Stephens – I don’t recall talking about it but we can talk about it.

Comr. Young – We have good discussions here but I don’t know if it is getting to people that can act on them. Has anyone been approached after sending the quarterly report about a topic?

Comr. Gerrie – Would be willing to go with you and visit with the Supervisors.

Comr. Aldridge - Walking the hallways is a proven way to make contact and gain the ear of the Supervisors. We could get some feedback if our report is being read and taken seriously.

Comr. Hemphill – I’ve done it and it is always useful and informational.

Comr. Young – Is there one sub-committee that has oversight on us?

Comr. Stephens – Animal issues can be heard in different committees.

Comr. Gerrie – What committee an issue is assigned to generally depends on what committee the sponsoring Supervisor is on.

Comr. Stephens - When we vote and recommend an issue for the Board we then have to knock on doors to find a Supervisor to sponsor it. That often takes a lot of work. Only issues we feel strongly about will motivate us to make the effort.

Comr. Denny – I agree that an issue needs to be vetted and have strong support to gain the attention of a Supervisor.

Comr. Stephens - There is nothing to prevent us as private citizens or the public at large to approach a Supervisor with a issue whether it has or has not been vetted by us. Supervisors don’t know much about animal issues. Our Commission was created to be the first contact with animal issues. If it gets by us than it carries more weight.

Comr. Young – From past experience not everything gets by the aides to the Supervisor so it may be better to have direct contact.

Comr. Gerrie – We have visited the Supervisor’s offices to give them a heads up. We don’t want to put them in the position of answering about an issue they have never heard about that we have proposed.

Comr. Young – We should visit them to find out what way would be best to communicate.

Comr. Hemphill – Not all issues we want them to support are large issues.

Comr. Gerrie -We are more motivated to visit them when there is a large issue we are passionate about. Maybe we should just visit them on a regular basis?

Comr. Russo – Have heard three different suggestions. One, to post the quarterly report on the our website. Two, for Comr. Stephens to send out the final version to the Commissioners. Finally, for one or more Commissioners to follow up with the Supervisors after they have received the report.

Comr. Young – I support visiting the Supervisors or their aides. I would first want to visit with them to see how things are going with how we are communicating.

Comr. Aldridge – It is an arguable point if we want to visit frequently versus only when there is an important issue to inform them about. Feed back from them at first would be helpful.

Comr. Gerrie – I would be willing to go with you to make the rounds.

Comr. Young – We can do that before the next meeting, with some feedback, then proceed on what to propose.

Comr. Hemphill – Do we need to make a motion about sending our the final version of the quarterly report and the abstract to the website?

Comr. Stephens – That wasn’t an agenda item so we can’t this month. I’ll check and see the best way to put it on the website.

6 A) No public comment

7. General Public Comment

Richard Fong – Concerned about change of ownership at the Stow Lake Boathouse as to animal issues. Previously, Comr. Hemphill had raised concerns about the fireworks at Stow Lake. Suggest she visit the area again to see how conditions are now for wildlife.

James Yorck – Had asked at the last Meeting for the quarterly reports to be available and disturbed that Comr. Hemphill hasn’t receive a copy.

Public comment closed

8 & 9 Calendar items and task allotments

Comr. Young – Will be looking into making updates and the hosting to the web page and hosting. Comr. Gerrie and I will visit the Supervisors about making communication better.

Comr. Aldridge – I will look into how resource items get done on our web page.

Public comment

James Yorck – Should topics such as Gov. Brown and the Hayden Act and about a rescuer that was also a hoarder ever be brought up? Or about an article in Slate magazine about expecting the inquisition if you want to adopt a dog or cat?
Or about veterinarian abuse or overcharging? Expand your agenda. You’ve had the same thing for the last year and half. You might get more people attending.

Comr. Stephens – Commenting on the Hayden Act, ACC has stated that they will continue to hold animals for the time required by the Hayden Act without reimbursement by the State.

Public comment closed

Adjournment 6:35 PM

Respectfully submitted by Philip Gerrie
Commission Secretary
Last updated: 2/3/2014 2:17:51 PM