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L.A. shelter volunteer says she was fired after talking out



A volunteer who criticized the town of L.A.’s care of rabbits and different small mammals on the San Pedro animal shelter in a latest Instances story mentioned she was fired by the town on Friday.

Jan Bunker, 74, mentioned she was dismissed by Juan Rivera, director of volunteer applications at Animal Companies.

She mentioned Rivera informed her she was being “insubordinate” after she refused his request to surrender her cellphone forward of a gathering with him on the Harbor shelter Friday.

Animal Companies spokesperson Agnes Sibal mentioned the division doesn’t touch upon personnel points.

Bunker and different volunteers just lately described seeing small mammals with out meals and water and having to spend their very own cash on provides for the animals.

Hundreds of rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters come by way of the town’s six shelters every year. At a number of shelters, volunteers mentioned the town depends too closely on them to do the work of caring for the small mammals.

Bunker, an entertainer and piano and voice teacher who lives in San Pedro, mentioned division workers requested her to come back in for a gathering. When she arrived, she mentioned, she was informed at hand over her private cellphone.

Bunker mentioned that she wished to maintain the cellphone to file the assembly and that she challenged Rivera’s request to surrender the gadget.

“I mentioned, ‘Are you a lawyer, Juan?’” Bunker mentioned. “‘Are you certain you realize my authorized rights? As a result of my lawyer says I’ve a proper to have a cellphone.’”

“He mentioned, ‘You’re being insubordinate. This assembly is over,’” Bunker mentioned. She was then informed to be escorted out.

“Then he yelled, ‘You’re fired!’” Bunker mentioned.

Bunker criticized Metropolis Councilman Paul Koretz, who oversees animal points on the metropolis, for the state of Animal Companies.

“The buck stops with him,” Bunker mentioned. “Animal Companies — they’re simply so poorly run and there’s no accountability.”

Koretz informed The Instances that he values the town’s volunteers however doesn’t know sufficient about Bunker’s state of affairs to reply. “I anticipate to launch my report on the division throughout the subsequent week or so together with a primary set of proposals to start out addressing the problems at L.A. Animal Companies, together with each the volunteer program and small animals,” Koretz mentioned.

Town leans closely on volunteers to stroll canine, do laundry and full an array of different duties at its animal shelters.

Media scrutiny of the shelters has exacerbated tensions between Animal Companies workers and a few volunteers, who can face dismissal in the event that they publicly criticize the division. One other volunteer, Claudio Kusnier, was dismissed this summer season after he criticized situations on the West Valley shelter.

Kusnier informed The Instances that workers knowledgeable him that he was dismissed for a number of causes, together with not carrying a masks on the shelter.

One volunteer, who requested anonymity for worry of retribution, mentioned Bunker’s dismissal is the precise motive volunteers are hesitant to talk out for worry of dropping their positions.

The dismissals additionally make recruiting individuals harder, the volunteer mentioned.

“If we’re not there day-after-day to form of see what’s taking place to the animals, they might endure from us not being there,” the volunteer mentioned. “It’s a lot greater than cleansing. It’s checking medical situations, it’s updating pictures, placing out feelers, interacting with adopters. So we want each volunteer we are able to get.”

Harrison Wollman, a spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. Wollman mentioned final week the town is engaged on including workers on the shelters.

Metropolis Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents South L.A. and sits on the committee that oversees animal points, mentioned Thursday that he visited the town animal shelter in his district this week.

“I noticed the final neglect of the general facility,” Harris-Dawson mentioned, including that the small-mammal room was a “mess.”

“Folks have been elevating [issues] at this shelter for me, and I positively noticed and felt what they’re saying,” he mentioned.

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