On a recent Friday, the San Francisco animal-loving community — a significant constituency — was jolted by the sacking of Animal Care and Control head Rebecca Katz. After six years atop the department, Katz was terminated by City Administrator Naomi Kelly with the finality of Travis Coates dispatching Old Yeller.
Kelly's office declined to discuss a personnel matter. Katz tells SF Weekly she "was not supported making the decisions I felt were in the best interests of the agency and the animals we served." When queried if that lack of support was monetary or ideological, she replied "both."
She also said as much in an entry on the department's Facebook page. Katz posted her lengthy missive on the Monday after her dismissal. This left sources close to Animal Control livid. Their complaints don't touch Katz's record with regard to the animals; San Francisco saves a remarkable percentage of the creatures housed at Animal Control. Instead, Katz's detractors say, her problem was with people.
Last year, the erstwhile director testified before the Small Business Commission and the Planning Commission — while toting a blind rescue chihuahua — on behalf of Pet Food Express. That chain provided her department with $50,000 worth of food yearly. Emails obtained via a public records request revealed Katz colluding with the chain and its unregistered lobbyist to wheedle the city.
This was viewed as a quid-pro-quo situation; Katz's dismissal was not a rash move. Friends were also not made when Katz sidestepped obligations such as fulfilling public records requests. PETA this year filed a complaint with the City Attorney to compel compliance.
Katz's concerns regarding shortages of money and personnel are well-taken, however. San Francisco requires plenty of both because of its commitment to keeping animals alive.
Whether that will change remains to be seen.