“I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your involvement, your dedication, and most importantly, your generosity in providing the Foothill Area Station with our feral cats.
I knew from my previous experience as the commanding officer at Wilshire Area, that the problems associated with “pest control” are voluminous. However, with the introduction of these natural predators, we enjoyed a resounding success in minimizing and controlling the infestation of the rodent problem. Now, here at Foothill Station, the feral cats have once again proved their worth and succeeded in clearing our station of rodents in a controlled and non-invasive manner.
Your assistance with the introduction and acclimation of our feral cats has been invaluable to our organization. As part of a large city-based entity, it would be difficult for our personnel to apply the knowledge, and time-consuming efforts, necessary to achieve the desired results. We have greatly benefited from your organization’s assistance and involvement in establishing our feral cat program. We couldn’t have done it without your help. Once again, thank you for your considerate volunteer effort.”
- William J. Bratton
Chief of Police
“Thank you for all of the assistance you and your great organization, Voice For The Animals, have provided in the past year. Your organization’s assistance in locating the victim and witnesses in the recent animal cruelty case in Pacific Area was invaluable. As I mentioned in our conversation, the Pacific Area detectives were able to make a successful arrest in that case.
I am especially proud of the training we worked on during September 2000. Your assistance with coordinating the training and getting Sergeant Schlueter was invaluable. Without your organization’s efforts, we would not have been able to put on the training.
I also want to thank you for bringing the students from several local schools to Pacific Station for the training and your. I am sure the experience was beneficial to both the students and Pacific officers alike.”
- Commander Andrew J. Smith, Commanding Officer
Media Relations and Community Affairs Group
“I write this letter of recommendation as an animal advocate, as a private citizen, and as one who founded and presides over a 501(c) (3) tax-exempt corporation in Florida (The Sherry L. Shlueter Foundation, Inc.). But my acquaintance and involvement with the remarkable Melya Kaplan stems from my professional life as a sworn certified law enforcement officer (Broward County Sheriff’s Office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida).
Some years ago Ms. Kaplan learned of my unique work in law enforcement, which focused upon the investigation of crimes of abuse, neglect, abandonment and killing of animal victims. Ms. Kaplan made a “cold call” to me, telephonically introduced herself, then enthusiastically inquired whether I would consider initiating a pilot training program geared to instruct the Los Angeles Police Department officers about how to recognize animal cruelty and to conduct thorough, successful investigations into such complaints.
She was already working tenaciously “within the system” —-the city of Los Angeles, though essentially an outsider herself, traversing the many different obstacles of the kind only a government bureaucracy can dream up, trying to convince those in power of the need and importance of such training.
I marveled at her tenacity, her diplomacy, and her indefatigable spirit. And I assure you it took all of that and more to make the program happen —but happen it did, with great, exciting fanfare. She had somehow miraculously convinced the city commission, the mayor’s office, the L.A.P.D., and city and county animal services organizations, among others, to embrace not only the concept, but me! I received a grand proclamation from the city, arrived to a horde of interested media, and was featured in a L.A. Times newspaper article on the day of my arrival. I’m sure you can appreciate the significance of all of that, when aware that several of the factions Ms. Kaplan brought together to support the programs were actually very nearly at war with one another over other issues of a political nature. Who but Melya Kaplan could have accomplished that?
The pilot training program proved to be, as I understand it, a smashing success. But due to some of the many internal troubles with which the L.A.P.D. struggled, Ms. Kaplan’s dream of seeing every officer on the force so trained, was shelved for a couple of years. Never giving up, she resurrected the plan at every opportunity, and succeeded in orchestrating yet another, somewhat expanded, pilot training program intended to teach officers about animal cruelty investigations, the cycle of violence, and animal handling procedures. The latter was intended to teach the skills the officers needed to help them avoid being bitten by dogs they would encounter (officer safety issue), while offering alternatives to shooting dogs, a response which raised the ire of the community and endangered the public whenever it (unfortunately, frequently) happened (public safety issue).”
- Sherry L. Schlueter Foundation, Inc.
“As a private citizen and a prosecutor I have been witness to an astonishing change that has taken place over recent years in heightened awareness of animal cruelty (which include intentional cruelty, neglect, and illegal animal fighting) and the way instances of animal cruelty are handled by law enforcement. A good deal of this change can be attributed to the efforts of Melya Kaplan and the organization she founded and directs, Voice For The Animals. Over the course of the last 10 years I have watched Ms. Kaplan tirelessly – and successfully – pursue the idea of instituting a special task force within the Los Angeles Police Department that would specifically address animal cruelty. In 2005 this task force became a reality. Made up of Animal Control Officers from the city’s Department of Animal Services and police officers from the Los Angeles Police Department, the task force has served as a model for police agencies around the country. Since its inception the task force has been responsible for investigating thousands of instances of animal cruelty that, heretofore, might have been given short shrift. Ms. Kaplan also helped serve as an impetus for the creation of a specialized animal cruelty prosecution program within the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, a program that has been hugely successful in prosecuting a myriad of cases involving the mistreatment of animals. Ms. Kaplan can always be relied on to lend her considerable support and expertise to these programs and to any other projects where the mission is to promote the humane treatment of animals. It is fair to say that Ms. Kaplan is an integral part of – and reason for – the profound changes in actions and attitudes that have occurred in Los Angeles regarding instances of animal abuse. It is a true pleasure to work with Ms. Kaplan and I look forward to working with her and her organization, both privately and professionally, for many years to come.”
“I have closely worked with Melya Kaplan and Voice For The Animals for myriad years. During that time, I have personally witnessed huge changes and improvements in animal welfare that are directly attributable to the work and advocacy done by Melya and Voice for the Animals. Although I’ve worked with dozens of animal rescue organizations and advocacy groups for the past thirty years, what distinguishes Voice from the Animals from other groups is Melya’s unique and truly remarkable ability to work cooperatively with government agencies in developing policies and procedures that improve the welfare of animals. Whether it’s the investigation and enforcement of animal cruelty law, the treatment of dogs and cats in our local shelters or the policies relating to feral cats…Melya’s advocacy work and her talent for bringing all the necessary parties to the same table has resulted in dramatic improvements in the way Los Angeles government deals with animal issues. The existence of the LA Animal Cruelty Task Force and the City’s new focus on dog and cockfighting is a direct result of Melya’s advocacy, concensus building and willingness to focus resources where they can do the most good for animals. Moreover, Melya’s ongoing work with the Mayor’s Office, the City Council and LAPD has brought about huge and significant improvements in the way animal cruelty and neglect are dealt with. It is not an understatement to say that but for Melya Kaplan, the City of Los Angeles would still be in the “dark ages” regarding the welfare of dogs, cats, rabbits and wildlife.”
“Once Again, Ms. Kaplan brought diverse and reluctant entities together. We created a 16-hour training program, which ultimately reduced the previously alarmingly high number of dog shootings by officers down to nearly zero immediately following the training. But what is equally astounding about all of this is that these two pilot training programs for the L.A.P.D., which included evening community meetings to alert and educate the public to the issues and to their responsibilities as witnesses and reporters of these crimes, was not underwritten by any government entity. (The police officers, of course, attended on company time.) The costs of bringing me to Los Angeles from South Florida twice, and the associated costs of providing the training (though done at a reduced rate in the spirit of helping) were all covered through private donations and “complimentary” services or reduced rate accommodations acquired mainly by Melya Kaplan herself. As alluded to earlier, this second pilot program proved also to be a genuine success. The police officers were most appreciative of the immediately applicable training they received; the city and the involved agencies garnered praise and support from the community; and the very real violence against animals — both from the intentional abuse perpetrated by criminal offenders, and that initiated by scared cops shooting at loose dogs because they didn’t know what else to do, was significantly reduced. The one-woman dynamo who conceived of all of this and brought it to fruition twice, at no cost to those people who most benefited, is the incomparable Melya Kaplan, Executive Director of Voice For The Animals Foundation. She has many more grand ideas. She is a dreamer, a planner, an initiator, an educator, and a diplomat. She has the heart of a warrior, and the soul of a saint. And she deserves to be funded, supported, and treasured for all that she has done, and all that she will continue to do. Exactly what that shall be likely depends upon you and the resources you may provide her. Please be generous.”
- Sherry L. Schlueter
“I want to express my deep gratitude for continuing to bring humane education to young people via your work as Executive Director of Voice For The Animals. As you recall, when I started New Roads in 1995, I came to you right away, hoping you would agree to grow and extend the humane education work that you and I started years prior.
Since its inception in 1995, New Roads has been an effort to create an independent school with genuine diversity – ethnic, racial, cultural and socio-economic diversity. The challenge for us was to find ways to use those things that usually alienate one person from another, one community from another, as a vehicle to bring people together. I knew from our work teaching Animal Rights and Ethics at Crossroads School, and from the volumes of research that has been done on the matter, that humane education – and quite specifically awareness of animal issues and animal rights, that our young school would be served by your efforts.
As everyone sees when they are here, our students display a level of tolerance, compassion, concern for others, and a profound sense of justice, that is difficult to find elsewhere. Would that be the case were it not for our efforts in humane education? Perhaps. But it is quite clear to me that all of the years of teaching humane education – and here I quite specifically mean animal rights and animal issues – has been a powerful tool and New Roads.
Thus I circle back to where I began. Thank you, Melya. It was such a treat to know that you continue to work with young people. And it is clear that you have not lost your touch. Our students were energized and deeply affected by VFTA’s presentations; they continue to work with young people. I hope you will continue this excellent work for years to come, and I welcome to opportunity to sing your praises to those who might be considering humane education in their own communities.”
- David Bryan
President and Head of School, New Roads
“I am writing to express my support for the Violence Prevention Through Humane Education program as developed by Voice For The Animals. This program is an innovative new tool for teaching compassion and helping our youth cope with the stresses of modern urban life. As chair of the City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Gang Violence and Youth Development, I am constantly looking for ideas that can make the City’s efforts more comprehensive and effective. Having observed a lesson, I know that is program fits into the solution.
In addition to helping us expand the number of homes for animals and compat animal cruelty, I believe this program can make a positive contribution to our larger oeffort to fight juvenile crime and gang violence. It has been shown time and time again that animal abuse is a precursor to crimes against humans. Too many of our youth are exposed to animal abuse at an early age and never come to understand that it is wrong. This program will change that.
I am excited to see this program become a reality in Los Angeles. It is an exemplary model of the creative and ctitical ways we need to enrich the lives of youth in our City.”
- Tony Cardenas
Los Angeles City Councilman, 6th District
“I am writing to express my support for the Violence Prevention Through Humane Education program that your organization, Voice For The Animals, has developed. The program is an innovative new tool for teaching compassion and helping our youth cope with the stresses of modern urban life.
I applaud the curriculum of the program, which has been developed in conjunction with several experts including psychologist Dr. Lorin Linder. It is very important to teach schoolchildren about animals, stressing compassion and humane values, along with the practical benefits of responsible pet ownership.
Mahatma Gandhi once said that “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” It has been shown time and time again that animal abuse is a precursor to crimes against humans. Too many of our youth are exposed to animal abuse at an early age and never come to understand that it is wrong. This program will change that.
It is vital for these kinds of programs to find the funding they so richly deserve. It is vital that public and private entities come together to form partnerships to help push forward the importance of animal cruelty.”
- Lloyd E. Levine
Assemblyman, 40th District
"I had to bring my Therapy Dog Michael Angelo to the Vet today. I did not have the funds to pay for the full blood work and decided (bad decision on my part) to try to treat him. Well he would not eat and I called the Vet back on Saturday and the receptionist told me to try to feed him with a eye dropper and call back on Monday if does not improve. So today I brought him back, Bad news the blood work came back positive for Pancreatitis. I had to admit him to the Hospital. Now thanks to wonderful people like yourself, I am a little at ease.
"About 3 or 4 weeks ago Ceci found an unconscious cat on the side of the street, she was able to grab the cat and bring it home. We named the cat “Hope”. Since the cat was not domesticated we were planning to release it on the back of the house but we needed help with the sterilization procedure.
I proceeded to call about 5 or 6 nonprofit cat organizations and all but one was willing to help. Debbie Woods from Voice For The Animals Foundation called back and she not only was willing to help with the sterilization but offered also to gave Hope her vaccinations and place a microchip.
To my eyes Debbie is a true humane champion for all of those animals who need help. She show love, care and dedication for Hope, and I am pretty sure that she would gave the same treatment to any animal in need.
Debbie called me several time to make sure that Hope was OK, and contacted me after Hope got her surgical. For that Debbie, my wife myself and Hope are eternal grateful to you."
-Efrain E. Ramirez.
“On behalf of Volunteers of America Greater Los Angeles, I would like to thank Voice For The Animals for arranging for spaying/neutering of several strays cats residing on the grounds of our downtown apartment complex. Because of VFTA’s effort, the proliferation of stray cats will be halted which will result in fewer cats being subjected to injury and suffering. We appreciate VFTA’s dedication toward the welfare of all animals.”
- Orlando Ward, VP External Affairs
Volunteers of America Greater Los Angeles
"The purpose of this letter is to praise Voice For The Animals for the manner in which they respond for help and assistance from the public. I contacted them in regards to a cat that I feed who is homeless. My neighbor had taken him to Harbor Animal Shelter after he got stuck in my gate. When I went to the Shelter, they would not let me take him out. I knew there was a death sentence hanging over him. The next day, I sent an e-mail about my situation, I heard from Debbie Wood. Promptly, she went into action. Within several hours, everything had been arranged for me to get this cat out of danger. When there was a need to re-program the event, it was done in a patient and positive manner. On Wednesday, the 30 of September, I was able to successfully get “Honey Lemon"-granddaughter’s name- out of peril. Debbie Wood has excellent communications skills along with good organizational tactics. Everything went like clockwork.
I am impressed by your organization and the people involved. You contribution to animal well-being is awesome.
"Bennett and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Simba!!! He's been the best dog in the world and I'm so happy to have him in our home. He loves to nap and cuddle and he's a pro on the leash. He's also VERY acrobatic! He's always flipping himself around and galloping. He's pretty hilarious."
"I sent Voice For The Animals Foundation an email regarding a beautiful dog that was thrown out of a car in front of my parent's home. Debbie called me moments after receiving my email…wow! She was SO wonderful! Debbie was helpful, professional, kind, patient… I’m beyond impressed. :) I've contacted numerous rescue groups/organizations and Voice For The Animals Foundation is the only one to call me. Debbie had a positive attitude, despite the sad situation, and was full of great suggestions. She reassured me Voice For The Animals Foundation would do their best to help Alana…that she wouldn’t be forgotten.
I just wanted to take a moment to commend you on what a wonderful experience I had with your organization. You’re truly unique. I feel hopeful again!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
- Kim Maxwell
“Due to the economy and our having to downsize to an apartment that does not allow pets, Tony, our 8 year old rescued cat needed a new home and continued love. After close to a year, four counties, 20 phone calls to shelters, exhausting all our neighborhood, friends, and family contacts, Santa Monica Animal Shelter led us to Voice For the Animals Foundation. I had been told for a year Tony was considered a senior cat and would be put down within 72 hours if not adopted. Voice For the Animals handled Tony’s transport and transition with dignity, respect, and compassion. We will be forever grateful and continue to support Voice For the Animals.”
- Harry & Sherry
“VFTA helped me tremendously this year. My cat, Juliette, had been with me since college, she had moved cities and states with me and we were attached at the hip. I didn’t want to take her to an animal shelter because I knew that they would put her to sleep within a few weeks if she wasn’t adopted. When I found VFTA it was the answer to my prayers, it prevented my cat from being locked away and possibly killed in an animal shelter, and I didn’t have to worry about her roaming the streets cold and starving. She was adopted a few weeks later and now she is happy in a new family who loves her as much as I do. I couldn’t be happier with my experience with VFTA!”
“I had contacted dozens of pet agencies and organizations, and you were the first one to respond. I have been living in emergency shelters for the past half year. I didn’t know who to contact, hence the dozens of calls I made. Voice For The Animals came through with flying colors, despite several roadblocks that I could not avoid, and you found my girls a good temporary foster home! Since my cats comprise my family, I am forever grateful for your wonderful and kind assistance! THANK YOU!!!”
“I heard crying near a vacant house next to mine, it appeared to be the only one. I looked a few feet away and there was one that didn’t survive. I picked up the living little kitty and took it to my house. I took care of her like a baby. I called a rescue and left a couple of messages for information, then I called back but never received a return call. Voice For The Animals Foundation returned my call, and the same day I spoke with Debbie, who called me numerous times throughout the day to keep me posted on the lil’ kitty. Debbie was able to place her in a place where the kitty will receive the care she needed. Thank you so much Voice for the Animals and keep me posted on the Lil’ Critter I miss so much!”
"My family and I are eternally grateful to Voice For The Animals for their tireless and thorough efforts to place our rescue dog, Suzy, in a safe and loving home. My family was struck with tragedy last summer and we lost everything, including our home. Of all our losses, our dog was the most painful. Voice For The Animals found a permanent and loving home …”