East L.A. Animal Shelter Wipes Out Treasured Pepper-Tree Grove for Better View of Ads

Which is more important: Encouraging pet adoption to prevent frequent, heartbreaking euthanizations at the East Valley animal shelter, or preserving the lives of 14 pepper trees outside said shelter?

Beverly Hills animal-rights org the Bernham Foundation -- an offshoot of the Berheim law firm -- apparently thinks one isn't possible without the other.

On August 20, the org/firm paid a crew of gardeners to reduce nearly half the longstanding pepper-tree grove outside the Van Nuys shelter to a sea of bleeding stumps, according to the LA Daily News. Their dying service: To provide a better view of 70-foot banners shouting "Get a Great New Pet Here!" to cars passing the shelter.

Saddest (slash most ironic) community quote from the Daily News piece:

"People loved these trees. And they could have provided nests for the birds."


"They will never be able to recover. They'll never be trees again."

Just kill us now, would you? The pepper trees were reportedly planted four years ago on the public land, and provided "flowing shade" for both visitors and pets.

Lawyer Steven Jay "Bernie" Bernheim tries to play the whole thing down, reeling off evil pet-murder statistics to reporters -- "one of every three dogs and two of every three cats are euthanized at Los Angeles animal shelters" -- and admitting it's possible that gardeners "overdid" the clear-cutting. (He hadn't found the time to survey the damage yet.)

Might we suggest, instead, doing like Gary Michelson, L.A.'s richest animal lover, and offering $25 Million to whoever invents a non-surgical spaying method? Not Bernheim's style, it seems. He'd rather take the car-salesman approach:

It all makes so much sense now. Bernheim doesn't know how to properly market his cause via modern-day contraptions like the Internet (like, listing the shelter on Google Maps, or transcending Petfinder), so he's only left with one option: Kill the pepper trees!

(Related: We really hope none of Mother Nature's children were harmed in the making of that horrid pink jacket.)

The Daily News reports that brand-new L.A. Animal Services Director Brenda Barnette approved of the ridiculous advertising solution for the East L.A. shelter. However:

"Someone trying to help did more than we anticipated or expected," Barnette wrote. "My staff is working with other City departments on this.

"We will take responsibility and we expect to have a solution by mid-week."



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