Brenda Barnette’s Daughter is a ‘Responsible’ Dog Breeder, Says Best Friends’ L.A. Director

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

Before Brenda Barnette became the head of Los Angeles city animal shelters, she was the executive director of the very small Seattle Humane Society, and she was also the Seattle Kennel Club's Legislative Representative for the AKC. That’s right--Brenda Barnette was a dog breeder, although she claimed she had left that world behind before she was hired as LA Animal Services in June 2010.

The colorful photo above appeared after Barnette was hired as LA’s “top dog.” It shows Brenda Barnette holding a trophy at the Seattle Kennel Club Dog Show in March 2010--during the period of the headhunter search which resulted in her being hired by the city of Los Angeles.

Brenda Barnette has a daughter--Mary Alice Davis--who was hired by Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles after Barnette, as LAAS General Manager, arranged a $1-per-year giveaway of the new $19 million  Northeast Valley Animal Shelter to  Best Friends. (In addition, the City provides $200,000 a year in maintenance while Best Friends occupies the shelter.)

Mary Alice Davis is the foster-care coordinator at the pet adoption center in Mission Hills, according to Marc Peralta, Executive Director, Best Friends Animal Society - Los Angeles.  


Brenda Barnette sponsored Mary Alice Davis’ application for membership in the Seattle Kennel Club at a  General Membership meeting on November 18, 2009. Mary Alice was welcomed as a new member on January 27, 2010. Her name still shows on alerts for the Seattle Kennel Club in 2011.

Daniel Guss, Los Angeles animal advocate, recently pointed out to City Council members that, when she was confirmed as General Manager, Barnette told Council members that she had once bred a litter and had not shown dogs for several years ... “I’m not breeding. I’m not planning on breeding,” she said. “My dogs are spayed — except one who's neutered.” (Los Angeles Times on July 14, 2010)

Although she has tried to distance herself by verbal denials, it appears that Barnette did not leave the world of dog breeding behind when she came to Los Angeles. She is currently listed on dog-show and kennel rosters as a co-owner of a Portuguese Waterdog along with Mary Alice Davis. 


On October 4, Daniel Guss told the City Council during Public Comment that he had come across a dog show roster dated May 23, 2013, in which Brenda Barnette and her daughter Mary Alice Davis were listed in the competitions at the Southern California Portuguese Water Dog Club, under the listing for “Puppy Bitches:”

PORTUGUESE WATER DOGS, Puppy Bitches, 9 months and under 12 months

(8) CUTWATER IT HAD TO BE YOU, WS43376901. 05/29/2012. Breeder: Frances

Archambault & Jane Harding. By Ch. Cutwater Wine And Dine Me – Ch. Cutwater The Best is Yet to Come.

Owner: Mary Alice Davis/Brenda Barnette.

The same dog is also listed in the Catalog of the Channel City Kennel Club and the Santa Maria Kennel Club.  She was shown again on September 9, 2013, at the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America – Sweeps/Vet Sweeps

Not surprisingly. there was no reaction or show of interest by the City Council.  Although Daniel Guss held up the paper from which he was reading the details of the “puppy bitch,” co-owned by Brenda Barnette,  no Council deputy was sent to ask for a copy of it.


Later on October 4, Daniel Guss addressed the issue directly to Brenda Barnette by e-mail and states:

Brenda -

You are a resident of the City of Los Angeles, and an employee.

”You own a dog who is being bred, and you are LISTED AS THE OWNER.

Moreover, the dog is shown during the week when you are paid to prevent dog population growth!

“Breeding dogs is incongruous for a shelter GM, and your failure to have a breeder's permit (when you are a listed owner) is a violation of city law.”


Amidst Daniel Guss’ insistence that, without a breeding permit, Brenda Barnette “MUST RESIGN IMMEDIATELY,” she responded:

On Fri, Oct 4, 2013 at 4:23 PM, Brenda Barnette

<[email protected]>wrote:

" I own three altered dogs. Being a Co-owner of record is more like

 being a G= uardian [sic] of anything happens to my daughter. The dog does

 not live with me, = is not suported [sic]by me nor controlled by me.”


Apparently Best Friends thought they could provide an explanation to make things all right. Here are just the most pertinent parts of an October 8 e-mail from Marc Peralta, Executive Director of Best Friends Animal Society – Los Angeles:

-------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Marc Peralta <[email protected]>
Date: Tue, Oct 8, 2013 at 1:23 PM
Subject: Response to your email to Francis

Mary Alice Davis is not an adoption coordinator, rather she is the foster care coordinator at our pet adoption center in Mission Hills….While Best Friends always advocates adoptions from shelters or rescues for those looking for a pet, we do acknowledge that there are responsible and caring breeders (with definitions attached). Mary Alice falls into the category of responsible breeders.

“See this link for more info on the subject:

“Marc Peralta
Executive Director, Best Friends Animal Society - Los Angeles”


This makes us wonder what is in store for Los Angeles with an Animal Services General Manager involved in activities related to dog breeding and the City’s largest animal organization feeling comfortable with that image and reality. We decided to ask Daniel Guss for his final word.


1.  Why did you feel it was important to tell the City Council about Brenda Barnette's apparent involvement with dog showing and breeding on October 4? 

Daniel Guss: “Brenda Barnette's disdain for the city's mandatory spay/neuter, licensing and cruelty laws is already well established. By providing the city with documentation that she is also actively involved in dog breeding events, City Hall can no longer claim that it didn't know. 

2.  Why does it matter whether Brenda Barnette breeds dogs or is connected in any manner with dog breeding?  

Daniel Guss: "It demonstrates that she is interested in creating more animals than fewer, and that attitude is in conflict with her job.   Recently, she failed in her attempt to turn the city's shelters into a virtual puppy mill by allowing pregnant dogs to have puppies which she suggested could bring in revenue if LA Animal Services sold them to pet shops. Her heart is not in the right place."  

3.  Do you think Mary Alice Davis is violating any ethical or legal provisions in working for Best Friends?  

Daniel Guss: "Mary Alice Davis has a vested in interest in Best Friends "cherry picking"  highly adoptable, healthy (i.e. low vet expense) animals because doing so disingenuously inflates her mother's, Best Friends' and her own adoption stats.   I don't know if that's an ethical or legal problem, but it's unfair to the animals they leave behind in the city's shelters, which are overwhelming Pits, Chihuahuas or in need of veterinary care.

4.  What do you think the Council and/or Mayor should do about the disclosure of Best Friends endorsing dog breeding by one of its employees?  

Daniel Guss: “Marc Peralta stopped short of ‘endorsing" breeding, but he clearly is at peace with it.  But this is an opportunity for Mayor Garcetti and City Council to determine if Best Friends really understands what is expected of them in both deeds and words and whether we are really getting a true story of their contribution to the City in exchange for our $20M asset? Is Best Friends here to provide sustainable benefit to Los Angeles or to further their own marketing programs?" 

5.  Do you believe Brenda Barnettte is qualified for the job of General Manager of LAAS? 

Daniel Guss: "No, Brenda has been recorded saying that she doesn't believe in our mandatory spay/neuter law because "it discriminates against breeders."   Yet this is one of the primary functions of her job-- to control the pet population.  If she doesn't get and embrace that, she disqualifies herself for the job.

Read: LA Animal Services: Would You Buy a 'Feral Cat Program' From Brenda Barnette? (Part 2 of 3)

L.A. Animal Services, Mayor and Council Set To Give Feral Cats Property Rights in Los Angeles (Part 1)

Sources: Baray, JBradshaw, (2), Seattle Kennel Club, Best Friends