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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Activist Appointed to Monitor Wildlife Refuge

September 22, 2000

NEWHALL — An activist who oversees the treatment of animals used in movie production has been appointed to monitor conditions at the Wildlife Waystation, a refuge for retired show business animals that has been closed to the public for five months for health violations.

Special Master Gini Barrett, director of the Western Regional Office of the American Humane Assn., will report the animal sanctuary's progress to the Newhall Superior Court as it complies with codes and state regulators' orders to repair cages, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Miller.

Superior Court Judge Floyd V. Baxter appointed Barrett special master Thursday under a condition of the Waystation's probation for polluting streams in 1998 on the 120-acre site in the Angeles National Forest in Little Tujunga Canyon. After it admitted new violations in June, the refuge's probation was extended to June 2003.

As director of the Sherman Oaks office of the humane association, Barrett has overseen the film industry's handling of animals. The Sylmar resident resigned from the Los Angeles Animal Regulation Commission in 1999, saying the agency was underfunded and understaffed. For two months, she served on the commission with former Waystation board member Kathy Riordan.

Miller and Waystation Director Martine Collette said Barrett will bring balance and objectivity to the relationship between the refuge and the state Department of Fish and Game, which regulates wildlife sanctuaries.

"I'm thrilled to pieces because the lady is qualified," Colette said. "Hopefully with her qualifications, we will be able to communicate better with Fish and Game."

The state agency closed the Waystation to the public and barred the refuge from accepting new animals, citing health code and animal regulation violations, including crowded cages. The Waystation, home to 1,200 exotic and wild animals, was allowed in June to begin accepting small animals and birds for rehabilitation.

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