Animal services head Barnette has been a lightning rod for criticism by animal activists who believe she wants to hand the operation of public shelters over to handpicked private rescue groups.
She was appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to push the "no-kill" policy that burnishes the city's progressive image and the mayor's animal-loving credentials.
But the "no-kill" policy is a joke. Last year, nearly 23,000 animals were put to death in city shelters. The needle has barely budged under Barnette's tenure.
She hasn't even made basic changes, like bringing the shelter's clunky website into the modern age. It is vastly easier to find a dog on Craigslist than to navigate the online system that should let people know what dogs are available in their local shelters.
But the problem is bigger than Barnette, and it can't be solved by empty promises not to euthanize or finger-wagging at pet shops.
We need cuts in the animal population through spay and neuter campaigns. And we need more adoptions from animal shelters, which means making them user-friendly places where people and animals can bond.
That's why the lost time in opening a world-class shelter sets us back so much.
And why it's disheartening to hear Barnette defend the delays as much ado about nothing.
"The concerns are larger than the problem," she told volunteers in an email this week about the move that wasn't. "The animals in South LA have never had it better."
If she saw what I saw this week, she'd know that "better" isn't nearly enough.