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Fri, Jun

Mayor Bass Wants to Improve the LA Animal Services Department, Secure Additional Funding

ANIMAL WATCH

LA ANIMAL SERVICES - There is an emergency of overcrowding of animals, insufficient spay/neuter, and lack of volunteers in the animal shelters operated by the City of Los Angeles.

At the Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils (VANC) meeting on August 10, Mayor Karen Bass demonstrated her determination to deal with these problems, improve the Animal Services Department, and secure the necessary funding to do so.  She was asked the following question:

What is going on at the Animal Services Department, focusing on these four issues: 

  1. Increasing spay/neuter, which is the long-term key to No-Kill, decreasing overcrowding, and cutting costs; 
  2. The terrible overcrowding at the Shelters, especially for dogs; 
  3. Opening the Northeast Valley Shelter, which is the best way to deal with the overcrowding on a short-term basis until increased spay/neuter can be implemented; and 
  4. The shortage of Volunteers because of actions by the Animal Services Department?

Mayor Bass made the following important statements in response:   

  1. She recognized that the increased funding the Animal Services Department received for the current fiscal year (2023-2024) was not enough.
  2. The Mayor stated that she would attempt to increase funding for the Animal Services Department in the middle of the budget cycle this fiscal year. She recognized that there has to be increased funding for spay/neuter and additional staff. 
  3. Mayor Bass said that she would definitely check into the empty kennels at the Northeast Valley Shelter that could be used to ease overcrowding.
  4. The Mayor recognized that the animal shelters could not function without the volunteers. She requested that I follow-up with Jacqueline Hamilton, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of Neighborhood Services, who supervises the Animal Services Department, in particular regarding the actions of the Animal Services Department that led to the shortage of volunteers.

The Mayor’s answer, which lasts approximately 4 minutes, can be seen in this video: VANC Meeting with Mayor Bass  

The follow-up email is here: Follow-up Email to Mayor Bass’ Assistant 

Attached to the email is a document that came to light a few months ago, showing the Animal Services Department was rejecting 81% of volunteer applications.  Only 19% of applicants who were processed were accepted.  Please see the June 1st CityWatch article that reported on this:   The headline of the article is: Why Does L.A. Animal Services Reject Thousands of Volunteer Applications?  But there has been no answer to that question. 

Additionally, there are still some volunteers, some of the best and most experienced, who were terminated after speaking with the press or posting on social media who have not been reinstated.  Please see CityWatch article Animal Shelter Volunteers Win First Round In Fight For First Amendment Rights

The email also mentions the petition regarding these issues, which has received over 5,000 signatures: PETITION.   Petition · PLEASE INVESTIGATE THE VOLUNTEER PROGRAM OF THE LOS ANGELES ANIMAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT · Change.org

An email has also been sent to the Board of Animal Services Commissioners, new General Manager and other officials of the Animal Services Department requesting that they ask Mayor Bass to declare an emergency regarding the severe overcrowding at the animal shelters, increasing spay/neuter, and using the Northeast Valley Animal Shelter to house dogs until increased spay/neuter can be implemented.  Please see: Email to Commission, General Manager, re Emergency Declaration.  This email sets forth a plan for dealing with these problems, including more vigorous enforcement of the spay/neuter laws and increased funding for spay/neuter.  Increasing spay/neuter will resolve the overcrowding, stop the killing of animals for lack of space, and save the City tens of millions of dollars in the long run.  Please see CityWatch article: Crucial City Funding: Spay and Neuter Saves Money and Lives   

(Jeffrey Mausner (www.mausnerlaw.com/) is on the Executive Committee of the Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils (VANC) where he serves as the Liaison to the Los Angeles Animal Services Department; he is 2nd Vice President of the Tarzana Neighborhood Council and Chair of its Animal Welfare Committee; and is a Volunteer at the West Valley Animal Shelter.  He was previously a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate and is now a Budget Representative. He is a retired attorney and law school professor and was formerly a Federal Prosecutor for the U.S. Justice Department, where he received numerous awards from the Attorney General of the U.S.  Jeff is a Featured Writer for CityWatch . His other articles can be found here. This article is written in his private individual capacity, not on behalf of the Animal Services Department.)