ANIMAL WATCH - At its regular monthly meeting on October 24, 2023, the Tarzana Neighborhood Council passed a package of seven resolutions and Community Impact Statements designed to improve conditions in the City animal shelters and end the overcrowding and spay/neuter emergency. All of these Resolutions/Community Impact Statements passed unanimously, 17-0, demonstrating the widespread support of the community to improve shelter conditions and reach a long-term solution to overcrowding of dogs and other animals in the City shelters. It is hoped that these Resolutions/Community Impact Statements will help the new General Manager of the Animal Services Department, Staycee Dains, marshal support to greatly increase spay/neuter in the City, improve conditions in the animal shelters, and end overcrowding and killing of animals for lack of space in the shelters.
One Resolution/Community Impact Statement is as follows:
“There is an emergency taking place regarding animals in the City. Severe overcrowding and killing of healthy adoptable dogs in the City Animal Shelters for lack of space is an emergency. The overpopulation of dogs is costing the City millions of dollars. Please see: Crucial City Funding: Spay and Neuter Saves Money and Lives (citywatchla.com)
It is crucial that steps be taken immediately to decrease the number of dogs coming into the shelters. A moratorium on breeding permits is a necessary step in doing so, at least until this immediate emergency is resolved.
At the same time, we suggest that the City Council also take the following steps to address the overcrowding emergency:
- Encourage spay/neuter of pets by increasing funding for more free and discounted spay/neuter vouchers and increasing the amount veterinarians are paid for performing spay/neuters under the vouchers. The amount of payment to vets pursuant to the vouchers is ridiculously low and, as a result, there are not enough vets willing to perform spay/neuters under the vouchers. Increasing the availability of vouchers and raising the fees paid to veterinarians to encourage them to perform spay/neuters is a necessary step in solving the emergency.
- Deploy an advertising/email/social media/news media campaign for spay/neuter vouchers. As part of this campaign, make clear that the City is going to start enforcing spay/neuter laws more vigorously, much more vigorously. Publicize that you can use a free or discounted spay/neuter voucher to avoid a severe fine. There should be severe fines for failure to spay/neuter, with minimal or no waivers.
- Use the Northeast Valley Animal Shelter in Mission Hills and the Jefferson Park Animal Shelter in South L.A. on an emergency basis to house dogs from overcrowded shelters in any empty kennels, without displacing any dogs currently at those shelters. Encourage all experienced former volunteers to return to help care for the animals there. This will allow this to be done at the lowest cost for the City.”
Other Resolutions/Community Impact Statements passed by the Tarzana Neighborhood Council advocate for increasing funding and staffing for the City animal shelters, increasing the number of volunteers at the shelters, improving conditions and care of animals in the shelters, and allowing tenants in rental dwellings to keep existing pets so they do not have to be turned into the shelters.
One resolution highlights Mayor Bass’ promise to improve shelter conditions: https://youtu.be/FTwVtjv1P94. Another resolution calls for determination of funding necessary to operate the Northeast Valley Shelter in Mission Hills as a fully functioning municipal shelter.
There is a resolution that calls on the Department of Animal Services and General Services Department to better coordinate efforts to repair broken kennels and other items at the Animal Shelters. Broken doors separating portions of the dog kennels, broken locks, and other needed repairs not only make it more difficult to care for and take animals out of the kennels, they also constitute a safety hazard for volunteers and employees. One suggestion is for a list of broken items to be kept in the volunteer office at each shelter, and for a General Services truck to visit each shelter every week for those repairs to be made.
The full Resolutions/Community Impact Statements filed with the City Clerk can be accessed at the following links:
The full agenda of the Tarzana Neighborhood Council meeting on October 24 is here: Link
(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. (Link) Jeff is a Featured Writer for CityWatch. His other articles can be found here. In September 2023, Jeff received the Guardian of the Animals Award from the organization In Defense of Animals. (Link) This article is written in his private individual capacity, not on behalf of the Animal Services Department.)