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Mon, May

Pit Bull Predicament: LAAS Blames Breeders Amid Shelter Overcrowding Crisis – A Call for Reality Check!

ANIMAL WATCH

ANIMAL WATCH - Los Angeles Animal Services’ officers were notably missing from the response team to an alarming Pit Bull attack reported by KTLA News on April 1, involving four victims at a home in the Van Nuys area with severe injuries requiring a child and adult to be transported to a local hospital. 

Photos taken at the scene show Los Angeles Police Department and Fire Department personnel responding to this gruesome event. A determination was made by L.A. County Health officials (who can be contacted 24 hours a day) that the dog could be left with the owners for the required ten-day rabies quarantine period without escaping. However, that understandably left the neighborhood uneasy, according to reports. 

The incident was reported shortly after 10:30 p.m. in the 13000 block of Runnymede Street. 

There were no other details given about the dog but attacks can, and do, happen in areas of the City at any time. The reason for increased funding granted to L.A. Animal Services in its $26.94-million budget for 2023-24, was not only to manage the six city shelters but also to provide officer response to animal-related emergencies 24 hours a day. The Department received the increased funding, but are victims of attacks getting the services? 

Failure to respond to calls of attacks began during the COVID scare, when there was concern about exposing officers to the contagious disease, but there is no excuse now except high absenteeism and low morale at LAAS. 

VICTIM COMPLAINS OF LONG DELAY IN LAAS RESPONSE AFTER ATTACK

During the Covid-19 pandemic, on February 12, 2020, Matthew Gutierrez was attacked by a Pit Bull inside his Valley Village apartment complex (in the City of Los Angeles). 

Matthew described how he was exiting an elevator while holding his dog, Milo, in his arms when he was attacked by the dog belonging to another tenant. 

“The owner was pulling at the leash to get him off … then he eventually let go and then he lunged at me again,”. “I knew I had to do something I just started punching at the nose,” Gutierrez said. 

Gutierrez was transported to Sherman Oaks Hospital where he received 10 stitches. 

He said he contacted the Los Angeles Police Department immediately following the attack, only to learn that because the incident occurred on private property there was little to be done. 

“They said that there is pretty much nothing they could do but investigate,” he told KTLA. 

Police referred Gutierrez to L.A. Animal Services for an investigation. 

Though Animal Services said the owners could have opted to keep the Pit Bull quarantined for a behavioral analysis, “They [the owners] have decided to put the dog down in light of the attack. ... the owners said he was a stray they’d recently decided to bring in.” 

L.A. ANIMAL SERVICES TOOK TIME 

Most of all, Gutierrez said he was surprised that it took several hours for Animal Services to arrive and investigate the situation, which prompted him to “stay at a friend’s home after leaving the hospital due to fear of the dog,” he told CBS. 

“It was shocking because it’s a threat to public safety,” he said. 

When asked about the delayed response, Animal Services said they did not have the address of the Pit Bull’s owners until around 3 A.M. Wednesday morning, according to the report. 

ATTACKS ALSO INCREASING IN OTHER L.A. COUNTY AREAS

 

On February 28, KTLA reported a serious attack by a pack of Pit Bulls in Azusa, about 24 miles from the city of Los Angeles. 

This attack occurred at 11:30 a.m. in a backyard on North Orangecrest Avenue, where L. A. County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded and found “Four dogs, all pit bulls, had attacked a man in his 20’s and his mother,” officials confirmed. The deputies arrived in time to prevent serious injuries.

However, “L.A. County Animal Care and Control officers also responded to the home and impounded all four dogs, which will be held in quarantine by the department until the owner relinquishes control,” a spokesperson told KTLA 5 News. 

According to Hoodline.com, the man and his mother were “dog sitting.” Information by County authorities indicates the man, identified as Alan Armagnac “was trying to watch the dogs in the backyard when they turned on him.” 

The mother then attempted to intervene and also became a victim of the brutal attack. 

The dogs had apparently been there for some time because neighbors reported making multiple noise complaints over past weeks, according to FOX LA

“The man’s shirt was ripped open—he had like blood all over his shirt and his legs,” according to a witness statement provided by CBS News

There were reports of indications of breeding the dogs at the home, which was not confirmed. 

Los Angeles County Animal Control responded and reportedly had to use shovels to safely move the dogs away from the injured victims, reports say. The dogs were impounded for rabies quarantine. 

This incident occurred just weeks after L.A. County Fire and Animal Control Officers responded to a call in Compton (about 11 miles from the City of L.A.) where a man was found dead in his backyard after being attacked by his eight Pit Bulls—apparently involved in a home-breeding operation. His body was found inside a kennel. (See: Pit Bull Breeding: A Deadly Business.) 

Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control Director Marcia Mayeda has never fallen into the “No Kill” trap adopted by the City of L.A., which results in animal shelters keeping and adopting out known-dangerous animals. Instead, she has opted to adhere to a policy of “socially conscious” sheltering, which takes into consideration the past behavior of an animal as being indicative of potential—and likely—behavior in the future. 

NOW LAAS PLANS TO DECLARE “TEMPORARY MORATORIUM” ON BREEDING PERMITS 

A halt On Los Angeles animal breeding permits is now planned by a City Council committee which advanced the temporary breeders’ permit moratorium. 

“In October 2023, Animal Services said that crates filled with cats, dogs and other animals overflowed into shelters’ hallways due to overcrowding,” CBS reported. “That situation has seriously worsened, along with the frustration and danger causing employees to take off time from work.” 

IF THERE ARE NO OFFICERS TO INVESTIGATE ATTACKS, WHO WILL ENFORCE BREEDING RESTRICTIONS? 

With all City shelters reportedly at least 100% OVER their cage and kennel limit now and apparently not responding to dog attacks, who is going to enforce breeding violations? The principle is great, but it seems no one at LAAS has a plan. “The goal is to bolster spay-and-neuter efforts, the committee states.” but with insufficient employees to keep up with current investigations, who will handle the increased load? 

Has there been a study to determine how many of the new impounds are puppies and kittens and how many are older animals (which are the animals that create long-hold periods and usually come in with “problems” that cause them to need to be held separately)? 

This sounds like a panicky, knee-jerk reaction without thought to enforce it or just another way to increase the budget. The question is why isn’t the committee asking these questions before throwing more money at the problem? 

The Department of Animal Services reported that “in 2023, the city had issued about 1,200 breeding permits, and was on pace to finish that year with about 1,800.” 

THIS “SOLUTION” WILL INCREASE ILLEGAL BREEDING 

In another move to alleviate the overcrowding at the City's six animal shelters, another committee is proposing payment for foster care. When will this obligation for other people’s unwanted animals end for taxpayers? 

Annual breeder’s permits in the city of Los Angeles are $235, and there are no specific rules (nor any enforcement) about how often a dog can be bred. 

However, there is no one stopping dog breeding or sales—with or without a permit—and no agency collecting taxes on sales because there are thousands of ads for Los Angeles on the various sites—However, sales can better be traced for tax purposes, required registration for which would be a deterrent. Advertising is necessary and makes it easy to identify who is selling puppies in Los Angeles. 

“NO KILL” SHELTERING IS NOT AN EXCUSE FOR CRUELTY TO ANIMALS 

“No Kill” shelters were first described as places for all adoptable pets to be safe until they found a new home. Now, no pet or person is safe because the public has been led to believe that the only organization or shelter that should receive donations and support must promise to not euthanize any animal brought to its door. They must “all” be saved. 

That is impractical and cruel. Many of the animals—especially dogs—are brought in because of aggression and it is dangerous to adopters because behavior does not automatically change with the surroundings. Only the victims change and that means the gentle, innocent animals are often suddenly subjected to 24-hour fear for their lives. 

A count at the South Los Angeles city shelter today which has 221 kennels shows a total of 494 dogs impounded. 

For a comparison to human behavior in confined, shared space, read: Doubling Up Prisoners In 'Solitary' Creates Deadly Consequences. (This has also been proven in many tests at jails and prisons, where putting two inmates has disastrous consequences.) 

But, animal sheltering organizations that do not adhere to the lucrative “No Kill” model do not get supported and neither do the local and national politicians that fail to support the concept. L.A. Animal Services is a prime example. It does not take long reading its website to realize the outside private interests that actually set the rules for this public shelter. This is because the more animals there are, the more commodities are sold; i.e., pet food, toys and leashes, beds, litter, licensing, veterinary supplies and services, training, pet insurance and related necessities. 

And, the highest number of the above are sold during the first year of the animal’s life—thus the support for purebred and mixed-breed puppies and objections to any interference with breeding. 

“The Final Gift: Insuring a Peaceful Behavioral Euthanasia” (Written by Blaze Fulbrook)

The following is not an endorsement of any organization, but a plea to those who truly love animals to read this very real journey by Blaze Fulbrook to acceptance of the fact that animals do not change their basic behavior no matter how much we love them, train them and pray for a miracle. 

Any responsible pet owner, trainer or anyone involved in placing animals in homes should consider Blaze’s experience and her words, a few of which are below but all of which can be read here

As a shelter behavior consultant, I’ve become intimately familiar with the difficult task of euthanizing animals that are unsafe to live with humans or that suffer from poor quality of life due to extreme behavior. These decisions are never taken lightly, whether they are made by shelter staff or pet guardians. We often want to save every animal we meet, but unfortunately that isn’t always safe to do or fair to the animal. 

I often think back to a German Shepherd named Goofy who I had the joy of training for the year he spent in the shelter system. Goofy was left in a crate for the first year of his life and never let out. He missed out on his socialization period with humans and other animals. After a year he ended up in a shelter that couldn’t handle him and was transferred twice to another shelter until we met. 

When I met Goofy he was a young Shepherd who loved to mouth, hump, jump up, and pull. More concerning, though, he showed significant aggression toward strangers (he only knew 10 people) and other animals ... I think about Goofy often and all the things he taught me. He showed me that behavioral euthanasia can be a gift, to those that have proved unsafe to live a normal life and to those that have poor quality of life due to their behaviors. 

I leave you with her thoughts, experience and the rest of this article here, if you choose to read it. 

See also: LA Animal Services 'No Kill' Plan Falls Short: GM Staycee Dains Announces Euthanasia for 800 Animals

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former Los Angeles City employee, an animal activist and a contributor to CityWatch.)