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No guns missing from L.A. animal shelters, officials say

October 20, 2011 |  9:29 am

Two months after investigators confiscated dozens of guns from six Los Angeles animal shelters, an audit has determined that none of the weapons had actually gone missing, a top official said Thursday.

Brenda Barnette, general manager of the animal services department, said the Los Angeles Police Department ascertained the whereabouts of every gun provided to her agency after combing through records and determining the proper serial numbers.

Those weapons had been issued to allow officers to humanely kill wildlife in the field if they determine that a larger animal is too injured or in too much pain to bring back to the shelter, she said.

"It was a bookkeeping nightmare. It was 10 years worth of records that hadn't been audited," Barnette said. But "at the end of the day, they said all of the guns were accounted for."

Two other investigations are continuing at the animal services agency. City Controller Wendy Greuel is looking into allegations that a handful of employees engaged in time card fraud. Meanwhile, police are trying to determine if dozens of dogs and other animals were stolen and sold at a profit.

Barnette said her department intends to issue a new firearms policy to animal control employees, as well as "training on other types of capture methods that don't involve guns." Although police took more than 100 weapons in August, fewer than 10 will be reissued to the shelters, she said.

A single handgun will be provided to each of the six shelters. Beyond that, two shelters will also be given a rifle to deal with larger animals, such as deer, Barnette said.

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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

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