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L.A. animal services unprepared on spay-neuter law, audit finds

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The Los Angeles Department of Animal Services is poorly prepared to enforce its new mandatory spay and neuter law, a City Controller's office audit has found.

"Though Animal Services is charged with enforcing the mandatory spay and neuter law, it does not intend to do so," Chick said in releasing the audit Tuesday.

"Instead, the department, as it does with the leash law and dog licensing, will rely on voluntary compliance," and that, Chick added, is not good enough.

Edward A. Boks, Animal Services general manager, said his cash-strapped department was given no money to enforce the measure when the City Council and the mayor approved it earlier this year. He said he has had to rely on "a wonderful group of volunteers" to help get the word out to pet owners.

The law, which takes effect Oct. 1, requires that most dogs and cats be spayed or neutered by the time they are 4 months old. Owners who fail to comply will be given a warning and information about low-cost sterilization clinics. After that, scofflaws are subject to a series of increasingly stiff penalties, the most severe being a $500 fine or 40 hours of community service.

The new ordinance, which provides exceptions for show dogs, guide dogs and some others, is aimed at reducing the number of unwanted animals killed in the city's crowded shelters each year. That number topped 15,000 dogs and cats last year, according to the department.

Chick, whose audit included 24 recommendations for improvements, said she was particularly irked that the department had not used the measure's six-month grace period to inform pet owners of the new requirements.

"First and foremost, the department has no plan to educate the public regarding mandatory sterilization and how they can comply," Chick said. She also questioned the department's plans to focus on voluntary compliance rather than active enforcement.

A similar approach to the licensing law has cost the department "millions of dollars" in dog license fees and fines, Chick found in an earlier audit. But Boks said he was doing the best he could on a tight budget that leaves him unable to open a newly built shelter in the San Fernando Valley and could force the layoffs of 28 animal care technicians.

He said the department's website, laanimalservices.org, features information about the law and how to comply. And he said volunteers have worked hard on a public education program, including public service announcements, the first of which will begin airing Wednesday.

"We are working very diligently and have been for the past six months," Boks said. "It's a worthwhile ordinance, and we support it wholeheartedly -- we just don't have a budget for it."

--Jean Merl

 
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In City Council when this ordinance was passed Councilmember Alarcon asked Ed Boks three times, "do you have enough staff and funding to enforce this ordinance?" Ed Boks said "yes, we already have enough staff and funding to enforce this ordinance. We have enough resources currently to neuter every pet in Los Angeles." Alarcon then estimated the number of pets at 400,000 then said "good, because I don't want you asking for money later."

The budget has nothing to do with this. The budget for neuters was not cut. The budget for canvassers was not cut. They are losing 27 animal control technicians, not officers or canvassers which would enforce this ordinance.

And what's the "door to door" comment. The licensing canvassers go door to door already. They will enforce this ordinance when they do their license canvassing.

Meanwhile, Boks and company want to take this statewide with AB1634. Granted, AB1634 has been amended 11 times for Lloyd "Lame Duck" Levine to try to get it passed, but Levine, Boks, and their AR ilk want MSN all around because they don't care about pets--in fact they hate animals and people.

AB1634 is currently being heard in the state Senate right now, as of 10:30AM 8-20, and people need to contact their seneators to vote against this travesty. If it doesn't work in LA, it won't work statewide, and pet S/N decisions are best left to the owners, not Sacto, and certainly not fools like Edward Boks.

This law sounds good in principle, but I don't think it can work. I live in LA County, not city. I have sent the Department of Animal Control four official forms stating my cat has been spayed. They still insist on billing me every year for an unspayed cat. The difference is only $5, so I just pay it rather than argue with them. They are either incompetent or under-staffed. They cannot be trusted to impose large fines when they won't even accept proof that your pet has been fixed.

The LA ordinance has "exceptions" BUT there have been none provided. AKC has been rejected in their application because they don't meet the “ethics" requirements. Many of us objecting to AB 1634 and the LA ordinance pointed out that “exceptions” that are never provided = no exceptions at all. The "bait and switch" methods used by the proponents of these types of regulations is well known. The audit noted the lack of connection to castration/spay and the intake at the shelters – another item they insisted existed when pushing this rule through. The lack of enforcement may allow dogs and cats to exist “under the radar”, but this ordinance should be repealed and an honest approach to reduce shelter intake and improve shelter animal placement and retention made.

The dog in the photo is beautiful. Can you post his/her location and ID? I'm sure that at least one reader of this blog would like to adopt him/her (before it's too late). S/he looks like a sweet older dog just patiently waiting for his/her person to come.

Dog in the photo is dead. That's an older photo from an older Tiimes article. I watched that dog when the older article came out. The dog was wearing this cute colorful fairy collar. Then the dog was on the euth list. Then the dog was gone. They did have two kittens in the same article. Those kittens were adopted. That old dog was not. I could tell from the impound number that the dog was originally adopted as a puppy from the shelter, then he gets dumped back at the shelter when he's old.

Oh Soosie my heart is broken about that old dog in the photo. Years ago I adopted an old dog (age 13 1/2) from the Silicon Valley Humane Society. He was a GSD/Husky mix named Spot. He lived till age 18! That old dog in the photo looks so much like Spot I am crying. Old dogs make wonderful pets.

I wish this blog would highlight some of these gorgeous homeless pets in the LA Shelters -- BEFORE they are euthanized. And tell us what happens to them. Don't sweep it under the rug.


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