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Animal Services employees voice concerns

September 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Animal shelter workers packed the Los Angeles City Council chamber Tuesday to call for the removal of the head of the Animal Services department because of alleged overcrowding and unsafe conditions within city shelters. Animal shelter workers say that overcrowded kennels are creating dangerous and unsafe conditions inside city shelters.

"We can't continue to have dogs attacking one another in the shelter because we have five to six dogs per cage. We cannot continue to warehouse animals and allow them to get into fights, because it is the employees that have to break up the fights," said Victor Gordo, a union representative with Animal Services.

Animal shelter workers filled the Los Angeles City Council chambers Tuesday. They were there to call for a change in command.

Earlier this year shelter supervisors and workers issued a "no confidence" vote against Animal Services General Manager Ed Boks.

The employees unprecedented show of unity on Tuesday left its mark on the City Council.

"We saw today members of the Animal Services Department that have the bars and stars and the high command, as well as, the employees that are working the field. They are all concerned about the lack of leadership in that department," said City Councilman Dennis Zine.

Councilman Zine has called for a hearing on the matter for the personnel committee. Workers say that it is just not employee safety and animal welfare that has them concerned -- they say public safety is at risk. There are few animal patrol officers to police the city.

Laura Beth Heisen, a former commissioner on the Board of Animal Services, said the department's problems go beyond the care of animals.

"Let's focus on a few non-animal issues -- a budget so out of control that this month (the department) needed an emergency infusion of $1 million just to avoid devastating layoffs," Heisen said. "An animal shelter they paid $19 million to build is still not open to the public."

Eyewitness News called to speak with Ed Boks on Tuesday, but have not yet received a response. However, in a letter to the City Council he said that the accusations are unfair and without merit.

 

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