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L.A. cuts spay/neuter discount program

March 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Budget cuts are having an impact on L.A.'s animal spay and neuter program. The city's Department of Animal Services has stopped handing out free and discount coupons for owners to get their pets fixed. That could affect the pet population. There are millions of homeless cats and dogs in Los Angeles. It's one of the reasons the city enacted a mandatory spay and neutering law. The city also put in place a program to help pet owners comply with the law by subsidizing some of the cost. But recently the Department of Animal Services ended the program.

"Don't abandon the animals," said Mark Dodge, FixNation. "I mean, this is a matter of priorities."

Mark Dodge and his wife Karen run FixNation, a non-profit organization that spays and neuters cats. They say without these certificates from the city, some people simply won't take care of their pets.

"There's just so many homeless cats, and if you don't get a handle on that, it's just going to keep going and going and going," said Dodge.

City council members say they knew the Department of Animal Services was cutting about $150,000 from its budget, but they weren't told they would eliminate this program.

"They probably should have reported it to us, maybe there's something else, maybe there's people sitting in their offices that should be not sitting in their offices doing some things," said L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge. "We'll look at it."

And proponents say keeping the plan in place will actually save the city money because processing and placing an animal in a shelter costs about $200.

"The ordinance takes place to say we have to spay and neuter animals over a certain age, et cetera," said L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine. "The criteria for that and then for low-income families -- we want to do a subsidy. He wants to just wipe it out and it's wrong to do that."

Councilman Zine is in Washington, D.C., this week. He is very upset and says he will file a motion to reinstate the program immediately.

"It saves money because we have fewer animals that are going to be put to death, we have fewer animals, fewer animals that are going to be apprehended by Animal Services," said Councilman Zine. "What we do is have a proactive program."

City council members admit they're not sure where they'll get the money. But they say this is one program that might be too costly to cut.


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