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L.A. shelters see record number of pets

July 29, 2009 7:47:30 AM PDT
Local animal shelters are feeling the impact of the down economyShelter officials say they are seeing a record number of pets and euthanasias.

There is an influx of pets coming in but not enough adoptions to relieve overcrowding. The number of surrendered dogs and cats at the city's six shelters soared 14 percent this year to more than 55,000, the highest in five years.

"City of L.A., county of L.A., any area that helps and rescues animals, they're inundated," said Capt. Daniel Pantoja, head of the Harbor Animal Care Center in San Pedro. "The rescue groups, the animal shelters, private or governed, they're overwhelmed."

Pantoja says his facility is filled to capacity right now.

Job losses and home foreclosures, along with owner neglect and abandonment, has led to a huge upswing in owner surrenders. People drop their pets off and never return because they either don't want to or they can't afford to care for the animal any longer.

"They came from a home at one time. It's not like if my officers are out on the field, roping them and scooping them and bringing them into shelters. We don't even have to do that anymore," said Pantoja.

Although the number of pet adoptions has increased 24 percent over the last fiscal year, so has the number of animals killed, with cats being euthanized more than any other animal.

The summer breeding season results in a jump in the feline population, and many end up in kill shelters with a limited amount of time to be adopted.

Programs like Summer Buddies, a 2-for-1 deal sponsored by the Found Animals Foundation, hope to expedite adoptions from San Pedro to the East Valley.

The Harbor Animal Care Center has more than a hundred dogs and cats who need permanent, loving homes.

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