Department of Animal Services Manager Brenda Barnette said more than five dozen animals have disappeared from shelters in Los Angeles within a year.
"It's actually dogs, cats and other small animals, about 64 in total, from all six of our shelters," she said. "What we've noticed was that 39 of them all came from North Central."
Barnette said she has requested an investigation that will primarily focus on the mysterious disappearances of animals from the North Central facility.
"We discussed it with the police department and with city personnel and we just turned the investigation over to take it totally out of the department," she said. "It's hard to tell whether the situation was so lax that the public could come in take animals out without us knowing it or whether there was assistance from staff or volunteers, which I would doubt."
Barnette said she is not ruling out the possibility that some animals could have been incorrectly listed as missing because of clerical errors. She added that some may have simply been taken and that most of those missing were small dogs ready for adoption.
"Who does that? Seriously," said Los Angeles resident Diana Aguila, who was at the North Central shelter Wednesday. "Return those animals please. There are people like me needing to adopt. Return them please because we will love them."
It costs more than $120 to adopt an animal from L.A. shelters. That fee is for vaccination, adoption papers and more.
Some animal lovers wonder if people aren't stealing animals to avoid the fees."
"We have to pay to have them spayed and neutered," said Alejandro Alonso of Los Angeles.