Busy L.A. animal shelters face cutbacks

VAN NUYS, Calif. L.A. animal control workers say the city is not only facing a budget crisis, it's dealing with a severe overcrowding crisis in shelters. Employees voiced their objections to planned layoffs and other cuts in Animal Services at a Board of Animal Services Commissioners hearing Monday morning.

Workers say the overwhelming housing foreclosure rate has caused more people to not only leave their homes, but their pets also. They say that problem alone has depleted their resources, and they say any cuts to services would cripple them.

"The animals are going to keep coming in because of the home crisis going on right now, and because of the credit crunch that's going to be coming up, more and more people are going to be bringing in their pets because they can't afford to keep them anymore," said Animal Care Technician Jacob Miller.

Officials say the number of unwanted pets needing to be placed in overcrowded shelters like this one has shot up nearly 30 percent.

"Because of the foreclosures, people really are leaving their animals behind," said Animal Control Officer Stacey Dancy. "So we've got to feed and water until we can have accommodations to bring them into the shelter. Animals are definitely being left behind."

Animal Services officials say the bottom line is every city department is being asked to make painful cuts.

"This is not a departmental emergency or crisis; this is a citywide crisis," said Edward Boks, general manager of L.A. Animal Services. "And the department did step up with some recommended ideas for cutting the budget."

Veronica Perry is one of almost 30 animal-care technicians slated to be laid off.

"This is a big mistake," said Perry. "And they need to rethink the budget cuts, and they need to look at what we do and how important it is to public safety for the animals."

Officials say unfortunately, cuts will have to be made, but it would be up to the board to determine just how severe those cuts will be.


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