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L.A. Animal Shelters See Adoptions, Euthanizations Rise In Lagging Economy

Kiran Kazalbash |
March 2, 2012 | 9:07 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Shelter officials say owners often realize too late they can't afford to keep their precious pooch. (Kiran Kazalbash)
Shelter officials say owners often realize too late they can't afford to keep their precious pooch. (Kiran Kazalbash)
The Los Angeles City Animal Services reported higher adoption rates of shelter cats and dogs for the past year, but with that encouraging statistic comes news that euthanization numbers have reached an unprecedented high.

Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette said both statistics could be attributed to the economy. 

 “I do think that people are turning in their animals because they either can’t afford to take care of them or they’ve had to downsize and can’t take them with them,” said Barnette. “It’s an interesting sort of dilemma we’re in. We are doing more adoptions then we’ve ever done before but because we have more coming in, our percentage of animals put to death in the shelters is up.”

Between 2007 and 2008, more than 15,000 animals were put to death in L.A.’s shelters. Already during the period from 2011 to the beginning of this year, 22,916 animals were euthanized.

“We take in about 56-to-60,000 animals a year and over 20,000 of them don’t make it out alive and that’s where we are today,” Barnette said. “I think that is a frightening and a concerning thing for anyone. The shelters are doing everything they can to resolve what to do with more animals then they have space for.”

Barnette said the city has introduced a plan to decrease that number in the coming years. Part of the plan involves working closely with animal rescue organizations to adopt out animals at their own private facilities, which would relieve the space burden the city shelters are facing.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles is one such organization that runs a self-funded shelter and has experienced a similar increase in the rate of adoptions.

Rates over the last several years. (Graph by Kiran Kazalbash)
Rates over the last several years. (Graph by Kiran Kazalbash)
“We have seen really high adoptions in this past year especially,” said Communications Director Ana Bustilloz. “I think that might be attributed to people who may have been putting off getting a pet and then realizing that ‘Our family unit is really hunkering down, we’re not going on vacation, we’re not buying big ticket items, let’s get that dog and enrich our family lives that way.’ ”

Both Barnette and Bustilloz agree that adopting pets from a shelter, whether private or public, is the best way to keep the animal population down because all animals are spayed or neutered before being cleared for adoption.

“The city and the county have a huge job,” Bustilloz said. “We’re fortunate enough that we are donor-supported so we can treat our pets in a way we feel really comfortable. That being said, adoption no matter where you do it is absolutely best thing.”

Barnette said with the help of community and rescue organizations around the city, she expects 90 percent of the animals that come into L.A. shelters within the next five years will make it out alive.  
L.A. residents who have adopted companion pets in the past say that the process is worth the money and investment. During a recent visit to a West L.A. shelter, Adi Jimenez said she recommends her friends to adopt from a shelter.

“I think that if your circumstances are okay then you should definitely (adopt from a shelter),” said Jimenez. “There are just a lot of dogs that need loving homes…that aren’t getting taken care of so if you can, you should adopt an animal.”

Reach Staff Reporter Kiran Kazalbash here.



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