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She was pulled from a trash bin and left in an alley. Immobile, twitching weakly, and unable to move or even lift her head, she could do nothing but blink as flies buzzed around her. Hours later, this poodle was still suffering in the hot sun because even after numerous calls to Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS), the taxpayer-funded agency still hadn't dispatched anyone to help her.
When a resident told PETA that help wasn't coming from LAAS, our volunteers rushed out and took her to the closest shelter, where it was determined that the dog was suffering from neurological issues likely caused by head trauma. It was later determined that she'd been adopted from the very shelter that had failed to help her. When her owners were contacted, they claimed that she'd run away five months earlier and that they couldn't afford her medical treatment. With seemingly no follow-up by LAAS to determine how she ended up in a trash bin, she was euthanized because of the severity of her injuries. She was betrayed by a faulty animal control system from beginning to painful end.
This is just one of the many incidents in which animals were left to suffer as a result of LAAS' failure to respond promptly. As the second-largest city in the country, Los Angeles should be setting an example with well-functioning animal services, not leaving animals to die on the streets.
PETA regularly receives frantic calls for help from frustrated L.A. residents reporting animals in distress. These people call PETA because they're unable to get through to LAAS—an agency funded by taxpayer dollars and created solely to serve the city's animals. Those who do manage to get through often report response times of many hours, sometimes even days—and sometimes, no one ever responds. This situation is certain to be demoralizing for the many kind staff members at LAAS who—along with the animals and residents looking for help—are being let down by a broken system:
- LAAS' automated phone system currently has no emergency options (one of the first options on the Los Angeles County's Department of Animal Care and Control Los Angeles County Animal Control's system).
- Many of the options on the phone system transfer callers to dead lines or have very long wait times to reach shelter staff, which makes getting help virtually impossible.
- For over a year and a half, LAAS has had more than 20 job openings, but leadership has allowed these positions to remain vacant. Instead of prioritizing filling these much-needed positions, LAAS instead tells callers that it can't respond in a timely manner (or at all) because it's understaffed.
- In 2008, Los Angeles passed a law requiring people to spay or neuter their cats and dogs. But the city fails to enforce the ordinance adequately, and LAAS makes it difficult to access discount coupons and vouchers for free surgeries (available to low-income residents) by offering them only at city shelters. If the city is serious about ending the homeless-animal crisis, these vouchers for affordable spay/neuter options need to be made available everywhere: online, at city council members' field offices, at libraries, and at other city offices.
Despite PETA's numerous letters, repeated testimonials at committee meetings, and ongoing offers of assistance, LAAS' leadership continues to turn its back on animals and the residents who depend on the department for help.
Please politely urge Mayor Garcetti to take immediate action to fix LAAS and be a national leader on animal-welfare issues by ensuring that it's a reliable resource for residents and the countless animals whose lives depend on it.