LA City Councilmember Paul Koretz Seeks Options for Fully Funding Department of Animal Services Amidst Staff Shortage

Two shelters in the City remain inoperable due to staff shortage

Councilmember Koretz recently introduced a motion calling for a report from the Department of Animal Services, the CAO, the CLA, and other relevant departments and stakeholders to determine the Department’s budgetary needs to fully staff the City’s seven animal shelters, including programmatic and departmental administrative needs. 

The Department of Animal Services (LAAS) is one of the few City Departments whose staff is directly responsible for the care of living beings, and for the 2022-23 fiscal year it has only received enough funding from the City’s General Fund to fully operate four animal shelters, despite having to operate six. The City and DAS have faced periodic surges of COVID-19 causing staffing shortages and hindering the necessary coverage to properly care for the animals at the shelters. 

“While the Department has been able to maintain a high live-release rate, especially for dogs and cats, the Department has not been able to obtain the budget it needs for staffing,” said Councilmember Koretz. “This summer our shelters, volunteers, and animals have felt the brunt of staffing shortages and we need to address this issue through formal budgeting. This motion is the first step to identifying sustainable long-term solutions and relief for our shelters and animals. While the current problems are more acute, this is a Department that has NEVER been provided with an adequate budget.”

The motion calls for the City departments to report back in 60 days to the City Council.  Among the options suggested are considering a percentage of the City’s annual General Fund expenditures, exploration of funding options including parcel tax, sales tax, general obligation bonds to obtain funding goals, and the possible creation of an oversight committee.

In related news, Los Angeles Animal Services has announced that they will also partner with Wallis Annenberg PetSpace to begin a dual-pronged approach to help ensure the more than 1,000 dogs currently in city shelters are getting enrichment and exercise every day, and that animals are finding homes more quickly. 

First, starting September 1, PetSpace will fund two new Canine Enrichment Coordinator positions within LA Animal Services. Second, also in September, PetSpace will begin a six-month program of hosting weekly spay/neuter surgeries at their Playa Vista facility for LA Animal Services animals. (LA Animal Services animals must be spayed/neutered before they’re adoptable.)

PetSpace’s support will enable LA Animal Services to engage Dogs Playing for Life (DPFL), one of the nation’s most respected and progressive dog behavior programs in the nation, with a mission to enhance the quality of life of shelter dogs to increase life-saving. Also, DPFL has proven metrics on the life-saving benefits of “playgroups” for kenneled animals, and on the methods for training staff and volunteers in establishing and conducting these ongoing enrichment activities.

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