LA Animal Services shelters are open anew, but by appointment only – Daily News


As some in the community grappled with a need for emotional support and something positive in their lives since the pandemic quarantined people the past year, they turned to adopting an animal.

To see how these pet parents were feeling about their new furry friends, the dog people at Rover.com surveyed over 1,000 U.S.-based pet owners and recently published, “The Pandemic Pet Adoption Boom: What We’ve Learned, One Year Later” report.

Related: Headed back to work with pandemic easing? Here’s how to get over that pet-owner anxiety

If anything, the report found 90 percent of pet owners remain completely happy with their decision to get a pandemic pet.

More than half of them adopted 40 percent of the animals this past year from a rescue or nonprofit organization like LA Animal Services, which has been in existence for 153 years.

The six shelters, now open by appointment only, were built within the past 10 to 15 years and comprise one of the largest municipal shelter systems in the U.S., serving approximately 60,000 animals annually and responding to 20,000 emergency calls each year involving animals or people in danger.

At the beginning of April 2020, the North Central Center in Los Angeles and the West Valley Center in Chatsworth were shuttered, but reopened last month.

During the shutdown of those two shelters, a plea was put out to the community asking to help reduce the numbers of animals and nearly 23,000 dogs and cats were placed into homes or transferred to rescue partners or original homes.

In 2020, 90.49 percent of the dogs and cats that came to the shelters were placed, compared to 87.86 percent in 2019.

“We had a really great response from the community who came and adopted and fostered animals from us so we reduced the number of animals in all of our shelters,” said Annette Ramirez, interim assistant general manager for LA Animal Services. “In addition, we had help from the community if they found a lost cat or dog … not just immediately bringing that animal to the shelter, which maybe was taking it away from its community and making it harder for the owner to find it. (Instead, they) reached out to neighbors, walked the dogs up and down the streets to see if they could find the owner or anyone who recognized the dog.”

Community members also had access to the facilities’ Shelter At Home program, which allows a finder to shelter a pet in their home and post information and a photograph of the animal on its website and Facebook page.

“That allows the owner to still contact us as they normally would … because we post photographs of all lost animals within a couple of hours taking them in,” Ramirez said. “Unfortunately, oftentimes, animals don’t get reclaimed, but having the community members try to work finding the owners who are probably within a few block radius of where they found the animal, we are seeing a lot more animals getting reunited and it’s allowing us to focus our resources on those animals that truly need to be in a shelter system because they are sick or they are injured, or they are dangerous to be out in the public. We try to help them get through with whatever issue they are dealing with so we can make them adoptable.”

One of the positive aspects of the pandemic on the shelters is the appointment-based system.

“The shelter is much quieter allowing the animals to be calmer and not as stressed and it has allowed customers to receive one on one time with staff to better serve them and their needs,” Ramirez added. “We have found that the appointment system has actually been a great change for the animals and customer service and plan to keep this improved system in place.”

Ramirez wanted to remind those people thinking about rescuing or adopting an animal that rabbits, hamsters, birds and reptiles are also available to take home.

 LA Animal Services shelters are open by appointment only,  located at:

  • East Valley Center – 14409 Vanowen St., Van Nuys
  • West Valley Center – 20655 Plummer Street, Chatsworth
  • North Central Center – 3201 Lacy Street, Los Angeles
  • Chesterfield Square Center – 1850 W. 60th St. Los Angeles
  • West Los Angeles Center – 11361 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles
  • Harbor Center – 957 N. Gaffey Street, San Pedro

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