LA Animal Services taps into animal welfare trust fund for food

Adorable pets like Stitch are available for adoption at crowded animal shelters in Los Angeles. | Photo courtesy of LA Animal Services

The city council’s budget and finance committee on Monday recommended $400,000 be approved by the Department of Animal Services for animal feed after learning from officials that the department plans to use the animal welfare trust fund. animals for food expenditure.

The $304,000 currently budgeted for food should be fully spent by the end of this month, Sharon Lee, senior management analyst for the department, told the committee. The Animal Welfare Trust Fund was established in 1986 to “augment the established programs and activities” of the department.

The committee did not recommend approval of the remainder of a $3 million emergency funding request for the department made by Councilman Paul Koretz, chairman of the personnel, audits and welfare committee. animal. He requested a report on other funding that might be needed before the end of the financial year.

The council approved a series of items Nov. 4 calling for adjustments to the budget of the Department of Animal Services, which has been criticized for alleged animal neglect and understaffing at city shelters, but the request for funding was referred to the Committee on Budget and Finance. .

Items adopted included reactivating the Animal Cruelty Task Force, creating a plan to ensure all dogs are regularly exercised at shelters and a review of staff training and qualifications to serve. animal care technicians.

Council President Paul Krekorian, who chairs the committee, described it as “unusual” to submit a request for a full funding appropriation in the middle of the budget year, except for critical needs.

When pressed by Councilman Bob Blumenfield whether the department had enough basic services like food, medicine, and staff to provide enrichment and exercise to the animals, department officials admitted had to use reserve funding for food, but said further funding requests could wait for a report. on how the money would be used.

Curtis Watts, the department’s deputy chief executive, said he was “not certain” that $3 million was the exact amount that would be needed.

Councilor Mike Bonin – in his first meeting since replacing Councilor Kevin de León on the committee after de León was stripped of the majority of his committee assignments for his role in the hotel racism scandal city ​​- expressed concern that the department does not yet “have an idea of ​​what it will take to solve this problem.

“If there are other emergency funding needs, we need to be notified as soon as possible so we can meet them,” Bonin said.

Watts replied that there was “no urgent need to be solved”.

But he added: “The main problem is the lack of staff and the shortage of staff that we have. We do not have enough staff to cater to all animal needs appropriately with the staff we currently have.

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Jennifer R. Strohm