L.A. County's aging animal shelter system could get major overhaul

Supervisors call for an overhaul of aging L.A. County animal shelters

Los Angeles County officials are considering a major overhaul of aging and outdated shelters that hold thousands of animals, mostly dogs and cats.

Supervisors Hilda Solis and Michael D. Antonovich called Tuesday for a study of the county's animal control system, including looking at relocating shelters to make them more central to constituents and coming up with a plan to repair the existing facilities, which range from 38 to 68 years old.

The shelters, Solis and Antonovich wrote to their three board colleagues, "require ongoing costly maintenance for failing systems. The outdated building materials also make animal disease control, disinfection, odor control and other environmental concerns difficult to manage."

Solis said that on a recent tour of the county's Baldwin Park shelter -- which houses an average of 600 to 700 animals a day -- she was dismayed to see that the street leading to the facility lacked a sign and was in disrepair and that there were pools of standing water outside.

"I don't want to put any blame on the county staff, because I think the folks I met there on the ground are doing as much as they can with the limited resources," she said. "But I can tell you that we do need an overhaul."

The supervisors also said the "sheer volume of animals cared for at the larger facilities including Baldwin Park, Carson and Downey animal care centers make general care, adoptions, and reclaims by owners overwhelming and difficult to effectively and efficiently manage."

The county's six existing shelters house tens of thousands of animals found on the streets or given up by their owners each year.

Nearly half the animals brought to the shelters last year were eventually euthanized, according to county statistics, while 43% were adopted by members of the public and rescue organizations and 8% were reclaimed by their owners.

Follow Abby Sewell on Twitter at @sewella for more county news.

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