A Los Angeles County supervisor wants to look into addressing two intractable problems — overcrowded animal shelters and offenders who cycle repeatedly through the county jail system — by placing a new animal shelter in a detention center.
Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich proposed that the county look into establishing a shelter for cats and dogs at Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic.
He cited existing programs that combine animal rescue with job training for people who are incarcerated, including the Prison Pet Partnership in Washington and Paws in Prison in Arkansas.
A similar program is operated by Karma Rescue at the state prison in Lancaster, where inmates are now caring for nearly 50 deaf dogs from the Deaf Dog Rescue of America in Acton, evacuated due to the Sand Fire burning in the Santa Clarita Valley.
"The county has a unique opportunity to combine these programmatic benefits to the inmates with the need to expand the capacity and care for small animals abandoned and left to the responsibility of the Department of Animal Care and Control who may otherwise languish and be euthanized," Antonovich wrote in his proposal Tuesday. "Such a program could be a cost-effective and progressive way to integrate the needed care of animals with positive benefits to our inmates."
The county's department of Animal Care and Control has gradually lowered the rate of animals killed in its shelters, but a large number are still euthanized. Last year, 44% of animals brought to county shelters were killed. Cats, in particular, fare poorly — 69% of cats brought to county shelters last year were euthanized, compared with 19% of dogs.
Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl joined Antonovich in voting to ask for a report back in 30 days from county animal welfare officials and the Sheriff's Department on the feasibility of establishing a shelter at the Castaic lock-up. Supervisors Hilda Solis and Don Knabe were absent.