It's an idea so simple, you have to wonder why it wasn't done before. It helps beleaguered pet owners, finds loving homes for their cats and dogs, and frees up space in crowded shelters to give those animals more time to find new owners.
It's a great example of what partnerships among city run shelters, private rescues and animal welfare groups can accomplish.
The Found Animals Foundation pays Casarez's salary. Rescue groups provide foster homes and low-cost medical care. L.A. Animal Services Director Brenda Barnette "deserves a lot of credit. She's courageous for allowing us to do this," Weise said. And South L.A. shelter Capt. Louis Dedeaux refers delinquent pet owners to the program for help, instead of issuing tickets.
The program's goal was to keep 400 animals out of the shelter this year. But in just its first month, it's intercepted more than 150 dogs, cats and rabbits.
"Sometimes a $10 rabies shot will prevent a dog from going into a shelter," Weise said. "So I'm just going to reach into my pocket and write that check."
But Weise's pockets aren't very deep and her "non-budget," as she calls it, means they can't expand the program to other city shelters. So they're looking for donors.
"The big foundations have so many funding restrictions," she said. And her effort doesn't have a spreadsheet that reflects its success..
But it does have an old lady who can sleep in peace, her pit bull curled up next to her wheelchair; a family fortified by a gentle goodbye to an animal they spent 16 years loving; and a puppy who's back to chasing his tail because someone stepped up to help.