L.A. May Supply Animals to Pierce

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles officials said Monday they will consider supplying animals from city shelters to Pierce College’s veterinary aide program in the wake of a Los Angeles County decision to remove its animals from the school.

William Putney, vice president of the Board of Animal Regulation Commissioners, said he and city staff members will meet with Pierce College officials to discuss a possible contractual agreement that would permit students to practice veterinary skills on shelter animals.

Last month, the county’s Department of Animal Care and Control canceled its animal-care agreement with Pierce College after learning that students were using the animals for what county officials said were unauthorized procedures, including the insertion of catheters and intravenous tubes.

The 14 dogs and cats involved were not in pain or traumatized, but county officials said the college violated a 1982 informal agreement by using the animals for the practice of clinical procedures.

Since then, the students, who are learning how to become veterinary assistants, have been using their own pets to practice skills necessary to complete their studies, said Irene Pinkard, dean of the college’s vocational schools. The school does not have the funds to privately purchase animals.


Need for ‘Hands-On Skills’

Putney, who is a retired veterinarian, told the commission that “hands-on skills” for treating animals are important for proper training. “They have to have animals from somewhere,” he said.

A 1980 city ordinance prohibits the sale of shelter animals for medical research or experimentation.

The city board agreed only to set up a meeting with Pierce officials to determine if an agreement could be worked out that would not violate the spirit of the law. Such a contractual agreement would require City Council approval.

“It may be we can’t do it,” Putney said. “But maybe we can set up limitations in the contract that would make it permissible under law.” Such details would include limits on the number of times an animal could be X-rayed or have blood drawn.

Pinkard said she was delighted by the city offer.