Each year, the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services euthanizes about 80% of the animals it impounds. This represents 57,000 animals, of which roughly 37,000 are deemed unadoptable because of severe injuries or illness. MAURA E. MONTELLANO spoke with a concerned citizen about her experience with the Animal Services Department and she spoke with a department representative.
JANE MACNEIL-ACKERSON, executive assistant, Alhambra
Recently, I pulled over for a dog that had been hit by a car. I spent nearly an hour trying to flag someone down. Finally, this woman named Amy stopped and used her cellular phone to call the police and animal control. After dealing with a police officer, who was of no help, and animal control, which could not come for another couple of hours, we put the dog in my car and took it to a nearby vet.
After explaining the situation, we were asked if we would take financial responsibility for the dog, which could amount to several thousand dollars. Neither of us could. Finally, I was told they would call animal control and have the dog picked up, but they wouldn't medicate or tranquilize the dog, even though it was in obvious pain.
I called later and was told the dog had been picked up nearly six hours after I'd left it there. Later, Amy learned from animal control that they were giving it minimal care and making it comfortable. Minimal care meant keeping it in the cat section so that other dogs wouldn't bother it. We were told they couldn't touch the dog for fear of being sued by the owner. Animal control's policy is to hold the dog for five days for the owner, then offer it for adoption or put it down.
On the eighth day we found out the dog was still there, untreated. We were shocked that after five days, the dog was still alive, considering their policy. When asked about it, the attendant was very casual, realizing that indeed it had been eight days. On the ninth morning, I called animal control and was told they were waiting to hear from me about what to do with the dog. The attendant admitted the dog was really suffering at this point. In frustration, I told her to please put the dog down.
I cannot believe that no one would step in and do something for this suffering animal. What would it have cost to have just given it a shot or something to ease its pain? Is everything about business, money and lawsuits? What happened to compassion? Someone needs to rewrite these policies and procedures and have some flexibility. I was naive enough to think that animal control would do something for the dog, or at least keep it out of pain. I was wrong.