Police Protect and Serve Animals Too

An apparent miscommunication between the Police Department and an animal shelter ruffled the fur of some activists, who accused officers of threatening to remove and destroy animals at the shelter.

Some 40 supporters of the Seal Beach Animal Care Center rallied at Monday's City Council meeting to protest what they thought was a new Police Department policy to remove and destroy non-adoptable animals in the private shelter to control overcrowding.

Such a policy would violate the shelter's philosophy, which prohibits animals from being destroyed unless they are extremely ill or vicious.

"These threats undermine the very meaning of our care center," Annelle Aviani, president of the Friends of the Seal Beach Animal Care Center, told the Seal Beach City Council.

A police official said the department has no intent of forcibly removing or destroying animals.

"This is a classical misunderstanding," Police Capt. Gary Maiten said.

Maiten said the misunderstanding apparently stemmed from remarks a police sergeant made while visiting the shelter last week to prepare a report about the costs of the city's animal-control services.

The sergeant, who was not named, lacks authority to create any such policy, Maiten said. The Police Department itself, he added, lacks such jurisdiction over shelter operations.

The city pays the shelter to care for stray and lost animals rounded up by the Police Department's animal control officer. The shelter, run by volunteers, receives about $9,000 a year from the city; the rest of its $150,000 yearly budget comes from donations and adoption fees.

Even if the police had authority, Maiten said he would be against such a policy.

"If anyone thought I was going to go down there and start killing dogs and cats, they just don't know me," he said.

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