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Coronavirus: L.A. County animal control says to free stray cats, delay surrendering pets

Stray cat
Coronavirus is bringing big changes to city services, including animal control.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

The Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control department announced major changes in operations because of the coronavirus.

Officials said its animal control officers would continue to respond to public safety and animal welfare calls, such as dangerous dogs, dead animal reports and animal cruelty investigations, but that the department is deferring less urgent calls until further notice.

Pet owners who want to surrender their pets are asked to delay doing so, and those who have found lost pets are asked to foster them temporarily instead of bringing them in.

Those who seek to surrender healthy stray cats are asked to release them where they were trapped and bring them in after there is no longer a public health recommendation for social distancing, the department said.

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Animal care centers are suspending the sale of pet licenses, and pet owners will be given a 30-day grace period for late license submissions.

Other county public agencies’ services are also affected by the outbreak. All of the county’s 86 library locations will be closed through the end of the month.

“After careful consideration, and discussions with local health authorities, we have decided to close our libraries in an abundance of caution and to help prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19,” said Library Director Skye Patrick in a statement Saturday. “We understand the impact this can potentially cause on customers and will continue to monitor the situation closely to provide updates.”

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks announced that it would close all recreation and senior centers and cancel all activities there through at least April 4. All events that involve 50 people or more scheduled at Recreation and Parks locations are canceled, and new reservations for facilities or permits are suspended, the department said.

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