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Letters to the Editor: How L.A.’s no-kill animal shelter policy is backfiring

A dog sits in a cage at an animal shelter.
A dog available for adoption at the Chesterfield Square Animal Services Center in South Los Angeles on July 16.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: Los Angeles’ misguided crusade to label city animal shelters “no kill” has turned out exactly the way that struggle usually does — with overwhelmed shelter staff, unhealthy conditions and animals being turned away and left to suffer. (“Shelter animals haven’t been walked in weeks. Let the dogs out now,” editorial, Aug. 19)

There’s a parable about no-kill policies that goes like this:

Imagine you’re walking by a river and you see a kitten floating past. Of course, you jump in and save the kitten. Another floats by, and you save that one too. But another and another and another are coming at you, and you soon realize that you can’t save them all. Do you stay in the water, struggling? Or do you get out, run upstream and figure out who’s throwing kittens into the river so you can stop them?

Enforce L.A.’s spay-neuter ordinance. Because the only humane way to be a no-kill city is to first be a no-birth one.

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Sasha Moldavsky, Los Angeles

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To the editor: It breaks my heart to see and read about overcrowded animal shelters. The animals have no fault in this situation.

It’s our fault as people for not being educated enough. The main reason dogs end up in the shelter is because owners cannot afford food, training and other necessities. If only veterinary care and other services were more readily available, shelter overcrowding would be less of a problem.

Furthermore, many people buy dogs from a breeder thinking that a shelter dog will be aggressive. While adopting a dog is very time consuming and requires patience, in reality the only reason most shelter animals may seem aggressive is because they are not used to being out or walked. Sadly, shelter employees often do not care enough to walk the animals, which is why adoption and fostering are such urgent needs.

So, before getting a dog, educate yourself and consider helping a shelter animal get a second chance at life.

Dayanara Lopez, Orange

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To the editor: I have been very excited to see The Times’ increased coverage of the city of Los Angeles’ animal shelters. Your reporting sheds light on what we as rescuers have known for all too long: The shelter system in Los Angeles is broken.

I appreciated the editorial saying that quality of life must be maximized for shelter pets, but your statement that shelters do not kill animals to free up space does not tell the whole story.

Los Angeles has reached the 90% save rate threshold needed to have the no-kill designation. While some movement has been made only to kill aggressive or sick animals and still meet the no-kill designation, rescuers like myself have seen that those markers are subjective and sometimes may even be used inaccurately or hastily, allowing L.A. animal shelters to put its data in a more positive light.

Elisa Morse, Los Angeles

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