Los Angeles is closing its North Central and West Valley animal shelters, on the wings of a furious effort to move animals out of shelter kennels and into foster homes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement was made by Mayor Eric Garcetti in Friday night's daily coronavirus update.
"In order to continue providing excellent care for our City's animals during the COVID-19 crisis and safety precautions for our employees, beginning on Monday, April 13th, the LA Animal Services department (LAAS) will close its West Valley and North Central Animal Services Centers," Garcetti said.
"The animals in these two centers will be moved to one of the four that will remain open: East Valley, Harbor, Chesterfield Square, and West Los Angeles. Fortunately, because of the incredible response from the LA community, many people have stepped up to foster or adopt animals — last month, the department placed 307 animals in foster care; found new homes for 919 others; returned 254 animals to their owners and placed 752 with LAAS rescue partners."
Brenda Barnette, general manager of Los Angeles Animal Services, said the move is necessary in light of the staff losses seen throughout the agency.
"Of (our) 348 employees, 80 are currently off due to COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related matters. Our team has approximately 35 administrative staff ... leaving us with 233 staff in the field and in our Animal Services Centers, which include veterinarians and RVTs (Registered Veterinary Technicians)," she said.
"If one or more persons on staff is exposed to COVID-19 or gets sick, they must go home for at least two weeks to self-quarantine and be tested. And, this could also mean that coworkers would need to be sent home to also self-quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In short, this scenario could have resulted with an Animal Services Center full of animals with not enough staff to provide the care these animals need and deserve."
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Barnette said those workers displaced from West Valley and North Central shelters will be temporarily assigned to one of the other four shelters.
"All kennel and field staff will be working 12-hour shifts to continue 24/7 coverage," she said "This new schedule allows us to efficiently operate our Centers and helps ensure the safety and well-being of both our staff and shelter guests. We did not have this flexibly operating all six Centers."
Garcetti said that in March, as officials scrambled to create more space while the pandemic worsened, 2,232 animals were moved out of shelters and into foster homes, homes of their own, or reunited with their owners.
Those who would like to adopt a pet can visit LA Animal Service's website, or call 888-452-7381 and have the Animal ID# ready.
Walk-in traffic is prohibited at city and county animal shelters because of the virus, but they're still operating for those who need basic services.