Los Angeles, renowned for its glitz, glamour, and movie stars, is now in the spotlight for a less-celebrated reason: an overwhelming number of purebred animals filling its city-run shelters. To tackle this, the Los Angeles City Council committee took a bold step on October 4, setting in motion a plan to temporarily halt the issuance of breeding permits.

“Twenty years back, you’d hardly spot purebreds in our shelters,” said Staycee Dains, the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services General Manager. “Today, almost every husky and German shepherd in there is purebred.” Dains wasn’t just being nostalgic; she was raising a valid concern.

It’s startling. As of September, the city already issued around 1,200 breeding permits. By the close of 2023, that number will reach a staggering 1,800. The question hanging in the air is simple: Why the surge in purebred animals in shelters?

Dains points to the breeders. “While some organizations champion breeding, they turn a blind eye to the resultant overflow in shelters,” she adds. “It’s almost as if they’re creating these animals only for many to face an unfortunate fate later. That is not appropriate.”

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Bains clarifies that the moratorium is not indefinite but comes with conditions. The suspension on breeding permits will lift once the shelter occupancy dips below 75% capacity for three months. If the numbers rise again and surpass that 75% threshold, the moratorium will snap back, and no permits will be issued.

“The point of a moratorium isn’t necessarily to stop breeding; that has to happen through enforcement,” Bains explained. “The importance of a moratorium is to signal to the community clearly that our shelters are not in any position to take in one more animal.”

Recognizing that the city’s Department of Animal Services is not merely standing by, watching the numbers tick up is essential. They have proactively implemented measures like spaying and neutering animals in the shelters to avoid unnecessary euthanasia. “But,” Dains admitted, “these policies are sometimes challenging to uphold due to staffing shortages.”

That brings us to the next step in the city’s action plan. According to Dains, the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services is seeking $3 million in funding to employ 120 new staffers across the city’s six shelters. This isn’t just about numbers; it’s about care. Of the proposed hires, 90 will be dedicated animal care technicians, while the remaining 30 will be clerical staff, streamlining the adoption process.

“We’re desperate for this,” Dains candidly expressed, highlighting the situation’s urgency. Los Angeles prides itself on being progressive and responsible, and an inability to manage and care for its animal population undermines that image. Moreover, overcrowded shelters can lead to safety concerns, with stressed animals more likely to act unpredictably. 

The city recognizes that it’s not just about animal rights but about maintaining LA’s beauty, safety, and integrity. The hope is that with the proposed moratorium and increased staffing, LA’s shelters can find that balance, ensuring every animal, purebred or not, finds a loving home.