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Pets Found in Labs, Kennels to Be Put Up for Adoption

February 26, 1988|STEVE PADILLA | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Department of Animal Regulation officials said Thursday they will put up for adoption 39 animals, which they contend were obtained under false pretenses by two Sun Valley kennels for possible sale to research laboratories.

The animals--23 dogs, 15 cats and a rabbit--will be offered to the public Tuesday at the East Valley Animal Shelter in North Hollywood.

Investigation Continues

Meanwhile, animal-regulation authorities said they will continue to investigate the owner of the kennels and a man who pet owners say misled them when he responded to newspaper advertisements offering free pets to good homes.

Instead of taking the dogs and cats as pets, Ralf Jacobsen sold them to Budget Boarding and Comfy Kennel, which later sold some of them to three Southern California research facilities, Lt. Robert Pena said.

Pena said the kennels' owner, Barbara Ruggiero, and Jacobsen could face criminal charges for obtaining animals by misleading their owners. Jacobsen, who has been interviewed by animal-regulation authorities, could not be reached for comment.

Ten of the 39 animals awaiting sale at the East Valley shelter were recovered from research laboratories. The rest were given up Feb. 2 by Ruggiero after an animal-rights group, Last Chance for Animals, said pet owners had been duped into giving away their animals.

Ruggiero has admitted paying Jacobsen $10 apiece for cats and $20 apiece for dogs, but said she did not know where he obtained the animals. Ruggiero has been licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to sell animals to research facilities.

Since she obtained her USDA license in October, Ruggiero sold 31 dogs to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, 18 dogs to Loma Linda University and 29 cats to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Sepulveda, Pena said.

It is unknown how many of these animals were unwittingly given away by pet owners, Pena said.

By mid-January, all but six dogs at Cedars-Sinai and eight cats at the VA hospital had been destroyed.

The two laboratories turned those animals over to the East Valley shelter. Two of the dogs have been reclaimed by their original owners, Pena said, and the four remaining are among those to be put up for adoption. Two of the cats were reclaimed by their owners, and the rest are among those to be offered by the shelter, he said.

Pena said the well-publicized case has generated wide interest. "People are still coming by daily and looking to see if their animals are here," he said.

The East Valley Animal Shelter is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. It costs about from $20 to $30 to adopt a cat and from $20 to $50 to adopt a dog. The fees cover licenses and vaccinations, and some include deposits for spaying and neutering.

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