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Valleywide Focus

Program Helps Find Homes for More Pets

September 02, 1994|MAKI BECKER

Euthanasia may soon be a thing of the past at the West Valley Animal Shelter and Control Center in Chatsworth.

The animal control officers and volunteers at the West Valley shelter have pioneered a mobile pet adoption program showcasing orphaned dogs and cats at malls and pet food stores that has dramatically decreased the need to put their animals to sleep.

Aggressive tactics such as the mobile program, in addition to the volunteers' commitment to finding homes for the animals, have reduced the euthanasia rate by more than 70% at the West Valley shelter, according to Animal Control Officer Tim Goffa.

District Supervisor George Weissman said that he foresees other shelters in Los Angeles trying the mobile adoption program.

"With the success they have been having, I can't see it going any other way," Weissman said.

On Aug. 21, West Valley joined up with the West Los Angeles shelter to showcase 41 animals at the Century City Shopping Center. All but three cats were adopted, said West Valley volunteer Judy Levine.

On Sept. 10, the shelter is hosting an open house and on the following day, they are taking some animals to the Discount Pet Food store in Van Nuys.

Even at the shelter itself, volunteers like Levine are always working on keeping the animals from being put down. Levine helped arrange a two-week stay of execution for Vivian, a shepherd-mix that had been left tied to the flagpole in front of the shelter with her ear badly mangled from a fight with another animal. Levine offered to tend to Vivian's wounds whenever possible.

"We also want to find homes for the older animals," Levine said, explaining that many people come to shelters looking for puppies or kittens and don't want a pet that will die after just a year. "I want to educate people that it's OK to adopt an older pet. . . . They are great animals."

While the volunteers and employees are all eager to find their animals homes, they are committed to finding them good homes. Levine and her colleagues make follow-up calls to all new pet guardians to make sure the animals are being adequately cared for.

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