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VOICES

'We Are Caring Professionals'

September 05, 1998

DENA MANGIAMELE

Chief veterinarian, L.A. Department of Animal Services

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If someone hits an animal with a car or finds one that's been hit, they should call animal services immediately. Although sometimes our lines are busy, we ask that they stay on the line and speak to someone. If they can't do that, they should call the police. The police will call us and animal services will come and pick up the animal. In the meantime, the good Samaritan can help by moving the animal from the street. Like people, they should be moved carefully so as not to further injure them with a wrong move. If the good Samaritan feels it is safe to do so, he or she can transport the animal to a local veterinarian or shelter themselves.

We work with private veterinarians on emergency cases, such as this one, all the time. It's not uncommon for us to leave an animal with a veterinarian for a period of time as long as the animal is being properly cared for.

It is absolutely untrue that animals go without care because a pet owner might sue. We have two field veterinarians who work in the shelters with our 12 licensed registered veterinary technicians. We do whatever we can to stabilize animals. Animal care technicians do rounds during the day and check on the animals' condition and log everything. They monitor if the animal is responsive, eating, drinking, having regular bowel movements. Animals with injuries are kept in separate cages to ensure that they do not hurt each other or are hurt by other animals.

When we impound an animal, we hold it for five days in hopes of having the owner reclaim it. We do everything we can to reunite pets with their owners. After the five-day holding period, the animal becomes available for adoption.

We will euthanize if we feel an animal is suffering. Some animals, no matter our efforts, are sometimes beyond care. We also do our best to stay in touch with the person who brings in the animal to keep them up to date on how the animal is doing. Sometimes this person will be the one who makes the final decision about the animal.

We see and impound hundreds of animals a day. We do our very best to treat them with the best medical attention available. We are caring professionals. People don't realize how hard we work and how we are making a conscious effort to lower euthanization.

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