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California Briefing / Los Angeles

Reinstatement of spay, neuter vouchers urged

March 21, 2009|Carla Hall

Four members of the Los Angeles City Council introduced a motion Friday ordering the city Department of Animal Services to reinstate a voucher program that allows low-income pet owners to spay and neuter their animals free.

"Canceling the voucher program was . . . a step backward in trying to reach a no-kill policy in this city," said Councilman Tony Cardenas. He and fellow councilmen Richard Alarcon, Eric Garcetti and Dennis Zine presented the motion. Cardenas and Alarcon also co-wrote the 2008 ordinance mandating that most pets in the city be sterilized.

Spaying and neutering pets is seen by animal welfare advocates and shelter managers as a crucial step toward lowering animal shelter populations and the euthanasia rate. They say the voucher program encourages compliance among lower-income residents, who might be reluctant to pay several hundred dollars to sterilize their pets.

"Reductions in preventative services such as spay/neuter programs are shortsighted and will undoubtedly cost more in the long run, both in dollars and in cases of needlessly homeless animals," Zine said.

Animal Services General Manager Ed Boks said Thursday that he saw the suspension, announced last week, as a temporary, last-resort budget cut. He said some council members had been informed that this was a possibility.

The motion, which the council is expected to vote on next Friday, also asks for a report on why the Animal Services Spay/ Neuter Advisory Committee -- created by the city ordinance -- was not consulted before Boks suspended the program.

-- Carla Hall

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