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L.A. animal services reinstates free sterilization services

March 26, 2009|Carla Hall

The Los Angeles Department of Animal Services has reinstated its program to give low-income residents vouchers for free spaying and neutering of their pets, the department's general manager, Ed Boks, announced Wednesday.

But Boks' reversal of his decision to suspend the program two weeks ago, which prompted an outcry from animal welfare advocates and members of the Los Angeles City Council, did not placate one council member who is suggesting he resign.

"I think it's time for Mr. Boks to find another place to work," Councilman Dennis Zine said. "It's been a continuing saga of him and his mismanagement."

Zine said Boks' recent actions were part of a list of decisions over the last few years that the councilman believed were ill-conceived.

Boks, who can be fired only by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said e-mails from the public and from animal welfare advocates praised his reversal. He added, "I stand ready and willing to meet with Dennis Zine any time, any place to help move the department forward. This has been an open invitation for well over a year."

Boks said he cut off vouchers for free sterilizations only as a last resort to cope with his department's budget shortfall. On Monday, council members excoriated him for not seeking the advice of the council or the advisory bodies to Boks' department before suspending a program that helps low-income residents comply with the city's ordinance requiring residents to spay and neuter their pets.

"You don't make a rash decision that undermines our spay and neuter program," Zine said. "The program is designed to keep animals alive and not be killed. And many low-income families want to comply but don't have enough money."

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carla.hall@latimes.com

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