As money woes strain the city's resources, Los Angeles officials have been engaged in a continuing and important discussion: What are the responsibilities the city handles best itself? And what are those the city can, and should, contract out? Some are obvious: The city should run its own police department, for instance. Some are not so obvious.
The latest to fall under scrutiny is the operation of animal shelters. There are six scattered across the city that are open to the public and that take in and adopt out thousands of unwanted and stray animals. It is the seventh shelter — in the Northeast Valley area of Mission Hills — that has been the city's problem child. Built to be a fully operational shelter, it has never been available to the public. In the three years since it opened, it has housed nursing animals and dogs held for legal reasons, such as those involved in court cases.
Earlier this year, the city sent out a "Request for Information" seeking a nonprofit contractor to operate the facility. The respected national organization Best Friends Animal Society was the only group to respond, according to city officials. The city's administrative officer, as well as officials of the L.A. Department of Animal Services, have recommended the group be chosen.