Los Angeles Animal Services has unveiled a revamped website that officials said will make it easier for people to find a furry friend to adopt or foster, locate lost pets, apply or renew an animal license online, find upcoming adoption events and learn about alternatives to surrendering a pet to a shelter.
“Our website is the most public facing tool we have to communicate and showcase the programs and resources we offer to better serve pets and the families who love them,” said Annette Ramirez, interim general manager for LA Animal Services.
“The redesign of the site enables us to broaden our outreach and further educate and generate awareness of our offerings like the spay and neuter vouchers available to all city residents and their companion animals; free pet food assistance through the Pet Food Pantry; and provide helpful resources and guides to assist first-time pet owners and foster families to care for their pets to keep families and their furry family members together while also increase engagement by inviting the community to view the site in their preferred language,” Ramirez added.
The changes apply to both desktop or mobile device users.
LAAS officials are also inviting the community to be part of the LA City Pets Share Squad, a virtual community in which residents help spread the word, via social media or email, about the adoptable pets in city shelters.
The department also introduced a new logo called “Animal Forward,” which officials said “speaks to the way forward that LA Animal Services, like many animal welfare organizations across the country, are caring for animals, both in and out of our shelters by working collaboratively with our community.
It also lets people know what we stand for at a glance — that as an open intake municipal shelter, no animal is turned away.
The dog, cat, and rabbit are representative of some of the animals who make their way into our shelters, while the cityscape, mountains, and foothills, represent the communities we serve and support, which includes pets, the people who love them, and the wildlife surrounding our city who call Los Angeles home.”
Many residents had complained in recent years that the previous LAAS website — along with the department’s phone system — was not user-friendly and sometimes led to frustrating obstacles or delays in service.
The changes come two days after City Councilman Paul Koretz – who chairs the council’s animal welfare committee — approved a series of his own motions requesting funding and adjustments to the department through a committee, including $3 million in emergency funding. The motions still must be
approved by the full council
The committee held two meetings over the summer bemoaning alleged animal neglect and insufficient staffing at the city facilities and accused the department of dismissing multiple volunteers for blowing the whistle about various issues at the shelters in a Los Angeles Times article in July that widely exposed the problems.
Koretz, who is termed out on the council this year, released a 46-page report earlier this month on the department. In it, he wrote that the department has been the victim of a “chronic budget issue” and is in need of “much more personnel and a drastic increase of its funding.”
The report mostly blamed staffing shortages for failures to walk dogs on a regular basis and clean kennels more frequently. Staffing issues have also contributed to approximately 300 unprocessed volunteer applications, according to the report. It called for the City Council to relax a mandated 10-day quarantine for animal shelter staff exposed to COVID-19, recommending the period be cut to five days and a negative test.
City shelters have reached critical levels of overcrowding due to a combination of factors, including continued chronic pet overpopulation, the aforementioned staffing issues and increased owner surrenders brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
The six LAAS shelters are open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments are required on Wednesdays and Fridays for pet adoptions, fostering and owner surrenders. Shelters are closed on Mondays, although sick or injured animals are admitted without an appointment.