Could a breeding moratorium save LA's animal shelters? 'Anything else is pouring gasoline on a fire'

The Los Angeles Department of Animal Services released its plan to address critical issues within the city's animal shelters on Tuesday, Sept. 12. This includes a possible moratorium on breeding licenses in the city. 

According to the department, there are currently no criteria in place to secure a breeding permit, other than paying a $235 licensing fee.

"This is a problem, because when our shelters are over capacity, we have no business issuing breeding permits. It is antithetical to what we are trying to do," said the department's General Manager, Staycee Dains.

"We should only consider issuing a breeding permit when our shelters are at or below 50% capacity," said Dains. "Anything else is pouring gasoline on a fire."

Commission President Larry Gross agreed that a moratorium is called for, but questioned its effectiveness, saying many breeders would likely continue even without a permit.

Dains detailed her team's plan, which she said includes hiring and filling dozens of vacant positions for Animal Care Technicians within the next several weeks. 

"Our ratio of Animal Control Technicians to animals in the shelter is one to 85. The industry standard is one to 30," she said.

Animal Services currently has 45 open positions, and a cohort of 50 people will be invited this week to apply for work starting as early as Sept. 25, according to Dains. Another cohort will be invited to apply to start working every two weeks thereafter until all positions have been filled, according to the department.

She also said that the department will have better transparency in addressing the "systemic issues" within the animal services industry.

"We have a deeply demoralized staff," she said, acknowledging that staff and volunteers have complained about morale for years.

Dains said wage and compensation in the department have not been studied for over a decade, and "animal control officers are historically underpaid."


Currently, there are six animal shelters operated by the department in the LA area.

Dains said that each of the six shelters are well over capacity, in terms of providing proper care, sanitation efforts and enrichment activities.

"Animals are suffering in our shelters, and so are those who care for them," Dains said in a statement. "We keep animals in crates in hallways for days, weeks, or months at a time. Staff and volunteers are injured by animals subject to fear, anxiety and stress. Our caregivers know that the animals receive substandard care, which harms their mental well-being. We cannot allow the suffering to continue."

In addition to the department's plans, Dains asked Angelenos to help the animals at the shelters, by encouraging everyone to adopt or volunteer at any of the shelters.


All adopted or fostered animals will be vaccinated, microchipped, spayed/neutered, given flea treatments and any other necessary health treatments by the department, according to Dains.

"Our shelter system is not in crisis, it's in shambles," said Gross. " It's not going to turn around overnight. It's going to be a long process."

City News Service contributed to this report.