‘It’s a real crisis’: LA animal shelters ask for help as record number of pets get surrendered

A man struggles with a wiggling pup and a child in his arms as he waits outside the East Valley shelter for someone to help him.

He almost broke into tears as he explained that he has to give up the dog. 

Inflation, and a growing family has hit hard. He has to leave the state and leave behind his dog since the new place he's moving to does not allow animals. It has come down to feeding either the dog or the child in his hands.

As hard as it’s not to judge someone, and second guess the decision, it’s even harder to see that his story repeats itself again and again as we stand outside one of Los Angeles’ Animal Services Shelters, which is packed with animals like rabbits, cats and a lot of dogs.

"It’s a real crisis," said the agency’s interim GM, Annette Ramirez, as she points out the volunteers working non-stop to keep up. 

"If there was ever a time to adopt or foster, it’s now," she said.

A big part of the reason is financial. People are losing their homes and moving into apartments that are often not allowing pets.

Some landlords, faced with an influx of renters, are even changing their rules and limiting the size of animals, so people feel they need to give up their animals, or lose their homes.

Close to 40,000 animals have ended up at the city’s six shelters so far this year, surpassing 2021 and 2020 numbers. The sense of urgency is palpable.


Adoption fees are being waived at city shelters through the end of December due to grants from organizations like ASPCA. 

A network of rescue organizations is identifying older animals, set to be euthanized, to place them wherever they can. 

"Everyone is packed," said Rita Blackwell, from Paws for Life K9, adding she has never seen it "this bad".

"If there was ever a time to consider adopting of fostering a dog or cat, it’s now," she added.  

If you can’t adopt or foster but want to help… you can donate food for the pantry of pet owners going through financial difficulties. Blackwell says her organizations is even offering free training for families who can’t afford them, anything to keep pets in their homes. You can find out more at Pawsforlifek9.org.

If you want to find out more about adopting, fostering, donating or volunteering at one of the city’s shelters, please go to laanimalservices.com.