LOS ANGELES (CNS) - After two months on the job, visiting shelters and meeting with volunteers and stakeholders, Staycee Dains, general manager of L.A.'s Department of Animal Services, Tuesday laid out a plan to address the state of animal shelters -- which includes calling on Angelenos to help relieve overcrowding by adopting shelter animals.
Dains said during Tuesday's Board of Animal Commissioners meeting that she will hire and fill dozens of vacant positions for Animal Care Technicians within the next 30 to 45 days. She also emphasized the department will have greater transparency about its animals that are in distress in the shelters.
According to Dains, these measures and others under development will begin addressing the emergency situation in the six shelters operated by the department. In addition, Dains said she will work to develop greater collaboration with stakeholders on a long-term strategic plan to address systemic problems.
The department will use the city's Targeted Local Hire program, which is intended to expedite the hiring and onboarding process for entry level positions, while opening opportunities for full-time, paid city jobs to people in underserved communities.
Animal Services currently has 45 open positions for ACTs, and a cohort of 50 people will be invited this week to apply for work starting as early as Sept. 25. Another cohort will be invited to apply to start working every two weeks thereafter until all positions have been filled, according to the department.
Since July, Dains has spent the majority of her time visiting all six shelters in the city.
She has found that each of six shelters remain well over capacity to properly care for the animals housed there, regarding both sanitation, exercise and enrichment activities.
While the shelters remain overcrowded, enforcement officers out on abuse or neglect calls also face the problem of deciding to remove an animal in poor conditions, without a guarantee of better conditions at the shelter.
"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."
Dains has also instituted weekly department-wide, all-staff meetings and volunteer meetings, as well as first-ever regular convening of New Hope rescue partners to discuss problems, gather ideas and implement solutions.
Lastly, Dains is asking Angelenos to help the animals at the shelters, as she works to address the state of shelters alongside staff, volunteers, nonprofits and other city departments.
The department encourages Angelenos to adopt, if they can, now. For individuals who adopt or foster an animal, the department will have the animal vaccinated, microchipped, spayed/neutered, given flea treatment and other treatments to ensure their health.
Angelenos can volunteer at any of the six shelters, and help animals feel safe by interacting with them. The department said volunteers can significantly reduce animals' fear, anxiety and stress.
Angelenos who foster agree to provide a temporary home outside of the shelter while staff and volunteers work to find a permanent home for that animal.
The city of Los Angeles provides discount and full-cost vouchers to help people take steps to avoid unwanted litters. Animals that have not been fixed can contribute to overpopulation and crowding at shelters.
The department asks Angelenos to donate, if they can, to its Special Treatment and Recovery program, which covers the medical needs of shelter animals. It ensures that our New Hope partners and adopters have the resources to provide for animals with greater needs, according to the department.
Angelenos are encouraged to apply through the city's Targeted Local Hire program. Candidates can begin their career as an Animal Care Attendant providing hands-on care to animals in the department's shelters.