Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Operation Safety Net Announced

I was joined today by LA City Council Member Herb Wesson to announce the implementation of a wonderful new life saving program called, "Safety Net."

2008 will be remembered as a very difficult year for many Angelenos, especially those who felt coerced by the economic downturn to surrender their beloved pet to a shelter. Over the course of the past year, LA Animal Services has seen a 20% increase in animals coming into our Animal Care Centers.

Dog owners relinquish their pets for many reasons, but we were finding that many of those reasons did not seem reason enough to give up on a beloved member of the family.

So two weeks ago we started asking the question, “What would it take to keep your dog from entering a shelter?” That one question saved seven dogs from entering the South LA shelter over the past two weeks. While that may not seem like a lot, it represented the birth of "Operation Safety Net".

Safety Net is a public/private collaboration involving LA Animal Services, Downtown Dog Rescue, Karma Rescue, and Paw'd Squad; three extraordinary organizations with tremendous experience working with large breed dogs, the very types of dogs more frequently relinquished and euthanized at our shelters. LA Animal Services is thrilled to be working with them on this life saving program.

Safety Net is officially starting today in our South LA Animal Care Center. A sign is prominently displayed in our Center lobby informing dog owners how they can keep their pet despite the fact that they may feel as though they have run out of options.

Dog owners sometimes feel forced to surrender their dog because they can’t afford to feed, vaccinate, spay/neuter, treat a minor medical issue, get basic obedience training, or even pay for a $15 dog license. With Safety Net, LA Animal Services staff and volunteers encourage the dog owner to take his beloved pet home and call the Downtown Dog Rescue phone number on the postcard given to them. Safety Net is a wonderful program that enables a community to work together to solve one of the most basic and traumatic problems a family might face.

When the dog owner calls the Downtown Dog Rescue Hotline Phone Number a volunteer will return the call within 48 hours to help address the situation that brought the dog owner to the shelter. Often, ‘the problem’ is a combination of issues. Many dogs need to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, licensed, or trained. Sometimes it's just not having enough dog food to get through a difficult time. But surely, none of these reasons are good enough to give up a family member. Operation Safety Net is designed to help keep pets and families together.

Safety Net is designed to help dog owners who really want to keep their dog if only they had the resources to do so. The program is modeled after Downtown Dog Rescue’s successful 13 year-old Skid Row program to help homeless dog owners.

For more information on how to keep your pet visit Safety Net.