A Slaughter With No End

Seven years and $800,000 later, the City of Los Angeles continues to systematically put to death  community cats.

In 2009, several anti-cat groups filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles in a bid to prevent community cats from being saved from death at the pound via sterilization. A Superior Court Judge ruled that City shelters were not to have any involvement with TNR, including the provision of spay/neuter vouchers, until they conducted an environmental review to determine how those actions impacted the environment, particularly bird populations, under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The ruling was followed by a court-ordered injunction that prevented the City from supporting TNR in any way until that review is done. The end result is that any cat deemed feral is systematically put to death, the City cannot even refer people to TNR groups, nor can it provide trap rentals or spay/neuter vouchers for feral cats.

Knowing that CEQA did not apply, my organization, the No Kill Advocacy Center, filed a counter suit, fearing that the City Attorney would not defend the cats rigorously. The City opposed us and the judge agreed and would not allow the No Kill Advocacy Center to join the lawsuit. When the City lost and refused to appeal, the No Kill Advocacy Center again tried to intervene in order to appeal on the cats’ behalf. Once again, the City, catering to the cat killing crowd, opposed us.  As we argued to the Board of Commissioners,

[The Department of Engineering] determined back in March 2012 that these proposed activities do not constitute a “program” subject to CEQA, and offered to provide the “few hours of labor” necessary “to prepare a Notice of Exemption and file it with the County Clerk.” One would think that [this] conclusion and offer would have brought an end to this needlessly protracted process, which has been ongoing for more than two years. One would think that that the City would finally take the position that it has complied with the injunction’s requirements, and that the Department of Animal Services would implement its proposed Cat Program. This seems particularly logical given our understanding that the Department has determined that, since the injunction issued and the City was forced to discontinue its prior policy of supporting the spay/neutering of all cats without regard to their status as owned or un-owned, tame or feral, indoor or outdoor, thousands more cats have been killed annually in the City’s shelters than in the years before the injunction issued, at great taxpayer expense and against the statewide policy adopted by the California Legislature in 1998 in favor of reducing shelter killing. In fact, we understand that the Department has determined that there has been “almost a straight-line increase in neonate intake and killing coinciding with the injunction,” and that the “outdated theory of killing animals to curtail population growth is not working in Los Angeles for cats.”

Tragically, we were right and Los Angeles continues to drag its feet, while cats are slaughtered. Seven years and $800,000 later, the City has still not undertaken the review. In fact, Los Angeles has not even decided on the “description” of the study it plans to do.

In 2015, six years after the fact, the City of Los Angeles finally budgeted a whopping $300,000 for that “study.” Astonishingly, they determined they needed even more money. In 2016, another $500,000 was budgeted to do the analysis, bringing the total to $800,000. Last summer, after years of dragging its feet, the City finally put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to do the study. They rejected all bids.

In the Fall, they put out another RFP. This time they accepted a bid, but they have not started the study. Instead, bureaucrats from three city departments are still working on what it is exactly they want to study. For the last several months, they have been arguing “over the wording and scope of the project description,” and it is still, according to one official, “going on.” They also admitted that if they ever agree on the description, they still will still not start the study. Instead, they intend to ask yet another City agency, this time the Animal Services Commission, to debate the matter to see if they agree with the “description.”

Without any hint of irony, City officials acknowledge that “many people are frustrated that this seems to be taking a long time.” It is. Seven years and nearly one million dollars later and they still haven’t finished describing the study they want to study, let alone undertaking it.

Meanwhile, community cats continue to lose their lives…

Call the Mayor and City Council and tell them to do their jobs. Specifically, say this:

Hello, my name is _________ and I am a resident of District #______.

My street address is _________ in Los Angeles.”I’m calling because:

  • Los Angeles City Animal Services is killing community cats.
  • They have had 7 years and the City budgeted $800,000 to do a study and they still have not completed it.
  • In fact, after 7 years, they still have not decided on the description of the study even though Animal Services determined that there has been “almost a straight-line increase in neonate intake and killing coinciding with the injunction,” and that the “outdated theory of killing animals to curtail population growth is not working in Los Angeles for cats.”

I’m calling to urge Mayor Garcetti/Council Member ____ to demand that the City conduct the study quickly, approve the study, and begin saving the lives of these cats.

[Include a sentence about why you feel this way, (optional).]

In summary, I am not satisfied with the way Animal Services and other City departments are dragging their feet, while cats needlessly die.

Thank you for taking this matter seriously!

If you call after hours, please leave a voicemail.


Mayor Eric Garcetti  (213) 978-0600

LA City Council Members 213 473-7001 213 473-7002 213 473-7003 213 473-7004 213 473-7005 213 473-7006 213 473-7008 213 473-7009 213 473-7010 213 473-7011 213 473-7012 213-473-7013 213 473-7014 213 473-7015

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