Articles Corruption

Socially Unconscionable Sheltering

Los Angeles County’s Animal Care & Control has long been a kill-oriented, poorly managed, house of horrors. Rather than reform cruel practices and embrace the No Kill philosophy, it is trying to fend off criticism by hiding behind euphemisms. The latest? “Socially Conscious Animal Sheltering.”

A rabbit furiously tries to drink water from an empty container at Los Angeles County Animal Care & Control. This follows promised reforms after what has become known as “Spinal Monday.” Staff did not take care of the rabbits who began cannibalizing other rabbits in the face of starvation. When they were discovered on Monday, one of the rabbits had an exposed spine as other rabbits had started eating him alive.

The staff called it “Spinal Monday.” At the Carson pound run by Los Angeles County Animal Care & Control (LACACC), a volunteer found a rabbit with an exposed spine, being cannabalized by other rabbits. A subsequent investigation uncovered that the rabbit had been left alive in her cage for approximately one week in that condition. Also discovered in the cage were a dead rabbit, his decomposing body covered with flies, and another rabbit with an eye popping out of his socket who was being attacked by the other rabbits. None of the rabbits had food or water. “Shelter” employees claimed to be unaware of these conditions, even though they are required to clean the cages every day. Nor did being made aware of the neglect and suffering which the rabbits were forced to endure lead them to improve conditions for those animals. During an unannounced visit to the same facility two years later, No Kill Advocacy Center attorneys found filthy rabbit cages and empty water bowls, apparently once again “forgotten” in an out-of-the-way back room.

And yet despite conditions like these, LACACC refuses to reform or embrace the No Kill philosophy. Instead, in the latest bid to shirk responsibility and fend off criticism, it has embraced what it terms, “Socially Conscious Animal Sheltering.” LACACC officials put out a press release this week defending killing, attacking the No Kill philosophy, and hiding behind PETA, which applauds it for doing so. Despite years of documented neglect, inhumane conditions, and even employees abusing animals, LACACC claims that calls for the embrace of No Kill protocols that are now wildly successful across the nation, leads to harm by “denying animals a safe haven” and resulting in “overcrowd[ed] animal shelters, with resulting disease outbreaks and suffering.”

A dog languishes in filth at LACACC.

“Socially Conscious Animal Sheltering” is a new name for an old concept: a poorly run pound that kills animals in the face of common-sense, cost-effective, readily-available alternatives it simply refuses to implement. Because it excuses killing and overlooks neglect and cruelty which often precede it, it is not surprisingly embraced by regressive pounds, including LACACC and the pound in neighboring Long Beach, CA. The Long Beach pound refuses to do any adoptions, for example, choosing to kill the animals instead. (It is also not above violating federal law to silence critics.) And therein lies the rub. “Socially Conscious Animal Sheltering” is designed for one reason and one reason only: to legitimize killing by painting the No Kill alternative as darker. Over the years, it has gone by many names: “No Harm No Kill,” “Mission Orange,” “Imagine Humane,” “The Recipe for Lifesavin’,” “Asilomar Accords,” and the “Five Freedoms.” “Socially Conscious Animal Sheltering” is just one more in a string of failed efforts to maintain the status quo and will eventually be replaced by another when it, too, falls into disfavor, until those who run these pounds are themselves replaced by those who truly care about animals and are willing to do the work necessary to provide for them humanely and without resort to lethal poisoning.

Zephyr is healthy on intake at LACACC.

Zephyr gets sick, stops eating, and begins to lose massive amounts of weight. Although antibiotics are prescribed, none is given and staff claimed not to notice she stopped eating, even though her food remained untouched for several weeks.

Zephyr is found dead in her kennel by a rescuer. A necropsy reveals she died of pneumonia and marked emaciation (“starvation”).

That is something LACACC has never been willing to do. In fact, rabbits cannibalizing other rabbits is not the only abuse at LACACC. As I discuss in Friendly Fire, my book, Zephyr was a 10-month-old puppy who died while in the custody of LACACC. A subsequent necropsy revealed the cause of death to be pneumonia, with marked emaciation (“starvation”). She was not given medication for her illness and staff claimed no one noticed that she was not eating (as she was housed alone, the food bowls would have been untouched). Although she entered the facility healthy, she died in her filthy kennel, on a cold, concrete floor, without intervention by LACACC staff, and without treatment or, when death was imminent, a release from her suffering.

A puppy dying of parvovirus rests his weary head on a ledge that separates two sides of a kennel. He cannot muster the strength to get over and join his mother. No care or treatment is administered. As all the puppies in the litter eventually die, their little bodies are simply discarded as so much trash.

Under current “leadership,” animals have also been killed despite empty cages, cats have contracted panleukopenia because they were not given an examination, treatment, or vaccinations on intake, dogs with rescue holds have been killed, including highly adoptable Pug puppies, a “male” cat flagged with “gastro” issues by medical staff turned out to be a pregnant female who gave birth to a litter of kittens in the shelter, animals have been left with torn ears and gouged eyes without rehabilitative care, animals have been killed during the statutory holding period because veterinary staff determined that conjunctivitis and diarrhea are “irremediably suffering” conditions, and animals have been left in filthy conditions, like a litter of puppies who died of parvovirus with no intervention by medical staff. There’s more, including staff physically assaulting animals, such as slamming them against walls. And staff simply clocking in and then going home, getting paid for sleeping on the clock, while failing to respond to calls of animals in dire need.

An LACACC animal control officer holds a dog upside down with a control pole (a hard-wired noose cruelly wrapped around a dog’s neck), kicking him.

To defend itself, LACACC says their opposition to No Kill is supported by “Many animal welfare organizations, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)…” But this is, to put it mildly, hardly reassuring. PETA has a history of stealing animals to kill, instructing its staff to lie to people in order to acquire and kill their animals, taking in starry-eyed activists and subjecting them to what one staff member called “constant brainwashing” in order to turn them into killers, undercounting the amount of sodium pentobarbital it uses in order to kills animals “off book,” defending poorly performing, even abusive, pounds, rounding up to kill healthy cats and kittens,  demonizing cats to fight progressive programs like community cat sterilization as an alternative to that killing, and putting to death as many as 99% of the animals it impounds, while only adopting out 1%. (See, e.g., and: and

LACACC is not humane. The conditions are cruel. The leadership callous. “Socially Conscious Animal Sheltering” is a scam. And they know it. Why else hide behind an organization that is itself the functional equivalent of a slaughterhouse?


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