City curbs dog rescuers
By Dana Bartholomew firstname.lastname@example.org 818-713-3730 I
Updated: 05/16/2009 11:56:45 PM PDT
The pooches can cost up to $750. Only they're not breeder dogs but
pound hounds rescued for $40 or less from city animal shelters.
Los Angeles officials have accused private rescuers of cherry-picking
their finest Fidos at cut-rate fees, then selling them for profit.
But allegations surrounding a new city ordinance to ban the practice
have provoked howls from
animal rescue groups who say their veterinary and boarding costs far
exceed returns from marked-up adoptions.
"It's outrageous. I'm so ... mad there's smoke coming out of my ears,"
said Pnina Gersten of Sherman Oaks, who finds shelter animals for many
nonprofit animal rescue agencies. "They do not sell dogs. Everyone is
in the red. You cannot make money off of this. It's impossible."
"It's insane, ridiculous," added Melya Kaplan of Voice for the Animals
in Venice, which charges $150 per dog after spending an average of
$500 per canine. "I don't know of any rescuer making any money and
going to the Bahamas."
The outcry followed a May 8 vote by the City Council to restrict
nonprofit rescue groups from selling shelter animals obtained at
discount rates for more than their cost of upkeep.
The ordinance also allows annual audits of city-approved rescue
The city was prepared to give such rescue groups first choice of
mostly dogs and cats - with fees waived for selected agencies. But out
of concerns about gifts of public property, officials opted to
maintain rules that allow residents to choose animals on the first day
they are available, after which those rescue groups - called New Hope
Partners - can rescue the pets in their two-week life at six city
Higher adoption prices
The public now pays the city up to $91 to adopt a dog and $68 for a
cat. While more than 80 approved rescue groups now pay only the $40
spay-neuter fee, according to a new fee schedule, many then post
substantially higher adoption prices.
One rescue partner, Beagles and Buddies, demanded donations from $150
to $750 per dog, "depending on the age and the breed," according to
its Web site. The El Monte agency did not return calls last week.
More typical private rescue adoption fees from mutts to purebreds
range from $200 to $500 per dog.
"There was a concern that there might be some bad players who might
take the animals and sell them," Councilman Richard Alarc n said last
week. "I believe that if a nonprofit organization is getting a
donation for the dog that exceeds the cost of its administration ...
it might appear to be a giveaway of public funds.
"We wanted the animals to be distributed fairly."
The decision to limit pet profiteering followed a letter from a former
rescuer that pressed the city to amend its plan to grant rescuers
first dibs on the most desirable animals - then re-sell them at higher
Phyllis Daugherty had also supplied city officials with a list of
approved rescue groups and their posted adoption fees.
"I had no idea that this would make this uproar," said Daugherty,
director of Animal Issues Movement and a former city employee. "I just
assumed that everyone knew they were selling them to recover the cost.