Dr. Gary K. Michelson’s Low-Cost Solution to L.A.’s Animal Shelter Crisis

Bully Pit at Animal Shelter

Photo credit: Cierra Voelkl


By Dr. Gary K. Michelson (Op-Ed was published on the dailybreeze.com)

Last week, individuals and organizations advocating for animals rallied at Los Angeles City Hall and asked our city leaders to do more to fix the overcrowding crisis afflicting our local shelters.

As the largest private animal welfare foundation in Los Angeles for the past two decades, we feel compelled to weigh in.

It is beyond unfair to blame Mayor Karen Bass or Staycee Dains for the deplorable situation in our Los Angeles Municipal Animal Shelters. They did not cause this crisis, they inherited it.

In the past year, hundreds of thousands of beautiful, adoptable cats and dogs were destroyed by municipal animal services across our county for lack of room at the inn. This is a tragedy.

Non-governmental organizations are stepping in to help solve the crisis. Over the years, my organization alone directly rescued more than 10,000 cats and dogs from local shelters—most already scheduled for euthanasia—and succeeded in finding good homes for each of them.

Unregulated overproduction of pets is a longstanding problem in Los Angeles—the biggest contributor being home and backyard breeding.

Animal Shelter Cats

Photo credit: corelens

Many individuals are looking for a specific breed. That is their right, and they do not need to be shamed for that. But then our local shelters become overrun with purebred German Shepherds and blue-eyed Huskies who were then relinquished.

Bolder measures are needed now to prevent pet overpopulation. A major part of the solution is to expand public voucher programs to fund low- and no-cost spay and neuter services to prevent unnecessary births and therefore, unwanted animals being brought into shelters.

When you multiply it across the number of puppies and kittens in a litter and the number of litters that a mother can have in her lifetime, the upfront investment pales to the cost of caring for these pets in shelters. Simple math shows that spay and neuter funding is a smart investment.

With private clinics charging upwards of $1,000 for these procedures, the challenge lies in helping those who cannot afford these services. Since 2005, my philanthropic foundation has been responsible for building and funding most of the non-governmental no-cost, and low-cost, spay and neuter services in Los Angeles, and we continue to be steadfast supporters of these efforts.

Spay and neuter is an investment that will save money by markedly reducing the number of animals that will be coming into the shelters tomorrow, and far into the future. This is so vital to ending this crisis that this should not be falling upon me and my foundation alone.

Here is where the city and county can step up in a big way. They need to make these services available and affordable to those who need them. The first step is to expand and increase vouchers for these private, nonprofit facilities, which provide these services at greatly reduced cost.

The Michelson Found Animals Foundation, in conjunction with the Robert and Erika Brunson Fund, has publicly committed to donating more than $1 million to open the first new privately funded no-cost and low-cost spay and neuter and pet wellness center in more than 15 years.

Perhaps just as important, specially trained veterinarians at this center will safely perform more than thirty procedures a day. Most community veterinarians can only complete six.

This new center will become the leading facility in the world for training veterinarians and their staff how to safely perform high volume Spay and Neuter.

This is a crisis, but it is not an unsolvable problem.

Established in 2005, Michelson Found Animals Foundation is one of the largest animal welfare organizations in Los Angeles. With funding from Dr. Gary Michelson and Alya Michelson, Michelson Found Animals operates a broad range of programs to champion pets at every point they intersect with our society.

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