How to Help Pets at Los Angeles Animal Shelters

The stories coming out of Los Angeles city animal shelters are heartbreaking for any pet lover: Overcrowding and understaffing have led to overcrowded, dirty kennels and inadequate care, and some dogs can’t be walked for weeks.

Last month, critics questioned LA Animal Services’ heavy reliance on volunteers to provide “enrichment, exercise and rides” instead of increasing shelter funding in the city budget.

The city leaders are holding public meetings in an attempt to address the problem. But for people who want to take immediate action, donating your time, some needed items, or money could ease some of the burden on current volunteers.

Pets in city shelters and those run by nonprofits are still being adopted, said Ana Bustilloz, director of communications for the Los Angeles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. But: “The number of adoptions [at SPCA L.A.] it is constant but has not reached or exceeded pre-pandemic figures,” Bustilloz said.

SPCA LA sees many factors at play, but economic challenges are at the forefront.

“The lack of affordable housing and stagnant wages affect every aspect of life, including the decision to bring a new pet into the home,” he said.

At shelters, she added, volunteers “are invaluable and very important to shelter operations.”

If you’d like to help shelter animals in and around Los Angeles, here’s a rundown of the needs of some larger public and nonprofit shelters, as well as tips for helping smaller local shelters.

Los Angeles Animal Services

What are you doing: this city department provides a temporary home for lost and stray animals in six shelters In Los Angeles. Offers free adoption, licensing and microchipping, and spaying and neutering services for pets owned by low-income residents.

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How can you help: The agency needs volunteers to help the animals play, walk, socialize and interact with people. Volunteers are also needed to help with adoptions, greet clients, take pictures, groom themselves and more.

Interested individuals will need to complete an application and, once approved, complete the training. LA Animal Services requires a minimum commitment of six hours per month for six months.

If you are unable to meet the volunteer time commitment, you may also to encourage a dog or a cat in your house. You can also do a monetary donation through the Animal Welfare Trust Fund, the Spay/Neuter Trust Fund, and the Star Program. If you would like to help stock the pet food pantry or provide supplies for the Boredum Busters Program, please see your Amazon Wish List.

Best Friends Animal Society Los Angeles

What are you doing: the non-profit organization collaborates with rescue groups, city shelters and individuals to prevent animals from being euthanized. Organizes adoption events and fundraisers, manages two shelters, and leads the Los Angeles No-Kill Initiative.

How can you help: the center has On-site and remote volunteer opportunities, including work that does not require training. Site work takes place at one of two shelter locations: in West Los Angeles or in Mission Hills. Remote volunteering is needed to answer the shelter’s main phone line and help with their social media accounts. You can also help with monthly shelter cleanup days or special events.

All volunteers are asked to commit to two shifts per month. To get started, create a volunteer account online.

You can also do a monetary donation that goes to adoption programs, spay and neuter services and Los Angeles without killing.

Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control

What are you doing: The seven county shelters serving the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and 44 contracted cities. They provide animal control and rescue services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Along with low-cost spay and neuter services, the county’s animal control officers patrol for lost, injured, and abandoned animals, investigate cases of animal cruelty, and provide emergency rescues during natural disasters.

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How can you help: You can donate to a specific shelter location buying items from your Amazon wish list. Or you can make a donation to the animal control department.

The county resumed virtual information sessions this year for interested volunteers. To start, volunteers over the age of 18 you can complete an online application: 16 and 17 year olds need parental permission. Once their application is submitted and training is complete, volunteers are required to purchase a volunteer t-shirt ($11).

SPCA Los Angeles

What are you doing: the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles is a nonprofit animal welfare organization that conducts cruelty investigations, responds to disasters, and provides violence prevention and education programs and shelter services.

How can you help: nonprofit needs volunteer to help animals at the shelter, to raise animals at home, help youth in the violence prevention and humane education program, help with administrative tasks, help with fundraising, and take photos of shelter animals.

You can also do a online donation.

Humane Society of Pasadena

What are you doing: community support non-profit organization provides shelter, care, and adoption opportunities for animals. It also focuses on programs and services aimed at helping people care for and maintain their pets with free and low-cost spay and neuter services, as well as vaccinations. It also has a pet food bank and an animal support call center.

How can you help: the organization has volunteer opportunities for people of all ages. Volunteers over the age of 15 are expected to commit a minimum of 2 hours per month for 12 weeks and can be a shelter receptionist or ambassador or can raise a kitten. Younger volunteers can participate as receptionists and refuge ambassadors.

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If you don’t have enough time to meet the minimum volunteer hours, you can volunteer one time and help with fundraisers, adoptions, and outreach events. For more information, email [email protected]

You can also do a single or monthly donation online.

Helping local animal shelters.

Matt Bershadker said that when people support local animal welfare organizations in any way they can, “it’s an admirable act of compassion.” Bershadker is the Chairman and CEO of ASPCA (not affiliated with SPCA LA), a national organization working to rescue animals from abuse, pass humane legislation, and share resources with shelters across the US.

“With many animal shelters and rescues experiencing increasing intake and placement challenges due to longer-stay animals with medical and behavioral needs, pandemic-related staffing shortages, and declining adoptions, the support of community members it is more critical now than ever,” he said.

To help a shelter in your community not listed above, please contact or visit their website. Here are some questions to find out how you can help.

  1. What opportunities are available? (And which ones make sense to me?)
  2. What is the minimum time commitment?
  3. What training is required?
  4. Are there other ways to help (donated items, monetary donations, foster care)?
  5. What is needed to foster a pet?
  6. How can I spread the word about how to help?

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