"I’ve been an animal lover all my life. I’ve believed in the power of the human-animal bond all my life. And I believe very deeply that how we care for animals is a test of our own capacity for love and empathy and decency,” said Wallis Annenberg, Chair, President and CEO of Annenberg Foundation, and PetSpace founder. “I was heartbroken to learn of conditions at the city's shelters and I want to be part of the solution, for the long haul. We have so much to learn from the animal world -- so much to gain from the animals in our lives. In return, we must be good stewards, and take the very best care of them that we possibly can."
“We believe that establishing these Canine Enrichment Coordinator positions and increasing the volume of spay/neuter surgeries for Los Angeles Animal Services will create immediate and lasting change for animals in L.A. shelters and help support the efforts of staff and volunteers who are committed to their care,” said Gabrielle Amster, Director, Wallis Annenberg PetSpace. “This support is only a portion of what is needed to move the needle, so we applaud other agencies for joining the collaborative effort to support the homeless pets of the Los Angeles community.”
PetSpace’s support will enable LA Animal Services to engage Dogs Playing for Life (DPFL), one of the nation’s most respected and progressive dog behavior programs in the nation, with a mission to enhance the quality of life of shelter dogs to increase life-saving. DPFL has proven metrics on the life-saving benefits of “playgroups” for kenneled animals, and on the methods for training staff and volunteers in establishing and conducting these ongoing enrichment activities.
"As a municipal shelter, there is always an opportunity to do more for the animals in our care, so we are grateful for partners who share in our mission to help pets thrive while waiting to be adopted," said Annette Ramirez, Interim General Manager for Los Angeles Animal Services. "We are pleased to announce that we are working with Wallis Annenberg PetSpace to take immediate action that will help address the critical issues we are currently facing.”
The Canine Enrichment Coordinators will work directly and collaboratively with current LA Animal Services staff and volunteers across the city’s six shelter facilities to create a structured program to get every dog outside every day, maintain individualized enrichment and training protocols, and attend to the emotional and behavioral well-being of the entire shelter canine population. Funded initially for one year, the positions will be strictly evaluated with the goals of reducing kennel stress, establishing programs that can live on, and ultimately, get more animals adopted out of Los Angeles city shelters.
"DPFL couldn't be more excited to partner with LA Animal Services and PetSpace to improve the quality of life for shelter dogs and those that care for them," said Aimee Sadler, Founder and CEO, Dogs Playing for Life. "These positions will significantly bolster DPFL's ability to support LA Animal Services in achieving and sustaining our ‘Every Dog, Every Day!’ model where all dogs are afforded quality time outside their kennels every day."
Using DPFL’s model, the new Canine Enrichment Coordinators will use playgroups to provide much needed enrichment to LA Animal Services shelter dogs, as well as assess their play style and behavior with other animals and people, in an effort to decrease their length of stay, increase their potential to be adopted, and identify possible training modifications to help dogs have a better quality of life in both the shelter and its future home. Of utmost importance, playgroups reduce the stress and anxiety of dogs living in animal shelters making them easier and safer to handle and reducing the likelihood of behavior euthanasia.
Spaying and neutering are also critical to the safety and wellbeing of animals in Los Angeles. Since 2008, spay/neuter surgeries have been required for all animals leaving L.A. city shelters in an effort to humanely decrease the number of pets abandoned each year. Starting next month, PetSpace will use its state-of-the-art, on-site veterinary care team to perform weekly spay/neuter surgeries for LA Animal Services animals. PetSpace will also continue to take in dogs and cats from LA Animal Services facilities and make them available for adoption.
Between the spay/neuter program and partnership with LA Animal Services and DPFL, PetSpace hopes to help alleviate overcrowding and provide the vital activity and enrichment needed by dogs in L.A. shelters.