Wallis Annenberg PetSpace Helps Shelter Animals To Exercise

Wallis Annenberg PetSpace

In response to the ongoing issue of overcrowding and overall animal wellbeing in Los Angeles city shelters, Wallis Annenberg PetSpace will partner with Los Angeles Animal Services (LA Animal Services) to begin a dual-pronged approach to help ensure the more than 1,000 dogs currently in city shelters are getting enrichment and exercise every day, and that animals are finding homes more quickly.

First, starting September 1, PetSpace will fund two new Canine Enrichment Coordinator positions within LA Animal Services. Second, also in September, PetSpace will begin a six-month program of hosting weekly spay/neuter surgeries at their Playa Vista facility for LA Animal Services animals. (LA Animal Services animals must be spayed/neutered before they’re adoptable.)

“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.

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.

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.

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