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Los Angeles Mayoral Candidates Talk Animal Welfare in LA

Two Los Angeles Mayoral candidates, Councilmember Kevin de León and City Attorney Mike Feuer, were joined by more than 100 residents to answer questions about issues facing the animal welfare community and pet parents during an hour-long mayoral forum hosted by the Los Angeles Democrats for the Protection of Animals. 

Moderated by Mark Thompson, the range of topics included pet-inclusive housing, spay and neuter programs, access to resources and pet care, and the Los Angeles Animal Services and shelter system.

Citing the Michelson Found Animals and Human Animal Bond Research Institute’s Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative research, Thompson highlighted that it has become increasingly difficult for pet parents to secure pet-friendly rental housing in Los Angeles. The study found that 72% of residents surveyed reported that pet-inclusive housing is hard to find and a quarter of residents say that their pets have been a reason for them needing to move. With the eviction moratorium set to expire later this year, pet parents need a solution. 

We all love our pets regardless of the color of your skin, regardless of who you love, regardless of which zip code you live in, from Sherman Oaks to South LA, to Watts or Woodland Hills or Westchester.” – Kevin de León 

“Having the values is one thing, but having the pragmatic ability to implement those values is important. Whether it comes to expanding spay and neuter programs, tackling shelter budget constraints or making sure shelter staff is available so shelters are open to the public. This is the work of a mayor. And I look forward to building on it as your continued teammate.” – Mike Feuer

“No tenant should be put in a position to choose between having a roof over their head and the pet that they love. So we have to extend those protections,” said de León. 

“Even after the eviction moratorium expires, we can have in place in the city of Los Angeles rules that say that the fact a tenant has an animal, is not in itself a ground for eviction, that would be a step forward,” Feuer said. “What you’re getting with [a pet owning] tenant is a stable tenant who is likely to want to create a space for their companion animal that is safe and secure and landlords want that stability.”

The pandemic has exacerbated inequities in underserved communities, including low-income pet parents across Los Angeles, from access to veterinary services to grooming and even pet food insecurity. Later this month Michelson Found Animals’ Better Neighbor Project is hosting a Pet Wellness Day to combat these issues in the Boyle Heights community, in Councilmember de León’s district. 

“We’re working with local veterinarians to provide free vaccinations, microchipping, and grooming to residents with this area Pet Wellness Day in Boyle Heights, with the Michelson Found Animals Foundation, who’s been so generous with assistance. This is critical in how we become much more creative to help,” de León said. 

Feuer noted that the changes since the pandemic have increased innovations and partnerships.

“Mobile outreach becomes incredibly important, and the city has previously used mobile outreach to grapple with the issue of a lack of physical access to facilities. All of these issues require creativity and that cross-jurisdictional collaboration that I want to inspire in City Hall,” Feuer said. 

“There’s a big opportunity for a mayor who was creative and aggressive to engage the private sector,” he continued. “There is a tremendous pent-up interest in the private sector in partnering with private philanthropy and partnering with the animal services system that they believe in. And so as mayor, in addition to prioritizing Animal Services as a key facet of public safety, which it is, I would engage the private sector to join us with philanthropic contributions designed to enhance and support what we have in the city.”

Watch the full Los Angeles Mayoral Forum here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0F_J6NylyQ

This virtual event was brought to you by the Los Angeles Democrats for the Protection of Animals, in partnership with Michelson Found Animals, Michelson Center for Public Policy, Greater Los Angeles Animal Spay and Neuter Collaborative, and Social Compassion in Legislation.

“We have to be very purposeful in terms of the equitable distribution, as well as who’s getting access to services for their pets and who’s not. I can tell you this, in neighborhoods I represent such as Boyle Heights, we were ground zero for both infections as well as mortality rates during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the comfort of our pets was very critical for our mental health during that time,” added de León.

Learn more about who is running for Los Angeles Mayor. The primary is June 7 and election day is November 8.  

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