If We Could Talk to the Animals 1024 908 Animal Care and Control

If We Could Talk to the Animals

Being an animal lover from my earliest memories, one of my favorite childhood movies was Dr. Doolittle. As you probably know, Dr. Doolittle was a veterinarian who had the magical gift of being able to talk to animals. Oh, how I wished I was able to do so as well!

Unfortunately, this ability doesn’t exist in real life because it would really come in handy now. Veterinary telemedicine will be allowed in California beginning January 1, 2024. Like human telemedicine where patients discuss their illnesses over the telephone or video calls with their physicians, veterinary telemedicine allows pet owners to contact their veterinarians the same way to obtain diagnoses and medications for their pets. The establishment of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) can now occur without the veterinarian ever seeing the animal. Arizona, Idaho, New Jersey, Vermont, and Virginia also allow veterinary telemedicine.

Supporters of veterinary telemedicine include several animal welfare organizations who state this will improve animal health and reduce the surrender of animals into animal shelters due to lack of veterinary care. Other proponents are direct-to-consumer telehealth businesses like Chewy, Dutch Pet, Walmart, and digital startups that see the business opportunities available. The market is currently estimated to be worth $530 million in revenue and is anticipated to double by 2028.

While this innovative approach brings convenience and accessibility, it also raises concerns about the quality of care provided by telemedicine through the lens of the traditional VCPR. There are pros and cons to this new tool, and pet owners should be aware of its possibilities and limitations.


Accessibility and Convenience:  There are remote areas in California that have a shortage, or even absence, of accessible veterinary services. Urban areas have “veterinary deserts” where there are no conveniently located veterinary hospitals in the area. Pet owners can seek advice or consultations without the need for a physical visit to the veterinary hospital. It’s especially beneficial for individuals with limited mobility.

Time and Cost Savings: Veterinary telemedicine can save both time and money for pet owners. Follow-up consultations and minor health concerns can be addressed without the need for a trip to the veterinary hospital, reducing travel costs and time commitments. However, pet owners should carefully assess their bills and prescription charges, as it may not be clear what corporation is monetizing this service. Make sure there are actual cost savings, or that costs are comparable to in-hospital services.

Stress Reduction for Pets: Some pets become anxious or stressed during visits to the veterinary hospital. Telemedicine offers a more relaxed environment for animals, allowing them to stay in their familiar surroundings during consultations.

Quick Response in Emergencies: Telemedicine can provide a quick response in urgent situations. Pet owners can seek immediate advice or guidance for potential emergencies, allowing them to take timely action before reaching a physical clinic.


Limited Physical Examination: One of the key drawbacks of veterinary telemedicine is the inability to conduct a hands-on physical examination. Dr. Doolittle’s magical ability to understand animals allowed him to talk to the animals, but real-world veterinarians need to physically assess animals for accurate diagnoses. Pet owners may not correctly identify or communicate the underlying causes of their pet’s condition, causing a veterinarian to misdiagnose the illness and/or prescribe the wrong treatment.

Missing Other Key Health Needs: If pet owners rely too much on telemedicine, they will miss important opportunities for in-person wellness exams for their pets. These are necessary to maintain vaccinations and get baseline information on the pet’s overall health. Veterinarians can discover important medical issues that might not be apparent to the average pet owner. By skipping office visits, this information will be missed until the condition worsens and is more serious and expensive to treat.

Loss of Personal Connection: The traditional VCPR involves a personal connection built through physical interactions. Telemedicine may hinder the development of this bond, potentially affecting the quality of care and the understanding of the pet’s behavior. While some pets may be stressed at the veterinary hospital, it’s good for them to go there at least once a year for routine exams to build a level of acceptance in their mind. If the first time a pet is taken to a veterinary hospital is an emergency, they would not have had the benefit of a history of positive experiences there to help calm them during this urgent time.

Technical Limitations: Not all pet health issues can be diagnosed or treated remotely. Certain diagnostic procedures such as blood tests, skin scrapings, or X-rays require physical presence and cannot be conducted through telemedicine.

Legal and Regulatory Challenges: The field of veterinary telemedicine is still evolving, and regulatory frameworks may not be fully established. This lack of clarity can pose challenges in terms of accountability, prescription regulations, and standardization of practices.

Striking a balance between technology and traditional veterinary practices is crucial to ensure the well-being of our animal companions in this ever-evolving landscape of telemedicine. Just as Dr. Doolittle’s ability to communicate with animals was a magical and fantastical concept, veterinary telemedicine brings both magic and challenges to the world of pet healthcare. While it offers convenience and accessibility, it also raises concerns about the depth of care and the importance of physical examinations. The VCPR in-person practice has been a long-established requirement because animal patients cannot verbally communicate their health issues. Unless that patient is Mr. Ed!


Marcia Mayeda

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Please support DACC through the nonprofit Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation at:

A Guide to Safely Walking Your Four-Legged Friend 766 1024 Animal Care and Control

A Guide to Safely Walking Your Four-Legged Friend

Walking your dog can be one of life’s simple pleasures, offering exercise, bonding time, and a breath of fresh air for both you and your furry companion. However, safety should always be a top priority to ensure a positive and enjoyable experience for both you, your pet, and other people and animals in the community. At DACC, we see many instances of dog attacks and injuries when pet owners are walking their dogs. Many of these could have been avoided if the right precautions had been taken. In this blog, we’ll explore essential tips for safely walking your dog.


  1. Leash and Collar Selection:

Choosing the right leash and collar for your dog is the first step in ensuring a safe walk. Choose a sturdy leash of appropriate length (typically 4-6 feet) and a well-fitted collar or harness. Do not use retractable leashes. They are very difficult to use in case of a dog attack or other emergency, the thin cord is hard to grab and can cause severe burns to your hand, and the cords can get easily tangled up around your legs or with other dogs or people, causing injuries. The collar should be snug but not too tight, allowing you to slip two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck. Make sure your dog can not pull out of the collar by backing up or wriggling out of it. I have seen dogs do this when they are frightened by something, and then run away in fear. A well-fitted harness or slip collar will prevent this from happening.


  1. Training and Obedience:

Before embarking on outdoor adventures, invest time in training your dog. Basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “heel” are invaluable for maintaining control during walks. Positive reinforcement training methods work wonders in establishing good behavior. Most importantly, have a good recall for your dog so you know it will come back to you in case you are separated. If your dog needs training on how to walk politely on a leash, find a reputable dog trainer that works with both of you so you and your dog each learn the best way to have a safe and enjoyable walk.


  1. Be Mindful of Your Environment:

Always be aware of your surroundings. Check for potential hazards, such as broken glass, sharp objects, discarded food, or poisonous plants that your dog might encounter. Keep an eye on your dog to ensure they don’t ingest anything harmful. Do not use ear buds or other listening devices that will interfere with your ability to hear a potential threat. This could be a loose, aggressive dog or just a skateboarder rolling up behind you and your dog that could startle it and cause a panicked reaction –  or even a bite. Always scan the surroundings –  electric cars are silent and you may not hear one as you cross the street, a loose dog could be approaching, runners may appear threatening to your dog, or other potential risks can occur. The prevalence of coyotes in Southern California are a significant threat to small dogs and will even snatch them while they are being walked on a leash.


  1. Wear Proper Footwear

Sturdy, closed-toe shoes are a must for dog walking. Athletic shoes or hiking shoes/boots provide proper support and stability for you in case there is a problem. Flip flops and sandals will not give you the traction and protection you need to run after your dog that pulled out of its collar, or defend you and your dog from an aggressive dog.


  1. Use Poop Bags:

Always carry poop bags with you. It’s not just good manners, but also a crucial safety measure to maintain cleanliness and hygiene in your neighborhood. Worms and other intestinal parasites can be transmitted through feces left behind. Be a good example and conscientious dog owner and clean up after your dog.


  1. Socialize Your Dog, or Take Precautions:

Make sure your dog is well-socialized. Arrange playdates with calm, non-confrontational dogs to help them interact positively with other animals and people. If they need work on this, book some time with a trainer or at a reputable doggie day care with trained employees who can supervise your dog’s interaction with other dogs and make sure they are positive experiences. If your dog is anxious or overly assertive with other dogs or people, do not allow it to interact with them and make certain you always have it under complete control.


  1. Watch for Signs of Overexertion:

Dogs can get tired quickly, especially in hot weather. Keep an eye out for signs of fatigue, like heavy panting, slowing down, or reluctance to continue. Bring water for your dog and take breaks in the shade if necessary. Brachycephalic dogs (those with very short muzzles, like Boxers, French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, etc.) overheat very quickly to the point it can be life threatening. Dogs that are susceptible to heat stroke should not be walked in hot weather. Similarly, dogs with very thin coats like Greyhounds should be provided with jackets to keep them warm in cold weather. Remember, as your dog ages it may need shorter walks or medications for arthritis – your veterinarian can make recommendations based on its particular needs.


  1. Be Mindful of Weather Conditions:

Extreme weather conditions can pose a threat to your dog’s safety. In hot weather, avoid walking on scorching pavement, and in cold weather, be mindful of your dog’s comfort and safety. Consider using booties to protect their paws in harsh conditions. Salt used to  melt ice can be caustic to their feet and may cause them to become ill if they lick their feet and ingest it.


  1. Respect Personal Space:

Not all dogs are as friendly as yours. Always ask for permission before allowing your dog to approach another dog or person. Be ready to recall your dog if the other party prefers not to interact.


  1. Stay on Leash When Required:

Leash laws vary by location, so make sure to adhere to local regulations. Even if your dog has impeccable obedience, keeping them on a leash may be necessary for everyone’s safety. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is letting their dogs run loose when they shouldn’t. Often the dogs run up to other leashed dogs that are not friendly, and a fight ensues. The owner of the off-leash dog will usually be held liable for all medical expenses because they were the ones in violation of the law. The dog could also be declared potentially dangerous or vicious, depending on the circumstances.


  1. ID and Microchipping:

Accidents can happen, and dogs may slip out of their collars or escape during walks. Ensure your dog has proper identification, including a collar tag and a microchip, with updated contact information.

Walking your dog can be a wonderful experience when done safely and responsibly. By following these tips, you’ll not only protect your dog but also create a stronger bond and ensure a positive experience for both of you. Safe, happy walks await you and your four-legged friend!

Marcia Mayeda

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Help DACC in its mission of helping animals by supporting the Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation:

Tips for Bringing Pets to the Office 1024 802 Animal Care and Control

Tips for Bringing Pets to the Office

Last month I wrote about the benefits of pets in the workplace. Improved employee morale and engagement, work-life balance, recruitment and retention, and stress reduction in the workplace are just some of the many benefits to having pets at work. However, to make this experience positive for everyone there are some best practices to consider. In this blog we’ll explore the top tips for bringing pets to work.

First, it’s important to remember that not all pets WANT to come to work with you. Some pets find this new environment too stressful and would much prefer to remain at home snoozing on the sofa until you return. So, make sure your pet is up for the change in environment. For those who aren’t, start a work-based private social media group where coworkers can share cute photos and videos of their stay-at-home pets so they, too, can participate in sharing their pets with others.

Up until now I’ve said “pet” because there may be some cats that enjoy coming to work. However, there are special considerations for cats at work: more people are allergic to cats than dogs, cats are more difficult to confine, and a litterbox must be provided that can cause unwanted odors. For those reasons, cats are usually not considered as pets that normally come to work. However, there can be exceptions; Walter the hairless Sphinx cat accompanies his mom to our offices every so often. Walter is confined within her office and loves to visit with people who stop by. He is as outgoing as any dog and enjoys his trips to the office.

Additionally, several DACC staff foster nursing kittens in their workspaces. These little kittens need bottle feeding every two hours and other caretaking. They stay snug in their crates, nestled in their blankets until feeding time. They are too young to wander around or use a litterbox, so they are very easy to manage. Once they are old enough for adoption, they are returned to the animal care centers for adoption. For cat-loving offices, becoming foster caregivers for kittens from your local animal care center is a great employee engagement opportunity while saving the lives of our most vulnerable animals.


But when we talk about pets at work, we’re usually talking about dogs.  To ensure a safe and enjoyable Dogs at Work program, dogs must:

  • Be friendly and well-behaved. If a dog exhibits any unprovoked aggression, is noisy, disruptive, or difficult to handle it should be removed immediately.
  • Be healthy, currently vaccinated against rabies and common canine illnesses, and on monthly flea/tick prevention medication to ensure it does not transmit any illnesses or parasites to other dogs at work.
  • Wear identification tags and be microchipped in case they are separated from their owner. A dog left alone might become anxious and try to escape to find its owner; having identification on it will help ensure they are reunited.
  • Be well-groomed to prevent odor or excessive shedding.
  • Be spayed or neutered to avoid having a female dog in heat at the office and unneutered male behaviors such as heightened territorial behavior, or disputes for dominance.
  • Be always under control, such as confined to a private office or cubicle, on a leash, or in a crate.
  • Not be allowed into food areas.
  • Not damage the office’s facility, furniture, and equipment.
  • Be transported to and from the office using a leash or carrier for their own safety.


Additionally, the owner must ensure there are plans in place for their pet’s comfort and safety, as well as for coworkers and other animals. Here are some considerations:

  • Bring a toy or two to keep the dog occupied.
  • Have a bed or designated area for it to rest away from commotion if the day gets too demanding and it needs a break.
  • Make sure it always has access to fresh water.
  • Plan for regular breaks for the dog to go outside for elimination purposes and pick up and dispose of any solid waste immediately.
  • Food and treats should be stored in pest-proof containers.
  • If the owner must leave the office, they should have an agreement with a willing coworker to monitor and care for their pet in their absence, including an emergency plan in place in case something happens when they’re away from work and the building needs to be evacuated. An agreement with a willing worker to evacuate their dog on their behalf and care for it until the dog and owner are reunited should be in place.
  • Make sure the office space is dog-proofed and safe for the animal. Dogs can come to harm by chewing on cords, accessing cleaning materials, or escaping unsecured areas.
  • Be prepared to take the dog home if if’s behavior or health makes it a nuisance or danger to people or other animals, or if asked to do so by their manager.


Bringing pets to work can bring a unique sense of joy and comfort to the workplace, but it comes with responsibilities and considerations. By following these best practices, you can create a pet-friendly environment that benefits both you and your colleagues. Remember that open communication and respect for others’ boundaries are key to making the experience enjoyable for everyone. With careful planning and a little extra effort, you can enjoy the perks of pet companionship at work while maintaining a productive and harmonious atmosphere.


Marcia Mayeda

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A Pawsitive Work Environment 1024 728 Animal Care and Control

A Pawsitive Work Environment

The Covid pandemic rewrote the social contract between employer and employee, creating new opportunities for work scheduling and locations. Employees discovered the benefits of working from home, achieving a better work-life balance by avoiding long commutes and other stressors associated with working outside of the home. One of those stressors includes leaving pets behind all day when they go to work.

As people consider returning to office-based work, new options are forming that guide their decisions. Allowing employees to bring their pets to work has taken off as an employer incentive to attract a committed workforce. There are so many benefits to allowing pets at work, and this option should really be considered by employers to attract and retain employees.

I can speak firsthand about the benefits of pets in the workplace. My dogs have always accompanied me to work, and coworkers bring theirs as well. Visitors to our offices love to get to know the animals and take selfies with them, while the dogs are thrilled to be spending time with the person they love all day long.

Pets at work transform the atmosphere at the workplace. The presence of pets has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Petting a friendly animal releases oxytocin, the “feel-good” hormone, which can help lower blood pressure and promote relaxation. Having a friendly furry face to interact with during a hectic workday can provide a much-needed mental break and help employees recharge their energy. Many times, coworkers in the office came to spend a few moments with my dogs just to take a break from staring at spreadsheets or documents on their computers.

Pet interactions often lead to impromptu conversations and shared moments of joy, strengthening relationships among colleagues. Contrary to common misconceptions, having pets in the office can boost productivity. Short breaks for petting or playing with animals can improve focus and prevent burnout. Additionally, the presence of pets has been linked to enhanced creativity. Their playful nature and ability to evoke a sense of wonder can spark fresh ideas and innovative thinking.

Pets are natural exercise companions. Having a dog around can encourage employees to take short breaks for walks, promoting physical activity and combatting the sedentary nature of desk jobs. These breaks not only benefit the employees’ health but also contribute to increased energy levels and mental clarity.

Allowing pets at work can alleviate the stress of leaving a beloved pet home alone for extended periods. Employees can enjoy the comfort of knowing their furry friend is nearby, making it easier to strike a balance between work responsibilities and personal well-being. They may even be willing to work a little later, not being worried about running home to attend to their pets.

Implementing a pet-friendly policy can set a company apart and attract pet-loving job seekers. It also demonstrates a commitment to employee well-being, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and higher employee retention rates.

The presence of pets in the workplace offers a myriad of benefits that extend beyond the adorable sights and sounds of furry companions. From stress reduction and improved well-being to increased productivity and creativity, the pawsitive impact of having pets at work cannot be denied. As companies continue to recognize the potential of this trend, the blend of professionalism and pet-friendly policies is proving to be a winning combination that fosters a happier, healthier, and more vibrant work environment for all.


Marcia Mayeda

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Anyway 1024 683 Animal Care and Control


Working in the animal welfare field can be an emotionally challenging career choice. Dealing with life and death situations, witnessing animal abuse and neglect, and struggling with limited resources when there is so much need has caused many in this field to leave and pursue other types of work.

However, a significant reason people leave the animal welfare field is from being on the receiving end of vitriolic attacks by anti-animal shelter critics. Personal attacks, threats against their safety (and that of their children), and constant barrages and trolling on social media have caused committed, passionate, and talented people to leave animal welfare. This is a sad result, as this field needs these people to keep elevating the welfare of animals in our society.

When I encounter these attacks, I am reminded of the poem “Anyway” by Mother Teresa, which hung on the wall of her home for children in Calcutta. Her poem is a variation of an earlier work, “The Paradoxical Commandments” by Dr. Kent Keith.

“Anyway” impactfully describes life’s challenges, and how and why to respond. I often share it with colleagues facing the same situation. It was written for everyone, not just those who work in animal welfare, and I hope it resonates with you. Here it is:


People are often unreasonable, illogical,
and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you
of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some
false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone
could destroy overnight.
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.


This poem reminds us that we should persevere and make our best endeavors, guided by the meaning and value of our work, despite people committed to undermining our efforts. Whether you are guided by God, as Mother Teresa was, or your conscience, integrity, or other intrinsic beliefs, these words ring true. We can’t control what goes on around us, but we can control our response to it.

When we live and work according to our values, we remain fulfilled that we have done our best. No matter what others say or do, we can be true to ourselves, anyway.


Marcia Mayeda

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Help DACC in its mission of helping animals by supporting the Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation:

When We Know Better, We Do Better 500 750 Animal Care and Control

When We Know Better, We Do Better

A big part of getting people to comply with the law depends on how well they can understand what they are expected to do. When I joined DACC, many parts of the Los Angeles County ordinance for animals – called Title 10 – hadn’t been updated for several decades. It was full of arcane legal gobbledygook that would give an aspirin a headache. How could we expect animal owners to follow the law, and officers to enforce it, if it was so difficult to decipher?


For example, the section requiring dog owners to pick up their dogs’ feces read:

“It is unlawful for the owner or person having custody of any dog or other animal to permit, either willfully or through failure to exercise due care or control, any such dog or animal to commit any nuisance and to allow such nuisance to thereafter remain upon any public or private property not owned or possessed by the owner or person in control of said animal, provided that the person who owns, harbors, keeps or has charge or control of a dog (other than a sightless person who has charge or control of a guide dog) shall immediately and securely enclose all feces deposited by such dog in a bag, wrapper or other container and dispose of the same in a sanitary manner. Any person (other than a sightless person with a guide dog) who has charge or control of a dog in a location other than on the property of such person or the property of the owner of the dog, shall have in his or her possession a suitable wrapper, bag or container (other than articles of personal clothing) for the purpose of complying with the requirements of this section. Failure of such person to carry such wrapper, bag or container when in charge or control of a dog in a location other than on property of such person or the property of the owner of the dog or animal shall constitute a violation of this section.”


The code never defined “nuisance” so how is a person supposed to understand this means feces removal? Also, this technically would apply to all animals – I don’t think the intent was ever to require equestrians to carry bags with them and remove pounds of manure. Finally, it required that people carry the bags – were our officers expected to stop and frisk people walking their dogs? And who in the world would use their personal clothing to pick up dog waste?


Over the past 22 years, we have made 14 changes to Title 10 to codify modern animal control expectations and make it more reflective of today’s animal keeping requirements. One significant way we improved Title 10 was applying a plain language standard to the ordinance. I worked with our County Counsel for more than two years to rewrite Title 10 to make the language clear, concise, organized, and appropriate for the intended audience. By using plain language and removing the onerous legal jargon, we reduced the number of words in Title 10 by 30 percent!


For example, the section quoted above now reads:

“A person who owns or has custody of a dog (except a visually impaired person with a guide dog) is required to remove the dog’s feces immediately from public property or private property not owned or possessed by the owner or custodian of the dog. The dog’s feces must be disposed of in a sanitary manner.”


These changes made Title 10 much more understandable for animal owners and easier for our officers to enforce. In fact, DACC and the Office of County Counsel won an award from the Los Angeles County Quality and Productivity Commission for the application of plain language to Title 10.


But we can do better than that. We have now translated Title 10 into Spanish and Mandarin. Los Angeles County is home to 1.4 million people whose primary language is Spanish, and more than 200,000 residents whose primary language is Chinese, predominantly Mandarin. By translating Title 10 into these languages, we have made Title 10 more accessible to these important communities.


Making animal laws understandable and accessible to pet owners helps maintain an informed community and ensures better care of animals. When we know better, we do better. DACC will continue to update Title 10 as needed and engage with our communities to ensure animals and people are protected.


Marcia Mayeda


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The Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)3 charity that raises money to support DACC in its mission of saving animals and keeping pets and families together. Learn more at

Exotic Pets = Poor Consequences 1024 875 Animal Care and Control

Exotic Pets = Poor Consequences

Since the days of Noah some people have been particularly drawn to owning exotic animals. While Noah was ordered to amass his collection to save animals from a flood, these days people obtain unusual pets for different reasons. Some are attracted to the animals’ appearances, others to the novelty and attention they receive for having them as pets.

While some “exotic” animals like bearded dragons, small boas, and some birds can live safely and happily with responsible pet owners, other species have greater difficulties making the adjustment.

Early in my career I learned about an exotic animal auction in southeast Missouri. The term, “exotic animal” generally refers to wild animals that are not native to that area, relatively rare, or unusual to keep. I had never seen an exotic animal auction before and decided to go to see first-hand what it was about.

I was amazed by the number and variety of animals – hundreds of animals of varying species were there for sale to the highest bidder. Some were innocuous, just rare breeds of domestic cattle and other livestock. Some were a little more unusual, such as camels and water buffalo. The zebras were interesting and, although they didn’t have any at the time I was there, I saw corrals for giraffes. I chose to skip the reptile barn!

It was unsettling to see animals that would live on the African savannah housed cheek by jowl with domestic livestock. When I went into the exotic bird building with hundreds of birds of varying species, I saw an African lion cub hidden in a dog crate beneath one of the bird tables. I wasn’t there in an enforcement capacity but was very troubled about how this cub was being marketed. It was terrified, and I suspected it was there illegally.

There is a lucrative trade in exotic animals, and many of the animals suffer as a result. Endangered species may be captured in the wild to be sold through underground channels, further endangering that species’ ability to survive and thrive in its natural environment. Many die during capture or transit before they can even be sold. Others may not be endangered but are purchased by people who do not have the knowledge nor means to provide proper care. The animals can suffer and even die as a result.

Many times the animals become unmanageable for the owners. The lucky ones are surrendered to an accredited and well-managed sanctuary where they will receive the care they need by knowledgeable professionals. Others aren’t so fortunate and are abandoned to their fate. Reggie the American Alligator was abandoned by his owners into Machado Lake in Los Angeles around 2005. This is an urban park where children and pets play. After a lengthy series of attempts, Reggie was safely captured in 2007 and transferred to his current habitat at the Los Angeles Zoo. Thank goodness no people or pets were harmed or killed by Reggie while he was in the lake.

However, other animals aren’t so lucky and die painful deaths because they are not able to survive in the wild, either because it’s not their natural habitat or there are predators or lack of resources to sustain them. On the other hand, many irresponsible and thoughtless snake owners have released their pythons and other constrictors in the Florida Everglades. These snakes flourish in the rich environment, but with few predators they have wreaked havoc on the native ecosystem and many native species have become endangered due to their presence.

There are about a dozen species of non-native parrots living wild in southern California. Flocks of several hundred can be seen flying together, filling the skies with their calls. They are either escaped or released pets or were released by illegal bird smugglers to avoid being caught. The mild climate and abundance of fruit trees make this area appealing for them, and the parrots have thrived here for decades. However, one must wonder about the impact on native birds and the environment.

Animals of all species should be admired, treasured, and respected. Turning exotic animals into pets without having the ability, knowledge, and resources to provide good care for them causes pain, suffering, and threats to people and other animals. A better way to show one’s admiration for these animals would be through donations to trustworthy animal charities that care for and protect the animals in the wild, or in accredited sanctuaries. By thinking of these animals as creatures to be protected instead of personal property we can ensure better care and outcomes for them all.


Marcia Mayeda

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Protecting Animals in Grooming Facilities 586 459 Animal Care and Control

Protecting Animals in Grooming Facilities

Third in a Series of Blogs about Los Angeles County Code Title 10 – Animals

More than twenty years ago we had five large dogs (a Newfoundland, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, and a Samoyed/Australian Shepherd cross). They were all house pets, of course, and we spent a lot of time making sure they were well-groomed. We even had a raised bathtub in our garage with hot water to give them their baths, and the neighborhood kids loved helping me bathe and groom them.


These days we have even bigger and hairier dogs (three Great Pyrenees and a Golden Retriever) but finding the time and physical stamina to groom them is more difficult now. Fortunately, there is a wonderful pet grooming business near my home where I can take them. The groomers do a terrific job, and my back doesn’t ache and the end of the day!


Many people rely on professional groomers to keep their beloved pets clean and trimmed. We put our faith in groomers to treat our pets humanely and provide a safe and healthy environment for them. We aren’t there to monitor our animals and rely on the groomers’ professionalism and love for animals to ensure our pets have a good experience.


Most groomers are ethical, compassionate, and skilled. However, there have been instances of animal abuse, neglect, and even death in grooming facilities. These have included strangulations on the grooming noose, death from overheating in an enclosed cage dryer, or injuries by untrained personnel. For these reasons, Los Angeles County Code Title 10 sets forth the following conditions for grooming operations, including mobile groomers:


10.40.020 – Animal Facilities for Grooming.

Animal facilities where animals are bathed or groomed for compensation must comply with the following provisions in addition to all other applicable requirements in this chapter 10.40 relating to animal facilities and the care of animals.


A. Consultation. A consultation with the customer must take place prior to the grooming to discuss the animal’s health and temperament concerns and to establish the animal’s previous grooming history. The topics covered in the consultation must include current medical issues of the animal and be listed on a form that is signed by both a facility employee and the customer.


B. Equipment.

a. All tethering devices must be equipped with a quick-release feature.
b. Grooming nooses, chokers, slip collars, pinch collars, and prong collars cannot be used as tethering devices.
c. Any tethering device, harness, or restraint used must be of appropriate style, size, and strength for the animal for which it is used.
d. Animals with disc disease of the neck, or a collapsed trachea or other breathing problems, must not be tethered or restrained in such a
manner that inhibits the animal’s ability to breathe. All reasonable efforts must be made to reduce or prevent pressure to the neck
and airways of the animal.
e. Grooming loops and tethering devices must be fastened to the animal in a manner that minimizes discomfort to the animal. Animals with
known medical or temperament issues must be tethered in a manner that does not create unnecessary discomfort for the animal.

2. Grooming arms. Grooming arms that restrain the animal to the grooming table must be strong enough to safely and securely restrain the animal.

3. Tabletops. Grooming tabletops must be equipped with a non-slip surface that is easy to clean.

4. Floor. Bath tubs and the floor immediately outside of the tubs must be covered in a non-slip surface.

5. Dryers
a. Cage or box dryers with a fully enclosed drying chamber in which the animal is placed, with heating elements and without safety vents,
are prohibited.
b. Dryers must be located in a place where the drying animals will be monitored by staff.
c. Pets in cage dryers must be observed at least every fifteen (15) minutes to ensure they are not overheating and the dryer is functioning
d. Malfunctioning dryers are not permitted to be used.


C. Housing. Each animal must be kept in a separate enclosure unless the customer asks that the animal be kept with another animal(s), and the enclosure is sufficiently large enough to accommodate the increased number of animals.


D. Veterinary Care. All grooming facilities must have a working relationship with and written acknowledgment from a veterinarian to provide timely veterinary care as appropriate for illness or injury. The name, address, phone number, and hours of operation of the veterinarian must be posted.


E. Permission of Owner/Custodian. The owner or custodian of the animal must give written permission to use an anti-bark collar, shock collar, sedatives, or any other medication.


F. Cleanliness.
1. All cages, benches, tables, and tubs must be sanitized after each animal has used the space.
2. Brushes, combs, and clipper blades must be sanitized before using on each animal.
3. The hair or fur on the floor of each grooming station must be removed after each animal receives a haircut.
4. Common areas of the facility must be kept in good repair and cleaned every business day.


G. Water. Water must be offered to animals at the facility at least once every three hours. Water dishes must be cleaned and sanitized between uses on each animal.


H. Staffing.
1. An animal grooming facility must have a manager or other responsible person on the premises acting as the manager, who is qualified as
a groomer under subsection H.2. to supervise employees while they are grooming animals.
2. Groomers who are employed by the licensee are not permitted to work without supervision on any animal unless the groomer has:
a. Obtained certification for his or her level of responsibility from a nationally recognized pet grooming organization approved
by the Director; or
b. Graduated from an animal grooming school or vocational grooming training and has at least one year of grooming experience; or
c. Completed an animal grooming apprenticeship program for at least one year commensurate with his or her level of



Utilizing the services of a professional groomer can make pet ownership easier and more enjoyable. Ensuring the safe and humane treatment of animals in grooming facilities is an important responsibility and Los Angeles County Code Title 10 sets strong and reasonable rules for their operations. It is yet another way DACC protects animals in Los Angeles County.


What else does DACC do to protect animals? Swap meet sales, backyard breeding, guard dog business operations, rodeos, and wild animal exhibitions are other animal activities regulated by Title 10. Stay tuned to this blog to learn more!


Marcia Mayeda

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Commercial Breeding Facilities – Part Two in a Series of Protecting Animals 764 429 Animal Care and Control

Commercial Breeding Facilities – Part Two in a Series of Protecting Animals

In last month’s blog I wrote about the general animal caretaking requirements set forth in Los Angeles County Code Section 10.40.010. Those requirements apply to both pet owners as well as operators of commercial animal facilities such as grooming salons, boarding kennels, wild animal facilities, and pet shops. However, there are additional requirements set forth in Section 10.40.200 that apply directly to commercial pet breeding facilities.


These requirements are necessary to ensure the proper care of animals in these facilities. Substandard facilities, known as “puppy mills,” have rightly earned very bad reputations for the animal neglect, poor genetics, and general inhumane conditions of animals at the facilities. I personally witnessed many of these conditions when I lived in Kansas, where the animal shelter I worked at assisted the Kansas Attorney General and the state animal welfare inspectors in rescuing animals from many such places.


Los Angeles County does have commercial dog breeders, mostly located in the rural areas of the Antelope Valley in northern Los Angeles County. Los Angeles County Code Section 10.40.200 sets forth strong measures to ensure the animals in these facilities receive proper care. These include:

  1. Requirements for adequate staffing: Breeding facilities with fewer than 50 sexually intact dogs must have adequate staffing on the premises of the facility at least eight hours in every 24-hour period, and the dogs must not be left unattended for longer than 12 continuous hours. Breeding facilities with 51 or more dogs must have adequate staffing at the facility 18 hours a day. Whenever the dogs are left unattended, the telephone number of the Department of Animal Care and Control, or the name, address, and telephone number of the responsible person, must be posted in a conspicuous place at the front of the property so we can be alerted if there is an emergency.


  1. Breeding facilities with 51 or more intact dogs are re-inspected more than the customary annual inspection, based on the number of animals, up to five additional annual re-inspections. That means our officers visit the larger facilities every other month to check on the animals and ensure they are being properly maintained.


  1. The animal facility must provide a written medical program, approved by a California licensed veterinarian, to prevent and control illness and parasitism. The program must include a regular de-worming schedule and a regular vaccination schedule against commonly transmitted canine diseases and be updated annually.


  1. The animal facility maintains records on site, demonstrating that an annual veterinary examination has been performed on each sexually intact dog over one year of age. The record of each exam must reflect that a physical exam consisting of auscultation and palpation, and a visual evaluation of the dog including eyes, ears, mouth and general body condition was performed. The record of each exam must also include the weight, temperature, heart rate, respiration, any significant medical findings relating to the dog’s condition, and any recommendations for treatment.


  1. The animal facility obtains approval from the Director of an emergency response plan, which is updated annually.


  1. Health of Breeding Dogs: A female unaltered dog must be at least 12 months old before being bred to prevent the breeding of underage female dogs. Records of litters birthed are required to be maintained. Offspring may not be removed from the premises earlier than eight weeks of age except for medical reasons ordered by a California licensed veterinarian to prevent the selling of underage puppies. The order must be in writing, state the medical reason for early separation, and be provided to the Department, if requested, up to two years after its issuance.


  1. Housing Requirements: Each pregnant dog must be housed separately at least three days before giving birth and be monitored at reasonable intervals. A dog who has just given birth must be provided with a contained nesting area and housed with her litter in their own run or enclosure until the newborns are weaned. This prevents the practice in puppy mills where pregnant and nursing female dogs must share enclosures with other adult dogs, placing them and their puppies in danger.


  1. Dog Identification and Recordkeeping: Current records must be maintained and produced upon request to determine licensing compliance or for any other purpose relating to the public health, safety, or welfare. These records must be provided to a purchaser of any dog sold or transferred to another person by the facility. All dogs must be microchipped or tattooed upon reaching the age of four months or prior to sale or transfer, whichever is earlier. Microchip and tattoo records must be kept for all dogs. In addition to the records required by California Health and Safety Code sections 122050 and 122055 relating to dogs, breeding facilities must keep the following records for all dogs: the date and from whom the dog was acquired; the date of each litter birthed by each female animal; veterinary records; and the cause of death and the method of disposal. Knowingly providing false information or records relating to any animal is a misdemeanor.


  1. Reasonable Restrictions on the Breeding of Animals Other Than Dogs: Breeders of animals, other than dogs, that are normally kept as pets for sale or exchange in return for consideration, must comply with all applicable requirements of Section 10.40.010. In addition, the Director may impose reasonable conditions on a breeding license, including a limitation on the number of animals permitted at a facility, and may impose recordkeeping requirements, in the interest of the health and safety of the public and of the animals.



The penalties for violations of any provision of Section 10.40.200 are as follows: A first violation is an infraction punishable by a fine of up to $250. If the owner or custodian fails to correct the underlying cause of the violation within 30 days after being notified of the violation, it is a second violation. A violation within a year of a first violation is a second violation. A second violation is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the County jail for up to six months or by a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Each subsequent violation within one year of the first violation is an additional misdemeanor.


Any act or failure to act in violation of this Section may be the subject of a civil action to ensure compliance. The filing and prosecution of an action does not limit the authority or ability of the County to enforce the requirements of Section 10.40.200 or to impose penalties or take any other action permitted by law.


The full text of this ordinance can be found here:


Unfortunately there isn’t a way to codify the genetic soundness of puppies produced in these facilities. For that reason, people purchasing puppies that originated in commercial breeding facilities and usually sold through pet stores or online should always be mindful of the potential of purchasing a puppy with genetic deficiencies. Some of these can be life-ending or require expensive and time consuming management for the lifetime of the dog. Of course, I always recommend you find your next puppy or dog at your local animal shelter. There are many wonderful animals at the shelters just waiting to be your best friend for life!


Commercial breeding facilities aren’t the only animal facilities where Los Angeles County inspects and monitors the care of animals. In the next blog I will tell you how we ensure the proper care of animals in grooming facilities, where our beloved furry friends go to look their best. Our requirements ensure that your pets are properly cared for behind the scenes, and lets you know what you can expect from your grooming facility.


Marcia Mayeda

Protecting Animals in Los Angeles County – First in a Series 791 1024 Animal Care and Control

Protecting Animals in Los Angeles County – First in a Series

Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” There is no better way to ensure the humane treatment of animals than enacting comprehensive, sensible laws to codify and enforce society’s expectations of how they will be protected.


This premise is what prompted me to move to California in 1993. Protecting animals in the Midwest was difficult due to the paucity of animal welfare laws on the books. In Kansas, I witnessed the horrific conditions in the commercial dog breeding facilities known as “puppy mills”, where dogs were kept in extremely poor conditions with scant nutrition and little to no medical care. Their sole purpose was to produce as many puppies as possible, with no regard to their genetic soundness. Other deficiencies included allowing dogs to live their lives on chains in the backyards, a cruel existence for man’s best friend who wants nothing more to be part of a family. Animal welfare laws were no more than a paragraph or two and rarely enforced. Municipal ordinances were also lacking and outdated.


In California, a much more robust set of laws exists to protect animals in a myriad of settings. In fact, the laws are so extensive that an entire 800+ page book can be purchased from the California Animal Welfare Association, which contains all laws regarding animals in California. Not all are related to animal protection, but also protecting people from dangerous animals, wildlife laws, veterinary medicine laws, and more. It is very rewarding to have a bigger toolkit to protect animals and promote kindness and compassion.


But protecting animals falls on local enforcement – the animal control and humane officers who work every day to make life better for the animals in our communities. In this regard, our local ordinances have focused effect on reflecting our expectations for animal care. In Los Angeles County, the governing ordinance regarding animals is Los Angeles County Code Title 10.


I am very proud of Title 10. In the 21 ½ years I have been with DACC, it has been amended 14 times. Each amendment improved protections for animals and people and has made Title 10 (in my opinion) the strongest local animal ordinance in the country. Many municipalities rarely update their local ordinances, and some can date back decades to their last change. Title 10 has continued to evolve and be amended as we identified areas for improvement, the need to address animal welfare issues, and the desire to protect public safety. This post begins a limited series of Title 10’s robust protections for animals and people in Los Angeles County.
In this post I will discuss the general requirements for animal care. This applies to everyone – individual animal owners as well as operators of animal facilities such as grooming salons, boarding kennels, wild animal facilities, and pet shops. These requirements are found in Los Angeles County Code Section 10.40.010. Failure to comply with any requirement is a misdemeanor. These requirements are:


A. Housing facilities for animals must be structurally sound and maintained in good repair to protect the animals from injury, contain the animals, and restrict the entrance of other animals.
B. All animals must be supplied with sufficient food and water suitable for the age, species, and nutritional requirements of the animal. Animals must have access at all times to potable water, unless otherwise directed by a veterinarian. All animal food must be properly stored to prevent contamination, infestation by vermin, and exposure to the elements.
C. Animals must be groomed and kept in a manner that is not injurious to their health. All animal buildings or enclosures must be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition to control odors and prevent the spread of disease.
D. All animals must be maintained in a manner to eliminate excessive and nighttime noise.
E. No animals may be without attention for more than 12 consecutive hours; whenever an animal is left unattended at a commercial animal facility, the telephone number of the Department, or the name, address, and telephone number of the responsible person, must be posted in a conspicuous place at the front of the property. Animal facilities that breed dogs must comply with the applicable minimum staffing requirements set forth in Section 10.40.200.
F. Animals may not be neglected, teased, abused, mistreated, annoyed, tormented, or in any manner made to suffer.
G. No condition may be maintained or permitted that is or could be injurious to the animals.
H. Tethering of animals is prohibited except as permitted under California Health and Safety Code section 122335.
I. Animal buildings and enclosures must be constructed and maintained to prevent escape of animals. All reasonable precautions must be taken to protect the animals and the public.
J. An animal facility must isolate sick animals so as to not endanger the health of other animals.
K. A building or enclosure for animals must be kept in a sanitary condition and in good repair, and must be constructed of material easily cleaned. The building must be properly ventilated to prevent drafts and to remove odors. Heating and cooling must be provided to meet the physical need of the animals, with sufficient light to allow observation of the animals and proper sanitation. An animal facility must be equipped with working smoke alarms and have means of fire suppression, such as a sprinkler system in each room where animals are kept, or functioning fire extinguishers.
L. An animal must be taken to a veterinarian for examination or treatment if the Director orders the owner or custodian to do so.
M. All animal enclosures, including, but not limited to, rooms, cages, and kennel runs, must be of sufficient size to provide adequate and proper accommodations for the animals housed there. An enclosure with a wire bottom may be used temporarily for dogs, and only if it complies with Health and Safety Code sections 122065 and 122065.5. If enclosures, such as crates and other mobile enclosures, are stacked upon one another, or on a surface other than the floor, the crates/enclosures must be securely fastened and designed and arranged so that: there is no danger of an enclosure falling; the animals do not have direct access to one another; and waste from one enclosure cannot be transmitted to another enclosure. Food and water containers must be secured to prevent spillage. Crates may be stacked no more than two crates high.
N. A violation of an ordinance must be corrected within the time specified by the Director.
O. Proper shelter and protection from the weather must be provided at all times.
P. An animal must not be given any alcoholic beverage, unless prescribed by a veterinarian.
Q. Animals that are natural enemies, temperamentally unsuited or otherwise incompatible, must not be housed together, or so near each other as to cause injury, fear, or torment. Two or more animals can be housed together if they do not harm each other.
R. Any tack, equipment, device, substance, or material that is, or could be, injurious or cause unnecessary cruelty to any animal may not be used.
S. Working animals must be given adequate rest periods. Confined or restrained animals must be given appropriate exercise.
T. An animal that is weak, exhausted, sick, injured, lame, or otherwise unfit may not be worked or used.
U. An animal that the Department has suspended from use may not be worked or used until released by the Department.
V. Animals bearing evidence of malnutrition, ill health, unhealed injury, or having been kept in an unsanitary condition may not be displayed.
W. An animal whose appearance is or may be offensive or contrary to public decency may not be displayed.
X. No animal may be allowed to constitute or cause a hazard, or be a menace to the health, peace, or safety of the community.
Y. A person may not violate any condition imposed by the Director on any license issued by the Department.


Los Angeles County Code Section 10.40.010 provides comprehensive requirements to ensure the humane treatment of animals and proper general management of animal facilities. In addition, further requirements regarding the operation of commercial animal breeding facilities go farther to protect animals housed in these situations. In my next blog I will tell you how Los Angeles County goes above and beyond in protecting these animals. Stay tuned!



Marcia Mayeda

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