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The Superior Court in Los Angeles struck two blows against animal mistreatment in Los Angeles County ’s six animal shelters by giving Plaintiffs the first two victories in their lawsuit.

A lawsuit filed by the national No Kill Advocacy Center, Cathy Nguyen, a volunteer animal rescuer, and Rebecca Arvizu, a Los Angeles County taxpayer and animal rescuer, against Los Angeles County, its Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC), and the Department’s Director, Marcia Mayeda, alleges unlawful and abusive treatment of animals at all six Los Angeles County animal shelters.

Among the allegations in the complaint, the County Department of Animal Care and Control routinely:

Kills healthy and treatable animals before their state mandated holding period expires;
Misclassifies animals as “ill” or “injured” in order to kill them before their holding period expires even though the animals are not irremediably suffering as required by state law;
Kills lost animals without making reasonable attempts to find the animals’ owners;
Fails to provide adequate veterinary care to impounded animals, resulting in animal deaths;
Fails to provide adequate nutrition, water, shelter and exercise to impounded animals and to treat the animals humanely and kindly;
Refuses to release animals to rescue groups that are willing to care for the animals until adoptive homes can be found and, instead, kills the animals.
In addition, the lawsuit alleges that DACC unlawfully violated the civil rights of Plaintiff Nguyen by retaliating against her for publicizing its unlawful treatment of animals.

The County replied by filing a motion to dismiss the case arguing, in essence, that the County has complete discretion to determine:

Whether and when the County may lawfully kill an animal;
Whether and when the County is obligated to provide veterinary treatment to an animal in its care; and
Whether and when the County should release to willing rescue groups animals that the County otherwise plans to kill.
In addition, the County argued that, even if it is violating the law or treating animals inhumanely, concerned citizens should not be allowed to force the County to stop.

Attorneys for Plaintiffs disagreed and opposed the County’s motion to dismiss. Characterizing the County’s arguments as “wrong” and even “spurious,” the Court overruled the County’s motion and ruled in favor of the Plaintiffs that they should be allowed to go to trial on their claims.

In addition, attorneys for Plaintiffs filed a motion asking the court to order DACC to allow Cathy Nguyen, who was barred from saving animals at the shelters as retribution for publicizing shelter atrocities, to continue saving animals on DACC’s death row. The County claimed it did not retaliate but was unable to offer credible evidence to the contrary. As a result, the Court entered an order prohibiting DACC from taking further retaliatory action against Ms. Nguyen.

The one-two blow against DACC provides powerful support for Plaintiffs’ arguments that DACC routinely violates the law at the expense of saving animals. The lawsuit is being handled by the Los Angeles law firm of Eisenberg Raizman Thurston and Wong, LLP.

“DACC shelters are spending public tax dollars to kill and mistreat animals, they are blaming the public for the killing, they are doing the killing in our name, and we are supposed to accept that without recourse,” said Nathan J. Winograd, director of the No Kill Advocacy Center. “Unfortunately, we are not paying the ultimate price. That price is being paid by the animals who are unfortunate enough to enter the shelter system. And we can’t sit back and do nothing.”

For a media kit, which including copies of the rulings, Demand Letter the Plaintiffs sent to Ms. Mayeda before filing their lawsuit, letter protesting the Department’s retaliation, Complaint, and high resolution images and video of filthy conditions and animal suffering in Los Angeles County’s shelter system, click here.

Help us pay for the legal costs, to make a donation, click here.
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