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Pets To Be Left Unsupervised Overnight At L.A. Animal Shelters?

Updated at the bottom: The head of Animal Services is putting the idea off until at least next month. First posted at 9:08 a.m.

Pets staying the night at L.A.'s city animal shelters might be left home alone.

A proposal to nix graveyard-shift "night care" at the shelters has some labor leaders and animal-rights activists snarling.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 721 will hoof it over to City Hall this morning to demand that stray dogs and cats ...

... get more than a security guard at night.

Those concerned, including actress Maria Conchita Alonso, plan to show their support for a motion by Councilman Paul Koretz that would block the proposal.

The idea to cut the shelters' work force, the SEIU says, comes from Los Angeles Animal Services general manager Brenda Barnett:

Pets To Be Left Unsupervised Overnight At L.A. Animal Shelters?

Barnett is seeking to remove Animal Care Technicians from working the graveyard shift (12 midnight to 8 a.m.) at all six LA city animal shelters and replace them with security guards.

James Scott is one of the people whose job would be cut. He says:

I've worked graveyard shift for six years. We staff shelters at all hours to make sure animals get the care they deserve. We do it for the animals, the homeless animals. Animals need care all night long.

Do you think strays deserve 24-hour vigilance on the taxpayers' dime? Weigh in below.

Meanwhile, the activists will be at City Hall council chambers downtown starting at 10 a.m.

[Update at 1:40 p.m.]: In a memo obtained by the Weekly, Barnett told her staff she's putting off the proposal until after the public has a chance to weigh in during an April 8 town hall meeting.

She says she's dealing with "challenging times" and has a budget for staffing six shelters that really only covers those costs for four of them.

Staffing is down 22 percent but shelter space is up 167 percent, Barnett says. Moreover, the animal chief says there are shelters in Orange County, Long Beach, Pasadena and Riverside that operate without overnight animal-care technicians on-duty.

More from her memo:

We do not want to close another shelter and we do not have a private partner "in the wings" to operate one of our six shelters if we do not have adequate personnel to safely keep them open.

... We studied that shelter activities during the graveyard shift and were disappointed to learn that many animal deaths that occurred during the night were not discovered until the day shift arrived the next morning.

We believe eliminating the graveyard shift and using security is a prudent management move and one that benefits both employee welfare and one that will improve services to animals ...

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]