The city taketh — and now taketh some more. Citing the economic downturn, Los Angeles' Animal Services Department recently pulled the plug on its funding of the spay/neuter vouchers it had subsidized for low-income pet owners. The City Council had previously approved snipping $200,000 from the 2008 budget related to the vouchers — then OK'd another $100,000 cut. The abrupt, unilateral ending of the department's $30 discount coupons and $70 full-fee vouchers comes barely half a year after the city declared that all cats and dogs not involved in breeding programs must be sterilized, placing the poor in a Catch-22 bind.

Daniel Guss and friend

While there is some buzz about the City Council moving soon to undo the

Animal Services fiat, buzz isn't something that helps pet owners. To

that end Daniel Guss, a writer who has run the STAND Foundation

for seven years, is using a $10,000 grant to fill as much of this new service vacuum as he can in South L.A. and parts of the San Fernando

Valley. By contacting his charity

at, low-income pet owners will be set up with

appointments at participating veterinarian offices operated by the

Clinico nonprofit organization. Although his stated goal is to have large-breed dogs spayed or

neutered, flea-inspected, inocculated and microchipped, Guss says he'll do the same for small-dog and cat

owners, as long as there's money.

Guss' foundation is unusual in that it provides vet services to homeless pet owners and to those who live with their animals in vehicles. As he

tells it, he's no activist but “one guy trying to do what he can do —

and better than the government can.”  In the meantime, Guss is keeping his fingers crossed that the

city will start doing a little more giveth than taketh when it comes to

animal services.

LA Weekly