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Clearance Pets for Christmas

Wanted: A Home for the Holidays | The South LA Animal Service Center is home to hundreds of dogs and cats all looking for permanent homes this holiday season.

Safe Haven | The South LA Animal Service Center takes in animals of all kinds regardless of breed, age, and health.

South LA Animal Service Center | This animal shelter serves most of South Los Angeles including the Exposition and Jefferson Park areas.

Kitten Crush | Many kittens and cats in the center were victims of hoarding situations and malnutrition.

South LA is Unique | There are specific issues that come along with this Animal Service Center's Location. Animal Care Technician Matthew Spease explains.

Tiny Paws | The center recieves mostly large dogs, but small dogs like this one make up a large number of the animals here.

By Alexa Liacko

The South LA Animal Service Center is a 24-hour facility. The days start at midnight, there is staff on call seven days a week, and space is tight. Animal Care Technician Supervisor Matthew Spease says even though it isn’t as crowded there as it has been, the center is holding, “right in the neighborhood of 500 animals, and at our peak in the summer we had around 600 animals. We are going to do our best, but we are almost full.”

 Full of almost every kind of animal: “We’ve had chickens, we’ve had pigeons, ducks, ferrets, even though they’re illegal. You’ll get owls, hawks, coyotes, skunks, raccoons, possums, it runs across the whole board,” said Spease. A few months ago, a blue-footed booby was brought in. “You never know what you’re going to see.” These unusual finds come in addition to the typical dogs, cats, and rabbits that the shelter holds en masse.

With so many animals coming in, it’s impossible to keep these animals for any extended period of time. Spease said they keep some animals for as long as three months if they can. “We try to stretch it as long as we can for all the adoptable animals to give them the best chance. We coordinate with rescue groups, mobile pet adoptions…We try and do all that we can to get that animal placed.”

Adopt 'til you drop! Click Slideshow to play.
This December, the South LA Animal Services Center is providing Angelinos with even more incentive to adopt a furry friend for the family.

This month, the center was given the opportunity to hold on to a few more animals through a special donation. “We have some donors that have been giving money to help us out, so we started a special adoption event that’s now going on. We have been doing $25 adoptions on the weekends for all of December,” Spease explained.

This rate is a huge reduction from the usual $122 for dogs and $76 for cats, and the services that rate covers make it an even bigger incentive to adopt this month.

“That rate takes care of the spay or neuter, the vaccinations, the micro-chipping and the licensing, so its really a pretty good deal,” Spease said.

And even thought it’s only been a week and a half, Spease said they’re excited about the results. “It’s been very helpful. On the weekends we’ve seen a large influx of adoptions over what we would normally see, maybe two or three times the numbers just because we have this promotion going on. It’s been really good.”

“The good news is, because of this, a lot of my favorites have actually gotten adopted over the last couple weeks,” Spease said with a smile.

The center has some warnings for pet buyers though this holiday season. One, don’t buy a pet as a gift for a friend. “People sometimes go get a puppy or a kitten and think it’s going to be great, and then they realize it’s actually going to be a lot of work. So, in the second and third week of January, you will see more of those younger animals coming in, and it’s just unnecessary.”

The South LA Animal Service Center has an easy way you can still give the gift of furry friendship. “We’ve had gift certificates that people can get, and sometimes we try to get them to give that instead of coming in to get someone an animal. While they mean well by giving someone an animal, it may not fit that person’s lifestyle.”

The after Christmas return is something the center is worried about but hopes their December adoption promotion will bring in more families dedicated to keeping the pets for life. Even though this month’s adoptions are going really well, Spease says there are always tough moments in this job.

“If you think about it, we are kind of fighting a war here. We’re trying to save as many animals that we can, and while things are slowly getting better, while it seems like we’re making more progress at getting more animals out, there’s still those times that you don’t. So you have to remember the ones that get into those homes when you have to deal with the ones who don’t.”

However, in the end, there is only one thing Spease and his colleagues can think about. “Any time we get an animal out into a loving home, that’s one of the most rewarding things. That’s what you always look at: the positives of the job, every little battle that you win, no matter how small.”

Maybe this month’s donations allowing double the animals to find a home this holiday season is just one battle, but it is beyond rewarding for Matthew Spease. “It’s got a good purpose behind it. We’re trying to help people and help the animals, and there’s no better feeling when you work as hard as you can to help them get a new life and a better life to find a loving home.”

That brings being home for the holidays a whole new meaning, and the animals of the South LA Animal Services Center are certainly waiting for someone to find that meaning this December.


Puppies too!
The center receives grown dogs, but it also gets numerous puppies like this mix here. Click HERE to see the animals the shelter has to offer.
Top Breeds
Pitbulls and Chihuauas are the two most popular breeds this shelter has, but they have everything from poodles to german shepherds as well.