Barking and bustling at South L.A.’s newest animal shelter

Listen to the audio story by Annenberg Radio News

As you’re driving down Western Avenue in South LA, you might notice the jagged streets and boarded up stores. But what you may not expect to see is a modern oasis for animals. This “oasis” is the new South Los Angeles Animal Services Center that opened Thursday in Chesterfield Square.

Woman holding puppy

Woman holds a puppy at the opening of South L.A. Animal Services Center.


“You can bring your dog in for micro-chipping, and we will have a spay neuter clinic,” said the shelter’s director Jan Selder. “We offer adoptions, of course, every day, and advice, so we just want this to service the community in a complete way that the community needs.”

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke at the opening. He emphasized the vastness of the shelter, which is the city’s second largest at 258 kennels.

“When a stray pitbull is found wandering in the middle of a busy street or when a box of kittens have been mercilessly left in a parking lot, they’ll be able to find safety and comfort in the 258 kennels and two cat rooms of the South L.A. Animal Shelter,” Villaraigosa said.

According to L.A. Animal Services, 26,000 to 44,000 stray dogs wander the streets of L.A. The problem is especially acute in South LA.

“Just the other day, I was at the pool, and I saw two stray animals running across the street. And working for the city, I know what the numbers are, so I really just hope that we can improve upon our statistics,” said Christal Chacon, who works in administration at LA Animal Services.

The building is completely LEED certified, which means it is energy-efficient and uses recycled material. According to the architect, Rania Alomar, the building is LEED-silver, meaning it received a high ranking for its energy efficiency.The architecture firm, RA-DA, focused on building a facility that is open and accessible to the outside.

“You really don’t go inside that much,” said Alomar. “It’s mostly an outdoor facility, which is great for the kennels because there’s no odors and sound can be mitigated more easily.”

Mural at shelter

Colorful mural decorates the new South L.A. Animal Services Center.

Working with landscaper, Leslie Rowe, of LV Rowe Gardens, the duo worked to create a garden and natural-aesthetic as oppposed to looking just like a kennel. Rowe created a drought-tolerant landscape with an outdoor home for the animals.

“It’s very much focused on these courtyards with trees for the animals, so they’re not staring straight across from each other which tends to be a little more nerve-racking for them,” Rowe said.

All of the dogs and cats at the shelter are available for adoption. Each dog is around $83 and each cat is around $50.

Selder said she wanted to “give a voice” to these animals with this facility.

As people took a tour of the modern energy-efficient facility with gardens and local art-work adorning the building, barking and laughter flooded the streets of South L.A.

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