Lynwood creates animal control division using parking officers

LYNWOOD – Pet owners in the City of Lynwood will now be turning to the city’s new Animal Control Division for all of their animal control services and needs. Lynwood’s new Animal Control Division, manned by four of the city’s parking control officers who have been retrained to handle animal control services, officially launched Nov. 1 and allows the city to respond to all animal control calls in Lynwood, handle animal licensing and ensure that pet owners follow the care and safety guidelines of owning a pet.

Over the years, Lynwood has contracted with the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control for animal control services, but staff shortages at the county level were prolonging response times for animal control services too long – and requiring city staff to respond instead, Lynwood officials said.

As a result, Parking Enforcement Division Manager JD Whitaker and his officers were finding themselves working a bit out of class to respond to emergency animal control calls – some of which couldn’t wait for the county to respond.

Whitaker said he and his staff didn’t mind doing double duty.

“A lot of these situations required immediate attention, or a humanitarian touch, there was no time to wait a few days for the County, so we jumped right in,” said Whitaker.

An avid dog lover, Whitaker said he found his new role to be a natural fit.

“I love dogs. We were already out there patrolling the community so it was predestined for us to jump right in when the need was there,” he said. “Parking Enforcement will continue to be our main focus, but when a litter of kittens is dumped in an alley, or a dog is abandoned near the freeway off-ramp, or when a pet is hit by a car or abused by its owner, these types of calls need immediate attention. I’m happy the City Council believed in the need.”

Lynwood’s new in-house Animal Control Division went live on July 1, with Whitaker and three of his Parking Enforcement officers being re-trained as animal control officers. Whitaker himself is now certified by the National Animal Care and Control Association.

Since then, the Division has performed animal control services while maintaining the existing service levels of parking enforcement city-wide. The Division has been conducting enforcement of all applicable animal laws, removing deceased animals from the public right-of-way and conducting live capture and transport of stray animals running at large.

While Lynwood’s new Animal Control Division will be handling most Animal Control-related issues, the County is still going to continue to provide shelter and kennel services of animals impounded by the Division.

“Out of necessity, the Parking Enforcement Division started performing animal control related duties, and it has worked,” said Whitaker. “The community is very happy with the response times and our effectiveness. As Parking Enforcement Officers we spend the majority of our work day out in the field patrolling the community, and we could not simply ignore situations where animals were at risk of hurting the general public or themselves. From removing deceased animals from the streets and alleyways, to retrieving a live litter of puppies dumped in a garbage can, the city’s new Animal Control Division has been in the making for a long time.”

Bringing Animal Control Services in-house wasn’t about increasing employee’s pay, or even about saving the city close to $120,000 a year, said Whitaker.

“More than anything it was about offering our residents a better service for less money. It had become a service that someone else was being paid to do, but we were doing it,” he said. “By bringing it in-house, animal control services are being provided in a more timely manner and less dogs are running amok throughout our community.”

Over the last two months, the city’s new Animal Control Division has recovered 103 dogs, 21 cats, 2 roosters and one injured Cooper’s hawk.

It has also removed 41 deceased animals from city streets and alleys.



Published: Nov. 20, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 32