I recently visited the West Valley Animal Care Center on Plummer Street in Chatsworth. The city of Los Angeles no longer uses the term "Animal Shelter"; apparently it's too restrictive, or perhaps not euphemistic enough. This was the first time I had been there since the recent, major renovation, and I was pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, this will sound as though I am damning it with faint praise: it is now the nicest animal shelter I've ever seen.
The whole place seems spacious and bright, with pleasant, helpful workers, and lots of friendly pets hoping for new homes. The restrooms are clean, and there are vending machines in the main hallway. Private rooms and play areas are available for prospective adopters to get acquainted with animals of interest.
Previously, the cats were kept in a small, stuffy room with a nasty smell. The number of cages has been significantly increased and they are now in a large, well-ventilated area. The day I visited, there were many empty cages, but one of the workers told me those will soon be occupied, as there are plenty of kittens waiting in the wings that are still a bit too young for public viewing. (I recommend adopting an adult cat. As experienced pets, they adapt well to household living, and are generally easier to care for and less destructive than kittens.) The cats looked clean and healthy, and most seemed interested in interacting with visitors.
The number of dog kennels has been increased from 56 to 152. One end of each kennel is outdoors (but covered) and, through a doggy door, the other end is in an air conditioned room, so the dogs can avoid overheating. Like the cats, the dogs looked clean and healthy. Although several of them seemed sad (who wouldn't be, under the circumstances?) the majority were alert and eager for human attention.
Additionally, the center houses rabbits, birds and exotics, which I did not visit.
To find out more about pet adoption and other services available from the Department of Animal Services, visit www.laanimalservices.com.