A good deed goes undone at the North Central Animal Shelter

This should have been one of those feel-good stories about residents donating their time and money to clean and paint some dingy kennels at the city’s animal shelter in Lincoln Heights. Instead it has become one of those “What-is-the-City-Thinking?” kind of tales.

It all started when a group of animal lovers and residents from Echo Park and other neighborhoods began organizing a volunteer day-of-service at the North Central Animal Shelter on Lacy Street. Lisa Baca-Sigala, who is an officer of the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council, was trying to track down how much primer and paint to buy from a shelter employee when she was basically told thanks, but no thanks:

“Captain Hannah [the shelter manager] called upper management for permission and they said our painter union will not allow private party to come in and paint for us,” said the email from the shelter’s volunteer coordinator.

That left Baca-Sigala and others upset since it’s not clear when the city will find the money to pay the painters in light of cutbacks. “I don’t see how they will find money in the budget,” she said.

So, now instead of organizing volunteers to paint the kennels, Baca-Sigala and others are spending their time contacting the Mayor’s office and other agencies to see how they can get the work done – with or without the union workers. One idea is to get those very same union workers to donate their time in a community day of service. Perhaps, she suggests, it’s a way to plug other holes in the city budget.

“We are not taking their jobs – we are just trying to take care of what’s there.”

Photo from Los Angeles Animal Services

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