Shelters across Los Angeles are becoming more crowded with cats, dogs and other animals. As a result, many of the animals are caged and confined in work rooms and lobbies, and the conditions are often unsanitary. 

With the increasing numbers of animals, there is not enough space or people in the shelters to properly care for them. 

“It’s pretty serious right now,” said Brittany Thorn, executive director of Best Friends L.A. Animal Society, a non-profit organization that works closely with shelters and rescue groups to save the lives of homeless pets. “We are seeing it throughout L.A. county and city. We’re seeing at the six city shelters double their capacity of what they are actually built to hold as far as dogs and cats.” 

Unsanitary conditions at a Los Angeles animal shelter due to overcrowding
Unsanitary conditions at a Los Angeles animal shelter due to overcrowding

In an effort to curb the overcrowded shelters crisis, the city of L.A. is considering calling for a moratorium on issuing breeding licenses, a proposal that was the focus of an L.A. Animal Services Commission meeting on Tuesday.

The city’s new general manager of animal services, Staycee Dains, says her department has issued about 1200 breeding permits this year and is expecting to issue about 600 more before the new year. She also says the staff ratio for caring for animals is one person per 85 animals, while the industry standard is one person to 30 animals. 

“It’s really a community issue right now that really needs a community solution,” she said.

Officials proposed a solution to encourage people to adopt or foster shelter pets and volunteer or donate to local shelters. The proposed solution also emphasizes spaying and neutering pets to prevent unwanted breeding and overcrowding.  

“We should not be vilifying the shelters,” Dains said. “The shelter employees are doing the best that they can and they are stressed and tired and they are still showing up every day trying to do this work.”

L.A. Animal Services says it will fill dozens of vacant positions for animal care technicians in the next 30-45 days.  

For more information about how to apply or adopt a pet through the city, county, or Best Friends, visit,, or