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Animal Services Panel To Vote On Screening For Aggression

LOS ANGELES ( — A controversial practice of testing shelter animals for aggressive behavior could be making a comeback in the city of Los Angeles.

KNX 1070's Brian Ping reports the Board of Animal Commissioners is expected to decide on "temperament testing" to help increase adoptions citywide.


Commissioners could decide to overturn a decade-old policy that prohibits behavioral testing for animals if they decide to take part in the Safety Assessment For Evaluating Re-homing (SAFER) Assessment along with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Animal Services Commission General Manager Brenda Barnette said the proposal is aimed at giving potential adoption clients a more complete behavioral assessment before they commit to ownership.

"What we're trying to do is learn a little bit more about who the animal is, so that when you come in to make a decision to adopt, you'll know whether or not you're getting a dog who needs a little bit more leash training, a cat who's shy," Barnette said.

Nearly half of the shelter dogs in Los Angeles are pit bulls, who have a reputation for aggressive, and often times dangerous, behavior.

Critics of SAFER contend that the program could result in fewer adopted dogs and cats who are deemed undesirable, making them candidates for euthanasia, which accounts for slightly less than half of the city's 57,000 cats and dogs.

But Barnette said the testing will be conducted professionally and transparently.

"It's a test that's done by people who are trained. The test is videoed, so that there's a permanent video record so that you can see what the trainer does or what the tester does," she said. "You can see the reaction of the animal, and it's kept on file."

The Animal Services Commission will consider the proposal during a special meeting tonight at the East Valley shelter in Van Nuys.

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