Los Angeles animal shelter under investigation

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Los Angeles animal shelter under investigation
LOS ANGELES, CA (BDCi) — About 120 weapons, including shotguns, rifles and .38-caliber handguns, were confiscated as part of an expanding internal investigation into the city’s animal services agency.

Animal control officers were taken by surprise Thursday when the LAPD showed up to collect all their firearms. The raid was organized by Animal Services itself, and carried out by police.

“To all personnel: RE: weapons and ammunition audit. Please give the LAPD all handguns, rifles, shotguns and ammunition that are at your shelter,” wrote Animal Services general manager Brenda Barnette in a letter given out by police during the raid.

The department’s self-inflicted gun audit comes about two weeks after City Controller Wendy Greuel announced plans to conduct a top-to-bottom audit of Animal Services.

Officers from the LAPD’s Gang and Operations Support Division-Guns Section went to all six shelters operated by Animal Services. About 100 guns were seized.

“It’s clear there were not appropriate internal controls (over these weapons), and we need to know how many weapons there are and where the weapons were,” said Greuel.

Asked if she believed any of the weapons had been stolen, Greuel said, “No,” then added, “That has not been determined.”

The department has come under scrutiny in recent months after thefts of animals at a Lincoln Heights shelter became public. Additional allegations suggest that Animal Services employees were paid after filling out time cards fraudulently. Four animal services employees have been placed on administrative leave, and the number is expected to grow.

Animal control officers also have the power to arrest and execute search warrants, said LA Animal Services officer Karrie DeMascio, adding that LA has the highest-paid animal control officers in the country.

By Janete Weinstein
Source: ABC
August 5, 2011
4:07 p.m. PDT

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