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Eagle Rock Gets an ‘Animal Liaison’

Neighborhood Council funds Animal Control program, supports plan for no-leash, safe zone for dogs at Eagle Rock Recreation Center.

The Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council agreed Tuesday to provide funds for the training of reserve Animal Control officers—and authorized one of its board members to liaise with the Department of Animal Welfare to help with a range of issues regarding pets in the neighborhood.

With nine members voting “yes” and one abstaining, the Council’s board endorsed $500 in funds for the Reserve Animal Control Officer program, an initiative across L.A.’s neighborhoods whose goal is to train volunteers to deal with everything from loose animals to illegal cock fighting.

Paul Darrigo, a volunteer for L.A. Animal Services, said he had been to ERNC board meetings a total of five times, partly to procure $250 in previously sanctioned funds that somehow never materialized. (The board added another $250 to that prior commitment.) He outlined the urgency of the animal control problem in and around Eagle Rock, which he described as “one of the high areas for animal congestion.”

It takes about $1,500 to train and provide a uniform for a single reserve officer, Darrigo said. He added that most neighborhood councils he had been to—Silver Lake, Downtown L.A. and Greater Griffith Park among them—had provided $1,500 each for the program.

The city's Animal Services department is so woefully underfunded and understaffed that on some days just two officers run the entire show, Darrigo said, adding only half-jokingly: “If you called now, you’d be lucky if someone came out in a couple of hours.”

Darrigo said he has raised a total of about $20,000 in funds over the past two years or so, and his goal is to collect enough money to train 10 to 20 reserve officers.

Robert Guevara, the ERNC’s co-chair for outreach, likened the RACO initiative to the LAPD’s reserve officer program, which is free of salaries and pension obligations. “Whatever happens, the City gains from that and the community gains from that,” he said.

Darrigo encouraged anyone interested in becoming a RACO officer to apply for the program online by clicking this link.

The ERNC board, which met at Eagle Rock City Hall, announced that one of its members, Irena Seta, would take on the responsibility of being Eagle Rock’s liaison with the Department of Animal Welfare.

Seta would probably have her hands full, not least because dogs are regularly dumped at the grounds near the 134 freeway, according ERNC board member Maria Nazario, who walks her dogs in the area.

In a related development, the ERNC board heard a proposal to construct a fenced area for unleashed dogs at a suitable, relatively unused location within the Eagle Rock Recreation Center.

The plan, proposed by former ERNC member Vince Antonino, is different from a dog park in that it entails nothing more than a relatively small but secure zone for unleashed dogs, adding that the only difference between a no-leash zone for dogs and a full-fledged dog park is size.

The ideal location for a no-leash zone would be a gently sloping, tree-lined area of the Rec Center on the corner of Eagle Vista Drive and Figueroa Street, near the tennis courts, Antonino said.

The idea is for people to find a way around laws that are frequently flouted and not usually enforced but which call for dogs to be leashed in public places, said Antonino, who owns a 15-year-old Husky and is a veteran of dog walks.

“It’s baseball season right now and a lot of people are getting tickets for having their dogs off leash,” he said, explaining that public complaints against unleashed dogs go up when more people use the Rec Center.

The next step, said Antonino, would be for him to discuss his proposal with officials from the Department of Recreation and Parks.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the ERNC lent its support for a proposal to create a fenced area for unleashed dogs at the Eagle Rock Recreation Center. The ERNC did not support the proposal—via majority vote, for example. It only heard the proposal.

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