2017-07-13 / Pets

Animal shelter strives to save lives

By Sylvie Belmond


ALL SHAPES AND SIZES— Above, animal control manager Denise Rosen visits with Boots, a potbellied pig, at the Agoura Animal Care Center on June 27. At right, horses are available for adoption at the shelter. ALL SHAPES AND SIZES— Above, animal control manager Denise Rosen visits with Boots, a potbellied pig, at the Agoura Animal Care Center on June 27. At right, horses are available for adoption at the shelter. During her 25-year career with the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, Denise Rosen has helped find new homes for countless neglected and abandoned pets.

Rosen started her career as a kennel attendant, was promoted to animal control officer and worked her way up to sergeant before she became the manager of the Agoura Animal Care Center in 2006.

“I like to work with people and help the animals,” said Rosen, an Agoura Hills resident who leads the operations at the local shelter, which is open for business while renovations are underway throughout the facility.

The upgrades include new roofs on the main office and kennel buildings, new heating and air conditioning system and ceilings in the main office, and a fresh coat of paint with epoxy finish on the walls and floors of the dog kennels.

Built in 1976, the Agoura Animal Care Center, which sits between the 101 Freeway and Agoura Road just west of Kanan Road, serves the Conejo Valley and Calabasas areas.

The property has two permanent buildings that accommodate dogs, cats and other small pets such as rabbits.

There is also a small barn and two dozen horse stalls, where three horses, two potbellied pigs and a rooster are ready for adoption.

In addition to taking in stray and neglected animals and pets that are surrendered by their owners, the local shelter accepts transfers from high-intake facilities in the county animal care network, which has seven shelters that serve unincorporated areas and 47 cities with a combined population of over 3 million residents.

The transfers help to save more animal lives, Rosen said.


HOPE FOR A NEW HOME—A dog sits in its kennel at the Agoura Animal Care Center. The 41-year-old shelter is open for business as it undergoes renovations, including a new roof and a fresh coat of paint in the dog kennels. 
Photos by BOBBY CURTIS/Acorn Newspapers HOPE FOR A NEW HOME—A dog sits in its kennel at the Agoura Animal Care Center. The 41-year-old shelter is open for business as it undergoes renovations, including a new roof and a fresh coat of paint in the dog kennels. Photos by BOBBY CURTIS/Acorn Newspapers Although the facility is known as a no-kill shelter, it doesn’t mean that no pets are ever put down, she said.

The staff’s goal is to find a new home for every animal that walks in the doors, but some pets are deemed unadoptable either because they are terminally ill or unpredictably aggressive.

Some animals are harder to find homes for than others. For instance, Lady, a former polo and therapy horse, and her corral mate Gracie arrived together in April. Neither horse can be ridden, which limits their appeal to potential adopters. They need someone who is willing to care for them as companion animals, Rosen said.

Many of the dogs that come to the shelter are mixed breeds, usually part pit bull or Chihuahua.

Recently two pit bulls, a brother and sister, were brought in because the owner’s landlord would not allow the pets in the home. While shelter workers hoped to have the dogs adopted together, that didn’t work out. The sister, Emily, found a home, while 5-year-old Frankie is still waiting.

The staff and volunteers of the care center strive to provide each animal with one-on-one attention, Rosen said.

“We have a lot of volunteers who spoil them,” she said.

The human contact allows shelter employees to know the disposition of the animals so they can match them with families or individuals.

“We try to do a good job of pairing them up with a good home. If people have another dog at home, we ask them to bring them in to make sure they are compatible,” Rosen said.

Besides the more than 100 volunteers who pitch in to care for the animals, the Agoura center partners with several nonprofit animal rescue groups that assist with adoptions.

Healthcare for Homeless Animals, a nonprofit that was founded by a local shelter volunteer, provides medical care for many of the animals at the Agoura facility.

The shelter at 29525 Agoura Road is open from noon to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday to Sunday.

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