In January, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin visited an animal shelter in the city to promote animal adoption. The short video posted to the team’s Instagram account showed the 29-year-old starter holding a cat and shaking hands with a dog while visiting the facility near Dodger Stadium.

But the video didn’t show another pet at the shelter with a closer connection to Gonsolin’s team: a 5-year-old German shepherd named Doddie the Dodger Dog. She got that nickname because she was found abandoned and climbing a fence at Dodger Stadium by local residents, who turned her in to the shelter.

That’s where Doddie stays, but he’s running out of time. She is scheduled to be euthanized on Tuesday unless someone adopts her before then.

Dodger Dog is one of thousands of dogs in the city’s care, outnumbering the supply of kennels at the city’s six animal shelters. Overcrowding has been a problem for years, but now several large dogs are being held together in some kennels while others sit in cages that line the hallways and waiting rooms of shelters, according to volunteers and dog rescue groups.

For many volunteers who clean animals at shelters and walk dogs, there is a feeling that the city’s shelter system will collapse unless something new is done.

The Los Angeles Department of Animal Services says overcrowding has been a growing challenge for nearly two decades “due in part to the department’s long-standing commitment to life-saving policies.”

During a commission meeting in January 2023, city officials said shelter staff do not euthanize to make room, but the growing dog population could change that policy. That change has not taken place under current leadership and the city still employs a no-kill policy with the goal of saving all “healthy, treatable animals,” according to department spokesperson Megan Ignacio.

The Department of Animal Services “will continue to work to ensure that all healthy and treatable animals in our care are not at risk of euthanasia,” Ignacio said in an email.

There have always been more dogs entering the shelter system than are adopted, but a volunteer who has worked at the city’s animal shelters for several years said there is a lack of transparency with the public about how serious the situation has become. .

“The public needs to know that there are too many dogs flooding the system,” said the volunteer, who like the others interviewed did not want to reveal his name for fear of reprisals. “You can’t keep putting water in a glass. “It’s going to overflow.”

At the end of January 2023, the Centro Norte shelter had 228 dogs and 223 kennels or cages. There are currently 287 dogs in the shelter. The South Los Angeles shelter had 300 dogs and 243 kennels last year, and at the end of this January there were 456 dogs, according to the latest data from the City Comptroller’s office.

There were 15 dogs at the six shelters that had not been walked for the past 36 to 42 days, the data shows, which speaks to the lack of staff needed to meet the animals’ daily needs.

Volunteers are responsible for sharing videos and photographs of dogs up for adoption on social networks, apart from the city’s official accounts. Shelters also send requests to dog rescue groups to help find homes for dogs, but even those groups are realizing there are limited resources.

“Rescues typically get very little attention,” said Shira Astrof, co-founder of the nonprofit Animal Rescue Mission. “All the (voluntary rescue groups) in the network are trying to decide what to do, because there are no more shelters left. It is worse than ever and we cannot adopt a solution to this problem.”

While the city may pride itself on its commitment to life-saving policies, many dogs languish in overcrowded, unsanitary shelters, which can cause them to become traumatized or sick, Astrof said after visiting the city’s shelter in South Los Angeles. .

“The problem will continue to multiply, because dogs multiply,” Astrof said, emphasizing the need to spay or neuter dogs.

About 23 million people in the United States adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. There were 17,213 public adoptions in the city of Los Angeles in 2022, but approximately 42,000 animals remained in the shelter system at that time, including dogs, cats, kittens, rabbits and other animals such as guinea pigs.

Other dog owners got their pets from breeders because they wanted specific breeds that were trending on social media, like French bulldogs, said Chloe Esperiquette, brand and communications strategist at the nonprofit dog rescue organization Wags and Walks. dogs.

In October, the city council approved a moratorium on issuing new breeding permits in the city, but the ordinance is being drafted by the city attorney’s office. By the end of 2023, more than 1,800 breeder licenses had been issued in the city, creating a completely separate avenue for people to find a pet.

Many dog ​​owners during the pandemic may have turned to a dog for companionship without considering the responsibility.

“The shelters, the city and the volunteers are doing what they can, but they are bursting at the seams,” Esperiquette said. “We are in a crisis. In the last eight months to a year the situation has worsened and everything has gone downhill.”

There were 41 people who surrendered their dogs to the city in January and said their owners enforced a “no pets” policy. Another 54 said they didn’t have enough time to care for their pet.

In July, Staycee Dains took over as CEO of Animal Services. In a statement, her office said her administration has “worked urgently to reduce overcrowding numbers” and reduce euthanasia rates.

The Department of Animal Services “continues to encourage Angelenos to adopt, foster, volunteer and donate to help the department continue to save animal lives and operate as one of the most humane departments in the country,” the statement said.

A West Valley shelter volunteer said they would support euthanasia when appropriate if it meant providing a humane alternative to kennel storage of dogs that are becoming sick and traumatized.

Another volunteer said there is a real sense of urgency on the part of city staff to clean the shelters, but none of that is being conveyed to the public.

“It’s like they know we have nowhere to put them,” the volunteer said. “But no one recognizes what is happening.”

The odds for Doddie the Dodger Dog are especially long. The dog shows up with major medical issues, and as she prepares to play with other dogs, her health is declining at the shelter, according to an Instagram post.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services said anyone interested in adopting Doddie can meet her at the North Central shelter at 3201 Lacy St. To sweeten the deal, the department is offering to help pay for her medical care. .

By Sam