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City Controller to audit animal services department

7/20/2011, 9:03 a.m.

LOS ANGELES, Calif.--City Controller Wendy Greuel announced today she will audit the city's Department of Animal Services in the wake of the alleged theft and sale of shelter animals by city employees.

"We need to get to the bottom of why animals are missing while addressing the allegations of waste, fraud and abuse within the Department of Animal Services," Greuel said.

The department has come under scrutiny in recent weeks after thefts of animals at a Lincoln Heights shelter became public. Additional allegations also suggest that Animal Services employees were paid after fraudulently filling out time cards.

"Unfortunately these are not new issues to the department," Greuel said in a letter to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "Without appropriate action, the city will continue to be faced with these problems that stem from insufficient internal controls."

Greuel said she is concerned about the viability of the department and said she plans to look at deficiencies in the department that allowed the alleged problems to occur.

In a letter to Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette, Greuel requested a meeting with department heads.

Animal Services officials were not immediately available for comment.