Author: Bruce McAllister and Patrick Smith

What does a county animal control officer do when people throw away the pets they’ve ordered, had designed for absurd amounts of money, but no longer want? The Purple Poodles, the Forever Kittens, the Songbirds Just for You. What does she do with the mistakes—the ones with too many legs, two heads neither of which can see, or a six-chambered heart that shouldn’t be in this world—all dumped in the roughest neighborhoods of the city where the fly-by-night companies that have engineered them always dump them so they don’t have to pay bio-materials recycling fees?

She takes them in, of course.

The officer is Gabi Uong-Simspon, and she lives in El Monte, the same city where three generations of her family were born and grew up. Her house is a modest Millennial stucco in a multi-zoned area off Garvey. It has, at last count, twenty-three rescued engen-pets ranging in size from a sparrow to a pit bull, and all permitted by the city. She’s converted her garage and added a second story to the house to accommodate this menagerie, but she’s taken her time because the health and welfare of her rescued pets are everything to her.

“I’m no ‘cat lady’ with starving cats,” she explains. “I’ve always loved animals. As a kid, I tried to fix every injured animal, domestic or urban-wild, I could find. Must’ve been a pain to our neighbors,” she laughs. “With the epidemic of dumped engen-pets these days, a lot of them are injured.”

Do her animals ever cause trouble for her neighbors?

“Not often. If there’s a noise complaint, that’s only because a neighbor is concerned about the animal’s welfare. When both of us are away, we monitor everything with the two dozen cams we’ve placed in the ‘compound,’ and one of us is always within a fifteen-minute drive from the house. Occasionally one of the animals does get away, but they’re chipped, and we’ve given neighbors pics of all of the animals so no one will be too surprised.”

Do the children in the Uoong-Simpson family like visiting?

“Oh, yes! We give our nieces and nephews, especially if they’re really young, a little informal training on how to handle certain pets, but they’re good kids.”

Any children for Gabi in the foreseeable future?

“My partner and I have discussed it,” she answers quickly, with a ready smile. “But we’re just not ready yet. Maybe instead an engineered sub-human primate, a species mix of some kind, what some companies call a ‘forever child’—totally illegal to make or own, of course, but they do get made and they do get dumped (there’s a story for you!)—but only if I happen to run across it as a rescue and we can get it permitted by State and city.”

Is Gabi happy with her life these days?

“Oh, yes,” she says. “There couldn’t be more important work as far as I’m concerned.”

That smile again.

— from “Gabi Uong-Simpson: A New Kind of Animal Control Officer,” Los Angeles Times Online/El Monte Edition, February 14, 2033