PR Web - Statistics provided by LA Animal Services show that since the formation in 2012 of a 70-organization coalition led by Best Friends Animal Society, shelter deaths have dropped 48 percent.
In 2011, the year before Best Friends launched its NKLA (No-Kill Los Angeles) initiative with the City of Los Angeles, approximately 17,400 healthy, treatable dogs and cats were killed in LA shelters. One year later, the number was reduced to approximately 13,400. In 2013, the number decreased further to 9,075.
“We’ve reached an incredible lifesaving milestone for shelter pets and animal lovers in Los Angeles,” says Francis Battista, a co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society, the Utah-based organization who worked closely with the city to form the partnership. “There’s no doubt we are on the right track to reach a day when animals are no longer killed in LA shelters simply because they don’t have a safe place to call home.”
Best Friends’ NKLA initiative, which is built around a partnership with the City of Los Angeles, began in January of 2012, with the goal of ending the killing of healthy and treatable pets in LA shelters by 2017. The approach provides economically targeted spay/neuter services so fewer animals enter shelters, as well as adoption incentives and promotions to ensure that more animals exit the shelters alive.
Brenda Barnette, general manager of LA Animal Services, says the partnership and resulting coalition has paid big dividends.
“The unique public-private partnership of Best Friends Animal Society and Los Angeles Animal Services has enabled us to make life-saving strides for the animals in Los Angeles,” says Barnette. “When NKLA launched two years ago we had no idea that we would exceed our goals to reduce shelter deaths and increase live outcomes for our animals so significantly.”
The number of animals killed each year in shelters around the country is around four million - approximately 9,000 every day. Best Friends, which has introduced “Save Them All” as its national call-to-action, is working with no-kill advocates across the country to bring that number down to zero.
Several key factors make these kinds of strides possible in a city the size of Los Angeles.
“The main driver is that the entire coalition works toward the same goal,” says Battista. “From the beginning we knew we had to accomplish something uncommon in animal welfare: bring a large number of local groups to affiliate with a campaign in a major U.S. city. At first it wasn’t easy, but two years into it our local coalition has grown and is pulling in the same life-saving direction. Clearly, we couldn’t have done this on our own, without all the groups working together.”
Best Friends regards Los Angeles as both a trendsetter and a representative proving ground, suggesting that this type of program can be replicated in other cities around the country.
The coalition focuses on two key areas – promoting adoption as the best way for Los Angeles residents to get their pets, and making it much easier for low-income pet owners to have their pets spayed or neutered through the delivery of free or low-cost services into communities with little or no access to veterinary care.
“By establishing programs for low-income pet owners we are reaching an underserved group of animal lovers who have few resources to care for their pets,” says Battista. “We’re tweaking things as we progress to ensure that we’re making the greatest impact on the problem. The coalition is gathering momentum, and the NKLA campaign is generating more and more popular support.”
Best Friends operates two dedicated facilities to increase adoptions of city shelter animals. The Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center in Mission Hills is run out of a city-owned facility and only offers for adoption shelter dogs and cats from any of the six Los Angeles shelters.
The NKLA Pet Adoption Center in West Los Angeles operated by Best Friends through a foundation grant, features homeless LA pets for adoption from a variety of coalition partners. Total adoptions from both centers numbered approximately 3,800 dogs and cats in 2013.
The Mission Hills center clinic performed more than 6,200 spay/neuter surgeries, over 3,000 of which were reserved for pets of low-income families.
Best Friends also employs special pet transports to save LA shelter animals. During the past two years several thousand LA Animal Services dogs and cats were delivered to guaranteed adoption rescue partners across the country, while more than 1,700 neonatal kittens and dozens of nursing mothers were saved though an on-site kitten nursery in Mission Hills. Additionally, the lives of hundreds of neonatal puppies and several nursing mothers were saved through a foster network.
Battista says that while Best Friends and its partners are on track to meet the goal of taking the city to no-kill by 2017, there are no plans to take the collective foot off the pedal.
“Lives are at stake,” Battista says, “So every day the efforts of our LA team are focused on working with our coalition partners to stop the killing in shelters. Not only is this program important for Los Angeles, but we are laying a path for other large cities to follow and making no-kill an achievable goal for cities and towns across the United States.”