Los Angeles, March 10, 2021 – The second largest city in the country has become no-kill for the first time, thanks to the efforts of the city, L.A. Animal Services, a coalition of animal welfare organizations, compassionate leaders and a dedicated community.
When Best Friends first launched the NKLA (No-Kill Los Angeles) initiative in 2012, only 56 percent of dogs and cats were making it out of Los Angeles city shelters alive. In 2020, the city sustained a save rate of 90.49 percent.
“It’s difficult to overstate the enormity of this moment and its place in the history of the no-kill movement. NKLA has demonstrated what’s possible when an entire community works together,” said Julie Castle, chief executive officer for Best Friends Animal Society. “By expanding this collaborative model nationwide, Best Friends’ goal to make every community in the U.S. no-kill by 2025 becomes even more of a reality.”
A 90 percent save rate is the nationally recognized benchmark to be considered no-kill, factoring that approximately 10% of pets who enter shelters have medical or behavioral circumstances that warrant humane euthanasia rather than killing for lack of space.
Like many U.S. animal shelters, COVID-19 brought about a massive wave of community involvement to keep pets in homes. LA Animal Services, Best Friends, and more than 150 NKLA coalition partners worked together like never before to ensure that Angelenos were able to foster and adopt pets despite restrictions brought about by the pandemic’s public health and temporary closure of two of the City of Los Angeles’s animal shelters.
The NKLA coalition steering committee members include Angel City Pit Bulls, FixNation, Heaven on Earth Society for Animals, Kitten Rescue, Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats, Michelson Found Animals Foundation, Paws for Life K9 Rescue, The Spay Neuter Project of Los Angeles (SNPLA), and Stray Cat Alliance.
“Collaboration is key to saving lives and this coalition has certainly proved that to be true,” said Brenda Barnette, general manager of LA Animal Services. “We’re so grateful to Best Friends, our many rescue partners, staff, volunteers, and the community who responded to foster and adopt the animals in our Centers during the pandemic, which helped us achieve our 90.49 percent lifesaving rate by year end 2020.”
Overall, the save rate in 2020 was achieved through a series of lifesaving strategies that included:
- Embracing technology solutions for thorough and efficient adoption and foster placements.
- Prioritizing the return of lost pets to owners.
- Collaborating with private animal groups & the community
- Operating 24/7 hotlines and providing resources on what to do if you’ve found a pet.
- Increasing foster care programs.
- Offering shelter intake-prevention services to lower-income pet owners.
- Creating shelter intake strategies and alternatives to reduce on-site populations.
COVID-19 created some challenges for L.A. Animal Services, as it did for animal shelters across the country. However, it has also offered opportunities to transform shelters through expanded community involvement.
“By increasing fostering and programs that keep pets with their families, the future of animal sheltering is starting to look a lot like people’s homes,” Castle said. “This is so positive because a home environment is almost always preferable for pets. It also frees up space for the shelters to be able to focus on the most in-need animals in their care.”
Additionally, the LA City Council voted unanimously to certify the final Environmental Impact Report for its “Citywide Cat Program” and to adopt two related ordinance revisions. This includes Trap-Neuter-Return, an effective and humane way to reduce the population of community cats, which will be implemented by the City through its Animal Sterilization Fund. LA Animal Services is actively working to put guidelines in place for the program's future success.
“The Citywide Cat Program is a crucial step to ensure NKLA’s sustainability,” Castle said.