After a tumultuous decade of trying not to euthanize any of its unwanted pets, Los Angeles has finally set a record for the fewest number of dogs and cats put down.
In the fiscal year ending June 30, Los Angeles Animal Services killed 12,680 canines and felines — nearly 4,400 fewer unwanted pets from the year before.
If it can maintain the current pace of euthanizing thousands of fewer adoptable animals each year, L.A. is poised to become the largest no-kill city in the nation by 2017.
“We did this with the hope, heart, energy and tremendous support of amazing groups and individuals who believe that we can save them all,” said LAAS General Manager Brenda Barnette, who was hired four years ago after a revolving door of managers. “We still have work to do, but we're making progress.”
The six city animal shelters took in 50,248 dogs and cats last year, a drop of nearly 4,600 from the prior year, when 54,826 came in and 17,069 were put down — 4,000 fewer than 2011-12.
Barnette and a coalition of no-kill supporters attribute the dramatic drop to fewer intakes, higher rates of spays and neuters by private groups and more homes found for unwanted pets via adoptions, rescue partners and animal transports to other states.
The average ratio of dogs and cats saved in shelters last year was 70 percent, Barnette said, noting a 6 percent increase. A save rate of 90 percent is considered no-kill, with 10 percent of shelter pets deemed too sick or violent to place into homes.
At the peak in 1971, L.A. euthanized nearly 111,000 dogs and cats, according to a city report. Prior to this year's record, the relatively recent low was in 2007-09, with nearly 15,200 killed. When former Mayor James Hahn declared in 2003 this would be a no-kill region — vowing that within five years, no healthy or treatable pets would be put down — the city was euthanizing some 30,000 animals a year.
“It's a pretty exciting time,” said Marc Peralta, executive director of the Best Friends Pet Adoption & Spay Neuter Center, which operates a city-owned shelter in Mission Hills and two years ago launched a No-Kill L.A. Initiative that includes the city's shelter system. “It's a community achievement through and through.
“It's not where we want to be, but we're going in the right direction.”
About 1,000 mostly shelter dogs were transported to the Pacific Northwest and the East Coast for adoption, Peralta said.
The Utah-based nonprofit, which also runs the NKLA Pet Adoption Center in West L.A., has placed more than 73,000 furry friends into new homes with the help of its coalition partners and performed spay/neuter operations on 70,000 more.
Given its present annual stream of new dogs and cats, Los Angeles is poised to become a no-kill city if it can euthanize roughly 7,000 fewer animals.
“The historic low number of killings at Los Angeles Animal Services is the result of years and years of hard work,” said Aimee Gilbreath, executive director of Found Animals Foundation, an No-Kill L.A. coalition partner, in a statement.
“Everyone ... looks forward to the day when the number of shelter killings for adoptable dogs or cats in Los Angeles, and around the country, is zero.”
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