Los Angeles is on target to become a no-kill city in 2017. Just think about that… The second largest city in the United States will no longer kill any adoptable cats and dogs due to lack of shelter space or other reasons. This amazing feat is happening thanks to No-Kill Los Angeles, an initiative launched in 2012 and led by Best Friends-Los Angeles, which is a program of the world-renowned Best Friends Animal Society based in Kanab, UT.
Marc Peralta, executive director of Best Friends-LA, cites the success as a collaboration of city shelters, many animal welfare organizations, and caring individuals.
Now that L.A. is nearing its goal, Peralta says Best Friends is ready to take what they’ve learned and done in L.A. to other areas of southern California, including Riverside and San Bernardino counties. He’s quick to state that they don’t want to take anything away from L.A., but rather they want to spread their no-kill initiative inland. Their ultimate goal? Seeing the United States becoming a no-kill nation.
Peralta points out that a large number of animals are killed in the two counties due to lack of shelter space. Best Friends wants to partner with city and county shelters and rescue organizations in the Inland Empire to stop killing as a means of controlling the animal population.
While admitting that reaching a no-kill status takes time, he says it can be done, as has been proven in Los Angeles. This can be accomplished through collaboration, engaging the community, education, low-cost spay/neuter and pet healthcare, spay/neuter of feral/community cats, and increased adoptions.
Feral/community cat colonies are a controversial issue in some municipalities, including Los Angeles, according to Peralta. He believes these cats should not be euthanized, but instead be trapped, spayed/neutered and returned to their colonies or placed as working cats. He stresses that altering them helps tremendously with stopping overpopulation.
The euthanasia rate of cats in city and county shelters is higher than that of dogs, often much higher, due in large part to unaltered stray and feral cats, as well as unaltered pet cats allowed outdoors. California does not allow kittens and puppies under eight weeks of age to be housed in animal shelters without their mothers. At that age they’re too young to be spayed/neutered and put up for adoption. If there aren’t enough people to foster these babies or rescues to take them, they’re euthanized, adding to the high rates of euthanasia at city/county shelters.
Peralta says Best Friends wants to learn more about what’s happening in the two counties, particularly with the city/county shelters and what their needs and obstacles are, as well as the available resources, so they can determine how to help. They also want to assess what’s happening with the various rescue groups and what communities are doing in order to further decide what assistance Best Friends can provide.
Best Friends-LA already has been reaching out to San Bernardino County and its shelter in Devore, according to Peralta. And while Best Friends-LA has worked with some groups in the Riverside area, he says he wants to become more familiar with the shelters in both counties. To move forward with that effort, Best Friends-LA will be inviting leaders of shelters and rescues in the two counties to a meeting in Los Angeles in April.
If the no-kill initiative is embraced by the communities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the region will one day be able to declare itself No-Kill Inland Empire – a day that’s been a dream for many, many hardworking, dedicated people for a very long time.