In a perfect world every pet would have a home. But we live in L.A. where an endemic of homeless pets flood our city’s shelters. 56,121 dogs and cats enter one of L.A.’s six city shelters last year. Of these 30% are euthanized with 17,401 animals euthanized last year.
The No Kill Movement has been gaining attention and momentum since being implemented in 2011. It operates on the basic premise that a NKLA can exist if more animals are adopted than those entering the shelter. Large-scale adoptions along with incentives for rescue agencies and animal welfare groups to take animals have managed to keep animals moving away from L.A. shelters and eventually into their forever homes.
Yet the question remains- is this sustainable? How long can animal rescues and welfare agencies take on animals before they become saturated? Similarly, what portion of the public is willing to adopt a pet? Answers to these questions are not easy.
The other part of the NKLA equation focuses on reducing the number of animals through spay and neuter programs. There are many foundations and programs aimed at providing low-cost or free spay or neuter surgeries and vaccinations. The Amanda Foundation in association with Downtown Dog rescue L.A. Animal Services provides free spay or neuters as well as vaccinations and microchipping. A substantial number of additional programs offer subsidized spay and neuters including the ASPCA, Sam Simon Foundation and the Pet Assistance Foundation to name a few.
NKLA has made the right moves to address the pet overpopulation problem in L.A.. It has created strategic partnerships to provide for thousands of animals, promoted adoptions and illustrated the importance of spay or neutering pets. But, NKLA is not enough and relying upon them or the L.A. Animal Services to clean-up the homeless pet endemic will not resolve the problem.
The real problem with the homeless pet endemic lies within L.A.’s citizens. The truth is that many citizens are irresponsible pet owners. They allow their intact animals to freely roam the streets and be susceptible to car accidents, communicable diseases and unwanted pregnancies. An additional part of the NKLA equation should be pet education- a campaign aimed at teaching individuals the importance of taking care of their pets, spay or neutering and the available resources for their animals.
Although No Kill December demonstrated that L.A. can survive for one month without killing adoptable pets. Survive is the key word because conditions at the city’s animal shelters were not good. Space was at a premium and dogs were crammed 5-6 into a single kennel. Many dogs were injured due to fighting and no one wants to adopt a dog that has been fighting with other dogs. Fortunately for the cats, this is their “low” season so issues with cats were relatively minimal. However, many mature feral cats that are not easily adopted given their semi-wild state are languishing within their small cages.
The positive aspect of No Kill December is the media attention. L.A. was able to demonstrate that it has the ingenuity, creativity and resources to go at least one month without euthanizing adoptable pets. Whether L.A. could go two months is debatable. A rigorous public education campaign on pet welfare coupled with an intensive spay and neuter program could create a sustainable No Kill L.A..