2014 – The year ahead

Now that 2014 is underway, we’re as excited as we’ve ever been about what this year will bring for the animals. Our expectations are high after so much progress and incredible victories in 2013. But now is no time to rest! We’ve got some pretty lofty goals set for this year, and we know that with your help, we’ll exceed them all.

The work of Best Friends is broad and deep. What you see in the list below really is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of the lifesaving work that takes place each and every day. Tens of thousands of animals this year will be saved from shelters, fixed, rehabilitated, cared for and adopted because of our work and your support. It would take a very long blog post to dissect what we do each and every day, so here’s a snapshot of what’s on our plate for 2014. The 10 categories below represent a tremendous number of lives saved.

1. Most importantly is our national call to action. You may already have read or heard about Save Them All™. It announces, in no uncertain terms, our commitment to work with local communities and like-minded organizations to end the killing of pets in shelters in the United States. It is our commitment to every shelter pet and a call to arms for every rescuer and pet lover across the nation. They may seem like three simple words, but they mean so much. As you read the next few items below, keep in mind that each one of them is an important piece of the puzzle to Save Them All.

We are a nation of animal lovers, and public sentiment supports our goal. We can Save Them All. And we will. To learn how you can get involved, and to learn 30 things you can do to help Save Them All, check out this page.

2. In Los Angeles, Best Friends' no-kill initiative, NKLA, is going from strength to strength. NKLA is the most ambitious no-kill effort ever undertaken – in a city that spans 503 square miles! We’re already seeing the results from the effort of Best Friends and the NKLA Coalition, which is now more than 70 groups strong. In 2014, the NKLA Coalition has the goal of ensuring a positive outcome for more than 33,500 dogs and cats (that figure includes the work of our primary coalition partner, Los Angeles Animal Services). Collaboration has us well on our way to turning L.A. into NKLA, and when we prove it’s possible there, we believe other cities will be inspired to achieve the same results. Los Angeles is not only big; it’s incredibly diverse, with six city shelters across the area. When it happens in L.A., it will be clear that no-kill is without question achievable anywhere. To learn more about how we’re turning Los Angeles into a no-kill city, you can visit the Best Friends Los Angeles website.

3. The entirety of our home state of Utah continues to march to no-kill status under the leadership of Best Friends. The two largest municipalities, Salt Lake County and West Valley City, working closely with Best Friends, have made remarkable strides. I’m not going to spoil the news here, but we’ve got big announcements coming soon on the results of our work completed in 2013 and the expectations for 2014. We’re also going to be expanding our work to other communities in Utah. We recently recognized 10 Utah communities for their no-kill efforts. It’s simply a matter of time before the entire state will be no-kill. So, as they say, stay tuned! If you’re in Utah and want to get more info on how you can get involved, click here.

4. This year marks our 30th anniversary! It seems like just yesterday that we came across this then-empty property in the wilderness of Utah. We’re going to be announcing more about how we’re celebrating this milestone, but for now if you’ve never visited the Sanctuary, this should be your year.

5. Over the last few years, we put an increased focus on making sure that all of our animal care and adoption facilities at the Sanctuary and in our regional operations set standards of excellence. Keeping with that trend, we will soon be announcing the date for the ribbon cutting on our new Sanctuary clinic! It truly is a state-of-the-art veterinary facility designed for the unique care that our Sanctuary residents require, as well as to support our regional community cat trap/neuter/return (TNR) programs. The beautiful, modern, and earth-friendly building will help us care for the thousands of animals who come through our doors each year.

6. We’re going to continue helping local organizations across the country to be more effective and to grow their programs. One of the ways we do that is via the work of our regional specialists who work directly with our No More Homeless Pets Network partner organizations. Another way is helping those partners raise much-needed funding through our Strut Your Mutt events. This year, I’m thrilled to announce the event’s expansion yet again. Minneapolis, Minnesota, will be the 12th city added to the list of participants (so get ready, Twin Cities!). In 2013, 13,000 people raised nearly $1.7 million dollars! Of that, $1.2 million went directly to local groups who share our vision of ending shelter killing.

7. Keeping on with the events theme, we’re happy to once again take our national conference back to Las Vegas. With a new name, the Best Friends National Conference, we’re expecting the largest group of attendees ever. Last year, 1,500 passionate advocates, rescuers and volunteers attended the conference in Jacksonville to soak in the knowledge we need to Save Them All. This year, the conference will include a celebratory twist for our 30th anniversary – even more reason to attend. Are you familiar with our national conference? If not, you can download last year’s presentations and learn more about this important and energizing week here. When you’re on that page, make sure you sign up for the email updates. You’ll be the first to know when registration is open.

8. Last year, there was tremendous progress on the puppy mill issue. Through local ordinances that ban the sale of mill-bred pets, state ordinances that tighten up puppy mill operations, and the closing of a federal loophole on Internet sales, the animals won big. However, too many animals are still suffering due to the abuses of the pet trade, and we don’t plan to slow down! More than 40 communities throughout North America have banned stores from selling pets from mills, and we will continue working with more local governments to enact their own bans. So far, 2014 is off to a great start. Governor Cuomo in New York just signed into law a bill that allows municipal governments to regulate pet dealers locally. It’s a huge win for the animals and opens the door for communities in New York State to follow the lead cities across Southern California and around the country. 

9. Our work for pit-bull-terrier-like dogs is also going strong. Seventeen states now have some form of law prohibiting breed discrimination. Our focus this year will be on growing that number. Our wins in Nevada, Rhode Island and Connecticut last year gave us the momentum we’re carrying into Missouri, Utah and South Dakota. You can help with all of our legislative efforts.

10. For the last few years, we’ve been helping communities deploy programs aimed at reducing the number of community cats entering shelters. Along with our partners at PetSmart Charities®, cities like Albuquerque and San Antonio have seen dramatic reductions in the number of cats being killed in shelters. We’re excited to continue this successful program in Baltimore in 2014. The program aims to fix 3,500 cats a year!