Best Friends helps Downtown Dog Rescue realize dream: New lifesaving center to open in South Gate

One of the cornerstones of the philosophy of Best Friends is that working together we can save more lives. And not just more lives; through coalitions, we also build sustainable change. An entire ecosystem for lifesaving is created through working as a coalition. In fact, I wrote this guide some years ago based on our experiences building the Best Friends–Utah Coalition.

So we knew when we launched the No-Kill Los Angeles (NKLA) initiative that it would take a coalition to get the job done for the animals of Los Angeles. There was a lot of fantastic lifesaving work happening across the city, but it wasn’t necessarily coordinated, and no one had done a community assessment of needs and resources to help prioritize and direct community action. The groups were independently seeing success, but was it really moving the needle toward a no-kill Los Angeles? The NKLA Coalition has helped change that. Working together, we’re able to target efforts according to real world data analysis. That means the areas that need the most help get the help they need. We share resources, including financial resources, and our expertise amongst each other. It’s incredibly exciting to see the progress as we all work together as a team.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to introduce you to some of the members of the NKLA Coalition. You’ll notice their differences. Some work specifically to help pit-bull-type dogs, others community cats; others work to surgically sterilize animals of all kinds. But they all share one thing in common: the drive towards a no-kill Los Angeles.

This week, we start with Downtown Dog Rescue (DDR). All too often in animal rescue in large cities, the underserved are forgotten. That’s where DDR comes in. They work primarily in South Los Angeles, including neighborhoods known for gang violence and dog fighting. The group’s fearless leader is Lori Weise who has been fighting hard for the animals of L.A. since 1997.

We’ve known Lori for a long time, and we’re proud to have supported her efforts for more than 10 years. Many of you will know her from our No More Homeless Pets National Conference, where she has been a regular presenter. We’ve watched Downtown Dog Rescue innovate a variety of programs and promotions – such as their “Pimp Your Pit” free spay/neuter event for South L.A.; community-oriented free dog training at South L.A.’s most famous venue, the Los Angeles Coliseum; and shelter surrender intervention program. All were accomplished on a shoestring budget and mostly by dedicated volunteers. In 2010, Lori was one of the founding members of the NKLA steering committee and helped align the funded programs with the practical realities of local rescues and target communities.

Since its founding, Lori operated Downtown Dog Rescue’s kennels and rehabilitation in a donated work yard adjacent to her place of employment. This year, she learned that the property was being sold and she had to relocate. When she approached us on the challenges she faced and her preferred solution of acquiring a property in South Gate, California, that DDR could safely call home, we were delighted to be able to help DDR take a firm step in the next chapter in its evolution as an influencer in animal welfare with a grant toward the purchase price of a new location.

Please visit the Downtown Dog Rescue website and read more about DDR’s growth, vision, and necessary leadership in Lori’s own words.

Lori, congratulations on all of your success! Best Friends is behind you every step of the way.

Click here to read Lori’s blog post on the DDR website.

Gregory Castle