Best Friends National Conference in Los Angeles

By Julie Castle

The Best Friends National Conference gets underway today in Los Angeles and I can’t wait, because it is so much more than the sum of its parts. It is a genuinely life-altering experience — a great mix of intensive training, professional networking and a tribal celebration of the animals and our shared no-kill mission.

I’m also pleased to be able to invite everyone to watch a live stream of my keynote address on Facebook. It will begin at 4:15 p.m. PDT, Saturday, July 21.

The conference is not only an amazing opportunity to learn from experts, share information, find out about the latest and greatest programs that are moving the needle toward achieving no-kill by 2025, and build relationships with colleagues from other places. It is also a major refresh and re-energizer for the hardest working people in animal welfare. That would be the thousands of volunteers and staff who are on the front lines every day doing the hard work to end killing in shelters in the U.S.

I’m very excited that we are holding the conference this year in Los Angeles, home to the game-changing Best Friends initiative, NKLA (No-Kill Los Angeles), which includes a coalition of more than 130 organizations. L.A. is a great showcase for what can be achieved in even the most challenging environments if we work together and coordinate our efforts with targeted strategies. NKLA launched in 2012, a time when Los Angeles Animal Services had a dismal 57.7 percent save rate for all animals entering the shelter. By 2017, the save rate was 87.4 percent and from January through June of 2018, the save rate in L.A. was around 90 percent. If this can be accomplished in Los Angeles, it can be accomplished anywhere.

The conference will include presenters and case studies from across the country, so L.A. is only the setting and the backdrop for the conference, but since we will be in California, we will also be highlighting some great developments in the state and welcoming an important special guest.

California, as our ramped-up data-gathering map reveals,* is not only the most populous state in the country, it is also killing the most shelter pets in the country after Texas. But there is a footnote to this fact that is both disturbing and promising. It turns out that 75 percent of the animals dying in California shelters are cats. That’s incredibly sad because most of these are community cats who should never have entered a shelter in the first place. The good news is that, armed with this knowledge, our movement can target this problem with proven programs that quickly and dramatically reduce the killing of cats in shelters. There are already some great examples of this happening in one of the largest shelter systems in the state.

Today, there are more than 2,000 no-kill cities in the U.S. Conference goers will have a front-row seat on the latest developments in the no-kill movement from across the country and meet leaders who are stepping up from all walks of life to make a difference in their communities.

Please stay in touch as events unfold by checking in on Facebook.

The world is changing. Be a part of the work that is changing the world for the better.

Together, we will Save Them All.

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society