Best Friends NKLA initiative on target to create country’s largest no-kill community

I’m thrilled to be able to share with you the latest news from our program in Los Angeles. In 2016, the L.A. city shelters achieved a record save rate of 82.6 percent for all dogs and cats entering the city shelter system! This is a major improvement over the 57 percent save rate the city had before the launch of NKLA. Los Angeles is on track to realize its no-kill goal this year.

When Best Friends started the NKLA initiative in the country’s second largest city, the goal was to transform L.A. into No-Kill Los Angeles (NKLA) by saving at least 90 percent of the animals who enter the city’s six animal shelters. At that time in 2012, no-kill had already been achieved in smaller communities around the country, but quibbles concerning its viability remained. Some said the cities in which it was achieved had some unique characteristic that made it possible or they were small or wealthy or too cold to have a kitten season, or, or …

Best Friends knew that if we could demonstrate a successful no-kill model in a city as geographically large, populous and diverse as Los Angeles, then no city or jurisdiction could say, “It can’t happen here.”

Best Friends already had a no-kill coalition plan, based on our work in Utah, and we were only waiting for the right partner in Los Angeles to roll it out there. In 2010, with the hiring of Brenda Barnette as general manager of Los Angeles Animal Services, all of the necessary people were in place.

Brenda stepped into the general manager role in July of 2010. In December 2010, the first meeting of what would become the NKLA Steering Committee was held.

In 2011, Best Friends entered into a partnership with the City of Los Angeles to operate the city’s Northeast Valley Shelter, located in the Mission Hills area of L.A. It is a beautiful facility built by the city in 2007 with funds raised on a bond measure. After completion, the shelter had never opened to the public because of recession-related budget constraints that made it impossible for Los Angeles Animal Services to staff the new shelter. On January 1, 2012, the previously mothballed Mission Hills shelter opened to the public as the Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center.

Best Friends has always believed not only that through collaboration we can achieve the goal of ending the killing of healthy and treatable pets, but also that change created through collaboration is lasting. With more than 110 participating organizations in the NKLA coalition, we will continue working together to save as many lives as possible long after the 90 percent threshold for no-kill is achieved.

The results in Los Angeles are energizing and exciting, and we should take a moment to celebrate the progress and the fact that NKLA’s 2017 goal is within reach. But there is much more work to be done through the end of this year (and beyond).

If you’re in Southern California and want to be a part of this effort, please visit to learn how you can help to turn Los Angeles into NKLA.

Together, we will Save Them All.

Los Angeles

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society