NKLA makes its mark

In October of 2011, NKLA, funded by Best Friends, began a financial incentive program to encourage participating organizations to focus a bit more of their resources into finding homes for animals from Los Angeles city shelters. By the end of May, coalition partners had placed 1,957 more L.A. shelter animals than they had in the same months of 2010 for which baseline data was gathered.

That boost in adoptions coupled with the effects of ongoing coalition partner programs has resulted in a close to 15.7 percent reduction in L.A. Animal Services (LAAS) shelter killing over the first five months of 2012, or 1,080 fewer animals killed.

This is great news for the animals and for the city of Los Angeles, but there is still a long way to go. The goal of NKLA is to achieve the no-kill threshold of a 90 percent save rate of all city shelter animals. In 2011, approximately 17,000 more animals would have needed to be saved to reach that goal. Increased adoptions (i.e., direct life saving) are one obvious way to hit that mark; the other is to reduce shelter intake.

A significant factor in the number for 2012 has been a reduction in intake from some of LAAS’s most problematic zip codes owing in large measure to the spay/neuter efforts run by coalition partners, such as Found Animals Foundation, FixNation, Downtown Dog Rescue, Angel Dog, and Best Friends prior to the launch of NKLA. Non-targeted low-cost and free spay/neuter within L.A. city has been running at around 13,000 to 15,000 procedures a year, which has exerted a downward pressure on shelter pet populations. With the launch of NKLA, we will kick that number up to over 20,000 spay/neuter procedures targeted to low-income pet owners. The 20,000 benchmark represents five targeted surgeries per 1,000 residents in the general population for a city the size of Los Angeles at 4 million residents. The five-per-1,000 threshold has demonstrated shelter intake reduction of up to 30 percent in research done by low-cost spay/neuter pioneer Peter Marsh.

Another important piece of the NKLA effort is Best Friends operation of the Northeast Valley Shelter as a pet adoption center. Since mid-January, 1,384 dogs and cats from L.A. city shelters have been saved through the center, and with a recently launched foster program for unweaned kittens, that number is expected to have an increased growth rate over the next few months.

So while we are celebrating, we are not resting. And, while five months is a good sample, only time will tell if we are looking at a sustaining trend.

Saving lives is always rewarding and exciting. Watching a city turn around is electric!

To find out more about NKLA, please visit NKLA.org.

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society