NKLA questions and answers

As we move into the second month of the NKLA effort to take Los Angeles no-kill, the response has been incredible. It seems like the entire city has put its focus on the issues facing animals in L.A., and that’s wonderful and gives the campaign amazing momentum.

However, as expected, there is some negativity floating around out there. But without question, the coalition of 47 rescue organizations and counting is pushing forward despite it.

We continue to pledge transparency with this effort, so here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions about the campaign and our work in L.A.

1. Is Best Friends using the NKLA plan simply to fundraise in L.A.? What happens to the money raised through the effort?

Yes, we are raising money via NKLA. All the funds raised through NKLA will go directly back into the campaign to help continue the lifesaving work in the city and, more importantly, make L.A. into NKLA. On top of that, Best Friends has committed to covering all the costs associated with the implementation of the entire effort.

Details of how this money is being used to fund coalition work can be found here.

2. How did you come up with five years as the length of time it will take to achieve No-Kill Los Angeles? There are plenty of no-kill communities around the country that managed to go no-kill in less than one year.

The footprint of Los Angeles is enormous (almost 500 square miles), and L.A. is America’s second most populous city at 4 million residents. No other no-kill effort has been achieved in a city of this size. As previously mentioned, Best Friends put L.A. through a deep community analysis, and some hundred pages of a report later, we know not just the “problem” areas, but also the specific issues in those areas. We can overlay shelter statistics for every area of Los Angeles with data, such as language spoken at home, household income, proximity to a spay/neuter clinic, and car ownership. This kind of data is vital because it helps us decide where to put valuable resources. This data, along with our knowledge of the city and many conversations with our coalition partners, helped to inform the target date.

Five years is the maximum time in which we expect to reach NKLA. We are aware that some smaller towns and cities have achieved no-kill in a shorter period of time, and they serve as inspiration and models for us.

3. This is all PR and no substance.

Without question, this is a big campaign with a large advertising component so that we can reach many more people in L.A. than normally would hear about animals in need. Our belief is that we can engage those people to get active to help save lives. You can see through the posts on the NKLA Facebook page that this aspect of the campaign is working incredibly well. We’re seeing lots of posts from Angelenos learning about the campaign through the billboards and stepping up to help as a volunteer or foster parent.

Because Los Angeles is inextricably linked to the celebrity world, having celebrity spokespersons is another way to increase the reach of our message and encourage people to visit the website and take action. In this way, the promotional component of the campaign is critical to the coalition’s success. That said, it is just one pillar of the plan. It doesn’t work on its own any more than any of the facets of the campaign would.

4. Why is killing 10 percent of the animals still called no-kill?

The 90 percent save rate goal is based on what is the widely accepted standard for no-kill status. We believe that the 90 percent save rate standard is the best wide-scale no-kill measure in use today. Of course, there will always be a small percentage of animals who are suffering without hope of relief where euthanasia is the right choice. However, the goal is to no longer kill adoptable animals simply for convenience.

Work also will not end at 10 percent. We’ll continue working long after the billboards come down and the 10 percent has been achieved to ensure that Los Angeles sees one of the highest save rates in the nation.

5. Utah still isn't no-kill, and I heard that the town Best Friends is in (Kanab, Utah) isn't even no-kill. If you can't do it in your own backyard, how do you think you'll be successful in L.A.?

Across the state of Utah, the programs of Best Friends – Utah are showing considerable impact, and we are investing more than ever in our effort to take the entire state no-kill. The numbers since the start of the program show incredible progress, including 217,000 spay/neuter surgeries and 96,000 adoptions. February 2012 was our best month yet, with a nearly 70 percent statewide live release rate for Utah’s 50-plus shelters, including a dog save rate for the entire state of more than 81 percent. In 2011, the state killed 16,000 fewer animals across Utah than when the program started in 2000.

Additionally, multiple communities throughout the state have crossed the 90 percent save rate threshold — South Ogden, Riverdale, South Salt Lake, Ivins, Wasatch County, Kane County, Grand County, Garfield County, Grantsville, Enoch, Ephraim, Roosevelt and Parowan — and the number is continuing to grow.

Best Friends continues to work across the state to ensure that the entire state gets to the no-kill mark. The town of Kanab (where Best Friends’ Sanctuary is located) is no-kill. Best Friends works closely with Kanab and other communities in our region on a regular basis to help animals in need.

6. I heard Best Friends is “cherry picking” the best animals from the Los Angeles city shelter system.

Cherry picking in the rescue world suggests taking only the most choice, problem-free, cutest animals from the shelter for one's adoption program. Best Friends has a goal of saving 3,000 dogs and cats from our Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center in Mission Hills. Currently, over 17,000 dogs and cats are being needlessly killed in L.A. Animal Services shelters, so there are plenty of cherries to go around. Our approach is to place as many animals as we can as quickly as possible, and we pull a wide selection that will appeal to the broad public. Some are old, some are pit bull terriers, and some are among the seemingly endless stream of brown Chihuahuas who enter the shelter system. We don't cherry pick, but neither are we trying to replicate the work of our Sanctuary in taking animals who need long-term rehabilitation prior to adoption. We have pulled deaf dogs, one-eyed dogs, three-legged dogs, and dogs with bumps and scars, along with mostly just regular shelter animals. To us, they are all cherries.

7. Does NKLA ignore the issue of feral cats in Los Angeles?

Absolutely not. We know how critical caring for feral cats is to achieving a no-kill community. The effects of the injunction on the city related to trap/neuter/return (TNR) are serious, but it does not stop TNR from being practiced across Los Angeles.

In fact, the NKLA coalition is quite active in promoting and practicing TNR. The largest provider of spay/neuter services for community cats, FixNation, is a member of the NKLA Steering Committee. The largest advocacy group in L.A. for feral cats, Stray Cat Alliance, is also a member of the committee. In addition, Best Friends runs a targeted TNR program in L.A. with a goal to TNR 4,000 cats in 2012. We are simply prohibited from promoting TNR activity out of the Best Friends Animal Society Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center.

8. What about no-kill vs. No More Homeless Pets?

The mission of No More Homeless Pets is a goal of societal change that envisions a time when pets are valued and protected by the entire community, when pets are seen as individuals with intrinsic value — a time when shelters are, as the name implies, places of temporary housing and protection for pets in need. No-kill as a method of shelter management, and community animal care is an essential step on the road to No More Homeless Pets.

No-Kill 2025