Records break in Los Angeles: Historic, all-time low in annual shelter deaths recorded

In 2012, when Best Friends launched the NKLA initiative, aimed at making Los Angeles a no-kill city by 2017, we knew that our most important partner would be Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS). It was their collaboration and support at all levels of their operations that would prove critical to success.

We are at roughly the halfway point of our target timeline for achieving NKLA, and it is gratifying to see the results and the success that LAAS is enjoying. June 30 was the end of the city’s fiscal year, the date that all city financial and departmental data records roll their counters back to “00000” for the start of the new accounting and record-keeping year.

When Best Friends and a few other folks began rattling the cages of the traditional sheltering world in the mid-1980s, the city of Los Angeles was killing about 60,000 dogs and cats a year. If you think that sounds bad, the numbers were actually on the rise, although still below the shockingly high death total of 1971, when more than 110,000 pets were killed in L.A. city shelters (despite the fact that the city had a million fewer residents).

This June 30 marked the end of a fiscal year with a record low number of shelter deaths at LAAS. While still unacceptably high at 12,680 lives lost, it is a dramatic improvement from just a few years ago. Between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011, the year before the launch of NKLA and light years ahead of the bad old days of the 1970s, nearly 21,800 animals were killed in LAAS shelters.

This success would be unthinkable without the combined efforts of all NKLA Coalition partners, but it is particularly gratifying to share this milestone with every city shelter worker, leadership staff person and volunteer. A special note of thanks goes to LAAS general manager, Brenda Barnette. Upon her arrival in Los Angeles in 2010, Brenda joined with Best Friends in a solid commitment to getting this initiative rolling. She has been unflagging in her support of the NKLA mission and has fostered a lifesaving culture in the shelters ever since.

Los Angeles is a large, diverse and multifaceted city that presents a variety of challenges, each of which can be found in other urban areas across the country, which is why so many say that if no-kill can be achieved in Los Angeles, it can be achieved anywhere. That is one of the main reasons that we chose L.A. to launch this groundbreaking initiative.

Make no mistake, no single organization and no amount of money could accomplish what has already been achieved on the march to NKLA. This success belongs to every NKLA Coalition partner, to the animal-loving public of Los Angeles and, most of all, to the staff and volunteers of Los Angeles Animal Services.

Together, we will Save Them All.

Los Angeles