By Aaron Blevins, 9/20/2012
With more than 17,000 euthanized animals in L.A. in 2011, Best Friends is working to encourage adoptions
According to Best Friends Animal Society, more than 9,000 animals are euthanized in shelters across the country each day. Last year, Los Angeles city shelters contributed nearly 50 animals to that daily total.
The city’s total figure of 17,000 euthanized animals in 2011 is why Best Friends Animal Society-Los Angeles has started its “No Kill Los Angeles” (NKLA) initiative, which will be on display during Strut Your Mutt at Pan Pacific Park this weekend.
“It’s a number that we definitely are trying to reduce,” said Phiphi Gavalas, the communications manager for Best Friends-Los Angeles. “In fact, our NKLA initiative has the goal of reducing that number to zero in the next five years.”
That is an ambitious goal, but NKLA consists of approximately 50 or so animal welfare agencies that have partnered to try to make it a reality. Gavalas said Best Friends provides adoptions subsidies and spay/neuter grants to these entities.
The organization has also opened the Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center, a no-kill shelter in Mission Hills. The center opened in late January at the Northeast Valley Animal Care Center, a city facility constructed in 2007 that never opened due to budget issues, Gavalas said.
“It’s been great,” she said. “We have adopted out about 1,100 pets since we’ve opened.”
Gavalas said Best Friends strives to keep the center’s population full, and the animals are pulled from the city’s six shelters. She said the center does not take animals from the public, however.
Since the center has opened, Best Friends has noticed that adoptions are up and euthanasia is down in Los Angeles, Gavalas said. The organization, though, is still compiling figures.
“The trend is showing that euthanasia is down in L.A. city shelters,” she said.
Yet, the initiative still has a ways to go. Gavalas said Best Friends will continue to encourage people to adopt a shelter pet, spay and neuter their pets and volunteer at local rescues.
“There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle. There’s no real simple solution,” she said, adding that spaying and neutering is key. “That will prevent accidental litters. In fact, about 50 percent of all pets are accidents.”
Gavalas said fostering pets is also very helpful, as it gives the pet a loving home, even if it’s temporary. She said pets are much more adoptable when staying in a warm, loving home.
“Pets flourish in a home,” Gavalas added. “In a home environment, they come out of their shell.”
Best Friends will also continue to give supporters the online tools they need to spread the word through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The organization does not receive government funding, and could use donations as well.
Strut Your Mutt is very important in that respect, Gavalas said. She said the money raised goes directly to the rescues involved, and those organizations also use the event to raise money for their respective causes.
“It helps bring awareness to a lot of people about the plight of homeless pets,” Gavalas said, adding that $290,000 has been raised so far this year.
For information, visit blfa.bestfriends.org or www.strutyourmutt.org.