CHARLOTTE LAWS - DREAM AND ACHIEVE TOGETHER
COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS FOR A NO-KILL LOS ANGELES
By: Charlotte Laws
order to accomplish the no-kill goal, the L.A. Department of Animal Services (LAAS)
must build strong relationships with rescue groups, businesses, veterinarians
and community members. No-kill collaborations have been highly successful in
other parts of the country; they have reduced taxpayer costs and ended the
killing of healthy and/or treatable shelter animals. Following are ideas for
strengthening and/or forging community alliances and making Los Angeles a leader
in animal welfare.
order to increase adoptions and obtain greater assistance from the public, the
philosophy of Animal Services must be such that compassion is rewarded. The
public must view LAAS as a partner in solving the animal overpopulation problem.
Employees and volunteers must:
Cooperate with each other
Inspire the community
Be given awards or incentives for saving
Have a helpful and upbeat attitude
Angeles should establish a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization as a separate
entity from the city and allow this nonprofit to retain use of the East
Valley Animal Shelter (rather than auction the property as currently
planned). The shelter would be leased to the nonprofit for a nominal fee until
the no-kill goal is achieved; it would be run by the nonprofit and its
volunteers. When the public shelters become full, animals would be transferred
to the nonprofit facility, then to foster parents or permanent homes.
A coalition of not-for-profits could also accept animals when city
shelters become full.
nonprofit would have the following advantages or be able to implement the
It would be able to receive tax
deductible donations from private donors, corporate sponsors and not-for-profit
groups, potentially even Maddie's Fund.
It would embark upon creative
fundraising ideas (i.e. Santa photos with your pet) and special events and take
advantage of deals offered by businesses to assist nonprofits. For example,
Border’s Books will give 15% of its profits to a 501 c (3) on a particular
weekend. Some manufacturers will donate animal-related products to nonprofits or
sell them at reduced rates.
The nonprofit's Board of Directors would
be comprised of individuals who care about animals and who have the ability to
either a) fundraise, or b) donate something of major value to the shelter (such
as no-cost advertising or veterinary assistance). A vet who serves on the board,
for example, might give 20 hours per month of free time at the shelter.
The nonprofit should plan fundraising
events throughout the year, such as concerts, golf tournaments, wine tasting and
telethons. Sponsors should cover all costs for the events.
must be a widespread effort to increase adoptions, via greater
community outreach, stronger links with rescue groups and an increased number of
A sweeping foster parent network expands the capacity of the shelter. For example, students may not be ideal candidates to provide a permanent home, but they can be excellent fosters. Some businesses could be persuaded to foster animals. Fosters can go to off-site adoption events with their adoptees, and they can pay for most animal-related costs (except perhaps extraordinary medical expenses). LAAS should give the least desirable animal to a first-time foster parent because the foster will usually permanently adopt the first animal he or she receives.
Incentives for the Public
LAAS should partner with businesses for free products/services and discounts, which can then be offered to the public as adoption incentives. Some might include:
Free veterinary care for the first visit
Free dog behavior advice
Free pet food
Discount on supplies and free goodies.
Volunteers should help with off-site adoptions. Animals must be taken to where people live, work and shop, such as flea markets, fairs, parks, church bazaars, special events and malls. Large events called "super adoptions" can be held in parks or parking lots. Holiday adoptions should be permitted as long as it is from one family member to another.
DIRECTOR OF ANIMAL WELFARE (DAW) PROGRAM
grassroots community program, which
establishes a Director of Animal Welfare (DAW) for every area in
Los Angeles, is already
underway via the Neighborhood Council system (www.DAWprogram.org), but needs to
be expanded and fully embraced by the city of Los Angeles.
Director of Animal Welfare (DAW) is appointed by the Neighborhood Council for
that area and recruits volunteers to assist with projects and outreach.
The DAW position is volunteer; this person acts as the eyes and ears for the
animals in the area, potentially receiving funds from the local council and
utilizing the council website, newsletter and meetings for community outreach. A
DAW, for example, can do the following:
Arrange Animal Care Fairs, community
events with spay/neuter services, dog training, humane education and adoptions.
Locate foster and permanent homes for
Publicize the merits of spay/neuter
Alert the Los Angeles Cruelty Task Force
about animal cruelty in the neighborhood.
AT THE SHELTERS
organizations and individuals should be recruited continually to volunteer at
the shelters. Volunteers can perform many
tasks, such as:
Medicating sick cats
Training dogs with behavior problems
Walking and playing with the animals.
Volunteers should walk dogs several times per day, which makes the animals
happier, thus quieter and more adoptable. Dozens of barking dogs is an adoption
deterrent. The cats should have play time with the volunteers
Doing routine office work
Helping with adoptions.
should be flexible with the volunteers, who should be permitted to work on their
lunch hour or act as a foster parents, even for a limited period of time.
should make a list of all community partnerships, including rescue groups, and
be sure all employees and volunteers know how to access the list.
AND COMMUNITY SERVICES
should establish a free behavior hotline, free or low cost dog training, free
pet friendly rental referrals and other services which can be obtained at no
cost via partnerships with businesses in the community.
should be created with vet schools (for free or low cost veterinary
assistance), local businesses and pet food companies. Science Diet will
provide free food to shelters as long as the shelter pays shipping. Bayer will
provide flea-related products at no cost. Pet-friendly businesses can be
promoted at the shelter in return for products or services. Deals should be
worked out with groomers. LAAS should never pay retail.
should negotiate with vets to come to the shelter for free or a small fee.
They can be given PR in return for their services; for example, when an animal
is adopted, the adopter can be told that this particular vet has the animal’s
records and medical history.
AND PUBLIC RELATIONS
must be innovative with advertising and public relations. They could do
Display satellite images of shelter
animals on big screens at local malls.
Show animals on as many websites as
possible, on TV news programs and in the newspaper as the “pet of the week.”
When writing copy, the aim should be to get people to cry, to impact them
Exhibit animals on rescue kiosks. These
are ATM-like machines that allow prospective pet owners to search for pets
throughout the shelter system.
Record 30 and 60 second radio public
service announcements for public access television.
no-kill movement is growing. The number of no-kill shelters has increased
nationwide from 50 in the 1980's to about 250 today.[i]
studies show that people adopt dogs from public shelters only 12% of the time,
and cats 11% of the time.[ii]
These numbers will drastically improve when we alter the public perception of
our shelters and when will build alliances with the people and businesses in our
Please see footnote regarding cost issues.[iii]
[i] See Liz Szabo, "Kinder, gentler animal shelters," USA Today (July 25, 2004).
[ii] See HLP, Inc. 2005, "National Animal Care Statistics." www.petharbor.com/NationalStats.Asp on September 17, 2005. In 2002, the American Humane organization estimated the adoption rates a little higher with 25% of the dogs and 24% of the cats that enter shelters as adopted. See www.americanhumane.org website.
[iii] No additional funds are required to implement the policies in this section of the No-Kill Council's proposal; in fact, costs could decrease as businesses and individuals donate money to the nonprofit and as products and services are obtained at discounts. There is one exception: the city of Los Angeles would have to be willing to defer profits which would normally be received from auctioning the East Valley Animal Shelter until a later date (until the no-kill goal is realized).