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Charlotte Laws, Ph.D. 
Member of the 
 Greater Valley Glen Council
21781 Ventura Blvd., Suite 633
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
Tel.  818.346.5280
Fax.  818.985.1690 

Dr. Charlotte Laws - Councilperson Valley Glen

How to make Los Angeles a "No-Kill Shelter City"

In California we spend $140 million to house and kill animals. In the U.S. the figure is $2 billion.

There are 6 shelters in L.A. and 60% of shelter animals are killed or 34,000 per year (93 per day). L.A. Animal Services budget was $14 million in 2003 and $13 million went to salaries.

In Los Angeles, we are building two new shelters and renovating five at a cost of between $150 million - $250 million; we are simply warehousing more animals. . If we could make L.A. no-kill, we could save taxpayers money and save animals lives.

A. Mayor Hahn needs to appoint Director of Animal Services who embraces the goal of making L.A. a no-kill shelter city. Oakland is a good model to follow; animal control works with hand in hand with nonprofits. They are almost a no-kill city.

B. $200 million in nonprofit money is available from Maddie's Fund to turn cities into no-kill shelter cities. Probably L.A. would get about $20 million from the fund, but it depends on the proposal made (in other words, what we need).

No one from Los Angeles has ever approached Maddie's fund. The following areas have put no-kill structures in place or are in the process of doing so:  San Francisco, the state of Utah, New York City, counties in NY, Arizona and Florida, the city of Lodi, California.

It requires setting up a 10 year plan. Nathan Winograd—who has successfully done this in Ithica, New York and who has worked with Maddie's Fund--might be willing to relocate to L.A. to head the nonprofit side of this program

Nonprofit money would have to be raised to match the money from Maddie's Fund, but again this could come from a handful of corporations. This matching money is necessary only because Los Angeles is such a huge project, and Maddie's Fund does not want to drain its pot on one city. In New York, they raised five million in one day; they have almost reached their $16 million final goal in only a few months. They will receive another $16 million from Maddie's fund.

The Maddie's Fund approach is two-pronged: 1) adoption program, 2) spay/neuter program. Maddie's Fund directly pays vets to do the spay /neutering ($20 by public; vet gets between $50-$110 per animal from the fund). It pays the nonprofit(s) to handle the adoption side; the minimum received is $150 per animal. It will not give any money directly to the city because it has little faith in government.

To get the money, we need to:

            1. Define the boundaries that we want to turn into no-kill shelter areas, i.e. the city of Los Angeles.

            2. Establish a facility: 

a. The only current nonprofit facility large enough is the SPCA LA. They need to be convinced or an alternative needs to be established.

b. An alternative facility could be built by corporate sponsor(s) such as Petco or Petsmart who might want to place their corporate name on the structure (i.e. The Staples Center). I am speaking with corporations now. The money used to build the structure could qualify as our 50% of the funds; the rest could come from Maddie's Fund.

c. Lease the new city shelters to the nonprofit if they are not going to be in full use or if this seems at all feasible to the new General Manager of Animal Services.

            3. The proposal would be written and submitted by Winograd (or others) to the Maddie's Fund. Volunteers have written the proposal in some cities.

            4. Upon approval, the L.A. city ordinance (which boosts licensing fee for unaltered animals from $30 to $100 and requires spay/neuter) would have to be overturned by the city council. We cannot get any money with this ordinance in place. Maddie's Fund is adamant about this.

Has our March 22, 2000 ordinance improved the situation? A small fraction of animals are licensed (25% is the number I have read). The ordinance seems to do little for the animals; it only raises money for the city and assures that responsible people (who are not the problem in the first place) pay fees.

C. Currently, the Los Angeles policy is to have people go door to door with the power to fine, confiscate and kill animals. This is punitive, not incentive-oriented. This tactic failed in Indiana, Washington and Maryland. Going door to door only makes sense in order to offer free spay/neuter or to check on the welfare of animals. If it is to collect license fees, it will put people on the defensive.  

Instead why not appoint someone in each area (especially "problem" areas), give them an official title (such as Animal Welfare Captain) and special recognition. If everyone is responsible, then nobody is it is better to make one person in an area responsible.

They would gather people to attend local Animal Care Fairs, especially in targeted neighborhoods. There would be education and free Spay/Neuter for pets. Any money needed for this could potentially come from Maddie's Fund. Our new spay/neuter mobile could be used for this. Word of mouth by animal block captains would work much better than advertising; the latter brings only the wealthy residents who don't need free services.

D. Laws and ordinances can be passed after the Maddie's Fund money has been obtained. They can be passed prior with approval from the Maddie's Fund (if indeed we want the fund's money).

            1. All dogs and cats sold in Los Angeles could be forced to have a microchip (like a VIN # on a car) and the registry would be held by the shelters, not the AKC. It costs $11 to microchip an animal. There would be fines if the "owner" did not comply. Lost dogs would have to be reported missing within 48 hours by the "owner." Then animals that showed up at shelters could be traced. Shelters would be required to microchip any animals they receive.

            2. Ordinance that all pit bulls must be fixed and no longer breeding of pit bulls. Someone (i.e. animal control)  would have to determine whether the animal qualified as a pit bull since some animals are mixed breeds. There would have to be an arbiter. Too many pit bulls are being killed; they are also being bred for fighting.

            3. If additional money is needed by the city to enforce or administer ordinances or laws, there could be a pet food tax proposed on the ballot.

E. Current law should be enforced which states that anyone with a litter to breed has to get a registration number and tell the number of animals sold the previous year. They have to publish the registration number in the ad, or the ads are illegal. There is supposed to be a task force to do this, but the law is not enforced. Sting operations could be successful by simply calling newspaper ads; it would be easy to catch those not in compliance with the law.

F. Other ideas:

            1. Cameras could be placed in shelters to reduce cruelty.

            2. Free education and behavioral training.

            3. Incentive for people to adopt shelter animals, such as free shots for two years, free medical exams, etc.

            4. Free spay/neuter.

            5. Longer or different shelter hours to accommodate the public.

            6. Let volunteers walk or play with the animals at the shelter. They do this in San Francisco; it is very successful.

            7. Place a satellites at local malls so people can see adoptable animals. This was successful in Oregon.

            8. When building new shelters in the future, use models that better life for the animals, rather than the traditional model. There are alternatives in Utah and Northern California. Animals can live for long periods of time without stress, etc. The Utah model is very inexpensive.

            9. San Francisco shelters have free spay/neuter, free or low cost behavioral counseling, free "pets ok" rental referrals, free feral cat assistance program. Maddie's Fund money can be used for these purposes.


* Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Proposal was written in 2004 and may be a bit outdated.