CHARLOTTE LAWS - DREAM AND ACHIEVE TOGETHER 


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

Dr. Charlotte Laws - Councilperson Valley Glen


Please Have Your Council or Organization Pass This Proposal then Submit to the City of Los Angeles
Also Let Me Know When You Pass It, So I Can Add Your Council To the List of Supporters
Proposal Written By: Charlotte Laws of GVGC


Proposal for Making Los Angeles a "No-Kill Animal Shelter City"
(Keep in mind this proposal was written in 2004 - changes may have occurred since then)

The __________________Council proposes an end to the killing of the 30,000 50,000 dogs and cats annually in Los Angeles animal shelters; the L.A. shelters cost the taxpayer $14 million per year. If we can make L.A. "no-kill," we can save taxpayer money and save animal lives, as well as gain nationwide recognition for the city as a leader in animal welfare.

Part One (To be implemented as soon as possible):

The City of Los Angeles has 86 Neighborhood Councils. Each Council should elect a "Director for Animal Welfare" (DAW). This individual should be a member of the community and should be well-acquainted with animal needs in the area. The DAW would have a duty to look out for the animals, with respect to abuse, vaccinations, wandering pets, spay/neuter, etc.  In other words, this person would work towards solving any pet-related issues the community faces (with or without other volunteers). Different parts of Los Angeles have different needs: some areas deal with horse-related problems while others face illegal dog fights or feral cats.

The DAW serves as the eyes and ears for that neighborhood's animals. He/she could have the following duties: a) to arrange periodic Animal Care Fairs, in which education, spay/neuter, animal training tips, etc. would be offered to the public, b) to provide the Neighborhood Council and stakeholders with a report at meetings about the animals, c) to provide useful tips for the stakeholders via the Neighborhood Council newsletter or handouts, d) to help with adoption-related issues, e) to work on animal-related projects and get the DAWs and other councils involved.

The Animal Care Fair is a good idea because residents tend to be more receptive to local people working on a grassroots level to effect change, rather than facing outsiders who may be less familiar with the problems of the community.

If some funding becomes necessary to supplement the Animal Care Fairs or other animal-related needs, some Neighborhood Council monies could be used (at the Council's discretion) or dollars could be obtained from a non-profit organization called The Maddie's Fund (to be discussed in detail below). It is unlikely the DAWs would need much money because Spay/Neuter services can be free and animal assistance is provided often at no charge by animal welfare and rescue groups.

Part Two (To be implemented over the next two years. A and B to be done simultaneously):

Section A. Los Angeles is spending $154 million in taxpayer bond money to build new shelters and expand others. These structures and additions will increase the space for dogs and cats significantly: from 366 to 1253 kennels, which will assist indirectly with a changeover into a "no kill" shelter city.

There will be three vacant shelters at the conclusion of this building process: the East Valley Shelter with 60 kennels, the Harbor Area Shelter with 21 kennels and the West L.A. Shelter with 26 kennels. These empty shelters should also be utilized to help transition the city into "no-kill."

The process to deal with "no longer needed," city-owned property, such as the empty animal shelters, requires a land sale at auction through the Department of General Services. In order to utilize the empty shelters for the transition, the taxpayers would have to pass a local measure that would postpone the sale of these shelters for a few years. Linda Gordon, who is the Liaison to the Bureau of Engineering for L.A.'s Animal Facilities Bond Program, believes it is possible to pass such a measure. 

Section B. An L.A. nonprofit should be established, regardless as to whether L.A. decides to apply for Maddie's Fund money. Maddie's Fund is a charity with almost $300 million to help cities, counties, and states become "no-kill" over a ten year period. It will not give money directly to a government: only to a non-profit established to help the locality. Utah, New York City, counties in Florida and Arizona, among others, are currently using Maddie's Fund money to move towards the "no kill" objective.

Richard Avanzino, the head of Maddie's Fund, says that he thinks $20 million would be an appropriate amount to devote to the Los Angeles project, as long as the L.A. nonprofit raises $20 million in matching donations. Avanzino says this should be easy for Los Angeles: New York raised $3 million the first day and $16 million in a few months.  Funds could come from corporate donors, such as Petco and Petsmart, or entertainment industry fundraisers. 

The Maddie's Fund project requires a two-pronged attack on the problem: it requires an aggressive spay/neuter plan and a pet adoption plan. Both are detailed at the Maddie's Fund website (http://www.maddies.org). Detailed accounting is crucial, and the locality must demonstrate that the program is self-sustaining.

Prong One:

A person/organization must agree to take responsibility for each prong. Nathan Winograd might agree to move to Los Angeles and head up the adoption side of this nonprofit project. He is the perfect choice because he worked with Maddie's Fund successfully in San Francisco, has incorporated a no-kill strategy in Ithica, New York and is endorsed by and respected by Avanzino. He is also an independent thinker with a strong personality who can likely combat the myriad of opposing and contentious views in Los Angeles over this issue. As an alternative, Francis Battista of Best Friends says he might agree to undertake the adoption side of the project.

The three vacant shelters (mentioned in Section A above) would then be leased to the L.A. "no kill" nonprofit for a small monthly fee until conclusion of the Maddie's Fund program. The nonprofit would run the vacant shelters with volunteers and money acquired through Maddie's Fund or other nonprofit means.

Prong Two:

At a Los Angeles Animal Commission meeting in 2002, Sue Freeman of People and Cats Together offered to head a spay/neuter program for the city.  A licensed veterinarian must be in charge of this part of the Maddie's Fund process, but numerous vets and volunteers, such as Freeman, can help coordinate and implement the program. Maddie's Fund pays the veterinarians directly to cover the cost of the spaying/neutering of any animal; the public pays no more than $20 per dog or cat.

*It should be noted that if Maddie's Fund money is used, the 2000 ordinance (# 173168  passed by the L.A. City Council which deals with the increased animal license fees) would have to be overturned or "put on hold." Many say that this ordinance has not proved successful; only 25% of L.A. pets are licensed.  L.A. could seek to  acquire full approval for the Maddie's Fund money before considering a temporary reversal of the ordinance.

If the City and the L.A. nonprofit prefer to execute a plan,  similar to that which is outlined in this letter but without the use of Maddie's Fund money, it could be equally successful. Additional nonprofit funds would have to be raised, but the ordinance could stay in place.

Some Strategies for Making Part Two a Success:

The following ideas largely stem from the techniques advanced by Maddie's Fund and "No Kill Solutions" (an organization developed by the nation's "no kill" expert Nathan Winograd, based in his successes in San Francicsco and Ithica, New York). 

1) Create Community Partnerships. Utilize foster care and rescue groups to a greater extent. Businesses could be encouraged to adopt homeless animals.

2) Cut wasteful programs that do not save lives. Animal Services should be proactive rather than passively counting the animals killed.

3) Change mindset: reward compassion in the community.

4) Implement an aggressive, free or very low cost spay/neuter plan.  (Maddie's Fund money can be used for this purpose). According to Winograd, if all cities and counties in the U.S. had municipally funded spay/neuter, the country would be "no kill."

5) Fundraise for the newly-formed nonprofit. Appoint a Board of Directors who can raise money or give something of value to the nonprofit (i.e. free advertising or free veterinary care).

6) Off-site Adoptions are crucial. Animals must be taken to where people live, work and play.

7) Creative PR and advertising. Satellites should be placed at local malls, displaying pictures of adoptable animals. This strategy has been successful in Oregon.

8) Establish partnerships with pet shops. Some pet stores are moving towards offering shelter animals for sale or displaying them for adoption in their store front windows.

9) Establish a huge volunteer program at the shelter.

10) Keep the animals happy. Aim to walk the dogs four times per day and give cats time outside of the cages twice a day. Happy animals are less rambunctious and more easily adopted.
11) There should be longer or different shelter hours to accommodate the public.

12) L.A. Animal Services should never pay retail. Some companies provide free products (i.e. food and flea items) to public shelters.

13) Veterinarians should be asked to volunteer to assist the shelter periodically (this has been successful elsewhere). They can be given PR in return for their services.

14) There should be free animal education and behavioral training for the community. 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.

15) Unions and volunteers must learn to work together. Animal lives should not be in direct conflict with union jobs.

17) Cameras should be placed in shelters to reduce cruelty.

18) L.A. should provide incentive to adopt shelter animals, such as free shots for two years, free medical exams, free spay/neuter, etc.

19) L.A. Animal Services should always give animals the benefit of the doubt with respect to aggressive behavior. The "dog whisperer" believes all aggressive dogs can be reformed. According to "No Kill Solutions," if more than 2 4% of the dogs are found aggressive, the testing is not being done properly.

20) Do not use words, such as adoptable or treatable, when arriving at shelter statistics. These words can be manipulated to justify deaths. Only use the total number received vs. the number killed.

21) In general, legislation should be directed towards the shelters rather than the public.

22) Implement a trap, neuter, release feral cat program.

_______________________________________________

In conclusion, I hope you will find this cost-free, life-saving proposal to be of assistance. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Charlotte Laws of the Greater Valley Glen Council at 818-781-5280. She has contact data and further details about the proposal drafted in this letter.

Sincerely,  

Name of your Council or Organization