Protecting California's Animals

The 54 page report was presented to the city of Oakland at the end of May 2005...

Proposal for Making Oakland a “No Kill” Animal Shelter City

I propose that Oakland be transformed into a “no kill” city, making it a nationwide leader in animal welfare, lowering taxpayer costs (it can cost up to $250 in the U.S. to hold a shelter animal for euthanasia and dispose of the body) and saving animal lives.

Oakland kills approximately 50% of its shelter animals annually. Of the 4623 dogs and cats who found themselves at the facility last year, 2227 were euthanized. These deaths are unnecessary: various cities, counties and states in the U.S. have either achieved the “no kill” objective or are moving swiftly in this direction. Tompkins County, New York, Berkeley and San Francisco, California have made amazing strides, while Phoenix, Arizona; New York City; the state of Utah (as well as countless other localities) have embraced a strategy to realize what I call the "93% no kill objective" within the next few years.

A "93% no kill objective"* means saving the lives of all healthy and medically/behaviorally treatable animals. This should be the initial objective for Oakland. After this is accomplished, the effort should be to save all shelter animals by establishing a hospice-type environment for the terminally ill and a sanctuary for those deemed too dangerous for rehabilitation, as Utah’s Best Friends currently provides. At that time, Oakland will be the first "100% no kill" city in the country.

The public wants the killing to end. Impediments to this are the bureaucratic mindset of some animal services employees, a lack of creativity and the false notion that "people are irresponsible" and "there are too many animals and not enough homes." If the latter is really true, the why are pet stores and breeders still in business?

* The 93% stems from the numbers supplied by Nathan Winograd at one of his seminars in accordance with his success in Tompkins County, New York.

High volume, low cost spay/neuter is critical for the success of “no kill" as are partnerships with the community; adversarial relationships between people and the shelter are destructive on every level. 

I. The first step would be to sever ties between Oakland’s Animal Services (OAS) and the police department, although the two organizations would still unite in their effort to combat animal cruelty and for other purposes. Police officers are trained to focus on public safety, yet animal services employees must both protect and care about animals in addition to safeguarding people. A police officer should not be expected to understand the significant weight that should be given to compassion towards animals.

II. The Director of OAS should be a person who cares about animals and who will embark upon strategies to make the city “no kill.” The job description for the “Director” position should be altered to assure the applicants understand that the desire and ability to protect animals and eliminate the killing is a prerequisite for the job. I forwarded job descriptions to you in March 2005, and I am glad to hear that Lupe Valdez was able to incorporate some of these ideas into a final draft of the Stakeholder Committee "job description."

The Director’s salary should be raised to approximately $90,000 - $125,000 per year (depending upon experience) to ensure a talented pool of applicants. Los Angeles pays its new Director over $150,000. To determine if a higher figure is necessary, Oakland should evaluate shelter director salaries in cities with comparable housing/living expenses (in accordance with the stakeholder committee's suggestion). Some excellent candidates have expressed an inability to relocate to Oakland due to the high cost of housing in the area unless the salary is commensurate. Alterations should also be made with respect to union affiliation so the city manager has control over this position.

The city might also want to consider implementing Los Angeles' method for selecting the Director of Animal Services: the Mayor would make the appointment and the City Council would confirm it.

III. Two grassroots community programs should be established: the first would create a Director of Animal Welfare (DAW) for every district in Oakland in accordance with the current council boundaries, and the other would establish a Humane Officer program or task force.

The DAW for each area would be appointed by the Councilmember for that district, and the DAW would then be able to create a committee and recruit volunteers to assist with projects and outreach. The DAW position would be volunteer; this person would act as the eyes and ears for the animals in an area. (I have recently started a DAW program in Los Angeles.) Members of a community often reject outsiders coming into their area to implement change; yet grassroots efforts by local people, such as DAWs, are more readily embraced. Sporadic DAW-like events have been successful in Alameda County in past years, so it makes sense to expand these programs and make them permanent.

Animal issues differ from one neighborhood to another. One area may have problems with dog fighting or feral cats, while another has spay/neuter concerns. As a stakeholder, the DAW will have a grasp of the concerns in the community. The DAW might hold events, such as Animal Care Fairs in which free spay/neuter services are provided as well as dog training, immunizations and humane education, or a DAW might assist the shelter with regular adoptions at a nearby mall or flea market. The DAW and his/her volunteers may be able to conduct outreach activities via already-established local councils or groups, who often have regular meetings, newsletters and websites. The DAW may be able to communicate with stakeholders by way of emails or literature that are regularly sent to constituents from the City Councilmember for that district. Each DAW would decide how to best assist the animals in his/her community. Creativity is encouraged.

Humane officer training has been started by a number of volunteers from Animal Crime Investigations Bureau (ACIB), who are in the midst of completing the classes (which cost approximately $200 for two-weeks of instruction).

The Humane Officers’ purpose is to increase manpower so as to assist with cruelty-related situations and to help enforce laws that are meant to protect animals. For example, they might check on neighbor complaints of animal abuse with the assistance of OAS or the Oakland Police Department, or they might use newspaper ads to trace and investigate illegal breeding (for example, some California legislators have sought to pass a law that requires breeders to have a registration number and report the number of animals sold in the previous year; Humane Officers could help enforce such a law). Humane Officers could be appointed by the City Councilmember for the district or instead by the Neighborhood Crime Prevention Councils in their area. 

IV. Oakland should create an Animal Commission (resembling the commissions in Los Angeles and San Francisco), which would operate like a "Board of Directors;" it would hold regular meetings, maintain a website and exert policy control over the OAS. The Mayor would appoint individuals to serve, and the city should provide funding to staff the Commission. 

V. OAS employees must change their philosophy to one in which compassion is rewarded and relationships are built with the community. They should not enforce minor infractions of the law, such as when a jogger runs through the park with his dog “off leash.” People should not be punished for feeding and caring for feral cats. The public must view OAS as a partner in solving the animal overpopulation problem, rather than as the enemy. 

OAS must also be proactive, rather than passive. Most shelters merely tally the number of animals each day and incorrectly assume that there are too many animals and not enough homes.

VI. OAS should cut programs and positions that do not save lives. They must cut waste and decline to spend money on programs that are ineffective. There is no evidence, for example, that humane education (i.e. at schools) is beneficial. Humane Education and other programs/efforts which do not directly correlate to saving animals’ lives should only be undertaken by volunteers. They should cost OAS nothing.

OAS should add programs that save lives. For example, there should be a  "Last Litter Project" (with cat rescue groups), and programs that reduce the number of "pit bull-type dogs" in the area should be explored because these breeds represent a large number of the deaths at the Oakland shelter. Free spay/neuter vouchers and other incentives would be a wise start.

VII. The overall “no kill” strategy involves a two-pronged process: implementing both low cost or free spay/neuter and widespread animal adoptions. It would probably take between two and five years for Oakland to realize the goal. Money may be available. Maddie’s Fund is a nonprofit with almost $300 million available for the sole purpose of helping cities, counties and states become “no kill.Oakland has received limited funding from this organization in the past. Mr. Richard Avanzino, the head of Maddie's Fund, has said he would be interested in a proposal to help all of the shelter animals in Alameda County.

Maddie’s Fund money can go directly to pay for any service (i.e. spay/neuter, advertisements for adoption, dog training). Maddie’s Fund typically requires the local area to fundraise. The proportion of matching funds depends upon the size of the project: New York City is receiving $16 million and must raise the highest percentage of matching funds: 100 percent. Mr. Avanzino has verbally indicated that he would make a similar deal with Los Angeles. It is unlikely Oakland would be required to raise this large percentage, as the project would be much smaller. Further details about the organization can be found at 

Maddie’s Fund money cannot be given directly to government; it must be funneled through a nonprofit. Oakland should establish a new nonprofit for this purpose, which can continue to work in partnership with the nonprofits and rescue groups in the area, so that when the Oakland shelter becomes too crowded, animals are transferred to other facilities.

The Oakland Shelter already has this type of relationship with the East Bay SPCA, Island Cat Resources, Fix Our Ferals, Hop-a-Long, Smiley Dog, Bad Rap and others, but there are many nonparticipating, community-based organizations that could partner with OAS. The goal is to find alternate facilities for the animals when the Oakland shelter becomes full, while simultaneously reducing animal births so that fewer and fewer animals need homes over time.

The Oakland animal shelter nonprofit organization would be able to accept money directly from Maddie’s Fund and other sources (such as private donors or corporate sponsors) and make decisions about how best to utilize funds. A “Special Fund” should be created for soliciting large donations.

The Board of Directors for the nonprofit would be comprised of individuals who not only care about animals, but also have the ability to either a) fundraise, or b) donate something of major value to the shelter. A veterinarian who agrees to frequent the facility and provide free veterinary assistance would be a welcome addition to the board, as would a billboard company CEO who could offer no-cost advertising.

VIII. Specifics of the plan are as follows and are broken down by category. This parallels the “no kill” strategies embarked upon in an urban area (San Francisco) and in a rural area (Tompkins County, NY); both found success with these methods.

A. Assistance at the shelter. Dozens of volunteers should continually be recruited (as Megan Webb currently does). When Ms. Webb (who is a valuable addition to OAS) leaves to attend graduate school, an unpaid “volunteer coordinator” (perhaps a retiree from a senior citizen home) might want to become the "Community Outreach Program Director." Volunteers can perform many tasks, such as medicating sick cats, training dogs with behavior problems, walking and grooming dogs, doing routine office work and helping with adoptions. In addition, union employees and volunteers must cooperate. Any disputes at OAS between these two factions must be resolved.

OSA should place announcements in the Oakland Tribune about monthly volunteer orientations. OAS should be flexible with the volunteers; they should be permitted to walk dogs or play with cats on their lunch hour or act as a foster parent, even for a limited period of time. Volunteers can be kept informed by weekly e-mails, which include recently published articles, information on shelter animals and new Animal Services procedures.

There should be a wildlife referral program (with organizations such as the Wildlife Waystation) for skunks, raccoons, opossums and other wild creatures who find themselves at the shelter. Creating partnerships will save the shelter time, money, effort and space. OAS should make a list of all partnerships and licensed rehabilitators and be sure all employees know how to access the list.

Alliances 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; the shelter merely pays for the shipping which works out to about $1 per animal per year.  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. OAS should never pay retail.

OAS 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. The person will be likely to use the vet in the future. OAS should always seek competitive bids from vets and vet schools for surgeries and major medical procedures.

B. Exercise and Socialization for the Animals. The animals should not be sequestered in their kennels all day. Dogs should be taken for walks by volunteers or given play time several times per day, and the cats should get out twice. This keeps the animals calmer (especially with respect to large dogs), thus making them happier and more adoptable. The pubic is more likely to stay in the facility longer and therefore adopt when the shelter is quiet; dozens of barking dogs is a deterrent. OAS currently walks only the animals in the front who are available for adoption.

A full-time dog trainer should be on staff. I understand the current trainer is part-time.

C. Primarily Focus on Spay/Neuter. OAS must intensify the effort at high volume, low or no cost spay/neuter. Spay/neuter is cost-effective in the long run; of course, Maddie’s Fund and nonprofit dollars can provide for this.

According to Winograd, if all cities and counties in this country had municipally funded spay/neuter, the nation would be (93%) “no kill” today. Every dollar spent in spay/neuter saves the taxpayer $10 in costs later. At one point, San Francisco paid people $5 for each animal they brought to be spayed/neutered.

D. Supplemental Shelter Services. OAS 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.

E. Adoptions. There must be a widespread effort at increasing adoptions, which means linking with rescue groups, establishing foster homes and increasing shelter adoptions. OAS must find creative ways to compete with pet shops and “free to a good home” newspaper ads, such as by offering incentives.

The simple act of becoming “no kill,” should mean an increase in adoptions because many people stay away from shelters due to the emotional pain of knowing that animals die at the facility.  

OAS should establish at least one showcase facility on an unused, but well-positioned city property. It should be located in a busy area where the animals can be seen by the public. The outdoor mall area near the City Center BART station would be an excellent choice; it would garner the attention of shoppers, city hall visitors and commuters. No animal should ever be euthanized at this location or returned to the OAS building. This supplemental facility could be manned by volunteers and funded by the nonprofit.

Adoption incentives should be offered, such as free veterinary care for the first visit, free dog behavior advice, free pet food, discount on supplies, and free goodies. OAS should partner with businesses for free products/services and discounts.

Off-site Adoptions are crucial. Animals must be taken to where people live, work and shop, such as flea markets, fairs, parks, church bazaars, special events and malls. Store windows at pet shops in busy shopping centers could be used to display adoptable animals; partnerships with these stores could prove advantageous. Instead of purchasing animals from puppy mills, the business could obtain their animals from the shelter. (This is becoming a popular alternative for many pet stores.)

Anytime there is an event in the Oakland area, the shelter director should ask if animals could be adopted at the event. The shelter could even assist with publicity, which will, of course, make the coordinators anxious to have the shelter participate in future events.

Holiday adoptions are good as long as it is from one family member to another; impulse decisions are not problematic. A program called “Home for the Holidays” in which Santa brings the animal to the new home has been successful in New York. A Valentine’s Day adoption event might be called “Save a Sweetheart” or “Make a Love Connection.” Other events might include: “Dog Days of Summer,” Cats for Cops,” “Wine, Critters and Song,” “Feline Follies,” “Fur Ball” and “Seniors for Seniors.” On these occasions, there may be a reduced cost for adoptions or other benefits. 

F. Advertisements and Public Relations. OAS should be innovative with advertising and public relations. In Oregon, satellite images of shelter animals are displayed on large screens at local malls. Animals can be shown on websites, on TV news programs or in the newspaper as the “pet of the week.” The media are usually willing to help at no cost. The media should be inundated with press releases. Real estate agents make good shelter partners because they advertise in the newspaper regularly. A Realtor in NY placed a regular ad with a photo of an adoptable pet, which read, “Find your Spot.” Realtors also typically give gifts to their clients at the close of escrow; they could be convinced to give a voucher for a free animal from the OAS shelter to good candidates.

OAS should record numerous 30 and 60 second radio public service announcements for public access television; a studio and cameraman are typically provided at no cost. In Tomkins County, the shelter director did a regular show called "Pets in Pajamas" in which adoptable animals were featured. There are many ways to get the word out, such as with a pet advice column, speeches or a regular spot on a local radio or television show. OAS must use persistence and ingenuity to communicate, to bring people to the shelter. When writing copy, the aim should be to get people to cry, to impact them emotionally. Old, ugly and sick animals should be promoted, too; and each should be given a personality.

National studies show that people get their dogs from shelters only 15% of the time, and less than 10% of the time for cats. The 2004 OAS numbers reveal that 15.8% of dogs were adopted and 19.6% of cats were adopted. These numbers can be better. Good advertising and public relations is necessary for success. 

G. Promoting Animals at the Shelter. Give the animals friendly, simple names like Buddy or Molly. Do not name a pitbull “Capone.” Pitbulls and seemingly more frightening dogs should have sissy names, floral collars and/or pink bows around their necks.

Dress the animals in different color collars/bows and keep them groomed. Put the less desirable animals at the front, so the public have to walk past them to get to the puppies and kittens in the back. Make the kennel visually appealing by mixing animals by colors and breeds. Do not place 10 black labs in a row; mix them with other breeds.

OAS should place cards on the kennel door which tells about the animal  (i.e. Buddy likes to swim and play ball) An emotional story can be created for each animal, if the actual history is not known. Shelter volunteers and staff can start teaching “stupid pet tricks” to the animals that have been at the shelter for a long time; knowing tricks make them more adoptable.

Volunteers can be planted at the shelter as “agents.” They can get excited over a particular animal: when members of the public see this attention, they are more likely to want to adopt that particular dog or cat.

H. Behavior and Illness. OAS should always give dogs the benefit of the doubt with respect to “aggressive” behavior. Sometimes behavior problems have to do with painfully long nails or mattes; plus seemingly severe problems can be cured by training or a foster home environment. Food guarding is acceptable (animal should not be killed for guarding their food), and cats should never be tested for behavior problems.

No more than 2% - 4% of dogs should be found to be aggressive; if the numbers are higher, the dogs are not being tested properly. Temperament testing requires skill and training. A dog may growl at staff upon intake because he has been ripped from his home; this growl should not automatically move the dog into the “vicious” category.

Studies show that traditional kennel temperament testing does not predict how an animal will behave in the home, and two employees administering an "objective" test, will often find different results. A detailed procedure for temperament testing can be provided upon request. (Nathan Winograd wrote these procedures). The decision to end a dog’s life is a serious one and should be treated as such.

A veterinarian who specializes in behavior medicine should evaluate each dog who is deemed aggressive to determine whether the problem is medically based or whether behavioral rehabilitation will prove successful Then, the director and on-staff dog trainer should apprise the situation.

Most shelters use a “pass” vs. “fail” scale for dogs. With the “93% no kill” model, the only time dogs would fail a test for aggression is when the prognosis for rehabilitation is poor or grave. The scale extends from excellent to good, fair, guarded, poor, and grave. In addition, the shelter must ensure that shy, scared, sick and injured dogs are not erroneously assumed to be aggressive and killed. The screening process is crucial. Temperament testing should be designed to look for dogs who are a direct and immediate threat to public safety. “93% no kill” cannot be achieved be re-categorizing dogs; it is achieved by not killing them.

OAS should not agree to owner-requested killings. A person can leave an animal at the shelter, but it is up to OAS to find a new home or determine the fate of the animal.

Injured and Sick Animals. OAS should work with vets for discounts and only those animals given a poor or grave prognosis (again on a scale with gradations of excellent, good, fair, guarded, poor and grave) would be considered “not treatable” in the "93% no kill model." A broken leg is considered “fair” prognosis; this animal would receive vet attention. As OAS becomes “100% no kill,” it should look into placing animals with poor prognosis in foster care or creating a hospice-type environment.

Foster care. A sweeping foster parent network should be created because it quickly expands the capacity of the shelter. Oakland already has a pretty good foster program, but it could be expanded to include, for example, students from local universities. 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 are great for animals who are under-socialized, going cage crazy, underage (neonatals), sick or injured.

Flexibility is important; foster parents should be able to return animals when necessary. They can also help find homes for their adoptees through outreach and connections in the community; they have contacts (who may be willing to adopt) at their workplace or social clubs. Fosters will often go to off-site adoption events with their adoptees. The fosters normally pay for all animal-related costs, except medical expenses.

OAS should give the least desirable animal to a first-time foster parent because the foster will usually permanently adopt the first animal they receive.

J. Feral Cats. OAS should continue, and expand, the Trap, Neuter, Release program. They currently partner with Fix Our Ferals on this endeavor. Many studies suggest this is the most efficient way to deal with the feral cat problem. For example, Stanford University instituted the Stanford Cat Network and went from 500 cats down to 150 in four years. Programs that kill ferals have been unsuccessful. Additional studies can be provided upon request.

Grumpy cats can live outside with ferals. OAS could even work directly with feral caretakers and try to turn feeders into caretakers (or get feeders to work with caretakers). These compassionate individuals provide a service that few people will undertake. OAS should not punish feeders or caretakers or indicate that they will confiscate their cats. 

There are probably about 60 – 100 million feral cats in the country. They will always exist; and despite what some say, they live good lives.

Studies show that any decline in songbird populations is principally due to drought, human encroachment and poisons in the water and environment. Not cats.

K. Fundraise. The OAS nonprofit should plan fundraising events throughout the year, such as concerts, golf tournaments, wine tasting and telethons. Santa could take pictures with animals. The “Phantom Ball” was a Halloween non-event in NY, but was a means for obtaining donations. The shelter might celebrate a particular animal’s birthday and invite the community for cake and lemonade.  Border’s Books will give 15% of profits to a 501 c (3) on a particular weekend; OAS nonprofit could be a periodic beneficiary. Sponsors should cover all costs for events.

L. Bookkeeping, Language and Shelter Policy. OAS should not rely on the words “adoptable” and “treatable” when arriving at shelter statistics. These words can be manipulated by employees to justify deaths. For example, a shelter may decide a dog is not adoptable because there is no more room at the facility or because the animal needs grooming. OAS should only use the actual number of animals received vs. the number killed. The records should also be open and available to the public.

Compared with most public shelters, OAS has always been pretty good about record-keeping. However, lately there have been complaints about improper computer alterations (made by employees). A computer program and/or procedure should be established that will result in honest and accurate reporting.   

OAS should always try to talk people out of surrendering their animals; sometimes it makes sense to give them money for medication if lack of funds is the reason for surrender. This will often cost OAS less money in the long-run. Volunteers can act as Shelter Counselors at the front desk.

All animals should be vaccinated upon intake and the facility must be kept clean so diseases do not spread to healthy animals and staff. Gloves and other tools/equipment must be available and in working order. Kennels, cages or rooms should be cleaned in this order: from the healthiest animals to the least healthy, so as not to transfer diseases to animals that enter in good condition. Walking all dogs (not just those who are in the front and ready for adoption) also keeps them healthier; otherwise they can become ill due to stress.  

OAS has room for approximately 300 animals, yet only a handful are in the front on display. The public are not allowed to view the animals in the back unless they are in search of a missing pet. This gives these animals no chance at adoption; many are simply killed. This policy must be changed. The public must be allowed to see all of the animals.

As mentioned earlier, an adoption center for the OAS nonprofit could be established at an abandoned city property in a location where people live, work, and/or frequent. This facility could be run by volunteers. In some parts of the country, space in shopping malls is being converted into display areas for shelter animals.  

Animals should be called “companion animals” rather than “pets.” Language is important because it creates reality. Studies show that it is easier to relinquish a “pet” to the shelter for death as opposed to a “companion animal.” 

OAS should not use misleading terms or words that obscure the gravity of killing or confirm the age-old belief that animals are disposable property. The word “euthanasia” should not be used unless an act of killing is truly related to “mercy.” “Euthanasia” makes the act of killing easier. Euphemisms distort the truth.

Shelter hours should coincide with when the public are available to adopt. OAS should not limit operations to Tuesday through Saturday; weekends and early evening are best for adoptions. Increasing shelter hours is optimal, but if this is not practical, the hours should be adjusted.

OAS should be run like a business with careful attention to timely hiring practices, properly trained employees, program monitoring, inventory and vendor contract control issues, regular cost analysis, cash control processes, and spending issues.

M. Legislation and Other Tactics. More off-leash dog parks should be established; the San Francisco Dog Owners' Association found a correlation between a reduction in dog bites and a high number of off-leash parks. Dogs are less likely to be aggressive when they are able to socialize with people and each other.

Legislation should primarily (and at least initially) be directed towards the shelter rather than the community, although there are exceptions, such as when it comes to abuse/cruelty issues. 

Oakland should prosecute animal abuse cases. There are an astounding number of people who fight pit bulls in the city. The Humane Officers can help with identifying these individuals.

Cameras can be installed in the shelter (not just the hallways as I understand is currently the case) so as to monitor employees; this would greatly combat mistreatment of animals or improper procedures. Many shelters around the country are fraught with allegations of abuse.

The Oakland "Citizen's Survey" should ask stakeholders whether "making the Oakland shelter no kill" should be a financial priority. When this item is omitted from the questionnaire, the city council and mayor do not know how people feel about this issue. In the Mayor's Budget Survey for Los Angeles, Mayor Jim Hahn made the mistake of placing animal issues under the section titled "public safety," thus giving the people a false impression that the only animal-related concern involved the protection of people. This did nothing to determine how people felt about the "no kill" goal, which Mayor Hahn claims to embrace. 

N. Suggestions to consider at some point in the future:

1) Oakland could consider passing a local ordinance that requires landlords to accept tenants with pets (perhaps with an increase in security deposit and a 10% higher rent if the owner requires this). Those with nuisance animals could, of course, be evicted.

2) Oakland should train police officers on how to deal with animal-related encounters. Before he left for Vacaville, Chief Word asked me to help him locate someone who could provide this type of training for his officers.

3) Down the road, Oakland could consider mandatory spay/neuter (like  Berkeley has); however, it should be understood that Maddie's Fund has a libertarian view of government and will not provide money for Oakland if such an ordinance is passed.

4) Permanent standards of care should be created for the treatment of Oakland domesticated animals (i.e, backyard dog ordinance being discussed in Berkeley).

5) Ordinances limiting the number of animals on a property can lead to fewer homes. There is talk in Los Angeles about overturning the three dogs per property rule for this very reason. It would probably not serve the animals to limit the number of animals per property; there are other ways to identify and deter people from allowing inhumane conditions to exist in their backyards or at their homes.

In conclusion, Oakland can become the first city to become “100% no kill.” If only the first phase of the above policy—the "93% no kill plan"-- had been in place last year, over 4500 of the 4623 dogs and cats taken into the Oakland animal shelter would be alive. If it had been in place nationwide, most of the five million dogs and cats--who are destroyed at public shelters each year--would be saved.  

From June 2004 until July 2005, OAS will spend a total of $1,583,632. The shelter should ideally be a place only for reuniting lost animals with their human families. Taxpayer-related shelter costs can be greatly reduced when "no kill" becomes a reality.

I hope you find these ideas helpful. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me at (818) 781-5280. Thank you.

Charlotte Anne Laws
Californians for a No Kill Commission
21781 Ventura Blvd., Suite 633, Woodland Hills, CA 91364
(818) 346-5280 phone or (818) 985-1690 fax

* Many of the suggestions in this proposal come from Nathan Winograd's "no kill solutions." Further information can be found as his website For a fee, he will create a detailed action plan for Oakland.