Keep your eye on the No-Kill Goal by Ed Boks

Achieving No-Kill is not an easy undertaking. Everyday something seems to happen that could side track us from this goal. But LAAS has to be an organization that can walk and chew gum at the same time. We have to be both tactical and strategic. As we deal with each daily “crisis” it is important we not lose sight of our efforts to achieve our strategic No-Kill goal. As we progress, we will transition more and more from crisis management to managing and solving the problems resulting from pet overpopulation and irresponsible pet owner/guardianship, the problems that prevent us from achieving No-Kill immediately.

Let me remind everyone what I mean by “No-Kill”. No-Kill will be achieved in LA when LAAS is able to use the same criteria that a loving pet owner/guardian or a compassionate veterinarian uses to determine if an animal should be euthanized. In other words, when LAAS no longer kills healthy or treatable animals because of a lack of space or resources we will have achieved “No-Kill.”

So, is No-Kill even achievable? Well, the evidence suggests LAAS is at least moving in the right direction. During the first quarter of 2006 Dog and Cat Adoptions were up 9.36% compared to the first quarter of 2005. That represents 3,248 dogs and cats placed into loving homes in three months. That is the highest first quarter adoption rate in five years.

Dog and Cat Euthanasia was down 37.31% compared to the same quarter last year. That represents 2,091 euthanasias. Still too many, to be sure, but it still represents the lowest quarter ever. In fact, LAAS had three record low euthanasia rate months in a row, compared both with the last twelve months and when comparing January, February, and March 06 to the same three months in any other year (

Big Fix: Part of this success is certainly due to our community’s aggressive spay/neuter programs, including Los Angeles Animal Services’ Big Fix programs (a “branding” developed by Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and used by LAAS with their permission) (

As a result of all our spay/neuter efforts, Dog and Cat Intakes were down 13.60% during this past quarter compared to the same quarter last year! LAAS has experienced a 24% decrease in intakes over the past five years. This is due largely because of The Big Fix Spay/Neuter Voucher Program for dogs and cats. LAAS shows a 35% increase in spay/neuter coupon redemption during Fiscal Year 05/06 so far compared to the first three quarters of Fiscal Year 04/05. We also see a 50% increase in Operation FELIX Voucher redemptions (for feral cats) during the first three quarters of Fiscal Year 05/06 compared to the first three quarters of Fiscal Year 04/05 (July – March respectively).

Also, we can’t thank the Amanda Foundation and the Sam Simon Foundation enough for the incredible work they do to bring spay/neuter services into our neediest communities. The thousands of surgeries they and their predecessors have done in mobile clinics over the last several years have made an important contribution to the declining intake and kill rates.

Plus One/Minus One: Another reason for the lower euthanasia rate this past quarter is a new program called Plus One/Minus One. This program compares the adoptions and euthanasia rates of dogs and cats on a day-to-day basis to last year. Comparing the first Monday of March 05 to the first Monday of March 06, etc.

Plus One/Minus One is an internal program designed to encourage staff, volunteers, and partners to place more animals and kill fewer animals every day compared to the same day (not date) as last year. These statistics more accurately compare apples to apples. This is how this program worked in our six shelters:

Plus One, Minus One –
YTD 06 Results Compared to January through March 05:

East Valley
Intakes: Down 10.68%
Adoptions: Up 18.36%
Euthanasia: Down 36.71%

Intakes: Down 18.76%
Adoptions: Up 72.19%
Euthanasia: Down 5.60%

North Central
Intakes: Down 15.32%
Adoptions: Down 0.62%
Euthanasia: Down 32.51%

South LA
Intakes: Down 15.37%
Adoptions: Up 5.35%
Euthanasia: Down 31.99%

West LA
Intakes: Down 16.47%
Adoptions: Up 10.14%
Euthanasia: Down 15.56%

West Valley
Intakes: Down 20.80%
Adoptions: Down 6.55%
Euthanasia: Down 36.21%

Return to Owner/Guardian Program: LAAS also has a high success rate for returning lost pets to their frantic owner/guardians, four times higher than other comparable cities. LAAS returns over 4,500 lost dogs and cats to their grateful owner/guardians every year. (Still, we have room to improve, as shown by a recent incident when a dog’s microchip was not properly scanned that led to an unfortunate situation in which a person’s beloved pet was adopted by someone else. It was a graphic opportunity to impress upon staff that EVERY animal needs to be properly scanned for microchips, but one which I hope will not be repeated. It also highlights to the dog owning public the importance of a dog license as the primary form of identification.)

Seniors for Seniors Program: This program was implemented on February 1st, helping to improve adoptions by placing senior animals with our community’s senior citizens. To date over 100 animals have been placed through this important program.

Mobile Pet Adoptions: LAAS also doubled its off-site adoption and special event efforts during this last quarter, resulting in 661 adoptions compared to 224 in the same time frame last year and 29 off-site events this year compared to 15 last year. And we are looking to increase our efforts even further!

Keeping our eye on the ball is so very important. Will LAAS continue to be challenged with our own shortcomings? Indeed, we see that every day. People may become frustrated with what they perceive to be the slowness of our progress. But it took LA a long time to get into its current situation and it will take some time to turn it around.

But we are turning it around. Over the past five years LAAS reduced dog and cat euthanasia 45.7%. LAAS significantly reduced dog and cat euthanasia every year since 2002 (17.7%); 2003 (10.3%); 2004 (17.3%); and 2005 (11.1%). And with a 35% decrease in the first quarter of 06, I’m hoping this demonstrates we are doing everything we can to step up the pace.

But make no mistake, LAAS cannot do this alone. We need your help. If you would like to help LAAS and its many partners and friends make Los Angeles a No-Kill City I encourage you to consider volunteering to help our Foster Program or our Mobile Adoption Program. Donations to our Big Fix and other programs are also greatly appreciated.

Together we can make LA the safest city in the United States for our pets.