Special Report from ANIMAL PEOPLE: U.S. Kill Rates and how L.A. compares by Ed Boks

The official 13th annual ANIMAL PEOPLE analysis of kill rates in communities across the United States goes to press on July 20th. Merritt Clifton, editor of ANIMAL PEOPLE, just forwarded LA Animal Services this year’s projection compiled from the best available data of total U.S. shelter killing. Here is a preview of the soon to be released report:

“The good news is that the national rate of shelter killing per 1,000 human residents in the U.S. has dropped to a record low of 14.7, just slightly lower than it was before the economic collapse in 2001 that knocked funding for spay/neuter programs back, and simultaneously, while the feral cat population continued a steep decrease, and the pit bull terrier population exploded.

“Because the U.S. human population and pet keeping significantly increased since 2001, total U.S. shelter killing is still above the low mark of 4.2 million. However, at 4.36 million projected in 2005, we could achieve a new low in 2006.

“The bad news is that the rates of shelter killing per 1,000 humans went up slightly along the Gulf Coast, in Appalachia, and–most alarmingly–in the Southwest. Since most of the data is from fiscal years ending before Hurricane Katrina, that was not a factor.

“The rates of increase in all three regions were small enough to be within the margin of error for the survey method, but even if there was not an actual increase, I think it can be said that there was no demonstrable decrease. In all three regions, rates of pet sterilization are probably just barely getting to the 70% necessary to stabilize the population.

“Los Angeles city and county combined have cut their shelter killing in half since 2003, and at a combined rate of 3.94 are now killing fewer animals per 1,000 residents than San Francisco killed in 1994, the first year of the Adoption Pact that made San Francisco the first “no-kill city.” end quote

This is good news indeed and further proof that Los Angeles is on the right track and developing momentum. Consider that over the past five years, LA City’s dog euthanasia rate decreased 62 percent and our cat euthanasia rate decreased 19 percent. In just the first six months of 2006, we’ve seen another 12 percent decrease in dog and cat euthanasia compared to the same period in 2005. In the 05/06 Fiscal Year just ending, fewer than 19,500 animals were euthanized. This is the lowest number of animals killed in any one-year period in LA City history! 

We still have a long way to go, but together we are transforming LA into the safest and least lethal city in the US for our pets. Thank you all who are helping in a constructive way!