As the year comes to a close, December 2012 may be the first time the Los Angeles municipal shelter system will be able to declare itself “no-kill.” Of course, the month isn’t quite over, but it looks like the Department of Animal Services will have euthanized no healthy or treatable animals in December. An editorial Sunday talks about the difficulty of staying no-kill when the Los Angeles shelters are taking in literally thousands of dogs and cats each month.
Here’s one way to get your animals seen: Some shelter animals will ride in the Rose Parade on Tuesday on the Pet Care Foundation float and then be available for adoption after the parade at Victory Park in Pasadena, at the entrance to the float viewing area.
But even without a parade, city shelters employed some interesting tactics in December. For starters, they slashed adoption fees. And the shelters adopt out more animals during the holiday season than at any other time.
(A note of caution: An animal is not a good surprise gift. If you know someone is dying for a pet, that’s a little different. When I graduated from eighth grade, I was presented with a loosely wrapped shoebox that rustled as it was handed to me. Inside was a kitten that I loved from the minute I laid eyes on him. But I still think if you want to give an animal as a gift, take the person to the shelter or a rescue group and let him or her pick one out.)
Also, the nonprofit Best Friends Animal Society, which is spearheading the “No-Kill LA” campaign, made 10 sorties, so to speak, as part of its “Pup My Ride” program, carrying animals that overly populate L.A. shelters (think chihuahuas) to shelters in other cities requesting those breeds.
Perhaps most clever was the “12 Pets of Christmas” promotion, sponsored by the Found Animals Foundation, which offered a special discount to anyone adopting out of the shelters one of a dozen hard-to-place animals: black dogs, big dogs, adult cats, bully breeds, overweight pets, elderly pets, shy pets and a handful of other types. Although the promotion ended Dec. 23, I think the city shelters should continue it if Found Animals can help.
These techniques were not without their critics, who questioned whether too many animals were just being moved out of public shelters into private ones by rescue groups and not actually being adopted out. Also, critics ask, how many animals were transported out of state to other shelters and what happens to them there?
As for the animals being moved through “Pup My Ride,” Best Friends co-founder Francis Battista says his group has contracts with receiving shelters that require follow-up and the return of any animal languishing in its new shelter. “But that rarely happens,” says Battista. “We’re sending them animals that they’re asking for.”
There are a number of issues to troubleshoot as the city shelters seek to be more aggressive about adoption and make spay and neuter services even more available than they are now. That’s to be expected. This should be an ongoing discussion and effort in the animal welfare village taking care of pets trying to find their forever homes.