There’s a glimmer of light in a grimly dark topic in Los Angeles this summer: the number of dogs euthanized in the city-run animal shelters during the year ending June 30 fell by nearly 3,000.
The numbers speak of progress rather than success. There’s still a lot left for all of us to do.
LAAS officials credit the drop to:
- Fewer dogs — 1,871 fewer, to be precise — going into shelters between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013. This may be a sign of the economy improving enough that people are able to keep their dogs instead of giving them up to shelters.
- An increase in adoptions. Adoptions in fiscal year (FY) 2012-13 rose to 15,595, an increase of 1,735.
Excluding the dogs who arrived at LAAS shelters dead and those that died while in the shelter but were not euthanized, nearly 20 percent (or one dog in five) brought into Los Angeles city animal shelters is put to death.
LAAS General Manager Brenda Barnette praised her staff and the support of groups such as the ASPCA, Pet Care Foundation, Found Animals Foundation and the Best Friends Animal Society-Los Angeles for their campaigns to increase adoption rates from city animal shelters. (Best Friends operates a city-owned northeast valley shelter.)
The rates at which dogs in Los Angeles City animal shelters were adopted, returned to owners, euthanized or placed with animal rescue organizations (New Hope Placements) are reflected in the chart below.
Please note that these statistics are only for dogs, because they are the focus of this blog.
Reducing euthanasia rates in Los Angeles animal shelters has been an issue for some time. The city’s euthanasia rate peaked in 1971, when the city put down nearly 111,000 dogs and cats.
In 2003, when the city put down 30,000 animals (dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, and others), then Mayor James Hahn announced that the city could reach a no-kill target by 2008 based on plans for building additional animal shelters. His successor, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa campaigned on the goal as well. But the faltering economy and city budget cuts hobbled the plans for more shelters.
In 2013, a coalition of animal rescue organizations created No Kill Los Angeles. Members of the coalition have focused on “Adopt, Don’t Buy” campaigns and increasing the availability of low cost spaying and neutering services.
How Los Angeles euthanasia rates compare to other major cities is difficult to find out. There are no national requirements to report them. Based on a 1997 survey of 1,000 shelters, the American Humane Association estimates that roughly 64 percent of the animals who enter shelters are euthanized. In LAAS shelters for the year ending June 30, less than 19 percent of the dogs taken into those shelters were euthanized.
The problem of taking care of dogs — or any animals — that don’t have homes belongs to all of us. Here are only a few things we can do to “be the change”:
- Get your next dog from an LAAS shelter or a no-kill rescue organization.
- Be sure that all the animals in your home are spayed or neutered.
- Educate people you know about pet overpopulation and the importance of spaying and neutering.
- Give a lot of “likes” to the organizations that work day in and day out to keep animals from being put to death.
- Get your dog licensed so the needs of animals in Los Angeles can be better defined and planned for.
- Make donations to animal rescue organizations to support their important work.
- Volunteer your time with animal rescue organizations.
- If you can, become a foster home for dog waiting to find a permanent one.