CHARLOTTE LAWS - DREAM AND ACHIEVE TOGETHER
Proposal for Making Los Angeles a "No-Kill Animal Shelter City"
by Charlotte Laws
Greater Valley Glen Council proposes an end to the current, annual killing of
30,000 – 50,000 dogs and cats in Los Angeles animal shelters; this costs the
taxpayer $14 million per year.
If we can make L.A. "no-kill," we can save
taxpayer money and save animal lives, as well as gain nationwide recognition
for the city as a leader in animal welfare.
(To be implemented as soon as possible):
City of Los Angeles has 86 Neighborhood Councils. Each Council should elect
a "Director for Animal Welfare" (DAW). This individual should be
a member of the community and should be well-acquainted with animal
needs in the area. The DAW would have a duty to look out for the animals,
with respect to abuse, vaccinations, wandering pets, spay/neuter, etc. In
other words, this person would work towards solving any pet-related issues the
community faces. He or she could solicit help from other volunteers, if
necessary. Different parts of Los Angeles have different needs: some areas
deal with horse-related problems while others face illegal dog fights or feral
DAW serves as the eyes and ears for that neighborhood's animals. He/she has
the following functions: a) to be a contact person when animal control is
closed or unable to respond, b) to arrange periodic Animal Care
Fairs, in which education, spay/neuter (using the city's van), animal
training tips, etc. are offered to the public on a particular day, c) to
provide the Neighborhood Council and stakeholders with a report about the
animals at meetings, d) to provide useful tips for stakeholders
via the Neighborhood Council newsletter or handouts, e) to help with
Care Fair is a good idea because residents tend to be more
receptive to local people working on a grassroots level to effect change,
rather than facing outsiders who may be less familiar with the problems of the
some funding becomes necessary to supplement the Animal Care Fairs or other
animal-related needs, some Neighborhood Council monies could be used (at the
Council's discretion) or dollars could be obtained from a non-profit
organization called The Maddie's Fund (to be discussed in detail below). It is
unlikely the DAWs would need much money because the Spay/Neuter vans are free,
and animal assistance is provided often at no charge by animal welfare and
Two (To be
implemented over the next two years. A and B to be done simultaneously):
A. Los Angeles
is spending $154 million in taxpayer bond money to build new shelters and
expand others. These structures and additions will increase the space for dogs
and cats significantly: from 366 to 1253 kennels, which will assist indirectly
with a changeover into a "no kill" shelter city.
will be three vacant shelters at the conclusion of this building process:
the East Valley Shelter with 60 kennels, the Harbor Area Shelter with 21
kennels and the West L.A. Shelter with 26 kennels. These empty shelters
should also be utilized to help transition the city into becoming no-kill.
process to deal with "no longer needed," city-owned property, such
as the empty animal shelters, requires a land sale at auction through the
Department of General Services. In order to utilize the empty shelters for the
transition, the taxpayers would have to pass a local measure that would
postpone the sale of these shelters for a few years. Linda Gordon, who is
the Liaison to the Bureau of Engineering for L.A.'s Animal Facilities Bond
Program, says it is possible to pass such a measure.
As a backup, for the transition, various organizations and individuals in Los Angeles, are willing to help the city with transitional space.
B. An L.A.
nonprofit should be established so that Maddie's Fund money can be
obtained. Maddie's Fund is a charity with almost $300 million to help cities,
counties, and states become "no-kill" over a ten year period. It
will not give money directly to a government: only to a non-profit established
to help the locality. Utah, New York City, counties in Florida and Arizona,
among others, are currently using Maddie's Fund money to achieve the "no
Avanzino, the head of Maddie's Fund, has indicated that the nonprofit
associated with Los Angeles might want to apply for $20
million; the L.A. nonprofit would have to raise $20
million in matching donations. Avanzino says this should be easy:
New York raised $3 million the first day and $16 million in a few months.
Funds could come from corporate donors, such as Petco and Petsmart, or
entertainment industry fundraisers.
Fund project requires a two-pronged attack on the problem: it requires a
spay/neuter plan and a pet adoption plan. Both are detailed at the
Maddie's Fund website (http://www.maddies.org). Detailed accounting is
crucial, and the locality must demonstrate that the program is
person/organization must agree to take responsibility for each prong. Nathan
Winograd might be willing to move to Los Angeles and head up the adoption side of
this project. He is the perfect choice because he worked with
Maddie's Fund successfully in San Francisco, has incorporated a no-kill
strategy in Ithica, New York and is endorsed and respected by Avanzino, who
helps make decisions regarding the monies given to these projects. He is also
an independent thinker with a strong personality who can likely combat the
myriad of opposing and contentious views in Los Angeles over this issue. As an
alternative, Francis Battista says he might agree to undertake the adoption side of
vacant shelters (mentioned in Section A above) would then be leased to
the L.A. "no kill" nonprofit for a small monthly fee until
conclusion of the Maddie's Fund program. The nonprofit would run the vacant
shelters with volunteers and money acquired through Maddie's Fund.
Los Angeles Animal Commission meeting in 2002, Sue Freeman of People and
Cats Together offered to head a spay/neuter program for the city.
A licensed veterinarian must be in charge of this prong of the
Maddie's Fund process, but numerous vets and volunteers, such as
Freeman, can help coordinate and implement the program. Bob Goldman and
the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association is a sensible choice
for directing the spay neuter program.
Fund pays the veterinarians directly to cover the cost of the
spaying/neutering of any animal; the public pays no more than $20 per dog or
*It should be noted that if Maddie's Fund
money is used, the 2000 ordinance (# 173168
passed by the L.A. City Council which deals with the increased animal
license fees) would have to be overturned or "put on hold."
Statistics show this ordinance has not proved successful; only 25% of L.A.
pets are licensed. L.A.could try to acquire full approval for the
Maddie's Fund money before considering a temporary reversal of the ordinance.
If the City and the L.A. nonprofit prefer
to execute a plan, similar to
that which is outlined in this letter but without the use of Maddie's Fund
money, it could be equally successful. Additional nonprofit funds would have
to be raised, but the ordinance could stay in place.
(To be implemented if Part One and Part Two do not entirely combat the
problem, after the Maddie's Fund plan ends):
San Francisco and Oakland area, the Maddie's Fund process has almost
completely eliminated the killing of shelter dogs and cats. Only one problem
remains: un-adoptable Pit Bulls and "Pit Bull like dogs." Los
Angeles could be faced with the same dilemma, thus might need a third
strategy. This strategy would involve creating a local ordinance.
State of California disallows breed specific legislation with respect to
dangerous dogs (Section 31601), however it does not oppose breed specific
legislation for another purpose: for highly un-adoptable animals.
every state in the U.S. has some form of "dangerous dog" breed
specific legislation, but none has breed specific legislation for the benefit
of saving animal lives. Los Angeles could be the first to pass a breed
specific law that focuses on the welfare of the animal rather than the
person. It shifts the emphasis onto the problem of overpopulation and away
from the idea of restricting people from their rights. This shift would
hopefully combat the traditional objections breeders and Kennel Clubs might
have, and bring recognition to the city for its innovation,
compassion, and leadership.
*The breed specific ordinance could be
structured in any way lawmakers, animal groups and residents see best. For
example, the law could read that within 90 days, all "highly un-adoptable
dogs" currently living in the city of Los Angeles must be registered with
Animal Control, licensed, fixed and micro-chipped. "Highly un-adoptable
dogs" would be defined as Pit Bulls or Pit Bull type dogs. It would be
within the full authority of the General Manager of Animal Services or his
appointees to decide which animals qualify as "pit bull type dogs. "
Highly un-adoptable" dogs not already living within the city of Los
Angeles would be banned from entering the area.
(Some could be put into place while the above proposals are running their
course; others could be kept in mind as alternatives):
city of Los Angeles receives money based on how many animals are killed
the previous year. More animals killed means more money for the city.
This provides disincentive for becoming a "no kill" city;
thus a more compatible formula should be devised.
Local 347 puts pressure on City Officials to keep animal shelter jobs for
union members. The more animals killed, the more shelter jobs. Animal lives
should not be in direct conflict with union jobs.
dogs and cats sold in Los Angeles could be required to have a microchip
(like a VIN # on a car). Animals that show up at shelters could be
traced, and shelters would be required to microchip any animals they
receive. The microchip registry would be held by the shelters. It costs $11 to
microchip an animal. Lost dogs would have to be reported missing within 48
hours by the "owner." This idea (which is being considered in
Sacramento for statewide legislation) would encourage people to be more
responsible for their pets.
Current law states that anyone who plans to breed a litter has to get a
registration number and disclose the number of animals sold the previous year.
Breeders are currently required to publish the registration number in all ads.
Most breeders disobey this law, and there is no enforcement by officials.
There should be a task force to compel compliance. Sting operations
could be set up in which investigators would call newspaper ads and make
undercover appointments to catch violators.
should be placed in shelters to reduce cruelty.
There should be free animal education and behavioral training for the
community. San Francisco shelters have free spay/neuter, free or low
cost behavioral counseling, free "pets ok" rental
referrals, free feral cat assistance program. Maddie's Fund money can be
used for these purposes.
should provide incentive to adopt shelter animals, such as free shots
for two years, free medical exams, free spay/neuter, etc. Also, shelter
animals should be bathed, dressed with bows, made to look attractive. L.A.
Animal Commissioner Debbie Knaan is certain this would increase shelter
There should be longer or different shelter hours to accommodate the
Volunteers should be allowed to walk or play with the animals at the shelter.
This is successful in San Francisco. Sometimes dogs receive three to four
walks per day.
should be placed at local malls, displaying pictures of adoptable animals.
This strategy has been successful in Oregon. In addition, the Public
Information Officer for the Department of Animal Services should be a
"promotions professional," able to successfully advertise and
publicize adoptable shelter animals to the public.
building new shelters in the future, we should use models that improve life
for the animals. There are alternatives in Utah and Northern California.
Animals can live for long periods of time without stress. The Utah model is
conclusion, I hope you will find this cost-free, life-saving proposal to be of
assistance. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Charlotte Laws at
(818) 781-5280. She has contact data and further details about the proposal
drafted in this letter.
Click here to view the Preliminary Ideas for this proposal
* This proposal was written in 2004 and is based on numerous interviews with people inside and outside of the Humane Community. Some of the details may be outdated. For example, it is not certain that Mr. Winograd would still be available to head a nonprofit in Los Angeles. However, the ideas stand on their own. Please feel free to take any of these ideas and implement them in your community.