No-kill animal shelter goal reaffirmed by LA City Council

File: Chihuahuas await adoption at a Los Angeles Department of Animal Services shelter on Dec. 15, 2009 in Los Angeles.
File: Chihuahuas await adoption at a Los Angeles Department of Animal Services shelter on Dec. 15, 2009 in Los Angeles.
David McNew/Getty Images

Los Angeles City Council members voted Wednesday to ramp up investments in lowering dog and cat euthanasia rates at animal shelters. The vote comes ahead of the city’s self-imposed December deadline for achieving “no-kill” status for all Los Angeles Department of Animal Services-operated shelters.

According to the motion, the city is committed to achieving “no-kill live release” status for all healthy and adoptable animals by Dec. 31. The council said it would work with the No Kill Los Angeles coalition, rescue organizations and the public to develop a “comprehensive strategy” to meet its year-end goal.

A shelter is considered "no-kill" when it saves 90 percent or more of its cats and dogs, according to the motion. In the past, the city’s shelters have hovered at less than 50 percent. 

In 2003, then-Mayor James Hahn set a goal for the city to become no-kill by 2008, according to the Los Angeles Animal Services website. That goal was not met.

But getting to no-kill status takes time and a huge investment on the city’s part by offering more adoption incentives, shelter staff members and public outreach, according to Councilmember Paul Koretz, the motion’s co-sponsor.

 “We try to make it as reasonable as possible for people to adopt,” Koretz told KPCC. “We also only save money by not having to euthanize animals, which is a costly process as well.”

Koretz said he felt the entire council was behind making Los Angeles a model for animal shelters across the state and country.

According to L.A. Animal Services, the city has euthanized 4,630 cats and dogs since July 2016. In that same time frame, shelters oversaw at least 14,328 adoptions.

Members of L.A.’s animal rescue community say the Department of Animal Services is managing to reduce their kill rate by taking in less strays from the street, according to All About the Animals CEO Laura Jones.

The city has seen downward trend in monthly intake numbers in the past fiscal year, Jones said in an email to KPCC, adding that pets should not just be viewed as statistics and deserve to be treated as sentient beings.

Jones also commended the City Council for having an animal welfare committee and taking the no-kill issue seriously.

Daniel Guss, an advocate and writer for the online publication CityWatch, said the City Council is misleading the public when it comes to its public no-kill rates. Through his reporting for the publication, Guss has published multiple reports on the city’s handling of euthanization numbers.

In one October report, Guss said the city altered its adoption records by nearly 9,000 animals by shipping them to different shelter locations outside city limits.

“It’s completely bogus,” Guss told KPCC. “They’ve watered down the meaning of 'kill.'”

Guss' claims in the article have not been addressed by the City Council.

L.A. Animal Services says the increase of pet adoptions, providing free and discounted spay/neuter and increasing volunteer and foster care programs are its main methods for achieving no-kill status at its shelters. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story mentioned county euthanasia rates. Those numbers pertain to shelters operated by the city of Los Angeles, and not the county, which operates separate animal care centers. KPCC regrets the error.