The following are excerpts from a recent interview with Animal Fair Magazine on the opening of Animal Services new state of the art animal care centers. For more information on Animal Fair Magazine visit them at: http://www.animalfair.com/
1. What makes these new shelters different from all the other shelters?
Our new shelters are more like botanical gardens than dog pounds. Over 30% of the grounds are landscaped with lush vegetation, flowers, trees, and greenery. There are park benches to relax on while enjoying the animals. There are fountains and works of art to enjoy. There are misters to keep the animals cool when the weather is hot and radiant heating in the kennel floors when the weather gets cold. There are large park like get acquainted areas where Animal Services will host special adoption events with our many partners as well as sponsor dog obedience and agility training. There are community rooms for meetings and educational activities. These shelters are not your father's animal control, they are spacious and beautiful and will serve as pet adoption centers of choice for all Angelinos and surrounding communities.
2. Is this the first step in getting the city to be no kill? What are the other steps?
This is definetely a significant step to achieving no-kill. These new Centers will increase our holding capacity by over 400%, allowing us to hold animals for longer periods of time. But the new shelters are just one step in a very comprehensive strategic no-kill plan. Along with the new shelters we are building spay/neuter clinics designed to handle 20,000 surgeries per year. With six new clinics that represents 120,000 surgeries per year. These surgeries will have a profound impact on the number of unwanted pets being born each year. We call our spay/neuter program The Big Fix because we recognize that spay/neuter is the ultimate "fix" to the vexing problems associated with pet overpopulation.
Along with our shelters and clinics we have a program called New Hope which is a partnership with over 70 local animal welfare organizations that allows these groups to take animals from our euthanasia list at no cost to them. These animals are already spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. We keep our shelters open 24 hours per day seven days per week for our New Hope Partners. We soon hope to be able to help our partners with the actual transport of the animals.
Animal Services is also initiating Project Safety Net which will coordinate the many resources in LA to help people keep their pets during times when they may feel relinquishment is their only alternative. Often times dog training, behavioral counseling, or legal advice is the only thing between keeping a pet and having to give a pet up. By making these resources more readily available we hope to help more families keep their pets.
Operation FELIX (Feral Education and Love Instead of X-termination) is our Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) program. This program is currently conducted in partnership with LA's many feral cat organizations but as our spay/neuter clinics come on line we intend to be even more directly involved in humanely helping to reduce LA's feral cat population with this non-lethal methodology.
We hope to soon initiate our TLC program that will help teach "at risk" kids love and compassion for our communities' "at risk" animals. Many of the animals rescued by Animal Services are lost, abused or neglected, and many are in need of foster homes. Many of our kids are in similar situations and are very empathetic to the plight of our animals. This empathy is a building block to help these kids to learn how to more freely express love and compassion. This program can be expanded to include our community's senior citizens and other disenfranchised populations.
3. How are you working to get more pets adopted in LA?
We are very fortunate that one of the nation's foremost ad agencies has agreed to help Animal Services with an ad campaign to promote adoptions. Riester, based in Phoenix, has an LA office and their "cause marketing" genius is helping us to get the word out that Animal Services is daily creating happiness by bringing pets and people together! Riester shares Animal Services' commitment to make LA the nation's first major no-kill city in the United States.
In addition, many celebrities and influential people are helping Animal Services create a 501c3 animal welfare charity called "SALA" which stands for Shelter Animals of LA. SALA is also Spanish for "living room" and is symbolic of the "living room" LA's residents are making in their hearts for our shelter animals. SALA will help raise funding for Animal Services many life saving programs.
We also partner with Humane Rescue Alliance and many other animal welfare organizations all of whom share our vision to end pet euthanasia and help us find loving homes for our lost and homeless pets.
4. Is there anything special about the event that you would like me to include in the article?
I think it is worth mentioning that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attended this event to once again voice his wholehearted commitment to ending euthanasia as an acceptable method to reduce pet overpopulation. He was joined by several City Council members and other public officials. To the best of my knowledge he is the only mayor of a major city to take such a courageous and compassionate stand and it is our hope he will inspire mayors and public officials across the United States with his vision!