Best Friends Blog

NKLA makes its mark

In October of 2011, NKLA, funded by Best Friends, began a financial incentive program to encourage participating organizations to focus a bit more of their resources into finding homes for animals from Los Angeles city shelters. By the end of May, coalition partners had placed 1,957 more L.A. shelter animals than they had in the same months of 2010 for which baseline data was gathered.

That boost in adoptions coupled with the effects of ongoing coalition partner programs has resulted in a close to 15.7 percent reduction in L.A. Animal Services (LAAS) shelter killing over the first five months of 2012, or 1,080 fewer animals killed.

This is great news for the animals and for the city of Los Angeles, but there is still a long way to go. The goal of NKLA is to achieve the no-kill threshold of a 90 percent save rate of all city shelter animals. In 2011, approximately 17,000 more animals would have needed to be saved to reach that goal. Increased adoptions (i.e., direct life saving) are one obvious way to hit that mark; the other is to reduce shelter intake.

A significant factor in the number for 2012 has been a reduction in intake from some of LAAS’s most problematic zip codes owing in large measure to the spay/neuter efforts run by coalition partners, such as Found Animals Foundation, FixNation, Downtown Dog Rescue, Angel Dog, and Best Friends prior to the launch of NKLA. Non-targeted low-cost and free spay/neuter within L.A. city has been running at around 13,000 to 15,000 procedures a year, which has exerted a downward pressure on shelter pet populations. With the launch of NKLA, we will kick that number up to over 20,000 spay/neuter procedures targeted to low-income pet owners. The 20,000 benchmark represents five targeted surgeries per 1,000 residents in the general population for a city the size of Los Angeles at 4 million residents. The five-per-1,000 threshold has demonstrated shelter intake reduction of up to 30 percent in research done by low-cost spay/neuter pioneer Peter Marsh.

Another important piece of the NKLA effort is Best Friends operation of the Northeast Valley Shelter as a pet adoption center. Since mid-January, 1,384 dogs and cats from L.A. city shelters have been saved through the center, and with a recently launched foster program for unweaned kittens, that number is expected to have an increased growth rate over the next few months.

So while we are celebrating, we are not resting. And, while five months is a good sample, only time will tell if we are looking at a sustaining trend.

Saving lives is always rewarding and exciting. Watching a city turn around is electric!

To find out more about NKLA, please visit Below is a chart of statistics for the first five months of 2012 compared to 2011.


Francis Battista


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  • Martha Rubenstein

    I applaud Best Friends for what they are doing in LA, but after reading this I do have some questions.  Just because the number of deaths went down this year, you can’t use that to say NKLA is working without discussing the number of intakes.  There should be a similar graphic comparing intake numbers for 2011/2012 to support the graphic you already have.

    Also, Francis states that the Northeast Valley Center that BR runs saved 1384 animals since mid-January.  The graphic shows that there were 1080 less killings in 2012.  Couldn’t those all be attributed to the new center?

  • Anonymous

    What were year over year intake numbers? 

  • Solanoawards

    By reading on FaceBook, you need to help out the Lancaster Shelter, sound like they need some help. Putting down dogs when there were rescues working on saving the dogs etc… And the shelter new they were going to pull them. I just don’t get it.

  • This all sounds great, but there is still so much incompetence and mismanagement which results in dogs and cats dying. I visited one LA City shelter and the staff at the desk thought No Kill was absurd. We have a very long way to go. Wish there was a focus on LA County along with LA City.

    • Anonymous

      Dear Kugel Company, Our experience has been that LA city shelter staff are very committed to saving lives and that is what matters. And you are right, there is a long way to go and your help and support would be valued. You can volunteer with NKLA at

      Francis Battista
      Best Friends Animal Society


    But why were people let go of their positions who had done so much to help rescues? It would have been better if BF had worked with LA City to preserve those jobs while also doing the NKLA campaign.

    • Twoflyingdogs

      I think that the budget issues had a lot to do with that.  MANY city employees have been layed off as a result of huge cuts.  That is why they were considering overturning Hayden’s Law.  It is heartbreaking to know that that also impacts saving the lives of animals.  I can’t imagine what those stats would show if it wasn’t for the volunteers that have come forward to keep doing the work.  

      This isn’t the time for a victory lap but it is really inspiring to see how the Coalition is making a difference.

  • Go LA!!! It just goes to show, when it becomes a priority–financially and politically–it CAN be done.  Keep it up!

  • Celestine

    I’d like to encourage everyone to network shelter animals and tell people about adoptions. Most people don’t know the dire situation shelter animals are in. Somehow we have to get landlords and HOAs to accept pets – a lot of tenants in LA would like to have a pet but are not allowed to have one. If a landlord forces you to get rid of a dog just have the dog declared a ‘therapy dog’ (not many people know this). There are alternative insurances for your house (for example, Einhorn insurance does not discriminate against certain dog breeds). 

    • Rigby

      Celestine, I agree it would be great if more people were able to have pets where they live, but going about having that pet by lying and bending rules is not something I think we should encourage. Having a dog declared a ‘therapy dog’ does not grant it any special privileges for day to day life.

      On the other hand if you are telling people to say their pet is a service animal, not only is that illegal and immoral but it also hurts people who have a legitimate need for service dogs in the long run.

      • Celestine

         Sorry for the miscommunication. I came across several situations where the dog was only allowed to stay after the guardian/s had him/her certified as a therapy dog. One was a HOA who changed their policy (talk about bending rules) and fined the condo owners for their dog. The other cases were landlords who had changed their minds. I would rather tell people that’s the way to go instead of having them to relinquish their pets to the shelter which in many sad cases is the only way most people see in a such a stressful situation. Dogs do count as therapeutic mental support so it is not false pretense.

    • Zorica Stancevic

      The State of California Davis Sterling Act requires that all HOAs within the state allow for at least one pet. HOAs may limit size, breed and number, but they may not outright prohibit ownership of a pet (and you need to stay in compliance with City and County requirements and well as “quiet enjoyment” provisions).

      Any HOA CC&Rs, By-Laws and Standing rules which prohibit any pet are out of compliance with State law since 2006.

      If a unit is being renting out, that individual landlord has the right to prohibit a pet, but the over-riding HOA may not.

  • Diane

    This is wonderful news!! Thank you Best Friends!  I look forward to the day you can do something similar for the animals in New York City that are needlessly dying in the city shelter every day.

  • Lovefelines20003

    Francis, do these stats include the LA County shelters?

  • Lovefelines20003

    Francis, do these stats include the LA County shelters?