Los Angeles City Animal Shelters Reach No-Kill Goal for Dogs

Promises of making Los Angeles the largest no-kill city in the United States have been floating around for years. This goal was finally reached by the city’s Department of Animal Services (LAAS) in 2017 – at least for dogs, that is.

No kill” doesn’t mean that the lives of all shelter animals are spared, but that at least 90 percent of the dogs and cats taken in are released to their owners, new homes or rescue organizations. The 10 percent that don’t make it out alive “have medical conditions causing irreparable suffering or are dangerous dogs and cannot be safely released into the community,” according to the LAAS website.

In 2017, 92.4 percent of dogs and 81.3 percent of cats taken in by the six L.A. city shelters were not euthanized. As a comparison, back in 2011 the lives of only 71.3 percent of dogs and barely one-third (36 percent) of cats were spared.

Last spring, the Los Angeles City Council started working with the No Kill Los Angeles (NKLA) coalition, an initiative launched in 2012 and led by Best Friends Animal Society for the purpose of developing a strategy to reach the no-kill benchmark.

“Putting an end to the senseless euthanasia of domestic animals in our L.A. shelters has been one of my lifelong goals,” Councilmember Paul Koretz, who spearheaded efforts to reach this achievement, said in a statement from Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office announcing the achievement.

To lower the percentage of cats euthanized, Garcetti and the L.A. Department of Animal Services announced plans to launch a campaign dedicated to raising awareness of cat adoptions and kitten fostering, as well as possibly expanding the city’s spay and neuter program.

New positions like assistant general manager of life-saving and life-saving coordinators are also being created in every city shelter. These employees will “use real-time data to guide strategies geared toward preserving animals’ lives,” according to the statement.

Last year California became the first state to ban the sale of animals from puppy mills in pet stores. Starting in 2019, stores must only sell dogs and cats from local animal shelters and rescues, which should further help to reduce euthanasia rates.

Another way the city of Los Angeles could save more lives would be by launching a trap, neuter and return (TNR) program for feral cats. But unfortunately it can’t do this because of a 2009 state court injunction that was issued after several wildlife conservation groups sued the city, alleging it was implementing TNR without an environmental review of the negative impact on wildlife and people.

What’s critical now to further reduce euthanasia rates at the city’s animal shelters, Koretz said, is to “create systems, programs and partnerships to not only achieve a 90 percent live-release goal in both dogs and cats but sustain it permanently.”

Could Los Angeles be a trailblazer, inspiring other cities across the country to become no-kill as well?

Judah Battista, co-founder and chief regional programs officer of Best Friends Animal Society, thinks so. “We know that if a city the size of L.A. can achieve this milestone, it will be possible across the country by 2025,” he said in the statement.

Photo credit: Alexas_Fotos


Crystal T
Crystal T3 months ago

I can't believe LA shelters can not use TNR because of some stupid court ruling. When I heard that, it has become I won't vote for any politician that is not for getting this stupid business reversed. As for the groups that went to court to kill more cats and kittens, which is what they essentially have done, they will never get a penny from me. And if I hear that one of my donation entities is among them, I will tell them, it's because they are kitten killers.

Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

Tks for sharing.

Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D10 months ago

I agree with Susanne W. 100% Very well said Susanne!!

Richard A
Richard A10 months ago

Good progress, good news.

John B
John B10 months ago

Thanks for sharing the good news.

Ant m
Ant m10 months ago

tks ....

Danii P
Past Member 10 months ago


Barbara Idso
Barbara I10 months ago

I dream of a day when all shelters are "no kill shelters". All life is precious!!

Ellie M
Ellie M10 months ago


Antje S
Antje S10 months ago

Petition signed - I do hope that the Goal will be reached. No more wasting of lives!