‘Best Friends Animal Society’ Collaborates With LA City to Curb Pet Homelessness

Best Friends Animal Society, the national animal welfare organization that has worked with Los Angeles city and county officials for many years on various programs to reduce pet homelessness and shelter deaths, is in discussions with the city to operate the underutilized Northeast Valley Animal Shelter in Mission Hills, which is slated for closure in the city’s current fiscal year.

Since its completion in 2008, the Northeast Valley facility has been used as a special operations shelter due to lack of operational funding. Approval of the Best Friends proposal to operate the shelter would have to be granted by a vote of the Los Angeles City Council.

Best Friends responded to a Request for Information from the City of Los Angeles in February of this year. Best Friends Animal Society would operate the shelter if the City continued to maintain the facility and provide basic utilities. Best Friends Animal Society would invest in excess of $1 million to administer adoption and spay-neuter services, plus community outreach and education programs that are consistent with the mission of Los Angeles Animal Services and Best Friends Animal Society.

“Best Friends is willing, through a partnership with the City of Los Angeles, to revive a state-of-the-art facility to fulfill the original purpose for which it was intended,” said Gregory Castle, chief executive officer and one of the founders of Best Friends Animal Society.

“Obviously, there still is much to discuss and negotiate about such a project, but we have made it quite clear with the city that we would like to help make this shelter viable by bringing much needed funding, animal welfare expertise, and programming that mesh with Best Friends Animal Society’s own mission of bringing about a time when there are no more homeless pets in Los Angeles,” Castle said.

Brenda Barnette, general manager of LA Animal Services, said that communities with strong public and private partnerships are those that are successful in increasing the live save rate for companion animals.

“There are different mixes of partnerships,” Barnette said. “Some partner organizations coexist in the same building, while others are in completely different locales. They offer the public new and different choices, while complementing each other. But most important, they both save animal lives.”

Francis Battista, another of the Society’s founders who has worked extensively in Los Angeles on behalf of Best Friends Animal Society sees the partnership as a progressive model where a public facility benefits during a time of financial hardship through the participation of a non-profit organization that can bring private resources to serve a public good.

“Best Friends is committed far beyond just operating a shelter,” Battista said. “We have standing resources to operate the facility and we are committed to working on the front lines with our staff and volunteers to find animals homes, reduce euthanasia rates in the other city shelters, and provide a special combination of programs that would offer animal care training, wellness and vaccine clinics, spay-neuter services, adoption services and education programs to an under-served region of the San Fernando Valley.”

If approved by the City Council, Best Friends would operate the Northeast Valley Shelter in accordance with all LA Animal Services guidelines.

Best Friends Animal Society is a nonprofit organization building no-kill programs and partnerships that will bring about a day when there are No More Homeless Pets. The society’s leading initiatives in animal care and community programs are coordinated from its Kanab, Utah, headquarters, the country’s largest no-kill sanctuary. This work is made possible by the personal and financial support of a grassroots network of supporters and community partners across the nation.

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