In one of its most ambitious projects to date, the ASPCA has just launched a $25 million, multi-year program that will bring much needed services to thousands of in-need animals in Los Angeles. The national organization will be pairing with LA-based animal welfare groups to increase spay/neuter services, pet retention, placement, and relocation for homeless cats and dogs.
They outlined their campaign in a recent press release:
Building on the strong foundation created by Los Angeles’ existing local animal welfare community, the ASPCA will work closely with leading local animal welfare groups to provide residents and rescue groups a variety of critical services that will save lives and help keep families and their pets together.
The ASPCA’s multi-pronged effort includes five key programs:
1. A spay/neuter facility operated by the ASPCA for animals owned by South Los Angeles residents, as well as animals sheltered at the South Los Angeles Animal Care Center – Chesterfield Square facility. Procedures performed at the facility, including vaccinations, micro-chip implantations, and flea-control treatment will be the only fully-subsidized option for South LA-area residents.
2. $1 million to subsidize fees incurred by local rescue groups when transferring animals from the Los Angeles County and Los Angeles City shelter system into their facilities or networks.
3. A relocation program to move animals from shelters in the Los Angeles metropolitan area to communities where they will have better chances of being adopted.
4. Safety net programs designed to keep animals in their homes by addressing the needs of those at the highest risk of relinquishment due to scarce resources and hindered access to critical services.
5. More than $250,000 annually in grants to local partners, including funding for intervention programs, spay/neuter programs and medical care for animals in low income areas.
“Like many communities, Los Angeles faces intense challenges when it comes to homeless animals – roughly half of the animals that enter L.A. area facilities never come out,” said ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker. “But local organizations have been working hard and strategically to save lives, and we’re proud to help them with this unprecedented large-scale investment customized to the unique needs and specific obstacles of each community.”
Bershadker added: “We’re excited to partner with L.A. Animal Services, County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care & Control, and to work with all of the local rescue groups on this project to put our best minds and efforts into making shelters and rescues more effective and vital services more affordable and accessible – all with the single goal of saving as many animals as we can, just like we’ve done and continue to do in other parts of the country.”
In addition to Los Angeles City Animal Services and Los Angeles County Animal Control, the ASPCA is collaborating with Best Friends Animal Society in support of their No-Kill Los Angeles initiative and local animal welfare organizations including Downtown Dog Rescue, The Amanda Foundation, Stray Cat Alliance, Fix Nation, The Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, Found Animals Foundation, Bark Avenue, and others.
South Los Angeles Spay / Neuter Clinic
Selected by the City of Los Angeles to operate the spay/neuter clinic in the South Los Angeles facility, the ASPCA plans to complete thousands of surgeries every year for animals owned by the public, as well as animals sheltered at the South Los Angeles Animal Care Center – Chesterfield Square facility. The services provided – which include spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, micro-chip implantations, and flea-control treatment ̶ will be fully subsidized for South Los Angeles residents.
“We commend the ASPCA’s commitment to protecting and serving the animals in our city and appreciate their investment in our community,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“The spay/neuter clinic is a critical service not currently available in South Los Angeles that will help ensure the safety and well-being of local pets, and will prevent unwanted births, reducing the dogs and cats entering the shelter. It is an important component of our strategy to get pets off of the streets and into loving homes of their own,” said Brenda Barnette, General Manager of Los Angeles Animal Services.
“Access to affordable spay/neuter services is a crucial factor in saving the lives of more animals,” added Aimee Christian, vice president of spay/neuter operations for the ASPCA. “As the ASPCA has seen in other densely populated urban environments, providing this service in underserved areas like South Los Angeles at no cost to the public will have a positive impact on the health and safety of the pets in this community.”
In New York City, the ASPCA has provided partially and fully-subsidized spay/neuter services to residents and the rescue community since 1997. In 2013, the ASPCA completed nearly 36,000 surgeries through mobile and stationary clinics in New York City. In the past decade, the ASPCA has administered nearly 250,000 spay/neuter surgeries in NYC.
Los Angeles County Efforts Focused on Safety Nets and Pet Retention
In Los Angeles, the ASPCA also will commit $1 million to subsidize fees routinely paid by rescue organizations that take in animals from Los Angeles city and county shelters to prepare them for adoption. By covering these fees – which typically cover the cost of spay/neuter services, vaccines, micro-chipping and in some cases, medical treatments – the ASPCA will alleviate the burden on rescue groups and accelerate the adoption process for homeless animals.
In addition, the ASPCA is hiring two staff to help the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Control provide options to people who might otherwise give up their pets. These safety net positions will work with the pet-owning public to provide a variety of resources – spay/neuter services, veterinary care, and animal-related social services – when they face challenges that could lead to pet relinquishment.
“By working with the ASPCA to implement programs to help the public keep pets in their homes, we can focus more of our resources on giving homeless animals a second chance,” said Marcia Mayeda, director of the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control.
Bershadker added: “Too many animals enter the shelter system for reasons that are completely preventable. By offering support to pet owners when they need it most – including low-cost medical care, boarding options and pet food subsidies – we can keep pets in loving homes and ultimately free space for more animals in critical need.”
“By providing these resources and specific expertise, the ASPCA is demonstrating that collaboration is crucial to getting dogs and cats out of shelters and into homes,” said Lori Weise, founder of Downtown Dog Rescue. “As a result of the ASPCA subsidies, rescue groups are now able to focus solely on what they do best – rescuing and finding homes for more animals.”
ASPCA funding and resources will also focus on relocating animals from high-population areas to ones where the chances of placement are greater. The ASPCA is funding a new, custom-built vehicle that will transport animals from high-population areas of Los Angeles to partner shelters and rescue groups that have space available and a higher demand for adoptable animals, both in California and out of state. In 2013, the ASPCA’s Animal Relocation and Transport team worked with local partners across the country to move over 44,000 dogs to new locations.
Stated ASPCA Senior Director of Community Initiatives Jill A. Buckley: “The ASPCA has a strong history of providing support to the Los Angeles community, and we look forward to continuing to work with the many organizations that have dedicated much time and resources to saving the lives of animals in Los Angeles.” Since 2013, the ASPCA distributed over $1.1 million in grants to organizations in the Los Angeles area. This included a contribution of $60,000 to Downtown Dog Rescue to help them purchase a new building to house their rescued dogs, in addition to awarding the group a $40,000 grant to subsidize spay/neuter surgeries in their Compton Community dog clinics. A grant of over $38,000 was awarded to the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation to transport dogs from overcrowded shelters to shelters where they would have a better chance of being adopted. Additionally, the ASPCA also funds a full-time position at the Los Angeles Animal Services Harbor Shelter to provide training and lead implementation of the innovative adoption program, “Meet Your Match,” which aims to increase adoptions, decrease the length of stay in the shelter and decrease returned animals.
The ASPCA’s expertise in spay/neuter, adoption and relocation, as well as its provision of critical funds around the country, has made it a leader in the life-saving efforts for animal sheltering systems around the country. Through the ASPCA Partnership program, the ASPCA lends its support to animal welfare agencies in communities nationwide in the form of direct grants, capacity-building, training, ASPCA staff expertise, and strategic planning. Increased collaboration among agencies in these communities has resulted in tremendous strides in the number of lives saved. The community of Austin, Texas increased its live release rate (LRR), or the number of animals leaving a shelter alive (LRR), to 90 percent from 53 percent in just four years; Charleston, S.C. increased its LRR to 75 percent from 34 percent in six years; and Miami, Fla. has increased its LRR to 72.5 percent from 40 percent in three years.
In New York City, through collaboration with the ASPCA-funded Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals and its more than 150 rescue groups, the coalition has rescued and saved so many animals that, in 10 years, the LRR went from 26 percent in 2003 to just over 80 percent in 2013, giving New York City the lowest per capita euthanasia rate in the country.