Well, this is a start.
This week, a series of advertisements for a group called No Kill Los Angeles has broken with the goal of raising awareness of the problem of high euthanasia rates in Los Angeles area shelters -- the advertising is hoped to facilitate adoptions and encourage people to spay/neuter their pets.
The advertising campaign is a new approach for LA -- made possible by Best Friends Animal Society that began operating a shelter in the Los Angeles area after the city built the shelter at a cost of more than $19 million -- but then lacked the funds to open the shelter and manage it. Yeah, really. Best friends turned the facility into and adoption center and plans to spend about $1 million a year running the shelter.
In 2008, Los Angeles passed a law mandating that all dogs and cats be spayed and neutered. The results have been, well, disasterous.
2001 Intake: 40,442 Euthanized: 22,675
2002 Intake: 34,295 Euthanized: 17,335 (-24%)
2003 Intake: 30,605 Euthanized: 12,821 (-62%)
2004 Intake: 26,949 Euthanized: 9,985 (-22%)
2005 Intake: 25, 740 Euthanized: 8,127 (-19%)
2006 Intake: 24,999 Euthanized: 6,949 (-15%)
2007 Intake: 25,792 Euthanized: 6,051 (-13%)
In 2008, the mandatory spay/neuter ordinance was passed:
2008 Intake: 30,813 Euthanized: 7,518 (+24%)
2009 Intake 31,869 Euthanized: 7,624 (+1.5%)
2010 Intake : 33,396 Euthanized: 8,210 (+7.7%)
2011 Intake: 35,589 Euthanized: 9,452 (+15.1%)
In 2011, 5 years after the mandatory spay/neuter ordinance was put into effect to try to DECREASE shelter euthanasia, 38% more dogs were impounded and 56% more dogs were euthanized than the year prior to the ordinance taking effect. Ouch.
The numbers for cats, equally poor:
2006 Euthanized: 12,277
2007 Euthanized: 8,960 (MSN begins after this year)
2008 Euthanized: 12,099
2009 Euthanized: 11,938
2010 Euthanized: 12,435
2011 Euthanized: 13,561
From the outset, the law was a failure. Shortly after passing the ordinance, the city became unable to offer low cost spay/neuter services because they ran short of money to meet the high demand. And in spite of insistence that the law was a good idea, an independent report noted that the city had "No Plan" for how to enforce the law, or get people into compliance.
So, with no plan or financial ability of how to HELP people get into compliance with the mandatory spay/neuter law, the city passed the mandatory spay/neuter law -- and with it, both intakes, and shelter euthanasia, have increased EVERY, SINGLE, YEAR since the law was passed 5 years ago.
So after years of failure in trying to create a law to punish people for not spaying or neutering, finally, the folks at Best Friends, who are now running one of the city's shelters, are finally trying a different approach. This approach involves educating people on why spay/neuter is important, and why adoption is important, in the reality that if you ENCOURAGE the public to help you in your efforts to save lives, they will respond in a far more positive way than if you try to punish them into compliance.
For very real reasons like this, major national orgnaiztions like the AVMA, ASPCA, Best Friends, American Humane, Ally Cat Allies, and No Kill Advocacty Center are all opposed to mandatory spay/neuter laws -- joining a near national consensus opposed to such laws.
This doesn't mean there is opposition to spay/neuter -- but an opposition to mandating it for individuals when the laws have continued to fail, over and over, and targeted, voluntary, low cost spay/neuter programs continue to prove to be effective and efficient ways of generating positive results.
This hopefully is a good first step for Los Angeles -- whose punitive approach has proven to be a failure, and left thousands of dead animals in its wake.