Twenty-five years ago a group of individuals decided that way too many adoptable animals were being euthanized, and something had to be done. With very little money, 200 dogs and a dream, these wonderful souls founded Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah. Thanks to hard work and generous donors, the 33,000 acre sanctuary is now home to 2000 of the nation's abused, abandoned and neglected dogs, cats, horses, pigs, birds and wildlife.
Best Friends began working in Los Angeles in 1991. From those first small steps, which included assistance to animal victims of fires, riots and the Reseda earthquake and working with shelter and rescue organizations for alternatives to euthanasia, Best Friends Los Angeles has grown to become one of the most influential and effective animal organizations in the area. Pet Adoption Festivals
Best Friends Pet Adoption Festivals are unique in both scope and scale. The Pet Adoption Festivals include more than 60 local rescue groups, L.A. City and County Shelters, vendors, dog agility demonstrations, kids' activities, pet psychics, a food court and pet health care experts to provide information and assistance to people who have adopted new pets. Celebrity friends often stop by to lend their support and take photos with the attending local media. The event has made its mark as the largest pet adoption festival in the nation, with an average of 8,000 attendees and 400 adoptions in just one day.
Cat nippers/Fix Nation
In 1999 the husband and wife team of Mark Dodge and Karn Myers discovered that there were hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of homeless cats living on the streets, alleys and backyards of Los Angeles County. Soon thereafter, they founded Best Friends Catnippers, an all-volunteer outreach program, to operate monthly, high-volume spay-neuter clinics to service caregivers of stray, free-roaming cats and help implement the humane, community-based method of homeless cat population control known as Trap-Neuter-Return or TNR. The Catnippers clinics account for more than 2,300 cat sterilizations each year, and with its new affiliate, Fix Nation, more than 6,000 more surgeries have been performed since July of 2007. The permanent facilities are now operating, and are expected to sterilize more than 10,000 cats each year.
Bi-Weekly Private Party Adoptions
Twice a month the Best Friends staff sets up a mini-adoption event where private party rescuers can bring animals. They are provided with proper applications, foster agreements, and home-check instructions to ensure that responsible matches are made. The Best Friends team also posts the animals on national adoption Web sites. Through these efforts, many people now have alternatives to surrendering these animals to shelters. Last year, 240 animals were given a second chance, which is an average of 10 adoptions per event.
Pup my Ride
One day Robin Harmon, the Volunteer Coordinator for L.A. Programs, was asked to pick up an injured Chihuahua from a local shelter. Having done this before, she knew it would be a difficult trip, but nothing could have prepared her for what she noticed when she got there "¦ dozens of adorable, small dogs sitting in cages, one after the other. Within the next week, 21 of them were loaded into a transport van on their way to a rescue group where all were immediately adopted. Due to backyard breeding and puppy mills in and around Los Angeles, small dogs are a dime a dozen in L.A. shelters. In contrast, other parts of this country lack small dogs, so much so that the rescue groups in those areas are willing to take any that Best Friends L.A. can transport to them.
Since August of 2007, more than 300 small dogs "red listed" for immediate euthanasia were transported. Thus far, 100 percent of these dogs have found new, loving homes.
Lint Roller Party
The Lint Roller Party is an annual gala, where animal lovers from all walks of life including members, friends, celebrities and corporate sponsors large and small, come together to lend support to Best Friends Los Angeles programs. The evening features cash grant awards to local, national and international rescue organizations.
Once each month, the Best Friends Brigade dispatches a team of volunteers to help with essential projects. The Brigade has assisted more than 25 shelters and rescue groups with everything from grooming to roof repairs and landscaping.
A Puppy-Store-Free LA
Nationwide, 25 percent of dogs in shelters are pure breeds, and almost all puppies sold in stores come from puppy mills. Best Friends is mounting a volunteer-driven campaign to end the sale of puppy mill dogs in Los Angeles by holding peaceful demonstrations at local pet stores to encourage the public to boycott stores that purchase dogs from irresponsible breeders, and to encourage the public to adopt from shelters and rescue groups.
Sadly, there's still a long road ahead. Each year more than 70,000 animals are euthanized in L.A. City and County Shelters for simple lack of a good home. The support Best Friends receives from members and donors brings them one step closer to a no-kill shelter system, and our mission of "No More Homeless Pets." Each of these amazing programs helps the community groups that have the same goals, and more directly, helps the members of the Los Angeles community who don't have a voice - the animals. For donations or more information, please call (818) 768-8195 or email Lisa Dulyea