A dog in a shelter waits to be adopted.

Last week, the city of Los Angeles moved one step closer to becoming another no-kill city in the United States, joining the ranks of Austin, and sharing aspirations with places like Chicago. Although the proposal is merely a resolution and not law, it does take a big step toward hitting the stated goal of “saving 90 percent or more of the cats and dogs coming through the sheltering system.”

As reported by the website LAist, Best Friends Animal Society of Los Angeles already puts this number at 89.4%, so the city is well on the way to success — but they aren’t quite there yet.

Speaking of the process, the Director of Policy and Legislation for city councilmember Paul Koretz, Jeff Ebenstein, told local radio station KABC, “It’s not going to happen over night but we increased funding to spay and neuter, that was a big part of it. We also put a ban on puppy mills in the city of Los Angeles that require all pet stores to use shelter animals.”

The resolution itself begins optimistically and sets a target of less than eight months from now:

“WHEREAS, while the no-kill goal is in sight and potentially within reach, there is more to be done in order to save all of the adoptable and healthy animals in the department’s care and jurisdiction.

“NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Los Angeles reconfirms its commitment to achieving the accepted no-kill live release for all healthy and adoptable dogs and cats at Los Angeles Animal Services by December 31, 2017, or by as soon thereafter as possible; and

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Los Angeles work in collaboration with the No Kill Los Angeles coalition, other rescuers and rescue organizations, humane organizations and the general public to develop a comprehensive strategy to reach and maintain a life-saving rate consistent with accepted no-kill standards.”

Of course, a resolution is one thing and a result is another, but residents of Los Angeles — and all communities with shelters — can help the process along toward the 90% goal. For example:

Ways to Keep Shelters Empty

Spay and Neuter Your Pets

Unless you’re a licensed, professional breeder, there’s no good reason for any of your dogs to have puppies — and don’t think that it can’t happen if you have one dog that never leaves your house. As they say, “love will find a way.” So will an intact male dog when there’s a female in heat anywhere in the neighborhood. Get your dogs (and cats) spayed or neutered.

Adopt, Don’t Shop

Every dog (or cat) rescued from a shelter is one less potential victim of euthanization, and frees up a spot for another dog to stay alive. Also, by investing your money in shelters instead of with breeders and pet shops, you’re helping to pay for the survival of future dogs.

Consider Older Dogs, Not Puppies

Adult dogs can be a much better fit than a puppy if you don’t have the time to properly train a young dog — which is pretty much a 24/7 job. They can also start out already trained and socialized. Senior dogs can be ideal for senior citizens or people with conditions that limit their mobility or activity level.

Consider “Imperfect” Dogs

Dogs aren’t hindered by handicaps, like hearing or vision loss, or the amputation of a limb. They go on being dogs, but these are the dogs that are often overlooked at adoption time. If you do see such a dog at a shelter, consider rescuing them. You’ll find them to be just as loving and loyal. They are also at much higher risk of being un-adopted and killed, so you’re guaranteed to save a life this way. And remember: “imperfect” is a human judgment, not a dog reality!

Never Surrender Your Dog to a Shelter.

If you absolutely have to give up your dog, there are better alternatives that won’t put your dog on a kill list and, again, will leave a shelter spot open for another dog. Options range from no-kill private rescues, to friends and family, to interviewing to find prospective adopters.

Currently, Austin is the biggest city in the U.S. to have made the successful transition to no-kill. At over four times its population, the city of Los Angeles would smash that record while proving that it is possible for a huge urban area to make its shelters humane and pave the way for the behemoth that is the County of Los Angeles to do the same. At 10.12 million people, it’s the largest county in the country. Turning the county no-kill would have an enormous and positive impact on the rest of the country.

You can find a list of resources for making your own shelters no-kill, whether you live in a small, rural area, or a huge city, at the Best Friends website.

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