On October 4, Marc Peralta, Executive Director of Best Friends Society, LA addressed a room full of animal welfare and rescue professionals, volunteers and supporters. His keynote inspired us all to find ways to work together, and to shift the narrative of animal rescue away from hopelessness and despair to one that is full of promise and positive change.
And he knows what he is talking about.
When Best Friends led the creation of the No Kill LA (NKLA) Coalition in 2012, over 17,000 healthy and treatable pets were killed in City run shelters. The NKLA Coalition brought together passionate individuals, city shelters and an entire coalition of animal welfare organizations to end the killing of healthy and treatable pets in city shelters in Los Angeles, California, by the year 2017. And since it was launched in 2012, the kill rate has been reduced by almost 50%.
“Everyone has a role, together we can fill the gaps” Marc encouraged us to find our commonalities that will enable us to come together to have an even greater impact on the lives of animals in our province. He also confirmed that exporting/importing animals to save them is not the answer, and that in order to make a meaningful and sustainable difference, the work must come from within the community. How does he know this? Because the shelters run by the City of LA do not export dogs and it is these shelters that are a part of the NKLA movement that have seen the dramatic increase in the save (or live release) rate. Shelters that are part of LA county, but not run by the City of LA are the ones that remain in crisis and it is these ones that continue to attempt to solve the overpopulation problem by exporting their dogs to BC and other provinces in Canada.
What is the NKLA Coalition doing to have such a tremendous impact? Working along side 78 coalition partners they support and participate in:
Designated spay and neuter programs
Transporting (within US)
Shifting the narrative
The abandonment, neglect and abuse of animals is heartbreaking. And that is often the theme used by animal welfare and rescue organizations in attempts to share our message, to get people to donate, to change people’s behaviour and to promote adoption. The challenge with this approach, is it is heartbreaking, and most people will not be attracted to images of suffering animals. So while we may be successful in getting their one time donation, we will not be as successful in getting them involved in being a part of the solution, nor will they be inclined to go into a shelter that is viewed as a desperate and sad place for animals.
In order for us to engage the community, we need to make it a welcoming place, and one where they feel like there is hope. And while we do not want to overlook the significant changes the need to happen in our community to improve the lives of pets, we need to find ways to balance this with ensuring that our messages and the environments we create do not appear tragic and hopeless.
Paws for Hope Animal Foundation is committed to building sustainable, long-term companion animal protection in B.C. We work hard to build meaningful partnerships with rescue and welfare organizations across the province. As we head into a new year, we are excited to learn from Best Friends, build upon our existing relationships and to create a formal coalition of local organizations that will work together to create sustainable change in the lives of animals.
Spreading the Love
One final note to thank Wendy from the Big Love Ball for helping us create a welcoming and fun environment. Seriously, how do you not smile when there is this much love in the room.
For more information on our current programs and iniatives and ways you can help, visit our website