The Los Angeles City Council will revote today on whether to honor Best Friends Animal Society’s proposal to take over operation of the Northeast Valley Animal Shelter in Mission Hills, a $19 million facility completed in 2007 and never opened to the public due to budget constraints.
Until its closure on Aug. 1, the shelter was used by Los Angeles Animal Services as a holding station for animals evacuated from emergencies, transported between shelters, or held as evidence in abuse cases. Under Best Friends, which proposes to invest over $1 million a year, the facility would operate as a no-kill adoption center for shelter animals and a low-cost spay/neuter clinic to serve low-income residents of the district.
Best Friends’ stated goal for the shelter is to adopt out 3,000 animals (pulled from LA’s six city shelters) in the first year of operation, as well as target 6,000 spay/neuter procedures for the shelter clinic.
Opposition came from Councilmember Richard Alarcon, who represents District 7 where the shelter is located. He questioned Best Friends’ numbers, among other concerns, which the animal rescue community and community at large appear to be divided on.
“We need a more well-rounded and balanced approach,” Alarcon stated. “If we go in the direction of a public/private partnership, we can do much better.” The councilmember pointed out that by not having a full-service shelter, including animal control services, it would place an additional burden on the other shelters.
“I think these are reasonable and conservative numbers,” Brenda Barnette, the general manager of LA Animal Services, said of their targeted goal of 3,000 adoptions and 6,000 spay/neuters per year.
“Best Friends has a 4-star Charity Navigator rating and runs a sanctuary with 1800 animals on any given day, including those with behavior and medical issues,” she said. And went on to say, “Aside from having the financial means, they’ve proven they can care for large numbers of animals safely and humanely — if anyone knows how to take care of animals, they do.”