Another Successful Super Adoption As L.A. Gets Closer To NKLA


NKLA Super Adoption

Large-scale adoption events, or as we call them, super adoptions, have been a banner event for Best Friends for many years. Whether we hold them in New York City, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles or anywhere else, the details are basically the same. Large tents in a city park or high-traffic area of the community signal a fun atmosphere, and the goal is to bring together local rescue organizations and shelters to find homes for as many animals as possible over a two- or three-day period. They also demonstrate to the animal-loving public what collaboration among organizations looks like.

Over time, many thousands of animals have found their forever homes through super adoptions. What makes these events so special, and important to the no-kill movement, is the effect the events have far beyond the animals who go home during that period. They bring the cause to the community’s attention, generate media coverage, attract and engage volunteers, unite the animal welfare community with a common goal and, of course, promote adoption as the option. An unknowable number of people over the years have simply been passing by and wandered in to see what all the hullabaloo was about, and consequently realized what we all know — that shelter animals are wonderful pets. They may not have adopted that weekend, but being there planted a seed that gave them direction for where to acquire their next family member.

During the first weekend in June, we held two super adoption events — one in Los Angeles and another at the same time in New York City. They were both a huge success. In New York City, more than 350 animals found new homes, and in Los Angeles, more than 580 animals were adopted. But as I reflect on the weekend, the number of pets saved is almost a footnote in my mind, as I think about the shift I’ve witnessed since we’ve been putting these on.

Our first super adoption in Los Angeles was in April of 1999. Back then, the number of animals saved in L.A. city shelters was much, much lower than it is today. In fact, it was difficult to sell the idea not just to the shelters, but even to the grassroots animal rescue organizations, which weren’t too keen on the concept. The perception was that we were all competing on the adoption front, but the truth is that by joining forces, we attracted more adopters than the sum of our individual efforts had done. Over time, everyone saw the lifesaving potential of super adoptions and participation grew.

In those days, the animals coming to the events (including puppies, kittens, many purebred dogs and cats, and small dogs) were adopted relatively easily. As the standing shelter population has been reduced through high-volume adoption policies introduced since we launched our NKLA initiative in 2012, and the city is on the cusp of a 90 percent save rate, the attention has focused more and more on large dogs, older pets and special-needs animals — and, of course, kittens.

Maximillian adoption at NKLA Super Adoption

As I looked down the row of kennels and through the cat tent at this most recent super adoption, the animals were just as adorable in my eyes, but they certainly were not “perfect.” Some had medical conditions — there was a sweet blind cocker spaniel — for which they were being treated and were on the road to recovery or rehabilitation, but even so, they had the same “eye candy” appeal of most of the pets at those first super adoptions.

Take Maximillian. This little five-year-old Manchester terrier mix isn’t “perfect.” He has some burn scars on his body, a sign of his tough life before he landed in the shelter. He has a minor case of luxating patellas. But none of that mattered to the young man who fell in love with Maximillian on Saturday.

A long time ago, Best Friends challenged the concept of an animal being “unadoptable.” It’s all about finding the right person for that animal. Certainly not a unique idea at this point in time, but I can’t shake the feeling of the shift that we’ve seen in the pet-loving public in Los Angeles.

Would Maximillian have been adopted at our first super adoption 18 years ago? It’s hard to say, but animals like him were often the last to be adopted, or would find themselves going to rescue groups at the end the event. Not anymore.

The NKLA initiative and the 125 partners that make up the coalition have been working very hard, together, to get L.A. to no-kill. One of the goals of NKLA was to rally the entire community, all 500 square miles and its almost four million residents, to help us achieve no-kill.

Looking back on the recent super adoption event in L.A. and seeing so many worthy animals going into homes with loving families made me realize that we’re not only going to achieve NKLA, we’re going to achieve our goal of ending the killing of cats and dogs in the nation’s shelters by 2025. And we will do it by showing the world that regardless of age, trick knees, burn scars or not, every life is worth saving.

Together, we will Save Them All.

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Francis Battista
Best Friends Animal Society

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Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends is a nonprofit organization building no-kill programs and partnerships nationwide, all coordinated from our Kanab, Utah headquarters - the largest no-kill sanctuary for homeless companion animals.

At the core of our work is the dream that one day kindness will replace cruelty, and animals will no longer be destroyed because they are unwanted or imperfect. Spaying and neutering will be the rule for all pets and adoption from local animal shelters and rescues will be the first option for everyone. Those same shelters and rescues will have the knowledge and resources to help rehabilitate special-needs animals and find the right family for every animal.

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