If you already know me, or follow me on social media, then you know about Baxter. He is the rescue dog who came into my life in 2019.
Baxter became a bit infamous when, just one week before my primary election in March 2020, he escaped a dog sitter.
Alongside friends and family, I spent nine days and sleepless nights (including Election Day) trying to find him. I tortured friends and family on social media with increasingly grim updates.
Finally, after nine days, we found him. I am so grateful to have adopted him, found him once he escaped, and to have the opportunity to give him a safe and loving home.
Recently, the Los Angeles Times did an investigation into the rising dog euthanasia rates at L.A. County animal shelters, specifically in the Antelope Valley. As it turns out, two shelters in the AV euthanize more dogs — both in terms of absolute numbers and percentage rate — than others in the county.
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors is looking for possible solutions to this regional crisis, including expanding kennel space and addressing accessibility challenges. It is estimated that the shelters in the AV would need more than triple the number of staff in the next five years to reduce euthanasia rates there.
Dogs are an integral part of many families’ lives, providing unconditional love and emotional support to those who need it.
As someone who knows how wonderful rescue dogs are, it breaks my heart to hear about these animals needlessly losing their lives in the shelter system.
At the state level, the 2021-22 and 2020-21 state budgets included a total $50 million investment for a statewide animal shelter assistance program, to give the state’s animal shelters the training and resources they need to work toward the state’s no-kill goal.
And, back in 2021, the city of Los Angeles became the largest U.S. city to become a no-kill shelter city, marking a significant milestone in the efforts to reduce euthanasia rates and create a more humane approach to animal care. The city of Los Angeles set an example by embracing the no-kill philosophy, demonstrating that it is possible to save the lives of countless animals through strategic policies and community engagement.
The $50 million investment from the state budgets for the animal shelter assistance program is a crucial step toward achieving the no-kill goal.
This program aims to provide shelters across California with the necessary resources, training and support to enhance their capabilities in caring for animals. By investing in these facilities, the state acknowledges the importance of a collective effort in ensuring that our furry friends are given a second chance at life.
As a dog owner and advocate for animal welfare, I applaud the city of Los Angeles and the state for their initiatives. By addressing the issue comprehensively through legislation, outreach, education and community engagement, these regions have set a standard for others to follow.
However, more can be done.
It is imperative that we continue to support and expand programs like the animal shelter assistance program, ensuring that shelters have the tools and personnel required to provide quality care.
Additionally, community involvement is key – encouraging responsible pet ownership, promoting adoption and fostering a culture that values the lives of our four-legged companions.
While we have made significant strides in reducing euthanasia rates, challenges persist, especially in regions like the Antelope Valley. By addressing these challenges head-on, allocating resources wisely, and fostering a community-wide commitment to animal welfare, we can ensure no dogs are being euthanized in our district and in our state.
Baxter’s story is a testament to the transformative power of adopting a rescue dog, and every effort made brings us closer to creating a more compassionate future for our four-legged friends — because every shelter animal should have the chance to become a beloved family member.
Kipp Mueller is a Canyon Country resident and candidate for the state’s 21st Senate District, which encompasses the Antelope, Santa Clarita and Victor valleys. “Democratic Voices” appears Tuesdays and rotates among local Democrats.