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West L.A. Animal 'Shelter Shop' Celebrates One Year Anniversary

Actress and animal activist Betty White to appear at one-year celebration at L.A. Love & Leashes in the Westside Pavilion Monday night for its dedication to sell pets that are 100 percent from city animal shelters.

L.A. Love & Leashes, Los Angeles' first animal "shelter shop" fully dedicated to animals from the city's six animal shelters, celebrates its one-year anniversary Monday night with a special visit from actress and animal activist Betty White.

The celebration lasts from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday night on the first floor of Westside Pavilion. Ms. White will appear at 6 p.m.  in support of shelter adoptions and to challenge Los Angeles to help shelter pets get a home for the holidays. White will also blow out a candle on a cake created for the anniversary celebration by Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes and take photos with families and their recently adopted pets from L.A. Love & Leashes, as well as with some lucky shoppers.

The business was created by the non-profit, volunteer-run Friends of L.A. Animal Shelters, and has been exclusively adopting dogs and cats from L.A.’s city shelters for the last year. According to Jane Mass, co-president of the non-profit organization, dogs and cats come to L.A. Love & Leashes daily from the city shelter for adoption, and the business is funded by donations and the sale of pet-related merchandise.

"We were created to increase the adoption of shelter pets," Mass said in a recent interview with Patch. "This opportunity opened up this retail space in the Westside Pavilion. We continue to back it."

To date, approximately 396 dogs, cats and a hampster have found new homes through L.A. Love & Leashes, according to Mass, and being located mall helps the business market itself as a welcoming, high-traffic adoption and education venue reaching more people who would not otherwise visit city shelters. She said many new pet owners come from communities around the Westside.

"It's a huge amount of work," Mass said. "The adoptions are done through our facility and the fee we charge is what's expected at the six city shelters. We  just facilitate the adoption and a venue to house the shelter pets."

She said their model mimics a pet store, per se, where the animals coming to L.A. Love & Leashes are transported from the West L.A. Animal Shelter, as well as the other shelters in city, every morning. Of those animals that aren't adopted, they are picked up at the end of the day by the city. Mass said the majority are brought back next day and replenished with other animals.

Mass said it's their job to educate the public that there are healthy animals at L.A. Love & Leashes, not "throw away pets."

"It's a misconceived notion the animals are old and decrepid," she said. "What we’re trying to do is become low-kill."

Mass said it's impossible to not include euthanization for unhealthy animals, but wants to educate the public that you can find young, healthy pets at the shelter, in order so they don't get euthanized if not adopted, which is a practice conducted by the city services. 

She cited that in 2011, of 56,000 animals entering city shelters, 17,000 of those who were healthy and adoptable were euthanized. Mass also said the Los Angeles City Council's approval in October to ban pet sales from commercial breeders helps further the mission of L.A. Love & Leashes. City pet stores are now required to only sell animals from an animal shelter, humane society or non-profit rescue.

Mass said it's flattering Betty White is lending her name to their cause, being so well-known and respected in animal activism.

"Part of her coming here isn’t just to celebrate the cause, but [to] challenge the city to adopt, rather than shop, for animals for this holiday season, and also educate them on shelter pets and what’s available for them," Mass said. "We need to stop the euthanasia with these animals. These are healthy pets."

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