Proven Strategies

Black dog with right paw on black lap top keyboard while lying on an orange rug

Check out our latest resources

We consistently add new resources to our site to keep you informed on the latest topics in animal welfare, updated on innovative lifesaving strategies, and informed on new tools to improve operations. 

We added new resources and information in August in the following categories:


  • Getting Out of the Staffing Shortage Rut: We talked about how many shelters are struggling with sluggish adoptions and an uptick in intakes. Many of the things we would traditionally do to solve the space crunch are limited, however, because the field of animal sheltering, like many businesses right now, is also suffering from a staffing shortage. That means each staff person must shoulder a greater workload, diminishing the time available to spend with each animal or to explore lifesaving options. That leads to staff stress, which can lead to burnout and an exodus of staff from the industry. The result is a vicious cycle that is taxing shelters across the country. 
  • Shelters Prove They Can Reach 90% Goal—and Stay There: Over the past decade, we have made great progress in proving that achieving a 90% save rate (the no-kill benchmark) is achievable. Now, nearly half of the shelters in the country have achieved that benchmark. But questions remain like, is it sustainable? Is it possible to remain in a place where only roughly 10% of animals are losing their lives, and then because there are irreparable medical or behavioral issues? And what do shelters need to do to stay at that level of lifesaving?

Marketing & Communication

  • Adoption and Foster Toolkit: Data is showing that overall right now across the country, adoptions are down and intake is up. Coupled with the fact that shelters are also dealing with challenges like staffing shortages and kitten season, many shelters are at or near capacity leading to staff burnout. We at Best Friends want to relieve some of that pressure by helping get animals adopted. Right now we are urging the public to support shelters by adopting and fostering.


  • Digital Fundraising Playbook Series
    • Email Marketing Basics: Email is a huge fundraising revenue driver for organizations, and it is not a difficult channel for municipal shelters or nonprofits to implement. In 2020, email drove 19% of online revenue for nonprofits of all types and sizes, and that share grew to 20% for small to medium nonprofits.
    • Revamping Your Website: When was the last time you thought about how your website is performing? Have you considered lately whether it is meeting the needs of your target audiences? Chances are, even if you have a good sense of what’s working and what’s not, you might be too busy to address your website needs.
    • Writing an Effective Email Appeal: When we think about making a fundraising appeal, we tend to think about print mail and social media. But email is still a top driver of digital revenue. It’s inexpensive, fast and measurable, and almost everyone has an email address.

Program Spotlights

  • Getting the Message Out: Sure, animal sheltering is a chaotic business in the best of times, but has anyone noticed that things seem even more chaotic right now? One theory about the current struggle to manage shelters at or above capacity is that people are surrendering their pandemic pets in record numbers. In fact, data from 24PetWatch shows intakes from January through July are down by 22.1% compared to 2019, our most recent “normal” year (they are 4.4% higher than 2020). No, the actual culprit behind why many shelters feel overwhelmed is a drop off in adoptions.  
  • One Tail at a Time Stretches Role of Rescue with Creative Programming: “It’s not rescue if they already have a home.” That’s become the motto for Heather Owen, executive director of Chicago-based One Tail at a Time (OTAT), and the driving force behind the work done by her organization. Heather came by her motto honestly, after many years in animal welfare led her to rethink the role of a rescue organization. 


  • Staffing Shortage Survey Data: A survey was conducted July 28 through August 6 to better understand the staffing issues reported from partners across the country. A total of 187 respondents completed the survey representing a variety of organization types and sizes. 

Saving America's Pets Vlog

  • Episode 28- The best tips for reducing summer shelter intake: In this Saving America's Pets episode we are talking to Kristen Hassen of Human Animal Support Services (HASS) and Luis Quintanilla of Humane Society of Harlingen about the summer season challenges facing shelters. They give great tips and tricks on how shelters can combat these challenges and ease some of the stress on the shelter workers who bear the brunt of increased summer intakes and staffing shortages. 
  • Episode 29- How to adopt and foster special needs animals: Holly and Rose are joined by Megan McCloud the Senior Manager at Best Friends Utah in discussing the extra step shelters can take in fostering and adopting special needs animals.
  • Episode 30- How a shelter embed program helped save animals in Abilene, Texas: Justin Lelesch, the director of Abilene Animal Services in Texas discusses victories when partnering with Best Friends Embed Program in order to save lives at the shelter.

The Best Friends Podcast

  • 75. It’s not rescue if they already have a home: One Tail at a Time Dog Rescue in Chicago recently announced the launch of a new Pet Mutual Aid project. There are no invasive questions, no judgments. Just community-centered support for people and their pets with what they need, when they need it.
  • 76. Increasing adoptions through effective marketing: If you're feeling more overwhelmed than usual, you are not alone. The year-to-date shelter data shows a dramatic drop in adoptions over the last "normal" year of 2019. So this week, we talk through some marketing tips and tricks to help you break through the noise and get adoptable pets where they belong - in loving homes.
  • 77. Saving senior pets with The Gray Muzzle Organization: Solid data around what’s happening to senior pets in shelters is hard to come by, but we do know this. Senior animals are a highly vulnerable segment of the shelter population that is more difficult to save and more needs to be done to help them.

You can find additional information and resources by selecting a category below.