Expert Research for Shelters and Rescuers
This page will continue to be updated with new research documents and peer-reviewed publications. Please check back.
- The State of U.S. Animal Sheltering, 2022- Despite some setbacks in 2022, the Best Friends national dataset shows great progress is still being made across the country. Data shows that the number of no-kill shelters is at an all-time high, no-kill counties have increased, and Vermont joined New Hampshire and Delaware as the country’s third no-kill state. However, the setbacks include the save rate decreasing for the first time since 2016, dropping from 83% in 2021 to 81% in 2022, and adoption rates decreasing for both dogs and cats.
Best Friends Research
- 24PetWatch Owner Surrender and Acquisition Source Analysis- This analysis quantifies the reasons for surrendering a pet in the U.S., how these reasons changed during COVID-19, how they compare to the 2009 recession and where surrendered pets are first acquired.
- Adoption Barrier Study - A qualitative study to understand the pet acquisition process, existing barriers (real or perceived) to adoption, and potential solutions to overcome those barriers.
- Analysis of Shelter Data: Rural vs. Urban Areas - Populations in rural areas face different challenges than populations in urban areas, including less access to resources such as veterinary services and shelter services. Counties with higher percentages of populations in rural areas also have lower median incomes and higher percentages of families living below the poverty line. This analysis identifies the challenges and strengths of shelters in more rural settings to inform strategies for supporting these communities in reaching the no-kill benchmark.
- Breed Restrictions in the Homeowners Insurance Industry- Together with several other animal welfare groups, this white paper was created to address breed restrictions in the homeowners insurance industry. The collective goal is to end breed restrictions and urge the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to evaluate the use of breed restriction lists. The paper is complete with testimonies and arguments, and divided into sections focusing on breed lists and restrictions, unjustified use of breed as actual risk, and recommendations.
- COVID-19 Fostering Survey - Best Friends surveyed 321 foster families and discovered just how much opportunity there is to build on the current fostering momentum.
- Consumer Adoption Survey - Our 2021 Lifesaving Dataset revealed that over the last year, adoptions did not keep pace with the increase in dog and cat intake. In order to determine why this occurred and how to increase adoptions, Best Friends Animal Society commissioned a survey by The Tarrance Group.
- Human & Pet Vulnerability Study - The goal of this analysis is to understand shelter intake and outcomes in the context of human vulnerability when faced with crisis.
- New Normal, New Data - A guide for using data to prove the community-supported sheltering model.
- No-Kill Shelter Positive Outcome Study - Best Friends analyzed outcome type data from 2017 and 2018 for 1,844 no-kill organizations to identify which programs lead to high positive outcomes and establish goals for shelters that will further increase lifesaving. We also have an updated version that includes data from 2019, as well as 2017 and 2018 for 2,114 no-kill shelters.
- 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.
- Summary of No-Kill Sustainability Analysis - The goal of this analysis is to understand the sustainability of no-kill status over time (2017-2020).
- The State of U.S. Animal Sheltering, 2021 - After an unprecedented year of lifesaving gains in 2020, the data shows that 2021’s post-pandemic challenges contributed to an increase in the number of healthy or treatable dogs and cats dying in shelters.
- The State of U.S. Animal Sheltering, 2020 - The year 2020 brought significant changes for the animal welfare industry. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way our nation’s shelters operated, resulting in an unexpected large leap forward in progress with more shelter than ever reaching the no-kill benchmark of a 90% save rate. This report shares the top-line results of the Best Friends 2020 national dataset and analysis, as well as a five-year trend of total data and specific types of intake and outcomes.
- The State of U.S. Animal Sheltering, 2019 - The 2019 dataset is the most comprehensive national dataset to date, and accounts for an estimated 92% of the animals entering U.S. shelters. In this report we share detailed findings from the 2019 dataset and the short term trends impacting shelter animal populations across the nation.
- Vet Shortage and Compensation Survey Data - An online survey was conducted in February 2020 to better understand the veterinarian shortage and impact on shelters and organizations. A total of 208 respondents completed the survey, representing a variety of organizational types and regions of the country.
- A Case Study in Citizen Science: The Effectiveness of a Trap-Neuter-Return Program in a Chicago Neighborhood (Daniel D. Spehar & Peter J. Wolf)
- An Examination of an Iconic Trap-Neuter-Return Program: The Newburyport, Massachusetts Case Study (Daniel D. Spehar & Peter J. Wolf)
- Back to School: An Updated Evaluation of the Effectiveness of a Long-Term Trap-Neuter-Return Program on a University’s Free-Roaming Cat Population (Daniel D. Spehar & Peter J. Wolf)
- Integrated Return-To-Field and Targeted Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return Programs Result in Reductions of Feline Intake and Euthanasia at Six Municipal Animal Shelters (Daniel D. Spehar & Peter J. Wolf)
- Managing free-roaming cats in U.S. cities: An object lesson in public policy and citizen action (Peter J. Wolf & Francis Hamilton)
- The Impact of Return-to-Field and Targeted Trap-Neuter-Return on Feline Intake and Euthanasia at a Municipal Animal Shelter in Jefferson County, Kentucky (Daniel D. Spehar & Peter J. Wolf)
- The Impact of an Integrated Program of Return-to-Field and Targeted Trap-Neuter-Return on Feline Intake and Euthanasia at a Municipal Animal Shelter (Daniel D. Spehar & Peter J. Wolf)
- The Road to TNR: Examining Trap-Neuter-Return Through the Lens of Our Evolving Ethics (Peter J. Wolf & Joan E. Schaffner)
- Trends in Intake and Outcome Data From U.S. Animal Shelters From 2016 to 2020 (Jeffrey R. Rodriguez, Jon Davis, Samantha Hill, Peter J. Wolf, Sloane M. Hawkes, and Kevin N. Morris)