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.
The Best Friends national dataset includes statistics from 85% of the nearly 4,000 brick-and-mortar shelters in the country, covering an estimated 95% of all dogs and cats who entered shelters in 2022.
National and Species Trend
Cats and dogs had significantly different trends for the first time since at least 2016. The total lifesaving gap of 378,000 in 2022, a 17.9% increase from the updated 2021 total of 321,000, was driven by increasing dog intake and stagnant dog adoption numbers. Dogs made up the entirety of the increase in lifesaving gap while cats experienced lifesaving progress.
Intake and outcomes
The ways in which pets enter and leave shelters in the U.S. differ by species and highlight opportunitites for improvement.
Methodology: Among the 1,330 shelters that reported fully categorized 2022 data, all numbers are a share of gross intake. Note: The dogs returned-to-field number is likely due to reporting errors. Dogs were not actually returned to the field.
Community differences: urban/rural and social vulnerability
Communities influence the rates at which dogs and cats enter and leave shelters in the U.S. The level at which a community is rural and socially vulnerable correlates to higher intake volumes and lifesaving gaps.
Sources: U.S. Census data was used for designation of Urban/Rural status; CDC for Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) analyzed by categories of high (70 or higher), moderate (30-69) and low (below 30).
Sustainability of 90% save rate
Despite the reversal of national intake and lifesaving gap trends in 2021, shelters that previously met the 90% save rate benchmark overwhelmingly maintained that status.
You can find more information on recent data trends by checking out our 2020-2022 Data Trends, A National Perspective Webinar and 2020-2022 data trends Q&A program spotlight.
Footnote: Analysis based on 1,596 brick-and-mortar shelters for which Best Friends has both 2021 and 2022 annual data.