Tools & Information

White pit bull smiling at camera with text to the left side

Roadblock-free is the way to be.

Fewer pets in shelters. More resources for people with pets. More animal-friendly communities. Healthier, happier animals with safe places to call home.  

These are our shared goals. But are we all doing as much as we can to achieve them? 

For example, what does your pet adoption process look like? Is it welcoming, conversation-based and solution-oriented? Or does it have roadblocks like these:

  • Home visits
  • Vet checks
  • Landlord approvals
  • Multi-page applications
  • Family restrictions
  • Fencing requirements
  • Income questions

Now more than ever, being a part of the sheltering and rescue community means actively looking for ways to keep pets in the places they call home and inviting more animal-loving folks to the lifesaving party. 

Learn more about removing common roadblocks below. 

Take the pledge to be roadblock-free!


Best Friends Playbook: Culture Initiatives- what culture is, why you should care deeply about it, and how to implement a culture initiative that can maximize your employees’ contributions while making each one feel exactly what they are: a unique and valued part of the team.

Best Friends Playbook: Open Adoptions - Basic considerations and steps that every agency can take to create a well-rounded open-adoption program. 

Best Friends Lifesaving Training Module: Client Service & Open Adoptions - Exceeding client service expectations to increase lifesaving. 

Best Friends Adoption Barrier Study  - Qualitative study to understand the pet acquisition process, existing barriers (real or perceived) to adoption, and potential solutions to overcome those barriers. 

Best Friends Tool: How to Use Data to Prove the Community-Supported Sheltering Model - A guide to the importance of knowing your data (especially now), what you need to be measuring, and how to use it to increase lifesaving with your community. 

Best Friends Pet Adoption Survey Results - How do Americans feel about pet adoption, and what do they really know about shelter animals? Those were two key questions Best Friends hoped to answer through its inaugural “Pet Adoption” survey. 

Hearts Speak- This easy to edit Pet Resource Guide is meant to help you create a one-stop reference tool for your community pet owners. From how to access medical or behavior expertise in your area to guidance on rehoming or what to do with community cats and everything in between, this template can be completely customized to fit the needs of your organization and your local community. 

  • Click here to access template 
  • View a tutorial on how to use and customize the template here

HSUS: Adopters Welcome 

American Pets Alive! - Open Fostering: Removing Barriers to Fostering During the COVID-19 Pandemic  

Norfolk Animal Care & Adoption Center: Hampton Roads Pets Resources - Comprehensive guide to social services and pet retention resources for a community. Excellent template for building a guide for your own community.

Carver Scott Humane Society- Example of low barrier adoption agreement

Need help with your pet resources sheet- Available in English and Spanish. From Dallas Pets Alive!, Operation Kindness, and SPCA of Texas


Town hall, Times they are a changin' - The impacts of COVID-19 on every aspect of life are immeasurable and animal welfare is no exception. However, one of the greatest realizations to emerge from the pandemic is that real change is possible in our field. In this three part Best Friends Town Hall mini-series, we dove into navigating the landscape of change, especially as it pertains to leveraging our communities and removing barriers to support lifesaving work.

Town hall, Leveling the Field: How to Remove Barriers for Underrepresented Communities and their Pets - Panel discussion on animal policies and laws which inadvertently create barriers for BIPOC and lower-income communities to adopt, reclaim, and remain in compliance to keep their pets. 

Town hall, Moving Beyond Bias with CARE - A discussion with animal welfare leader and president of Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity (CARE), James Evans. James talks about how the animal welfare movement got to where we are today and how we move forward. 

Town hall, The Collective Impact of Community Centered Lifesaving - What happens when rescues, spay/neuter, community resource groups, transport groups, and shelters all work in concert?  Lifesaving! Panel includes a network of organizations collaborating to meet the needs of their community. 

Town hall, Re-opening a Different & Better Tomorrow -  Panel discussion about new technology and community-based programs that are saving lives, how to communicate with the public and key stakeholders, and how to build and retain operational changes beyond COVID-19. 

Town hall, Covid-19: Preparing for the Housing Crisis - Panel with housing and eviction experts from both the animal welfare and public housing fields. Their discussion includes how to get ahead of the curve, how to support families in crisis, and how to keep pets and families together. 

Podcast Ep. 28, Rebecca Guinn - Atlanta's Lifeline

Podcast Ep. 27, Idaho Shelter Coalition leading Push Toward No-Kill Statewide

Podcast Ep. 26, Removing Lifesaving Barriers

Podcast Ep. 24, More than 40 million pets at risk of eviction - What can we do to prepare for what may be the biggest challenge we've faced in the modern era of animal sheltering? 

Podcast Ep. 21, Treating animals and people as individuals 

Podcast Ep. 13, American Pets Alive! Piloting Social Services Model of Sheltering

Podcast Ep. 17, Permission to Feel with Dr. Marc Brackett

Vlog Eps. 16 & 17, Getting out of our own way to save more lives

Vlog Ep. 15, Pitties Help Save Kitties

Vlog Ep. 8, Embracing Diversity in Animal Welfare   


Best Friends, Pet Adoption: Barriers and Solutions 

Blog, Pet adoption policies: More red carpets, fewer roadblocks, empty animal shelters

Editorial, Animal welfare should tear down walls to pet ownership  

Editorial, Austin collaboration delivers big wins for cats

Editorial, Community powered lifesaving 

Editorial, Helping the public plan for their pets’ care during crisis 

Editorial, Reflecting on Rescue Roadblocks 

Editorial, Removing Rescue Roadblocks

Editorial, What’s Next: Reducing Racism in Animal Welfare 

Association for Animal Welfare Advancement: If your adoption policies put up barriers, you’re part of the problem

Maddie’s Fund: 7 ways your animal welfare organization can build community programming to keep people and pets together 

Maddie’s Fund: Could Gateway Pet Guardians’ holistic approach for animal sheltering be the model of the future?

Maddie’s Fund: How animal shelters can overcome barriers when building their community programming

Maddie’s Fund: How animal welfare organizations across the country are preparing for the effects of the housing crisis 

Maddie’s Fund: Removing Barriers to Adoption: How Evidence, Innovation and Compassion Grow Pet Adoptions 

The Dallas Morning News (featuring Ed Jamison, Executive Director, Dallas Animal Services): I once called “Clear the Shelters” a feel-good gimmick. Here’s what changed my mind

Stories Matter- CARE's Narrative Division is producing stories that celebrate diverse companion humans and their pets.