Shelter and Rescue Statistics

Shelter Animals Count | The National Database Project | Proud ParticipantStatistics may be a ho-hum topic to some, but we believe tracking numbers is key to the success of any animal welfare organization. Statistics are navigation devices - they tell you where you are, where you've been and what you need to do to get to where you want to go.

The most important statistics for any animal shelter to track are: the number of animals coming in (and how they're arriving), the number of animals adopted, the number of animals transferred or returned to owner/habitat and the number of animals euthanized - all broken down by species and age category. These numbers tell you how well you're fulfilling your lifesaving mission.

Definitions help guide organizational resource allocation. Animals in different categories have different needs and require different resources (e.g., marketing for healthy animals as opposed to medical care for sick and injured treatable animals). Definitions enable an organization to establish measurable, quantifiable goals. For example, it's hard to set the goal of saving all healthy and treatable animals without defining what healthy and treatable mean.

Statistics and definitions give an organization an objective standard for measuring results. They provide the tools to determine how well your organization is doing compared to others or compared to your own accomplishments last year. As statistics and definitions are published, they provide the organizational transparency and measuring stick the public is seeking.

Transparency and sharing of data are key. In October 2018, eight national animal welfare leaders and funders issued a joint position statement to provide a better understanding of accountability expectations for organizations that take stray and homeless pets into their care. Intended to help guide shelter protocols and inform the future of the industry, the statement read:

"As national leaders and funders of animal welfare in North America, we believe that organizations should be transparent about the number of animals that come under their care, and the outcome for all of those animals. That is why we support the public availability of key data (the basic data matrix as defined by Shelter Animals Count), from all animal welfare agencies and nonprofits, both publicly and privately funded and whether or not they provide government animal control services or humane law enforcement."

In summary: statistics and definitions help create organizational efficiencies, define organizational goals and priorities, save lives, enhance image and build public support. It doesn't get any better than that!

Within this section, you can learn more about Gathering Shelter Data, delve into our Searchable Database of historical data, and check out what other communities are using as their Pet Evaluation Matrix.