2017 Animal Sheltering Statistics

Introduction of the 2017 Animal Sheltering Statistics from the Shelter Animals Count Database

Shelter Animals Count (SAC) is a collaborative, independent organization formed by a diverse group of stakeholders to create and share the national database of sheltered animal statistics, providing facts, and enabling insights that will improve animal welfare throughout the country. The SAC database follows the Basic Data Matrix specified by the National Federation of Humane Societies. The following paper provides a look at the 2017 data from Shelter Animals Count. The data was limited to organizations that completed a full year of reporting in 2017. The goal of this paper is to give an overview of the current state of the national sheltered animal database developed by SAC and demonstrate progress toward a truly national database that can be used to help understand the state of companion animals in this country.

It is worth pointing out both the strengths and weaknesses of the dataset. Since there is no national requirement for reporting, all the data is self-reported and contains natural under and over sampling biases in both the geographic and organization type dimensions. In other words, some areas had a greater level of reporting than others. To analyze the data, we utilized techniques that would minimize the potential bias effects of the partial dataset. The key methodologies were to aggregate at an appropriate level, which was predominately state, and to utilize ratios to normalize scale. Comparing absolute numbers is difficult because of the incomplete dataset at this point. As the dataset grows it will allow for more detailed analysis than we can do today.

Definitions:

The following definitions and abbreviations will be used throughout this paper:

SAC: Shelter Animals Count
OIE: owner intended euthanasia
RBO: relinquished by owner
RTO: return to owner
RTO rate: total RTOs divided by the total of stray intakes
RTF: return to field
Location: unique address for services (organizations may have more than one location)
Adjusted intake: total intake minus transfers in
Adjusted outcome: total outcome minus transfers out
Live outcomes: sum of adoptions, RTOs, RTFs, and transfers
Live outcome rate: live outcomes divided by all outcomes
Euthanasia rate: total euthanasia excluding owner intended euthanasia divided by total outcomes minus owner intended euthanasia


Demographics of Reporting Organizations:

Types of Organizations:

  • The top two organization types account for 74% of all locations. These included 1,102 (50%) Rescues w/o Gov. Contract and 530 (24%) Shelters w/o Gov. Contract
  • Shelters w/ Gov. Contract and Government Animal Services represent 25% of all locations with 283 and 274 locations, respectively.
  • 17 Rescues w/ Gov. Contract reported a full year of data in 2017 representing 1% of all locations.

Figure 1: Distribution of Organizations by Type

Distribution of Organizations by Type

Geographic Distribution:

  • 2,206 locations reported a full year of data in 2017
  • Washington, DC is included as state 51 for the purposes of this paper
  • There is sparse reporting for counties in the Midwest and the South
  • Los Angeles County and Maricopa County were the two counties with the most organizations reporting a full year of data for 2017 with 41 and 37 organizations, respectively

Table 1: Summary of Geographic Coverage by Organizational Type

Summary of Geographic Coverage by Organizational Type

Figure 2: Reporting Organizations by County for 2017

Reporting Organizations by County for 2016

Number of Animals Reported by State

Figure 3: States with Highest Number of Animals Reported

States with the Highest Number of Animals Reported
  • California reported the most number of intakes accounting for 16.4% of all intakes
  • Government Animal Services accounted for 47.8% of all animal intakes – the highest number of all the organization types

Organizational Size:

  • A large majority of organizations (85.6%) reported less than 2,000 intakes per year
  • 100% of Rescues w/o Gov. Contract reported less than 2,000 intakes per year
  • 89.8% of Shelters w/ Gov. Contracts reported less than 6,000 intakes per year

Figure 4: Distribution of Organizations by Annual Intake Numbers

Distribution of Organizations by Annual Intake Numbers

Intakes:

  • Government Animal Services are on average the largest intake facilities with 56% more average intakes than the second largest facilities (Shelters w/ Gov. Contract)
  • The most common source of intakes are Strays with 1.7M intakes or 51.7% of all intake sources

Table 2: Summary Statistics by Organization Type

Summary Statistics by Organization Type

Table 3: Summary of 2017 Intake Data

Summary of 2017 Intake Data

Species and Age Distribution:

  • Number of intakes excludes transfers in
  • Cat intakes account for 46.8% of all intakes while Dog intakes account for 53.2%
  • The largest difference between dog and cat intakes occurs in Government Animal Services with 36.9% more dog than cat intakes
  • The second largest difference occurs in Rescues w/o Gov. Contract with 27.0% more dog than cat intakes
  • Conversely, Shelters w/o Gov. Contract reported 17.0% more cat than dog intakes

Figure 5: Adjusted Intake by Species and Organization Type

Adjusted Intake by Species and Organization Type

Community Need Indicator:

  • The number of juvenile animals entering the system serves as a proxy for community need by suggesting a higher fertility rate in the local animal population
  • The juvenile ratio is calculated by dividing puppy/kitten intakes by total dog/cat intakes
  • The ability for facilities to absorb homeless animals is assumed to be compromised when juvenile ratio is high
  • Rescues w/Gov. Contracts reported the highest Juvenile Ratio at 47.2%

Table 4: Summary of 2017 Intake Data

Summary of 2016 Intake Data

Transfers were excluded from all juvenile ratio calculations to avoid any bias due to oversampling from organizations that take in juveniles from outside their community.


Map of Average Puppy Intake Ratio by State Map of Average Kitten Intake Ratio by State

Juvenile Ratios:

  • The southern US, New Mexico, and North Dakota had the highest puppy ratios suggesting areas of high community need
  • Kitten ratios were substantially higher than puppy ratios across the US
  • The state of UT showed the lowest puppy and kitten ratios, but their kitten ratio (17.1%) was 4.5 times greater than their puppy ratio (3.8%)

Seasonality:

  • There is much higher seasonal variability in Cat intakes than Dog Intakes
  • Dog Intakes showed a difference of 20% between the highest and lowest intake months
  • Cat Intakes showed a difference of 138% between the highest and lowest intake months
  • Intakes exclude transfers in

Figure 8: Adjusted Intake by Month for Cats and Dogs

Adjusted Intake by Month for Cats and Dogs

Transfers In:

  • California, Texas, and Florida showed high numbers of dogs transferred in
  • California, Texas, Florida, and Washington showed high numbers of cats transferred in
  • It is important to remember that many of these transfers could be intra-state
  • Shelters w/o Gov. Contract had the largest proportion of animals transferred in at 45%
  • Transfers In represent 16% of all intakes
Adjusted Intake by Month for Cats and Dogs Adjusted Intake by Month for Cats and Dogs

Relinquishments:

  • Relinquishments were the second most common form of intake at 24%
  • The relinquishment Rate is calculated by dividing relinquishments by total intake for each species

Figure 11: Relinquishments as a Percent of Total Intake by Species and Organization Type

Relinquishment as a Percentage of Total Intake by Species and Organization Type


Outcomes by Species and Organization Type

Figure 12: Percent of Total Outcomes by Outcome Method

Percent of Total Outcome by Outcome Method
  • Adoption was the most common outcome at 50.7% for dogs and 56.6% for cats
  • Euthanasia was a more common outcome for cats at 16.7% than dogs at 8.9%
  • RTO was more common for dogs at 17.6% than cats at 2.6%
Summary of Outcomes by Organization Type

Table 5: Summary of Outcomes by Organization Type

Live Outcomes:

Live Outcomes Rates by State
  • Live outcomes are considered adoptions, RTO, transfer out, or RTF
  • Live outcome rate was calculated by dividing live outcomes by total outcomes
  • Rescues w/o Gov. Contract had the highest live outcomes at 95.1%
  • Government Animal Services had the lowest live outcomes at 77.1%
  • North Dakota had the highest live outcomes at 95.1%
  • Hawaii had the lowest live outcomes at 62.4%

Table 6: Summary of Live Outcomes and Rates by Organization Type

Summary of Live Outcomes and Rates by Organization Type

Total Adoptions:

Figure 14: Total Annual Adoptions by County

Total Annual Adoptions by County
  • LA County and Maricopa County had the highest number of adoptions at 71,863 and 47,413, respectively
  • The number of adoptions by county is highly skewed with 50% of counties reporting less than 684 adoptions annually

Transfers Out:

Total Annual Adoptions by County
  • The Transfer Rate was calculated by dividing transfers out by total intakes
  • Dogs represent 63.7% of all transfers
  • Cats represent 36.3% of all transfers
  • Government Animal Services had the highest transfer rate at 21.2%
  • High rates of transfer signify the importance of transfers as a mechanism to maximize live outcomes
  • New Mexico, West Virginia, and Mississippi had the top 3 transfer out rates at 32.3%, 33.9%, and 37.6%, respectively

Table 7: Transfer Out Rates by Organization Type

Transfer Out Rates by Organization Type. (Transfer rate is number of transfers divided by the total intake.

Return to Owner:

RTO Rates by State
  • Return to Owner rates were calculated by dividing RTO by total number of stray intakes
  • RTO for dogs was 36.4%
  • RTO for cats was 4.7%
  • Rhode Island had the highest RTO Rate at 54.3%
  • Delaware had the lowest RTO Rate at 1.5%

Table 8: RTO Rates by Organization and Species

RTO Rates by State

Return to Field:

Feline RTF Rates by State
  • Cat RTF accounted for 98.4% of all RTF outcomes
  • Large number of RTF outcomes for cats is an indication of growth in RTF programs around the country
  • In 2017, Maryland had the highest RTF ratio at 43.1%
  • National RTF Rate for 2017 is 10.5%
  • Rescues w/o Gov. Contracts had the highest RTF rates at 21.9%

Table 9: Feline RTF Outcomes and Rates by Organization Type

Feline RTF Outcomes and Rates by Organization Type

Euthanasia Rate:

Euthanasia Rates by State
  • The Euthanasia Rate was calculated by dividing the number of animals euthanized by the total outcomes
  • Hawaii, Alabama, and Louisiana had the top three euthanasia rates at 32.1%, 29.4%, and 27.3%, respectively
  • Government Animal Services and Shelters w/ Gov. Contracts had the highest euthanasia rates at 25.5% and 19.9%, respectively

Table 10: Euthanasia Rates by Species and Age

Euthanasia Rates by Species and Age

Summary:

The 2017 Shelter Animals Count dataset highlights the importance and significance of continuing to build the national animal sheltering database. The current dataset has both an organization type and geographic bias which is evidenced from the distribution of size and number of organizations.

A key point to make about the dataset and its use is that it has limitations in analysis as it is not comprehensive of all animal sheltering organizations. Its primary value comes from seeing the macro and geographic trends in things like juvenile intake ratio and transfer volumes.

There are important trends that can be seen throughout the country ranging from species differences to geographic differences. As the database continues to grow, we anticipate being able to do much more detailed analysis and assessments to key community trends across the country.



Appendix:

Shelter Animals Count: https://www.shelteranimalscount.org
Basic Data Matrix: https://www.shelteranimalscount.org/data/basic-data-matrix
Explore the Data: https://www.shelteranimalscount.org/data/explore-the-data
Request the Data: https://www.shelteranimalscount.org/data/request-the-data
Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.shelteranimalscount.org/who-we-are/about
Contact Us: info@shelteranimalscount.org



Credits:

Alex Castelazo, Marie Abbondanza, Michael Blackwell, Lauren Bluestone, Jodi Buckman, Christa Chadwick, Lena DeTar, Janelle Dixon, Michael Greenberg, Roger Haston, Mary Ippoliti-Smith, Sara Kent, Vicki Kilmer, Jan McHugh-Smith, Amy Nichols, Anne Reed, Jim Tedford, Shelly Thompson, Gary Weitzman