2018 Animal Sheltering Statistics

Introduction of the 2018 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 2018 data from Shelter Animals Count. The data was limited to organizations that completed a full year of reporting in 2018. 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 72% of all locations. These included 1,048 (47%) Rescues w/o Gov. Contract and 552 (25%) Shelters w/o Gov. Contract
  • Shelters w/ Gov. Contract and Government Animal Services represent 27% of all locations with 321 and 292 locations, respectively
  • 17 Rescues w/ Gov. Contract reported a full year of data in 2018 representing 1% of all locations.

Figure 1: Distribution of Organizations by Type

Distribution of Organization Type in 2018 SAC Dataset

Geographic Distribution:

  • 2,230 locations reported a full year of data in 2018.
  • 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 2018 with 38 and 35 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 2018

Reporting Organizations by County for 2018

Number of Animals Reported by State

Figure 3: States with Highest Number of Animals Reported

States with Highest Number of Animals Reported
  • California reported the most number of intakes accounting for 13.5% of all intakes
  • Government Animal Services accounted for 45.5% of all animal intakes – the highest number of all the organization types

Organizational Size:

  • Most organizations (92.5%) reported less than 2,000 intakes per year
  • 100% of Rescues w/o Gov. Contract reported less than 2,000 intakes per year
  • 91.9% 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 an average intake that is 52% higher than the second largest facilities (Shelters w/ Gov. Contract)
  • The most common source of intakes are Strays with 1.7M intakes or 50.2% of all intake sources

Table 2: Summary Statistics by Organization Type

Summary Statistics by Organization Type

Table 3: Summary of 2018 Intake Data

Summary of 2018 Intake Data

Species and Age Distribution:

  • Number of intakes excludes transfers in
  • Cat intakes account for 47.5% of all intakes while Dog intakes account for 52.5%
  • The largest difference between dog and cat intakes occurs in Government Animal Services with 33.7% more dog than cat intakes
  • The second largest difference occurs in Rescues w/o Gov. Contract with 24.7% more dog than cat intakes
  • Conversely, Shelters w/o Gov. Contract reported 18.3% more cat intakes 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/o Gov. Contracts reported the highest Juvenile Ratio at 46.7%

Table 4: Summary of 2018 Intake Data

Summary of 2018 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, South Dakota, and West Virginia 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 Nevada showed the lowest puppy and kitten ratios, but their kitten ratio (15.6%) was 4.7 times greater than their puppy ratio (3.3%)

Seasonality:

  • There is much higher seasonal variability in Cat intakes than Dog Intakes
  • Dog Intakes showed a difference of 18% between the highest and lowest intake months
  • Cat Intakes showed a difference of 130% 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, Illinois, and Florida showed high numbers of dogs transferred in
  • California, Texas, Florida, Virginia, 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 47%

Dogs Transferred in by State Cats Transferred in by State

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

Relinquishments as a Percent 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 Outcomes by Outcome Method
  • Adoption was the most common outcome at 52.0% for dogs and 58.6% for cats
  • Euthanasia was a more common outcome for cats at 13.6% than dogs at 8.1%
  • RTO was more common for dogs at 17.4% than cats at 2.8%

Table 5: Summary of Outcomes by Organization Type

Summary of Outcomes by Organization Type

Live Outcomes

Live Outcome 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 94.9%
  • Government Animal Services had the lowest live outcomes at 79.3%
  • Alaska had the highest live outcomes at 95.6%
  • Louisiana had the lowest live outcomes at 73.1%

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 76,133 and 45,110, respectively
  • The number of adoptions by county is highly skewed with 50% of counties reporting less than 708 annual adoptions

Transfers Out:

Transfer Rates by State
  • The Transfer Rate was calculated by dividing transfers out by total intakes
  • Dogs represent 61.7% of all transfers
  • Cats represent 38.3% of all transfers
  • Government Animal Services had the highest transfer rate at 20.9%
  • High rates of transfer signify the importance of transfers as a mechanism to maximize live outcomes
  • Arkansas, West Virginia, and Mississippi had the top 3 transfer out rates at 32.0%, 43.0%, and 43.4%, respectively

Table 7: Transfer Out Rates by Organization Type

Transfer Out Rates by Organization Type

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 37.1%
  • RTO for cats was 5.1%
  • Rhode Island had the highest RTO Rate at 62.9%
  • South Dakota had the lowest RTO Rate at 3.9%

Table 8: RTO Rates by Organization and Species

RTO Rates by Organization and Species

Return to Field:

Feline RTF Rates by State
  • Cat RTF accounted for 98.5% of all RTF outcomes
  • Large number of RTF outcomes for cats is an indication of growth in RTF programs around the country
  • In 2018, Maryland had the highest RTF ratio at 50.5%
  • National RTF Rate for 2018 is 12.2%
  • Rescues w/o Gov. Contracts had the highest RTF rates at 16.0%

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
  • Alabama, Louisiana, and Hawaii had the top three euthanasia rates at 23.4%, 22.3%, and 18.7%, respectively
  • Government Animal Services and Shelters w/ Gov. Contracts had the highest euthanasia rates at 20.8% and 16.4%, respectively

Table 10: Euthanasia Rates by Species and Age

Euthanasia Rates by Species and Age


Summary:

The 2018 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