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  • Writer's pictureSusan Houser

200+ Communities Saving 90% or More

The right sidebar of this blog has a list of communities that are saving 90% or more of their animal shelter intake. In order to be listed, the shelter that takes in strays for the community and the organizations that take in owner surrenders (if different from the shelter) must as a whole be saving at least 90% of their intake, and they must have maintained that rate for at least one year.* Today, I added the 200th community to the right sidebar (and the 201st). Taken together, these communities have over 7 million residents.

When I first started researching shelters in early 2011, there were about a dozen communities in the United States that had been identified as saving 90% or more of their intake. Several communities hit the 90% mark in 2011, and by January 1, 2012, I had listed 26 communities. By January 1, 2013, the number of identified 90% or better communities was approaching 100. And now, with more than two months still to go in 2013, the number has exceeded 200.

And that’s not all. I’m currently researching more than a dozen cities and counties that are candidates for listing as sustained 90% communities, and additional ones pop up all the time. Then there are the many communities, including several large cities and counties, that have just recently achieved 90% or have live release rates in the 80th to 89th percentile and are improving (many of these communities are listed in the Worth Watching tab and category).

One thing to note is that the year a community is identified and listed by the blog is not necessarily the first year that the community attained 90%. There appears to have been at least one community that achieved and sustained the 90% rate back in the 1990s, and by 2010 there were many more 90%+ shelters than anyone knew about (since there is no national registry for shelter statistics). Most of the communities I’ve listed have attained 90% since 2010, though. The pace of change is rapid and it’s accelerating. People across the country are realizing that their own animal shelter could be saving 90% or more and they are organizing to make that happen. There are conferences and seminars all over the country where successful shelter directors tell packed audiences how they can reform their local shelter. I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings.

I’d like to thank all the people who have sent me tips and suggestions for communities to research. Keep in mind that the whole community has to be at a 90% or better live release rate in order to be listed. I don’t list individual private organizations that do not take in strays, even if they are saving 90% or more of their intake, because without the strays they don’t represent the entire community. A community doesn’t qualify for a listing unless all the intake organizations in the community, taken together, are at or above 90%.

*Although the general rule for the blog is that a community that has saved 90% or more of shelter animals for at least a year qualifies for a listing in the right sidebar, there are a couple of exceptions. I won’t knowingly list a community that has a shelter that uses a gas chamber, and I won’t knowingly list a community that has a breed-specific ban (communities with breed-specific restrictions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis).


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