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  • Writer's pictureSusan Houser

Colorado Statistics for 2013

Colorado is one of the states that require animal shelters to report their statistics to the state. The reporting form is pretty detailed and, although it’s not perfect, it elicits a lot of information. I posted last year on Colorado’s statewide statistics for 2012, which showed a consolidated live release rate of 85.5%. In this post I’ll take a look at Colorado’s statewide statistics for 2013.


Total intake of dogs and cats in Colorado shelters in 2013 was up slightly, at 168,841 as compared to 159,183 in 2012. Dogs were 101,771 of this total, and cats were 67,070. The increase in dog intake was almost entirely due to transfers, including an increase in transfers into the state of 4766. Most of the increase in cat intake was also due to an increase in transfers from out of state, which more than doubled over 2012.

The total intake of dogs and cats in 2013 was 32 animals per 1000 people, up slightly from 31 per 1000 people in 2012. Average shelter intake per 1000 people in the United States is estimated at anywhere from 15 to 30 animals per 1000 people. The fact that Colorado can do so well with a high intake is evidence that high intake is not an excuse for a high rate of killing.


The consolidated live release rate for cats and dogs for all reporting shelters in Colorado for 2013 was 89%. This is remarkable for an entire state, and represents an improvement of more than 3% from 2012, even with the increased intake. The live release rate for dogs was 92% and for cats was 83%. All Colorado has to do to become a No Kill state is to implement some of the recommendations being made by many people around the country today as to handling of community cats.

Colorado shelters do not report as a coalition, and so there might be some double counting of live releases in the “in state” transfer category. Most of the in-state transfers probably go to non-reporting rescues, though, and so to the extent that this is a source of error at all it would be a very small one. In fact, even if we assume that all in-state transfers went to other reporting organizations, the live release rate is reduced only 1 percentage point, to 88%.

If the number of dogs and cats who died in shelter care are included with euthanasias in calculating the live release rate, it drops 1 percentage point. Shelters can include owner-requested euthanasias in the “Other” live-disposition category in Colorado, so it is not possible to break them out.


One of the notable things about Colorado’s 2012 data was how well the state as a whole was doing with adoptions. That trend continued in 2013, with Colorado shelters reporting that 87,223 dogs and cats were adopted. This was an adoption rate of 17 animals per 1000 people, a slight increase over 2012’s rate of 16 per 1000 people.


Colorado shelters returned 64% of the stray dogs they impounded to their owners, an improvement over the 59% figure for 2012. Among cats, 25% of strays were returned either to an owner or a colony. This is a high rate for cats compared to the nation as a whole, but if Colorado could increase this rate by doing more shelter-neuter-return it would become a No Kill state.


Colorado has a state law prohibiting breed-specific legislation, but the law has an exception for local breed-specific ordinances that were in existence at the time the law was passed. The state’s largest city, Denver, still has one of these “grandfathered” pit-bull bans. Several small cities and towns in the state still have such ordinances as well.



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