How our Progress Maps are Developed

Sources include Shelter Animals Count (self-reported), public websites, government-provided data and voluntary data submissions. Where information is derived from data supplied by Shelter Animals Count, Shelter Animals Count specifically disclaims all responsibility for any analysis, interpretations, conclusions and opinions contained in the information presented. While Best Friends attempts to validate data sources, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of these sources.

Methodology for No-Kill Communities Map

A no-kill community is generally a city, town, township, village or borough whose brick and mortar animal shelters are working collectively to save at least 90 percent of their animals. In some cases, unincorporated communities are instrumental in this effort and are included as well.

Save Rates displayed represent the community effort of all shelters located in or providing animal control services to each community. A community is recognized as no-kill when it meets the following criteria:

  • The municipal shelter providing service to a community is No-Kill (90% Save Rate).
  • All shelters located in the same jurisdiction aggregate at 90% Save Rate or higher for dogs and cats together. The save rates of individual shelters may vary.
  • In some instances, a community may not meet the aforementioned qualifications, but is operating its shelters consistent with the No-Kill Philosophy. Therefore, Best Friends is developing a review process to make exceptions for these communities. See our no-kill position statement for how Best Friends defines no-kill.

Maps are based on calendar year data with the data source year noted on the list view. Communities that have been added to the map since our last publish appear in orange text on the list view.

The save rate calculation used most often is:

[(Live Intakes , including Owner Requested Euthanasia ) - (Transfers In) - (Died in Care) - (Lost in Care) - (Shelter Euthanasia) - (Owner Requested Euthanasia)] divided by (Live Intakes - Transfers In)]

In the above calculation, transfers in are removed to avoid double-counting of animals.

In cases where shelter data is not calculated in aggregate (for example, at the individual shelter level and single shelter communities) the save rate calculation is:

[(Live Intakes , including Owner Requested Euthanasia ) - (Died in Care) - (Lost in Care) - (Shelter Euthanasia) - (Owner Requested Euthanasia)] divided by Live Intakes

Methodology for National Save Rate Map

“Dataset”: a representation of a geographical area (county/FIPS, the unique official code given to each US county by the Census Bureau).  In this visualization, a dataset percentage that is listed as “Known” represents an area from which data was collected. While “Known” does not mean there is reported data from every organization within that county/FIPS dataset, it does give a representation of the “footprint” of data collected across the nation. A dataset percentage that is listed as “Estimated” represents an area from which no data has been collected from a municipal or “contracted” organization.”

"Known” Data: collected or reported through Shelter Animals Count national data set and BFAS-led Coalitions, or from any recent viable and authorized data sources (which may or may not have included 100% of shelters reporting), which was then accumulated into a state-wide view. Note that most recent reporting year of collected data spans 2015-2016.  

“Estimated” Data: was calculated by 1) using acceptable methods, including “Save Rate” results of similar/nearby states or regions, Intakes/Pop and Deaths/Pop in comparable areas, reliable estimated information from source(s) within the area; and comparisons to past nationally accepted sources, and 2) assigning a broad, conservative increase to those estimates to not risk underestimating deaths. (Note: At times in the future, there will be "partial estimates" when we know that we have known data from a few shelters in an area, but a large portion have no collections – leaving a need to estimate for these. This will occur as we have a better handle on the total # of organizations across the country.) These estimates combined with collected data totaled 6.825 million intakes and 1.440 million animals killed for collected data spanning 2015-2016.

Using a combination of our known and estimated data, we are comfortable reporting a conservative total killed of 1.5 million as a National estimate, given nearly half of the country is lacking known data.  

Here is the save rate calculation used for the national save rate map:

[(Live Intakes, including Owner Requested Euthanasia – Transfers In) – (Died in Care) – (Lost in Care) – (Shelter Euthanasia) – (Owner Requested Euthanasia ) ] divided by [Live Intakes – Transfers In]