National Overview

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Help our shelters achieve no-kill in 2025

In 2016, 1 million cats and dogs were being killed in America’s shelters because shelters didn’t have the community support or the resources they needed to save them.

That same year, Best Friends committed to change that in 2025, and while incredible progress has been made, we need your help now more than ever to get across the finish line.

No-kill is a collaboration between shelters and their community. The first step is for individuals to understand the progress being made in their own community and to know how they can help. And that is the purpose of the pet lifesaving dashboard. 

Whether you have 20 minutes or 20 hours a week, you can save lives. Dive into the dashboard to find out how. 

4.76 million

Cats and dogs

entered shelters

3.97 million

Cats and dogs

were saved Of the 4.76 million cats and dogs entering shelters in 2023, 3.97 million were saved.


Total number of shelters

in the U.S. For a definition of “shelter,” please see

a sitting brown and white dog

About no-kill 

No-kill means saving every dog or cat in a shelter who can be saved. But it’s helpful to have a way to measure lifesaving progress as we move forward together, which is where the 90% benchmark comes in.

A 90% save rate for animals entering a shelter is a meaningful and common-sense benchmark for measuring lifesaving progress.

Typically, the number of pets who are suffering from irreparable medical or behavioral issues that compromise their quality of life and prevent them from being rehomed is not more than 10% of all dogs and cats entering shelters. Therefore, we designate shelters meeting the 90% save-rate benchmark as no-kill.

The ultimate goal, however, is to ensure that every shelter has the resources they need to save every dog and cat who can be saved – whether that exact number is 90% or something else. But first, we want to help every shelter in every community reach the 90% no-kill benchmark in 2025.

What does no-kill mean?