Connecting animal shelters to save the lives of cats and dogs

To expand our reach, increase our lifesaving impact and achieve no-kill nationwide in 2025, Best Friends is connecting shelters around the country so they can share their expertise with each other. 

The Best Friends shelter collaborative program (officially named the Prince and Paws Shelter Collaborative after the beloved pets of the program’s principal investor) pairs mentors from no-kill shelters with their colleagues from shelters that aren’t yet no-kill.

The peer mentors offer their hard-earned expertise, along with lifesaving techniques, training and other forms of support, to shelter fellows to help them achieve no-kill. And Best Friends is there to provide support to both.

Question mark icon with paw print

How the program works

Using the latest data, Best Friends identifies and strategically pairs shelters that have achieved a 90% save rate (the benchmark for no-kill) with shelters that need help in reaching the no-kill threshold.

Person holding a small adoptable dog during a lifesaving pet transprot



In the first year of the program, participating shelters saw a 40% increase in save rate and a 71% reduction in the number of dogs and cats killed, on average.  



Cats and dogs aren’t the only ones who benefit from the program

For shelter staff yearning to see fewer pets losing their lives and more pets finding loving homes, these collaborations come as morale boosters in a time of great need.

Many of these dedicated shelter professionals suffer from compassion fatigue, so the camaraderie brought by the program is a lifesaving light at the end of the tunnel. 

Here are just a few examples of ways that shelters have benefited from the program:  

Brandywine Valley SPCA in Delaware mentored Tangipahoa Parish Animal Services in Louisiana. Together, they opened a spay/neuter clinic and move hundreds of animals a year from Louisiana to the Northeast to be adopted from Brandywine Valley SPCA and other partners.  

Berkeley Animal Center in South Carolina wasn’t able to start a community cat program because of issues involving a local ordinance and veterinary care access. The mentor shelter, Massachusetts SPCA, partnered with Berkeley Animal Center to get the ordinance updated and is sending a veterinary team to South Carolina to conduct trap-neuter-return (TNR) clinics every three weeks to prevent impounding and killing community cats.  

Thomasville-Thomas County Humane Society outfitted a mobile spay/neuter vehicle to support the lifesaving needs of four shelter fellows in Georgia.  

Here’s what past participants are saying about the program

Jessica Morrison
“This partnership has been incredibly helpful, and I look forward to being able to continue to apply what we’ve learned through the collaboration so that we can achieve our lifesaving goals.”
Jessica Morrison
Director of Operations
South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter
Mike Keiley
“I really think that partnering with a southern shelter has given us a deeper understanding of the challenges and needs, and that has been truly motivating for our team to engage in a deeper way.”
Mike Keiley
Director of adoptions centers and programs
Massachusetts SPCA
Chip Fritz
“(This program) has affected us all tremendously. We have literally been able to change who we are and what we do. We can focus on lifesaving rather than the alternatives. We can leave here each day with our heads held high rather than being completely deflated.” 
Chip Fritz
Tangipahoa Parish Animal Control

Become a peer mentor

To be a successful peer mentor, your shelter should have a history of strong, sustainable lifesaving programs and be committed to bringing those programs to other organizations.

 You must also have the resources to spend time on-site at the shelter fellow and provide ongoing support between visits. 

Become a shelter fellow

Potential fellows currently have a save rate below 90% for dogs or cats, or both. They must also be open to making necessary program changes to achieve sustainable lifesaving success. 

Best Friends and the peer mentor should be allowed to visit the shelter and get a behind-the-scenes look so they have the information needed to make lifesaving recommendations. We also ask that fellows share their shelter data monthly with both Best Friends and the peer mentor.  

Best Friends Animal Society logo mark

About Best Friends

Best Friends Animal Society is working to save the lives of cats and dogs all across the country, giving pets second chances and happy homes.

Just a few short years ago, cats and dogs were killed in staggering numbers in this country simply because shelters didn't have the community support or the resources to save their lives. That number is now less than half a million per year, but there’s still work to do to ensure a bright future for every dog and cat in America.

Best Friends operates the nation's largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals and is committed to saving the lives of homeless pets by working with shelters and passionate people like you. Together, we will bring the whole country to no-kill in 2025. Together, we will Save Them All.