Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit: Introduction

Best Friends Animal Society's Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit provides a guide to creating compassionate communities for pets and people.

Why everyday people are the key to saving pets in animal shelters

From viral cat videos to heartwarming stories about kids reading to their dogs, Americans love pets. Each year, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars on dog walkers, pet spas, gourmet food, professional pet photos, pet-friendly hotel rooms, cat apps for our phones, and monogrammed dog beds. 

Whether you live in a rural community in Iowa, a college town in Texas, a retirement community in Florida, or a high-rise in New York, you see pets every day and can appreciate the unconditional love and joy that they bring to our lives. Because of that, most of us easily agree that dogs and cats deserve compassion and a good quality of life.

In the 1980s, an estimated 17 million pets were killed every year in America’s animal shelters simply because they didn’t have safe places to call home. In 2023, that number was 415,000. We’ve made tremendous progress, but more than 1,000 dogs and cats are still being killed every day in shelters. 

Together, we can change that. Individuals and organizations around the country are coming together to take collective responsibility for the welfare of pets in their communities.

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When you sponsor an animal like Snickers, or any of the animals here at Best Friends, you’re providing them with the love, care, and healing they need for a bright future.

Advocating for compassionate communities for pets and people

This Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit offers a blueprint for organizing people to save dogs and cats in communities of all shapes and sizes throughout the country. No individual organization, including an animal shelter, can or should be solely responsible for the welfare of local pets. Only by working together can community members and stakeholders ensure that every pet who can be saved is saved and given a safe place to call home.

A well-organized community equipped with the right resources can effectively share critical information, work collaboratively with local animal shelters and other community organizations, and advocate for humane policies and legislation. You can learn more about the goal to achieve no-kill nationwide in 2025 and join Best Friends' 2025 Action Team today to help pets and people in your own community.

Animal services are human services. From providing affordable veterinary care for dogs and cats to creating animal-friendly ordinances and outreach that help people keep their pets at home, addressing animal-related issues is essential to the health and well-being of every community. And when passionate individuals armed with the right information engage on behalf of pets, elected officials and other decision-makers will listen.

Together, we can create compassionate, no-kill communities nationwide for dogs and cats and the people who love them. Below, you will find links to the nine chapters of the Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit.

Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

Download the Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit (PDF 4.25 MB)

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Be our Best Friend

Best Friends Animal Society is working with you 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 that 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.