Big wins for animals in 2020

Animal advocates around the country made a huge difference for pets this year.
By Best Friends staff

In a year in which nothing was predictable and the country faced enormous challenges, the dedication of animal lovers delivered hope and inspired action. Around the country, people spoke out to create lifesaving legislation for the animals and stood up for cats and dogs in need of strong and passionate advocates.
The world is becoming a kinder and more compassionate place. Indeed, in less than one year, more than 16,000 people representing all 50 states  joined the Best Friends 2025 Action Team. Their efforts, combined with the work of Best Friends’ own legislative-advocacy team, have made the world brighter for animals.

Here are just some of the wins for the animals this year:

  • As COVID-19 shut down government programs around the country, we successfully urged the Department of Homeland Security to specifically include animal services and sheltering as essential operations in its Guidance on Critical Infrastructure Workforce. Our team also sent letters to all 50 governors to ensure that states’ executive orders allowed animal services to continue to operate.
  • California closed a loophole to strengthen the statewide ban on the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores. Signed by the governor just one day before National Puppy Mill Awareness Day, this hallmark legislation is a model for putting puppy mills out of business in states around the country.
  • With strong support from our regional teams, local ordinances were changed and programs were added across Georgia to permit and fund trap-neuter-return (TNR) for community cats. The effort resulted in the largest overall lifesaving increase in the country.
  • Harris County, Texas, amended its law to remove barriers to TNR programs and identified TNR as the preferred lifesaving method for managing the county's community cat population. The enacted changes will help cement the county as a no-kill leader for generations to come.
    Mostly white community cat  with an ear tip sitting outside by some metal framing
  • Bowling Green, Kentucky, passed a municipal order to allow TNR as a method for managing community cat populations. Because that county has one of the lowest save rates in the state, the order is key to getting Kentucky to no-kill.
  • More than 35 local ordinances banning the retail sale of pets from commercial kitten and puppy mills were enacted this past year, as well as a statewide ban in Maine. There are now more than 380 local and statewide retail pet sale bans in North America.
  • In New Mexico, Senate Bill 57 was enacted to ensure access to spay/neuter for pets in lower-income families. The bill also gives these families greater access to veterinary care for their cats and dogs.
  • Alongside other animal protection organizations and the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, Best Friends led the effort to ensure that the California legislature approved $5 million in state funding, proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, to help California animal shelters increase their lifesaving capabilities.

All this and more were achieved in a year that already asked so much of us. Working together, nothing will stop us from bringing the entire country to no-kill by 2025. Now countless pets will know a brighter, safer future. And together, we will Save Them All.

Save lives in your community

Learn more about what’s happening in your community and how you can save lives through advocacy. Check out the pet lifesaving dashboard and join a 2025 Action Team in your area.

Join a 2025 Action Team

Read more:

5 ways to save homeless pets

Pilot becomes cat rescuer and TNR advocate.

Saving the lives of animals through community-supported sheltering

Photos by Lori Fusaro and Sarah Ause Kichas