Best Friends Animal Society

Ending Needless Killing in United States Animal Shelters by 2025

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Every day, 2,000 cats and dogs are killed in U.S. shelters. This killing is a corrosive moral and ethical issue that devalues life. There is no justification for killing homeless pets. Proven solutions exist that can transform a historically inhumane field and create humane communities that honor the intrinsic value of every life. Best Friends can end the needless killing and make the country no-kill (which means saving at least 90% of sheltered pets) by the end of 2025 by: - using data to target efforts where need is greatest- inspiring the public to take meaningful action- sharing expertise to empower animal shelters to save more pet lives - tapping into our grassroots and national reach to spread sustainable models.Empathy is a fundamental thread that binds our social fabric. Extending it to our companion animals, and pet lovers of all demographics, will create a better world for us all.

Problem Statement

In the 19th century, New York City officials drowned stray dogs in the East River for population control.[3] Public outrage drove the practice behind closed doors, and over the years, drowning was replaced by lethal injection. This practice persists today despite public opposition to killing healthy and treatable homeless pets. It’s a breach of trust that undermines fundamental social principles and is a fatal fact for the 2,000 dogs and cats who are killed in our nation’s shelters every day. These animals aren’t sick. They’re not damaged. They’re just homeless. The taking of innocent lives is corrosive and antithetical to every aspiration for positive social change, because it violates the compact of trust that underpins all our relationships and that we extend to pets—our companions and cherished family members.This tragedy is largely driven by institutional inertia, adherence to outmoded practices, and a lack of information about progressive lifesaving programs. It is also a function of lack of resources—veterinary clinics, spay/neuter services, and pet wellness care—in marginalized communities. Best Friends has learned that we can flip the switch on this by collaborating with local agencies, by including the community in the solution, and by targeting resources to areas of greatest need. We’ve seen that the public acts when they understand the problem. Communities embrace simple, lifesaving changes when given tools and support. And this gives them the ownership and capacity to continue the work so we can end the killing and sustain no-kill.

Solution Overview

Our solution will end the killing of pets in U.S. shelters over the grant period. By winning the 100&Change competition, we can save 485,000 dogs and cats who otherwise will die for not having homes.[7] Best Friends’ national reach allows us to efficiently scale our holistic solution to the complex problem of shelter killing. We will turn groundbreaking shelter data into lifesaving action by fostering communication, dialogue, and transparency with shelters and communities about the work left to do. We will launch a nationwide community organizing campaign to help the public create local change as adopters, foster volunteers, and advocates for homeless pets. We will save more lives through Best Friends Lifesaving Centers and powerful adoption, spay/neuter, pet transport, and neonatal kitten programs. We will expand community access to veterinary care to prevent animals from entering shelters and implement trap-neuter-return programs that humanely reduce free-roaming cat populations. We will scale our national shelter engagement programs to help shelters improve and standardize operations through hands-on training and mentorship. While strategies like adoption and spay/neuter are critical for no-kill, shelters must revolutionize operations—from animal care to fundraising—to make progress sustainable. Progress will mean the number of animals killed in shelters decreases, the national save rate increases, and the number of no-kill communities grows. No-kill is a commitment between shelters and the communities that support them, driven by access, accountability, and compassion. Our solution will form this bond in communities nationwide, positively benefiting all citizens, shelter workers, volunteers, and homeless pets.

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Project Funders

  • Maddie's Fund 2017 - 2020
  • The Builders Initiative