State of US Animal Sheltering, 2020 Data Explorer
The Data Explorer is an interactive tool featuring the largest sheltering dataset that exists currently. This data, collected by Best Friends, comes from over 3,300 brick and mortar shelters. Explore the national dataset by clicking the tiles below or click the "Explore Shelter Data” button to get started customizing your view by state and county. You can also download a custom report with your chosen data fields, making it easy to get the exact data you need to make important lifesaving decisions for your organization or community.

It’s important to note that this tool does not include estimations for shelters without data, so totals may not match numbers found on the Best Friends pet lifesaving dashboard tool.


Quick Tips

How to use this tool:

The default view on the landing page shows national data. Click on each tile to flip it over and view the details. To see a custom view by state or county, click the “Explore Shelter Data” button at the bottom of the page to be taken to a data selection page.

1. On this page you can explore the data by state (required), county and customized species or intake/outcome variables. State and county may be single or multiple selections.

2. Select “Update” to run your report. The search results will be presented on the page and available for download via the “Export CSV” button. (Note that when multiple states are selected, the county option and export feature is not available)

3. To Export your search results, you will be prompted to provide your email address and agree to terms and conditions.

You can run as many reports in a single session as you wish (click “clear filters” between each query/report) . Exports are limited to three within a 24-hour period. All data usage requires citation to “Best Friends 2020 National Dataset – Collected Data”

Dataset Definition

The Data Explorer tool provides access to the data of 3,330 brick and mortar shelters collected by Best Friends. This collected data is aggregated at a county and state level and does not include estimations for shelters without data. A mixed-year approach is used to provide the most comprehensive view of national data. Nearly 80% of collected intake in this dataset is from 2020, but 2019 or 2018 are used for shelters when 2020 data is unavailable. All segments of the data are presented as reported by the shelter, including individual species and types of intake or outcomes. Some shelters do not specify species or type of intake or outcome. Data reported without a designated species is included in overall totals but is not represented in specific dog or cat cuts of data.

The Gap to 90 is the number of dogs and cats that would have had to be saved last year in order to achieve the 90% save rate threshold. The Gap to 90 is calculated at the shelter level as follows, and summed to the county, state and national levels.

Shelter’s non-live outcomes [(Shelter Deaths*) + (Lost in Care)] – 10% of total intake * Shelter Deaths = all euthanasia, died in care, and lost in care.

Save Rate 83.3%
Gap to 90 317,367
Intake per 1,000 pop. 12.6
Adoptions per 1,000 pop. 6.8
Gap to 90 per 1,000 pop. 1
% of Total
Stray 1,720,727 38.7%
Relinquished By Owner 845,522 19.0%
Owner Req. Euth. 72,594 1.6%
Transfer In 482,244 10.8%
Reason Not Given 1,056,660 23.7%
Other 271,558 6.1%
Total Gross Intake 4,449,335
Total Net Intake 3,967,091
Live Outcomes
% of
Gross Intake
% of
Live Outcomes
Adoption 2,150,128 48.3% 57.0%
Return to Owner 551,519 12.4% 14.6%
Transferred Out 770,813 17.3% 20.4%
Return to Field 108,527 2.4% 2.9%
Other 46,255 1.0% 1.2%
Reason Not Given 146,947 3.3% 3.9%
Total Live Outcomes 3,774,189
Non-live Outcomes
% of
Gross Intake
% of
Non-Live Outcomes
Died in Care 59,251 1.3% 9.0%
Lost in Care 10,243 0.2% 1.5%
Euth. 484,499 10.9% 73.3%
Owner Req. Euth. 77,848 1.7% 11.8%
Reason Not Given 29,412 0.7% 4.4%
Total 661,253
Gap to 90 (Total less 10% Intake) 317,367
View data for your region and run custom reports.
Looking for even more in-depth insights?
Read the full white paper, The State of US Animal Sheltering, 2020, which shares top-line results of Best Friends 2020 national dataset and a five-year trend analysis.