COVID 19 Impact on Shelter Animals for 2020

Shelter Animals Count for 2020

Shelter Animals Count for 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic presented many challenges, but also a new life for many shelter animals. In an odd way, Covid saved the lives of many shelter animals across America and the world.

Here is a quick recap of the 2020 Shelter Animals Count for 2020. A link to the full report is at the end of this article.


Shelter Animals Count for 2020


Shelter Animals Count (SAC). The National Data Base for Animal Sheltering Statistics enables fact-based insights to improve animal welfare throughout the country.

SAC just released its 2020 Animal Shelter Statistics report. 2,386 animal welfare organizations provided data, representing 1,561 cities across 53 states and U.S. Territories.

“This report tells the story of a year in which animal shelters had to be incredibly resilient and think outside the box to keep helping animals and pets in their communities,” said incoming SAC Executive Director Stephanie Filer. “I am excited to see the continued results of that hard work in our mid-year 2021 report, coming this fall.”

The 2020 Animal Sheltering Statistics white paper provides a look at the 2020 data from Shelter Animals Count. The data was limited to organizations that completed a full year of reporting in 2020. The goal of this paper is to give an overview of the current state of the national sheltered animal database developed by SAC and demonstrate progress toward a truly national database that can be used to help understand the state of companion animals in this country.

Highlights of the report include:

COVID-19 Impacts

  • In 2020 there were 23% fewer animals relinquished by their owners, 27% fewer strays, and 22% fewer animals in need of sheltering overall than in 2019.
  • Because fewer animals entered the shelter system, there were also fewer outcomes overall, including 49% fewer sheltered animals euthanized.
  • Adoptions were down 17% from 2019 across reporting agencies for 2020 due to fewer animals entering the sheltering system (see intake reporting.
  • Stray/at-large animals were the most common reasons animals were in need of sheltering – accounting for 1.5M intakes (46.9%) in 2020. 
  • Fewer pet owners gave up their pets in 2020 (753,847 relinquishments) than in 2019 (885,290 relinquishments), a 15% decrease.
  • The number of cats and dogs in need of sheltering was pretty evenly split, with cats representing 50.7% and dogs representing 49.3%. Puppies & kittens represented nearly 1/3 (32.1%) of pets in need of sheltering.
  • 53.% of dogs and 60.7% of cats who were sheltered in 2020 were adopted that same year.
  • 40.7% of dogs and 5.1% of cats who arrived as a stray in 2020 were reunited with their families.
  • 16% of animals were transferred to other shelters who had the space and resources to help and 13.7% of cats were returned to the field.
  • Overall, 87.8% of dogs and cats had live outcomes.
Shelter Animals Count for 2020

Additional 2020 highlights

“Although 2020 presented many challenges for pet owners as well as animal welfare organizations, the numbers show us that we still saw an increase in pet lives saved, a decrease in pets entering shelters, and more pets remaining with their families,” said Jan McHugh-Smith, Board President of Shelter Animals Count.


Shelter Animals Count (SAC) is a collaborative, independent organization formed by a diverse group of stakeholders to create and share the national database of sheltered animal statistics, providing facts and enabling insights that will improve animal welfare throughout the country. The SAC database follows the Basic Data Matrix specified by the National Federation of Humane Societies.

The full report can be viewed at shelteranimalscount.org/data-reports. It is important to consider the findings of this report in context.


This 2020 Animal Shelter Count report is brought to you by the Ahimsa Humane Society, Atlanta Georgia. The nonprofit animal education & advocacy group of Green Pets America Charities.

                                                                                                                                               


Ahimsa Humane Society

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