From animals found as strays, surrendered by owners unable to care for them, or rescued from unsafe living conditions, the statistics on homeless pets in the United States are staggering. According to Best Friends Animal Society, which runs the largest no-kill sanctuary for animals in the nation, about 5.3 million cats and dogs end up in shelters across the country every year. Of those, 4.1 million are adopted and about 733,000 are euthanized. While those numbers are lower than in previous years, many shelters still operate at full capacity regularly, and animal rescue organizations continue to work tirelessly to reduce the number of homeless animals, as well as provide community outreach and assistance to pets in need.
October is Adopt a Shelter Dog month, providing the “purrfect” opportunity to give a dog, cat, or even a rabbit a forever home. Most adoption facility fees include spay/neuter procedures and basic vaccines, and some shelters offer reduced fees or free adoptions of senior pets or animals considered more difficult to adopt. People unable to adopt may contribute by donating to their local humane society, fostering, or volunteering their time to assist with the daily care of shelter pets. Many shelters operate as nonprofits, relying on help and donations from their communities to continue their mission to save homeless pets.
Using statistics and information collected by Best Friends Animal Society, Stacker has created a list of the no-kill animal shelters that took in the most animals in every state in 2018. Best Friends Animal Society's database is the culmination of a two-year effort involving outreach to every shelter in America, extensive research, data analysis, and technology development. The facilities on this list are dedicated to helping homeless pets find their new families, and they not only provide adoption and fostering services, but also offer community resources, such as discounts on spaying and neutering; training classes; and education. The information collected is from Best Friends Animal Society’s dashboard, which consists of self-reported information provided to the society using its save-rate calculation.
Here, check out which shelter takes in the most animals in your state.
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- Pets taken in (2018): 590
Located in Alaska’s capital city, Juneau, Animal Rescue took in nearly 600 animals in 2018. Adoptions include spay/neutering, microchip, deworming, vaccines, and training information. Contact information for adoptions or donating to the shelter can be found at www.juneauanimalrescue.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 5,160
Huntsville Animal Services is a city-run shelter, taking in upwards of 10 animals a day on a regular basis. During peak housing times, the shelter often offers adoption specials with minimal or no fees. All adoptions include spay/neuter, rabies vaccine, and a city pet license. Information on adoption and foster services can be found at www.huntsvilleal.gov.
- Pets taken in (2018): 3,162
Arkansas’ Cabot Animal Shelter took in just over 3,100 pets in 2018. Of those, the shelter maintains a “live release” (adoption/foster) rate of about 97% to 99%, only euthanizing when health issues require it or overcrowding at the shelter exceeds the number it can house humanely. Information on adoption and fostering can be found on the Cabot website.
- Pets taken in (2018): 28,376
Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, which has offices in Phoenix and Mesa, took in more than 28,000 pets in 2018. In addition to adoption and foster services, the organization offers low-cost vaccine clinics, spaying and neutering, and pet licensing. For the past two years, Maricopa County has joined forces with the Phoenix Police Department for the “Police and Paws” adoption event, during which officers help walk dogs and get them ready for adoption. Activities include games, vendors, and a kissing booth of an adoptable dog. Adoption fees are waived for dogs adopted during the event.
- Pets taken in (2018): 16,825
San Jose Animal Care and Services not only takes in dogs and cats, but also small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs. Adoption fees can vary from $5 to $135, based on type of animal, adoptability, and age. All fees include spay/neuter, microchipping and a one-year pet license. More information is available at www.sanjoseanimals.com
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- Pets taken in (2018): 6,097
Since its founding in 1902, The Humane Society of Boulder Valley has taken in thousands of pets each year, with an open-admission policy that provides care to any animal brought to the shelter. Adoption fees vary depending on age, size, behavior, and health, and each adoption includes a new collar, microchip, spay/neuter, vaccines, and a free exam by local participating veterinary clinics. Adoption information can be found at www.boulderhumane.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 693
Connecticut’s Danbury Animal Welfare Society (DAWS) took in nearly 700 animals in 2018, the majority of which were adopted out that same year. Located in Bethel, Conn., they also host an annual fundraiser “Walk for Animals,” now in its 30th year, with proceeds going toward programs and services for the shelter. For more information on their adoption services and programs, go to www.daws.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 8,006
The Brandywine Valley SPCA, which has shelters in New Castle and Georgetown, Delaware, as well as in Pennsylvania, provides care for several thousand animals each year. In addition to adoptions, the shelters offer low-cost spay and neuter clinics, vaccines, food assistance, and pet boarding. In January 2019, Brandywine opened its Animal Rescue Center in Georgetown, an 11,500-square-foot facility with room for up to 250 animals. For more information on Brandywine SPCA, go to www.bvspca.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 8,865
The Jacksonville Humane Society is a nonprofit, no-kill shelter, and took in close to 9,000 animals in 2018. Adoption fees include spaying or neutering, vaccines, microchips, and heartworm testing. The shelter hosts a yearly “Toast to the Animals” fundraiser featuring live music, food, a silent auction, and a raffle for prizes, with the proceeds going toward veterinary care for shelter pets, as well as help for animals in life-threatening situations. Information on the shelter and adoptions can be found at www.jaxhumane.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 11,554
In addition to its main location in Atlanta, the Atlanta Humane Society has offices in the cities of Alpharetta and Duluth. All three facilities have pet adoption centers, and the Atlanta location also has a veterinary center. Adoption fees vary, and there is a special “Plus One” adoption service in which adoption fees for a highly adoptable pet include the option to take a harder-to-adopt animal, as well. Information on all three offices can be found at www.atlantahumane.org
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- Pets taken in (2018): 885
Located in Wahiawa, the Oahu SPCA is a no-kill shelter founded in 2009 and serving animals and owners all over Hawaii. In addition to adoption and fostering programs, the shelter offers low-cost spay and neuter clinics, vaccines, and discounts on various exams, medications and surgeries. More information can be found at www.oahuspca.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 2,519
Dubuque Humane Society is a nonprofit, open-admission, no-kill shelter with a focus on promoting education and pet well-being. Adoption fees include spay/neuter, microchip, deworming, and vaccines, and each adoptee gets a four-pound bag of dog food. In addition to shelter services, the facility runs a “Kids and Critters Camp” that provides children with the opportunity to engage in positive animal interactions, and operates Hadley’s Dog Park, a membership-only dog park featuring plenty of green space and socialization for dogs of all sizes. For more information, go to www.dbdhumane.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 2,720
Established in 1975, Kootenai Humane Society serves all of Idaho’s Kootenai County, and contracts with Coeur d’Alene and Rathdrum to house strays. Services include adoption and fostering, education, mentoring of other shelters, and community outreach. The shelter is currently working toward building a new facility on 10 acres with a 24,000-square-foot building to house the animals taken in. Information on Kootenai’s services and adoptable pets can be found at www.kootenaihumanesociety.com
- Pets taken in (2018): 5,733
Since its inception in 1998, PAWS Chicago has found homes for more than 59,000 animals. The no-kill shelter provides adoption and foster services, and all adoption fees include spay/neuter, microchip, vaccines, a leash and collar, and a free vet visit within five days of adoption. PAWS also has a Crisis Care program in which needy families can get assistance for pet food and supplies via a pet food bank. More information can be found at www.pawschicago.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 4,043
The Humane Society of Indianapolis was founded in 1905, starting out as a place of refuge for not just animals, but also women and children escaping abusive situations. Today, the facility provides adoption and foster services for dogs and cats, as well as low-cost vaccines, spay/neuter clinics, and a dog park. It also partners with the Nine Lives Cat Cafe, a coffee shop where adoptable cats relax in the “cat lounge” and potential adopters (or just cat lovers) can visit them for a small fee. For adoption services and other information, go to www.indyhumane.org.
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- Pets taken in (2018): 6,753
One of Kansas City’s largest no-kill shelters, Great Plains SPCA provides services for upwards of 10,000 animals a year. The shelter facilitates adoptions and foster care, offers behavior and training classes, and has a pet food pantry for families in need. The Great Plains SPCA is also home to the HERO program (Humane Education Resources Outreach) in which team members work with the community and pet owners to keep pets safe and healthy. Information on Great Plains SPCA can be found at www.greatplainsspca.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 6,377
Located in Louisville, the Kentucky Humane Society is the largest pet adoption facility in the state. Available services include adoption and fostering, dog training classes, low-cost veterinary care, and wellness packages. The society also hosts a yearly summer camp for children that teaches pet responsibility, training techniques, and provides the opportunity to meet adoptable pets. For more information, go to www.kyhumane.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 1,384
Cat Haven in Baton Rouge takes in cats and kittens for adoption and fostering. The shelter was started as an all-volunteer organization in 1999, and today there is a paid staff, as well as more than 300 volunteers. Adoption fees cover spay/neuter, testing for feline diseases, vaccines, deworming, and microchip. More information on Cat Haven can be found at www.cathaven.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 5,274
Salem’s Northeast Animal Shelter was established in 1976 and is one of the largest no-kill shelters in New England. In addition to adoption and foster services, it provides low-cost spay/neuter certificates for adopted pets and educational programs. In 1994, the shelter launched its “Saving Homeless Pets Across America” program, working with rescue groups all around the country to transport pets from overcrowded facilities to this shelter for adoption. For more information on the shelter, go to www.northeastanimalshelter.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 10,825
Baltimore Animal Rescue took in more than 10,000 animals in 2018, and performed more than 100,000 veterinary exams and spayed or neutered more than 6,000 animals. Services at the shelter include low-cost vaccines and microchips, pet licensing, and training tips. The “Working Cat Program” gives cats who aren’t suited for indoor living the opportunity to be adopted by a business or other entity that might want a hunter to keep rodent populations down, and the “Community Cat Program” organizes the humane trapping of feral cats and spay/neuter programs to prevent unwanted litters. Information on the shelter can be found at www.barcs.org.
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- Pets taken in (2018): 4,236
Maine’s Animal Rescue League of Greater Portland is an open-admission facility that takes in animals not only from local communities, but also works with 60 partner shelters and rescues around the country to bring pets in for adoption. Adoption fees vary based on the type of animal, age and medical needs, and all fees cover spay/neutering, vaccines, leash and collar, and heartworm testing. For more information, go to www.arlgp.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 6,423
Located in Ann Arbor, The Humane Society of Huron Valley took in more than 6,000 animals in 2018, and had more than 5,000 adoptions. The humane society claims a save rate of more than 95%, and so far this year, it has adopted out more than 4,000 of the pets that have come in. The shelter also sponsors the “Tiny Lions” cat lounge and adoption center, where visitors can enjoy free coffee and kitty company.
- Pets taken in (2018): 3,058
Operating in central Minnesota since 1974, the Tri-County Humane Society is a nonprofit that serves St. Cloud and surrounding communities. In addition to standard adoptions, the organization offers special rates on dogs and cats for veterans and active-duty military, and waives fees for seniors who want to adopt a pet. Other services include low-cost veterinary care, spay/neuter resources, and information on finding pet-friendly housing. For more information, go to tricountyhumanesociety.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 9,505
KC Pet Project provides adoption and foster services to Kansas City and surrounding areas, and took in more than 9,500 animals in 2018. Every spring, the shelter hosts a “Hoops for Hounds” fundraiser, where attendees can enjoy appetizers and drinks while watching championship basketball games. It also sponsors a local cat cafe where adoptable cats can visit with potential owners. Information on the shelter and events may be found at www.kcpetproject.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 8,051
Southern Pines Animal Shelter is an open-admissions facility, accepting animals regardless of health, age, or adoptability. Located in Hattiesburg, the shelter takes in animals from all surrounding counties. It not only focuses on finding homes for pets, but also provides community outreach and education, low-cost spay and neuter clinics, and partners with the local Habitat for Humanity as part of the “Houses for Hounds” dog house building program.
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- Pets taken in (2018): 3,160
Bozeman’s Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter got its start in 1973, when a group of volunteers decided to create a space for animal rescue, adoption, and help with lost pets. By 2007, the operation had grown so big that it moved to a 19,850-square-foot facility, which not only houses animals needing adoption, but also a veterinary service center, administrative offices, and community outreach rooms. Services include adoption counseling, education, dog training tips, shelter tours, and educational programs. More information can be found at www.heartofthevalleyshelter.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 5,527
This open-admission, municipal shelter operates out of Salisbury, and took in more than 5,500 animals in 2018. Along with direct adoptions, the shelter offers special rates to rescue groups looking to take in animals, providing they meet certain requirements and standards. A volunteer program allows residents to assist with shelter pets, help facilitate adoptions, and educate the public.
- Pets taken in (2018): 1,365
Circle of Friends Humane Society is located in Grand Forks, and says it maintains a 91% adoption claim and transfer rate. Adoption fees include spay/neuter, microchip, vaccines, and a vet check. In addition to community outreach and education, the organization runs a “No Empty Bowls” program that offers short-term assistance for families experiencing financial difficulty, and operates a public dog park. For more information, go to www.cofpets.com
- Pets taken in (2018): 800
The Beatrice Humane Society is an open-door shelter that takes in animals regardless of age or health. Adoption fees, which vary based on a pet’s age, health, and potential adoptability, include spay or neuter, vaccines, treatments for parasites, microchip, grooming, and health testing. The shelter also has a cat program in which cats who aren’t suited for indoor living can be “hired” as mousers at businesses, barns, or farms, with adoption fees waived for adopters. More information can be found at www.beatricehumanesociety.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 2,300
As the oldest animal welfare organization in the state, the New Hampshire SPCA has a long history of serving the local community and surrounding areas. Adoption fees include a physical exam and behavior evaluation, spay/neuter, microchip and ID tags, one month of pet insurance, and three complimentary pet training classes. The SPCA sponsors several yearly events geared toward fundraising for the shelter, including an annual “Paws Walk,” “Auction for the Animals,” and a “Cornhole for Critters” tournament. More information can be found at www.nhspca.org.
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- Pets taken in (2018): 8,184
St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center’s main office is located in Madison, and it has two other adoption facilities in North Branch and Ledgewood. In addition to rescue and adoption services, the shelter runs a training center with classes for puppies and adult dogs, as well as special training for sports/agility, behavioral issues, and pet therapy training. Adoptions of cats and dogs include spay/neuter, deworming, vaccines, microchip, collar and leash, ongoing access to professional canine behavior counselors, and a discount at the dog training school. For more information, go to www.sthuberts.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 4,833
The Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society, an open-admission, no-kill shelter, took in nearly 5,000 pets in 2018. Services include adoption and fostering, low-cost spay/neuter clinics, and community education. The shelter also sponsors events such as the “Pulls for Pups” fundraiser at a local ale house, with proceeds going toward the shelter’s adoption programs. For more information, go to www.sfhumanesociety.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 10,795
Reno’s Washoe County Regional Animal Services provides its community with assistance related to animal welfare, strays, abandoned pets, and animal bites. While the organization does not do adoptions, it partners with the Nevada Humane Society and other rescue groups to help with adoptions of unclaimed animals at the facility. Washoe County also offers free microchips for dogs and cats, and low-cost vaccine clinics on a monthly basis. More information can be found at www.washoecounty.us/animal/.
- Pets taken in (2018): 2,184
Save a Stray, a nonprofit shelter in Corinth, rescued more than 2,000 animals in 2018. In business for more than 35 years, the shelter has found homes for upwards of 60,000 pets, working with other shelters and rescues around the country to save as many animals as possible. Adoption fees, which vary based on type of animal, age and health, include spay/neuter discounts, vaccines, de-worming and flea control medication, toys, a leash, and 30 days of free pet insurance. For more information, go to www.adirondacksaveastray.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 4,533
Founded in Elyria in 1957, Friendship Animal Protective League is a nonprofit, no-kill shelter that takes in dogs, cats, and small animals. In addition to standard adoption and foster services, the league has a free cat-for-seniors program, dog training classes, and a volunteer program. More information can be found at www.friendshipapl.org.
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- Pets taken in (2018): 5,849
Partnering with Oklahoma City Animal Welfare and other local shelters, the Oklahoma Humane Society focuses on eliminating unnecessary euthanasia of otherwise healthy and adoptable animals. Adoption fees include spay/neuter, microchips, flea and tick treatment, and vaccines. The humane society also offers low-cost spay and neuter clinics, veterinarian wellness checks, and low-cost vaccines. The shelter runs a neonate program that provides care for kittens and puppies under 6 weeks old, and their mothers. For more information on the shelter and adoptions, go to www.okhumane.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 5,124
Portland’s only open-door animal shelter, Multnomah County Animal Services provides adoption and foster services, as well as low-cost spay and neuter clinics, licensing, emergency response, and free livestock registration. The shelter was recently involved in a long-term cruelty and neglect investigation in which 86 animals were rescued from a pet-hoarding situation.
- Pets taken in (2018): 6,595
Founded in 1929, Brandywine Valley SPCA was Pennsylvania’s first no-kill, open-admission shelter. Like its sister shelters in Delaware, Brandywine’s services include not only adoption and fostering, but also low-cost spaying and neutering, food assistance, and pet boarding. For more information, go to www.bvspca.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 1,249
Located in Newport County, Potter League for Animals is an open-admission shelter, accepting owner-surrendered animals, strays, and animals needing medical or other care. The shelter receives around 2,000 animals each year, and adoption fees include spay/neuter, microchip and vaccines, as well as a one-month crate rental for dogs and discounts on obedience classes. For more information, go to www.potterleague.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 8,834
Charleston Animal Society is a no-kill shelter that took in nearly 9,000 animals in 2018. With a focus on community outreach and education, services at the shelter include fundraising events such as a “Dogtoberfest,” a “Wag & Wine” senior dog adoption, a “Paws in the Park” walk/jog, a resale/thrift store, and free or discounted adoption sponsored by local businesses. Educational programs include reading to animals, classroom visits, youth volunteering, and camps. Information on adoption and fostering can be found at www.charlestonanimalsociety.org.
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- Pets taken in (2018): 596
A private, nonprofit, limited-admission shelter, Heartland Humane Society is located in Yankton and was established in 2006. All animals taken in at the shelter receive veterinary care, spay/neuter, vaccines, and testing for heartworm and feline leukemia. In addition to the adoption and foster programs, Heartland provides volunteer opportunities for the community, and hosts annual fundraising events, such as its “Wine & Whiskers” gala. Go to www.heartlandhumanesociety.net for more information
- Pets taken in (2018): 6,588
Rutherford County PAWS (Pet Adoption and Welfare Services), located in Murfreesboro, serves Rutherford County. They provide help with animal issues such as abuse/cruelty investigations, vaccination and rabies control, lost and found pets, microchipping, adoptions, and free spay and neutering. Information on the shelter can be found at paws.rutherfordcountytn.gov.
- Pets taken in (2018): 15,856
Serving all of Travis County, the Austin Animal Center is an open-admissions facility that provides aid to more than 16,000 animals a year. Dogs that spend time at the shelter get to be part of its dog enrichment program, which includes walks and activities to help long-term animal residents stay healthy. Adoption fees include spay/neuter, vaccines, microchip, and an adjustable collar with a tag. The facility also offers free microchips and ID tags to all Travis County residents, as well as low-cost spay and neuter clinics. For more information, go to www.austintexas.gov/department/aac.
- Pets taken in (2018): 9,511
The Humane Society of Utah is the largest open-admission animal welfare facility in the state. The shelter took in just over 9,500 animals in 2018, and does not euthanize any animal that is healthy or can be medically treated. In addition to adoption and fostering, the facility has a community clinic, behavior and training classes, and community education programs. Go to www.utahhumane.org for more information on services and available pets.
- Pets taken in (2018): 4,853
The Lynchburg Humane Society took in nearly 5,000 animals in 2018, with a total save rate of 91%. The shelter serves the communities of Lynchburg and nearby Appomattox, as well as assisting public shelters in other states. Adoption fees vary based on pet age, health, and adoptability, and all adoptions include spay/neuter, vaccines, a free veterinary visit, and 10% off the society’s retail shop on the day of adoption. The shelter also offers training classes and children’s programs, and provides information on pet-friendly housing. For more information, go to www.lynchburghumane.org.
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- Pets taken in (2018): 1,000
Vermont’s Humane Society of Chittenden County was founded in 1901 and is a private, nonprofit facility funded solely through its fees, programs, and community contributions. Services include a “Good Neighbor” program, which provides temporary housing for pets during times of crisis in their owners’ lives, as well as low-cost spay and neuter clinics and a “Rainy Day” pet fund to help pet owners with veterinary care. Information on adoption and other programs can be found at www.hsccvt.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 9,921
The Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service, otherwise known as SCRAPS, provides adoption and fostering services for Spokane and the surrounding communities. Adoption fees include spay/neuter, vaccines, microchip, and licensing. SCRAPS also offers low-cost vaccine clinics and a discount on pet licenses for qualifying seniors. For more information, go to www.spokanecounty.org.
- Pets taken in (2018): 4,857
Founded in 1921, the private, nonprofit Dane County Humane Society took in nearly 5,000 animals in 2018. It provides adoption and foster services to dogs, cats, and small animals such as rabbits and reptiles, as well as barnyard animals. Other services include dog training classes, microchips and a “Community Dog Day,” when local residents can get free pet vaccines and supplies. Go to www.giveshelter.org for information on adoption and foster programs.
- Pets taken in (2018): 1,803
The New River Humane Society is located in Fayetteville and provides services for residents of Fayette County. In addition to adoption and fostering, the organization participates in the “Paws4prisons” program, where inmates get the opportunity to work with and train shelter dogs to better prepare them for adoption. Adoption fees for cats and dogs include spay/neuter, vaccines, and initial veterinary care. The shelter also offers low-cost spay and neuter services on a case-by-case basis. For more information, go to www.fayettecounty.wv.gov/animal-shelter.
- Pets taken in (2018): 564
Located in Douglas, Laramie Peak Humane Society provides care and shelter for homeless or surrendered pets in Converse County and surrounding areas. Services at the shelter include discounts on microchipping, spay and neuter assistance, and training resources. The shelter also hosts fundraising events such as its “Paws & Pearls” dinner and silent auction, and it runs a “Harry Pawter” reading group where local children can read to shelter dogs. Go to www.laramiepeakhumanesociety.org for more information on adoption and fostering programs.
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