Skip to main content

Best of Burlington

Get The Latest Stories, Events, and More Right In Your Inbox

Vermont Ranks Among Top Five States in the Country for Shelter Pet Lifesaving

Courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society,

Best Friends Animal Society has released its 2020 pet lifesaving findings, which gives a national overview of the number of dogs and cats that enter shelters each year in the United States, and the number of dogs and cats that are leaving those shelters alive. Best Friends also released an inaugural state-by-state ranking of this data and Vermont is among the top five states in the country for shelter pet lifesaving.

Of the 6,154 dogs and cats that entered Vermont shelters in 2019, 5,603 found positive placements for a total state save rate of 91.05 percent. 78.57 percent of Vermont shelters are no-kill (a state is considered to be no-kill when every brick-and-mortar shelter serving and/or located within the state has a save rate of 90 percent or higher). 52 dogs and cats remain to be saved in the shelters that are not yet no-kill. 

 “We are seeing continued momentum and progress towards the goal of ending the killing of dogs and cats in U.S. shelters by the year 2025, with the overall number of pets being killed in the U.S. continuing to go down and the number of shelters that are no-kill going up,” said Julie Castle, chief executive officer, Best Friends Animal Society.  

The top five states where the most pets need to be saved are California, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana, who together make up more than 50 percent of the nation’s shelter killing of dogs and cats. Vermont is joined in the top five states with the smallest number of pets being killed by New Hampshire, Rhode Island, North Dakota, and Delaware. Across the U.S., about 5.4 million dogs and cats entered shelters in 2019, and 4.2 million were saved making the national save rate 79.02 percent (2018 was 76.6 percent).

Castle continued, “For the past several years, Best Friends and progressive shelters nationwide have been changing the way they do business and the way they relate to their communities: simplifying adoption policies and requirements; building out community pet fostering programs; implementing trap, neuter, return (TNR) programs for community cats; passing more pet-friendly legislation to combat the retail sale of puppy mill dogs and breed discrimination; advocating for more pet-inclusive housing, and removing barriers for the public to help pets with the use of technology. And it is making a difference.

“Best Friends has always believed that anyone can help homeless pets. Individual community members are the no-kill movement’s greatest resource. Putting this data directly into the hands of the public allows individual community members and advocates like the members of our 2025 Action Team to gain a better understanding of exactly which shelters and types of pets are most in need of help and helps to connect them to those shelters,” Castle added. 

To view the 2020 lifesaving findings, visit  


About Best Friends Animal Society 

Best Friends Animal Society is a leading national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America's shelters. In addition to running lifesaving programs in partnership with more than 3,100 animal welfare groups across the country, Best Friends has lifesaving centers in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City, and operates the nation's largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals. Founded in 1984, Best Friends is a pioneer in the no-kill movement and has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters nationwide from an estimated 17 million per year to around 625,000. To check out our community lifesaving dashboard and for more information, visit
Get The Latest Stories, Events, and More Right In Your Inbox