A Sign of the Times

Phil is looking for a home at Chippewa County’s animal shelter.

If Michigan is a sign of the times, it is good news for the No Kill movement. In 2007, Michigan shelters were killing close to 120,000 animals. In 2016, it was 29,591. As Michigan Pet Fund Alliance previously reported, out of 80 counties with shelters, over 50 now have live release rates of at least 90% and the majority of those are at or above 95%.

Some familiar names lead the pack. Chippewa County Animal Shelter had a live release rate of 99% for dogs, 99% for cats, and 100% for rabbits and other small animals. Copper Country Humane Society had a 100% live release rate for dogs and 99% for cats. And the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter, which runs the shelter in Marquette and is featured in Redemption, my documentary on the No Kill revolution in America, had another banner year with a 98% live release rate for dogs, 98% for cats, and 98% for rabbits and other animals. They are not alone. And there are some up and coming newcomers.

Overall, 80% of dogs and 74% of cats are leaving shelters alive. The live release rate for rabbits and other small animals is 90%.

Some positive items of note:

  • None of the reporting shelters sold live animals for research. (The practice of shelters doing so should be banned nationwide.)
  • The vast majority of communities with live release rates better than 90% are above 95%, with many shelters at 98%, 99%, even 100% of the animals.
  • Michigan shelters just have to adopt out animals to an additional 1/2 of 1% of Michigan residents and they would top a 90% live release rate for dogs and cats. This should not be hard. With an adoption rate of only 8.3 dogs and cats per 1,000 people, they are well below other states. In Colorado, for example, the adoption rate is over twice as high, at 19 dogs and cats per 1,000 people.

Some negative items of note:

  • The majority of reporting shelters do not seem to provide sheltering services to rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, and other non-dog/cat species. Sixty of the 155 reporting agencies took in animals besides dogs and cats and many of those only took in one or a few. Some only took in wildlife to kill. Michigan shelters which do take in such animals and include them in their lifesaving guarantee prove that it is possible to provide a safety net of care for all animals.
  • Very few of the shelters reported deaths in kennel, which would skew the totals downward.
  • Not all shelters reported.

Michigan’s 2016 statistics are available by clicking here.

The data for individual communities will be been posted to It includes all animals who entered the shelters, not just dogs and cats, because ferrets, pigs, rabbits, mice, and other animals matter, too.


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