Colorado 2014


Data for Colorado shelters and rescue groups was released this week for 2014. Overall, 89% of dogs were saved, 82% of cats were saved, 86% of birds, 82% of rabbits and other small mammals, 87% of reptiles, 85% of farm animals, and 77% of “other” animals. There was great hope, given 2013’s numbers, that Colorado would be the first state to verifiably save 90% or more of all the animals. That did not occur, but they remain close and exceed many states.

Moreover, Colorado shows 96,960 dog and cat adoptions, an increase of 9,739 over 2013. That is an adoption rate of 18 dogs and cats per 1,000 people. Not only are these numbers high, showing that shelters across the country can and should do more adoptions, but they disprove those who claim high adoption rates are not sustainable. In fact, not only does Colorado prove they are, they are getting higher (in 2013, it was 17 per 1,000 and 2012 was 16 per 1,000) and can go higher still. Comparing Colorado as a whole to the most successful shelters/communities in the nation, Colorado has the potential to adopt out about 122,000 animals a year.

One of the brightest spots is Fremont, CO, where the shelter went from killing half the animals to a save rate of 98% under a new director. As hundreds of other communities across the country have done the same, these shelters prove that the most important factor is not where the shelter is located, but who is running it.

In the next week or so, the individual cities with save rates exceeding 90% will be posted to Colorado has more cities/towns with 90+% save rates than any other state, though it should be noted that not all Colorado cities care about all dogs. While Colorado bans new breed-discriminatory legislation, it has grandfathered in existing laws and cities like Denver and Aurora continue to ban and kill dogs based on the way they look.

For numbers junkies, here are the rough numbers, based on back of the envelope calculations:


In 2013, Colorado shelters saved roughly 90% of dogs and 81% of cats. I say “roughly” because there are some assumptions built in: animals transferred in from other shelters within Colorado may be double counted (which can skew the numbers 1-2%), animals transferred in from outside of Colorado skew the picture of what is happening to Colorado animals, and animals missing/lost may be alive or they may be dead.


In 2014, with these assumptions in mind, Colorado took in 104,603 dogs. If one removes in-state transfers to avoid double counting, the number is 95,036. Because some of these may be from non-reporting shelters, it is possible some of them are not already counted. That aside, the intake is a small increase from 2013, but 24,278  dogs were brought in from outside the state.

Of all live intakes, 57,891 dogs were adopted out (55%), 23,930 were reclaimed by their families (57% of strays), 908 were neutered and released (or other live outcome) (1%), and 7,803 were transferred to shelters or rescue groups (7%). 10,412 were killed (10%), 109 were lost, and 666 died (1%). That is a save rate of 88%-89% for dogs.

Colorado took in 64,521 cats. If one removes in state transfers to avoid double counting, the number is 59,444. That is a decline in the number of cats from 2013, even with 3,869 cats brought in from outside the state.

Of all live intakes, 39,069 cats were adopted (61%), 2,830 were reclaimed by their families (10% of strays), 5,441 were sterilized and released (8%), and 4,766 were transferred to rescue groups/other shelters (7%). 10,174 were killed (16%), 54 were lost, and 1,410 died (2%). That is a save rate of 80%-82% for cats (again depending on the assumptions above).

Colorado shelters and rescue groups also took in rabbits and other pocket pets, birds, reptiles, farmed animals, and others. Of 876 birds taken in, 86% were saved. Of 5,142 rabbits and pocket pets, 82% were saved. Of 459 reptiles, 87% were saved. Of 294 farm animals taken in, 85% were saved. Of 224 “other” animals taken in, 77% were saved.

The data is here.


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