Lifesaving is Up in Michigan

Leo Chippewa

Leo is one of the many animals available for adoption at the Chippewa County Animal Shelter, a shelter with a 98% save rate.

The No Kill Advocacy Center, my organization, just finished analyzing sheltering statistics for the state of Michigan and I am glad to report that following nationwide trends, the percentage of animals leaving shelters alive increased. Michigan, overtaking Colorado, now has more communities saving over 90% of the animals than any other state.

Chippewa County, MI, saved 98% of dogs and 98% of cats. Midland County saved 99% of dogs and 98% of cats. Roscommon saved 100% of dogs and 99% of cats. The Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter (UPAWS) which serves Marquette is one of the shelters highlighted in my documentary film, Redemption, about the No Kill revolution in America. It saved 97% of dogs, 96% of cats, and 97% of rabbits, hamsters, ferrets, and other animals. They are part of a growing number of Michigan communities saving at least 80% of the animals and many with save rates better than 90% and well above 95%.

Overall, 77% of dogs and 72% of cats are being saved. That’s a 14% increase from the previous year where roughly 70% of dogs and only 61% of cats were saved.* Nationally, 78% of dogs and 55% of the cats are saved on average. Michigan is average on dogs, but better than average on cats.

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 save rates better than 90% are above 95%, with many shelters saving 98%, 99%, even 100% of the animals.
  • By fully implementing each of the programs and services of the No Kill Equation, Michigan shelters could increase reclaims, save community cats, and reduce impounds by keeping animals with their responsible caretakers. They would just then have to adopt out more animals to an additional 1/2 of 1% of Michigan residents and they would become a No Kill state.

Some negative items of note:

  • The vast majority of reporting shelters do not seem to provide sheltering services to rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, and other non-dog/cat species. Only 60 of the 160 reporting agencies (38%) took in animals besides dogs and cats and many of those only took in one or a few. While doing so without a No Kill guarantee for those animals as well would not serve their interest, 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.
  • Only about 80% of the total number of shelters reported. While that is better than 2014, it still means the totals underreport outcomes for the entire state.

Tragically, some “shelters” don’t deserve the name and it hit cats the worst. Berrien County killed 1,059 of the 1,262 cats it took in. St. Clair killed 1,011 of the 1,453 cats they took in. And Kalamazoo killed 994 of 1,196 cats. As frightening as the Kalamazoo numbers are, it was actually an improvement over 2014 when the shelter killed more cats than it actually took in.

Michigan’s 2015 statistics are here.

The data for individual communities has 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.

*  In terms of breakdown, dogs were 51% adopted, 23% killed, 22% RTO. The remainder were a combo of transferred, died, missing, and on hand.  For cats, it was 59% adopted, 28% killed, 5% RTO and the remainder a combo of transferred, died, missing, and on hand.


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