New Jersey 2015


The No Kill Advocacy Center, my organization, just completed an analysis of sheltering statistics for the state of New Jersey. Though animals are still being killed who are healthy or treatable, lifesaving overall is up. In fact, New Jersey’s overall save rate is higher than states like Colorado and Michigan and significantly higher than the national average.

Specifically, New Jersey’s reporting shelters and rescue groups took in 30,318 dogs, 48,543 cats, and 2,061 other animals. Collectively, they saved 89% of dogs, 72% of cats, and 83% of other animals. Following nationwide trends, those numbers are improvements over 2014, when 86% of dogs, 65% of cats, and 82% of other animals were saved. Nationally, 78% of dogs and 55% of cats are saved.

Moreover, the number of communities with save rates exceeding 90% increased as did the number of communities on the cusp of doing so, saving at least eight out of every 10 animals.

There are four long term trends that account for the declines in killing.

One especially important reason for the higher than average rates of lifesaving is that New Jersey has a longer holding period than most states, giving animals time to be reclaimed and adopted. Too many states allow shelters to kill animals before their families have a chance to reclaim them. Moreover, New Jersey passed a bifurcated holding period for “owner” surrendered animals (NJ Rev. Stat. 4:19-15.16). It is just one of only two states that do not allow “owner” surrendered animals to be killed immediately upon impound. State law allows them to be adopted out or transferred to rescue right away, but they cannot be killed for at least seven days. Since passing that law, killing has declined by well over 20%.

In other states, by contrast, “owner” surrendered animals are killed without ever being offered for adoption, despite empty cages, and despite rescue groups ready, willing, and able to save them.

Second, more shelters are embracing community cat sterilization.

Third, some shelters have gone to a managed intake system.

And finally, more groups are advocating for reform and putting pressure on poorly performing New Jersey shelters.

Data for all New Jersey shelters is here.

Data for the best performing NJ shelters is here.

If you would like to introduce a bifurcated holding period that also protects “owner” relinquished animals, as New Jersey has and the city of Austin, TX recently did, here is the No Kill Advocacy Center model law.

Here is a step by step guide to getting it introduced.

For other free guides to shelter reform, click here.

To keep up with shelter reform issues in New Jersey, follow the NJ Animal Observer.

Some notes: New Jersey does not report deaths in kennels and there may be some double counting due to transfers from shelters to rescue groups.


Have a comment? Join the discussion by  clicking here.