Best Friends Animal Society has released its 2020 pet lifesaving findings (consisting of statistics collected during 2019), 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 North Carolina is #3 in the country for pet shelter deaths.

Not good.

According to the study, of the 241,117 dogs and cats that entered North Carolina shelters, 170,753 found positive placements, while 47,652 were killed (76% were cats), for a save rate of 70.82%. 25.58% of North Carolina 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% or higher).

Compared to 2018, there was a statewide reduction in shelter deaths by 8,296. In particular, progress was made by Burke County Animal Services who reduced shelter deaths by over 1,400, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control reduced by 825, and Cumberland County Animal Control who had 480 more pets leave their facility than the previous year. The top five states where the most pets need to be saved are North Carolina, California, Texas, Florida, and Louisiana, who together make up more than 50% of the nation’s shelter killing of dogs and cats.

The year-over-year data also shows that the number of dogs and cats killed annually nationally has dropped from about 733,000 to 625,000 (or about 1,700 killed per day). 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% (2018 was 76.6%). To view the 2020 lifesaving findings, visit

Alexis Zarycki is your average girl with the hopes of leaving an everlasting impact on the world. Follow her on Instagram @official_lexpaige

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