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COVID-19 Update: What March 2020 Data Is Telling Us

April 17, 2020, Sara Kent

Your data is always important. But during times of change, it’s crucial to measure the impact that COVID-19 is having on animals. Sara Kent, CEO at Shelter Animals Count, home to the national database of animal shelter statistics, shares findings from a new report.

Throughout this crisis, you’ve seen data demonstrating current and potential effects on our communities. You’re adapting your protocols rapidly and creatively to meet the needs of your animals and your communities—and it’s your data that tells the story of how these modifications are impacting intake and outcomes. When measured on community, state, and national levels, the story becomes much deeper.

Representing 1,127 organizations submitting both March 2019 and March 2020 data using the Basic Data Matrix, the COVID-19 Impact Data Summary from Shelter Animals Count includes data from five different organization types and points to some strong trends.

Animal shelter intake is down dramatically compared to last year, with 24% fewer cats and dogs entering shelters or rescues. Within that decline is a 28% decrease in pets relinquished by their owners.

While March adoptions are down overall by 11% compared to last year, the rate of pets adopted compared to other possible outcomes increased by 4%. Some shelters are reporting empty kennels as community members step up to adopt or temporarily foster pets. The COVID-19 Report further breaks out the data by region, organization type, species and intake and outcome categories. Regionally, Pacific states (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington) saw the largest decrease in intake of 31%. West North Central states (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and the Dakotas) saw the smallest decrease at 19%. 

This is particularly interesting when you note the timing of stay-at-home orders. The Pacific region states all had stay-at-home orders issued in the month of March, several by the middle of March. Some states within the West North Central region still do not have stay-at-home orders, while others were initiated in late March/early April. 

You’ll find the complete report and interactive dashboards featuring data from 2011-2019 available at Shelter Animals Count.

New insights will be posted as they unfold. Please continue to submit your data—and if you are not yet a member of Shelter Animals Count, I invite you to join us and be a part of the national database.

Learn More

Shelter Animals Count website
Download: COVID-19 Impact Data Summary

About Sara Kent
Sara Kent is the first Chief Executive Officer of Shelter Animals Count, leading the nonprofit that is home to the national database of sheltered animal statistics. Sara has spent over 20 years helping shelters get the most from digital tools and resources. Sara lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband and adopted pets, including two mixed breed dogs, Diamond Shamrock and Linda; two house cats, Mr. Pickwick and Gerald; and a tarantula named 3.

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