Louisiana shelters saved 76,879 animals in 2021, kill rate is still among the worst
Animal shelters in Louisiana saved more dogs and cats in 2021 — even as shelters across the nation struggled — but the state still ranks near the bottom of U.S. states.
Louisiana's shelters saved 76,879 dogs and cats that entered their care in 2021, with a save rate of 78%. Louisiana's save rate was one of the lowest in the country in 2021, but the state saw significant improvement, as shelters across the country had a decline in save rates , according to Best Friends Animal Society, an organization that aims to improve the lives of pets and animals.
Shelter deaths across the U.S. rose for the first time in five years, which Best Friends Animal Society attributes to staffing shortages, fewer volunteers, and reduced adoption events, along with increased intakes and fewer adoptions.
“The responsibility of saving pets’ lives should not rest solely on shelters and those in animal welfare, but on entire communities including community members, government leaders, shelters, and other animal welfare groups,” said Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society, in a news release.
“Through collaboration and community involvement, this model provides better support for pet owners, efficiency in shelters, and more lifesaving outcomes for pets. When a community supports its shelter’s critical needs, we see dramatic results.”
For the last six years, Best Friends Animal Society has compiled data for a national look at how many dogs and cats in animal shelters have been saved in a given year. Around two-thirds of Louisiana, shelters reported data for the report.
Louisiana's saving rate of 78% was the fourth lowest of U.S. states, according to the most recent data, ahead of only Alabama (76.9%), Maryland (77.3%), Mississippi (72.7%), and North Carolina (76.6%).
Generally speaking, Best Friends Animal Society says an ideal save rate would be above 90%, which is the benchmark for "no-kill" status. The benchmark assumes that around 10% of animals brought into shelters will have medical conditions or behavioral issues that warrant humane euthanasia, but the shelters do not kill animals due to a lack of space.
Three shelters in Louisiana reached a no-kill status in 2021, including the Lafayette Animal Shelter and Care Center, the St. Tammany Parish Department of Animal Services, and the Lafourche Parish Animal Shelter. One other shelter, Tangipahoa Parish Animal Services, received a special mention from the organization for increasing its saving rate by more than 40% over the year, reaching 81.3%.
Around 31.3% of state shelters were designated as no-kill in 2021.
"These four shelters prove that saving dogs and cats is possible even during the most challenging of times,” said Lee Ann Shenefiel, south-central regional director at Best Friends Animal Society, in a news release. “It’s our hope that other shelters in Louisiana will adopt similar lifesaving programs so they can save as many dogs and cats as possible in the future.”
In 2020, around 57,747 of the 60,671 dogs and cats that entered Louisiana shelters were saved, for a rate of 71.6%. The percentage of shelters with no-kill designations was around the same.
The report lists Louisiana as a "medium priority" in terms of the help needed to save more cats and dogs in shelters. Only two states — New Hampshire and Delaware — are listed as no-kill states, meaning all shelters meet the 90% save rate benchmark.
In Louisiana, eight parishes are considered no-kill by the report, including De Soto, Concordia, West Feliciana, Pointe Coupee, St. Martin, Lafayette, Vermilion, Assumption, and Washington. Five other parishes are considered nearly no-kill — Morehouse, East Baton Rouge, Ascension, Lafourche, and Terrebonne.