OBJECTIVE To measure temporal trends in animal shelter and rescue intakes and outcomes for dogs and cats in Colorado from 2000 through 2015 and compare trends from 2008 through 2015 with previously reported trends from 2000 through 2007.
DESIGN Serial cross-sectional study.
SAMPLE 76 animal shelter and rescue facilities with annual intake and outcome data consistently reported to the state of Colorado from 2000 through 2015.
PROCEDURES Data were collected for dogs and cats each year during the study period on 5 annual scales: number of animals taken in, number of animals taken in/1,000 state residents, animal outcomes as a percentage of intakes (species-specific scales), and annual live release rate as a function of intakes and outcomes. Aggregate data were analyzed for temporal trends by linear regression modeling.
RESULTS Decreases in annual intake and euthanasia rates and a concurrent increase in live release rate were observed for both species. The decreases observed for cats from 2008 through 2015 contrasted with the previously reported findings of increased rates of intake and euthanasia from 2000 through 2007.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE We believe that these temporal trends suggested substantial improvements in intake and outcome data for sheltered cats and dogs across Colorado that reflected changes in unhoused animal populations, along with the impact of resource allocation to spay-neuter programs, adoption marketing, intershelter transfers, and evidence-based improvements in operations. The findings indicated that consistent data collection and interorganizational collaboration can be used to optimize animal shelter capacity and outcomes across a statewide shelter system.