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To investigate trends in animal shelter and rescue organization intake for dogs and cats in Colorado from 2008 to 2018.


482 animal shelters and rescue organizations that reported annual intake data to the State of Colorado Department of Agriculture for 1,086,630 dogs and 702,333 cats.


Total intake, intake for each of 5 Pet Animal Care and Facilities Act categories (stray, owner surrender, intrastate transfer, interstate transfer, or other), and community-based intake (total intake after exclusion of transfers) of dogs and cats were assessed in total and for each organization type (shelter or rescue organization). The number taken in per year, number taken in/1,000 capita (human residents)/y, and number in each intake category as a percentage of total intake for the same species per year were analyzed with linear regression models.


Trend lines indicated that total dog intake increased over the study period, but there was no change when these data were adjusted for the human population. Cat intake decreased over time according to both of these measures. Total community-based intake decreased, whereas total intake by interstate transfer from other organizations increased for both species during the study period.


Increased transfer of dogs and cats across state lines into regions with low community-based shelter intake suggested that regional and national animal disease trends could potentially impact disease profiles for recipient areas. Findings supported efforts toward collecting animal shelter and rescue organization intake and outcome data across larger systems.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To measure trends in animal shelter intake and outcome data for dogs and cats in Colorado on a statewide, urban, and rural basis from 2000 through 2007.

Design—Retrospective cohort study.

Sample Population—A group of 104 animal shelters and rescue organizations from Colorado representing 92% and 94% of statewide dog and cat intake, respectively, in 2007.

Procedures—Annual animal shelter data were analyzed for trends by use of linear regression analysis. Trends in urban and rural subgroups of shelters were compared by use of Student t tests.

Results—Statewide, the number of intakes/1,000 residents decreased by 10.8% for dogs during the 8-year study period, but increased by 19.9% for cats. There was no change in the dog euthanasia rate at 3.7/1,000 residents/y, but the rate for cats increased by 35.7% to 3.9/1,000 residents/y. There was no change in the statewide live release rate for dogs or cats, but there was a decrease of 12.6% for cats in the urban subgroup.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The trends suggested that the number of unwanted dogs in Colorado decreased during the study period, whereas the number of unwanted cats in animal shelters increased. There were clear differences in the trends in the urban and rural data, suggesting different needs in each type of community. At the current level of resource allocation, the shelter dynamics for dogs appeared to have reached equilibrium with respect to euthanasia. Transfers were increasingly being used within all regions of the state to optimize the chances of adoption.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


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.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association