Recently, data about the state of animal shelters in the United States were released by Best Friends Animal Society, a national animal welfare organization. This data set uses a metric called “save rate” to measure what percentage of the animals entering shelters leave the shelter alive, with a no-kill benchmark of 90% save rate. No-kill simply means that a shelter is saving all healthy and treatable animals in its care.
Nationally, the average save rate for animals entering shelters is 83%, while the state of New York is slightly higher overall at 86%. Unfortunately, Saint Lawrence Valley SPCA in Ogdensburg is well below that with just an 11% save rate — by far the lowest in the state and one of the lowest in the entire country.
The shelter’s data from its most recent 990 states that in 2019 “1,210 animals were received; 59 were returned to their owner; 103 were placed in adoptive homes; 3 died; and 1,072 were euthanized.”
Its website is reflective of its efforts, displaying the motto on its front page: “We can’t save every one, so we do what we can, when we can.” It also contains anti no-kill language and an absence of any “happy tails” on the page it has designated to report positive adoption stories. This is despite the fact that it has many animals in its care.
Best Friends has repeatedly reached out to the shelter to understand its challenges and offer help to save more of the animals in their care. Our efforts have been refused or ignored, with representatives of the organization stating that they “don’t work with other agencies.”
This is even though all assistance Best Friends offers — which includes access to a national team of animal welfare experts, shelter assessments, program development and education and training — is free. In fact, we often provide funding to support animal shelters in improving their save rates. Best Friends has helped hundreds of shelters across the country increase their save rate to the no-kill standard and would like to help Saint Lawrence Valley SPCA do the same.
A shelter should be a supportive place where the people and pets of the community can receive help. The data don’t support this at Saint Lawrence Valley SPCA, but it can. Best Friends is ready and willing to help Saint Lawrence Valley SPCA whenever they are ready to accept it.