Thank you for making 2019 another incredible year of lifesaving for our best friends.

From the Chair of the Board

“A new generation of leadership has taken the helm of Best Friends and re-committed to the founders’ promise, expanding the reach of Best Friends to every corner of our nation.”

Lighting the Way to No-Kill 2025

Achieving no-kill for dogs and cats — in every shelter, in every community — by 2025 requires strong, skilled and inspiring leaders working strategically throughout the country. In 2019, we welcomed the inaugural cohort of the Best Friends Executive Leadership Certification program, which provides professional development for people who will play pivotal roles in advancing the no-kill movement.

“We calculated that we have over 228 years of experience in animal welfare sitting in this room. That’s an amazing and powerful thing.” Sarah Hock, executive director, Joint Animal Services in Washington

A Message from the CEO

“This last year was a record-breaking whirlwind of collaborative, lifesaving activity on behalf of animals in every state in this country.”

Empowering Communities with Critical Data

Last year, Best Friends launched the community lifesaving dashboard, a new data visualization tool that is empowering local advocates and animal lovers to take collective action on behalf of homeless pets in their communities. Using the first national master shelter data set in animal welfare, the dashboard digitally connects community members with essential information that can help them support their local shelters and save more lives.

Essential Lifesaving Services

Pet adoption, spay/neuter services, foster networks, pet transports and kitten care programs are critical components of the effort to achieve no-kill nationwide.

Through a variety of Best Friends programs, events, clinics and lifesaving centers, 26,915 pets were adopted, 74,345 pets were spayed or neutered, 7,735 pets were fostered, 5,175 kittens and nursing mothers were helped, and more than 20,000 animals were transported to places where they had the best chance of finding homes.


Arizona travels from Atlanta to New York City

Arizona, who’s more of a “look but don’t touch” cat, kept getting passed over by adopters at the Best Friends Lifesaving Center in Atlanta. So, this stunning kitty with major “cattitude” was chauffeured to the Best Friends Lifesaving Center in SoHo, where her unique look and personality landed her a loving new family.

Lifesaving Events Across the Country

A special thanks to Petco Foundation for their sponsorship of the Best Friends National Conference and Best Friends Super Adoptions, major events that catalyze lifesaving nationwide.

2019 Best Friends National Conference in Dallas, Texas

There were 1,829 attendees from 49 states and five countries, with 142 expert speakers in 83 different breakout sessions.

We are forever grateful to Maddie’s Fund for providing scholarships for 74 lifesaving shelter and animal services team members from around the country to attend the 2019 conference. #ThanksToMaddie

Super Adoptions

A total of 2,024 pets were adopted through five super adoptions held in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, New York City and Houston.

2019 Strut Your Mutt

More than $2.7 million was raised, with nearly $2.2 million going directly to the 304 shelter and animal welfare partners that registered. Nearly 11,000 people and more than 7,800 dogs participated across 12 cities and one virtual event.

Powerful Programs to Save Them All

Empowering shelter and rescue group partners to save more lives through targeted programming is a primary component of our plan to lead the nation to no-kill.

A total of $4.3 million in funding was provided to Best Friends Network partners.

In 2019, 339 new network partners were added.

Rachael Ray Save Them All Grants

Thanks to Rachael Ray Save Them All Grants, made possible through the generous support of the Rachael Ray Foundation™, and Maddie’s® Shelter Embed Project in the Rio Grande Valley, new programs were launched at dozens of network partner locations across the country last year.

In 2019, $979,000 in Rachael Ray Save Them All Grants was awarded to 45 network partners across 22 states.

Maddie's® Shelter Embed Project in the Rio Grande Valley

By embedding expert staff to work alongside team members in under-resourced Texas shelters where pets are being killed in the greatest numbers, Best Friends has been able to provide intensive, comprehensive support and create major impact.

Through a powerful new partnership with Maddie’s Fund® and a $1.5 million grant, Best Friends expanded its embedded staff presence at Palm Valley Animal Society (PVAS) in June and embedded two new staff members at the Humane Society of Harlingen. During the first four months of the expanded program, 6,350 pets were saved! #ThanksToMaddie

2025 Mentorship and Training for Lifesaving Partners

Best Friends’ shelter outreach team spent the last year supporting, guiding and empowering partner animal welfare organizations committed to saving more lives around the country through a range of learning experiences.

In 2019, nearly 21,000 fewer pets were killed in participating shelters, 49 expert mentorships were provided to partner organizations, 20 operations and field services assessments were conducted to support shelter staff and animal control officers, six one-week training academies were completed, and 1,170 animal control officers were provided with professional humane training.

Community Cats

Cats comprise around two-thirds of the pets being killed in our nation’s shelters, making cat-focused programs critical for achieving no-kill by 2025. Of the animals spayed or neutered through Best Friends programs in fiscal year 2019, more than half were felines helped through community cat programs (CCPs).

Through Best Friends programs, 47,623 community cats were spayed or neutered.


Best Friends’ full-scale CCP operating at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Riverside, California, reached completion last year. In early 2019, the program had become so wildly successful that an overjoyed shelter staff began disposing of dozens of bottles of euthanasia solution that were no longer needed.

Between October 2016 and October 2019, the save rate for cats at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus increased from 36.2% to 84.8%!

Humane Legislation for Companion Animals

Promoting humane laws and policies related to pets is an essential part of creating compassionate no-kill communities nationwide. In 2019, the Best Friends advocacy team secured 73 legislative wins on behalf of cats, dogs and other pets across 18 states and 45 cities or counties.


In lllinois, local residents and key lawmakers celebrated the signing of Senate Bill 61, which erased harmful requirements related to fostering pets and operating community cat programs. Sponsored and supported by members in both the House and the Senate, signed by Governor Pritzker, and spearheaded by Best Friends, the law will ensure that thousands more pets will be saved through vital lifesaving services in the state.

Love and Care for the Animals at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Last year, 1,754 new animals were welcomed at the Sanctuary, 1,365 adoptions were completed and 27% of those adoptions were for animals with special needs. More than 37,000 people visited the Sanctuary and 10,750 people volunteered their time.


A Beautiful Life for Buttercup

Among the lucky birds adopted through the Parrot Garden last year was a double yellow-headed Amazon parrot named Buttercup, who has leg injuries that make it tough for her to get around and rest. A wonderful couple from New York met her while visiting the Sanctuary and brought her home, where they set up a special room with ladders, ramps and plush resting places to accommodate her special needs. Last year, a record-breaking 90 birds were adopted from Parrot Garden!


A Remarkable Journey for A Tiny Kitten

Cats arrive at the Sanctuary through all kinds of avenues. For a kitten named Xactly, his was via a harrowing ride in the car wheel well of a family driving through Zion National Park. This tiny guy was brought to the Best Friends Animal Clinic for minor injuries and, shortly after, was adopted by a Cat World volunteer. Last year, a record-breaking 511 cats were adopted from Cat World!


New Digs for Big Animals

A beautiful thoroughbred horse named Morry came to Best Friends following a life-threatening fall on the racetrack. He received expert care for a leg wound and time to heal, and then he was adopted into a loving home in Utah where he’s now enjoying the company of some fellow horses.

Thanks to the generous donors who made the recently completed Horse Haven redesign possible, Sanctuary caregivers will be able to provide life-changing care more effectively for horses like Morry. Among the new additions to this area are a 5,356-square-foot, state-of-the-art clinic designed for large animals and a 20,000-square-foot covered arena equipped with lights, industrial fans and sprinklers to keep animals and people comfortable in any weather conditions.

A special thank-you to Wellness Natural Pet Foods, Best Friends’ official pet food and treats provider. Wellness provides food and treats for the animals at the Sanctuary and our regional lifesaving centers.


You are a lifesaver.

A playful pup named Dallas landed her perfect home this past year after appearing on a show on Animal Planet featuring adoptable pets from Best Friends. George Conden, who was watching the program from his home in Maryland, saw Dallas on television and asked his daughter to drive with him to the Best Friends Lifesaving Center in New York City to meet her in person. He adopted Dallas and took her home that day.

You made that love connection happen. Thank you.


On behalf of pets across the country, in communities big and small, thank you for joining us on this historic journey to achieve no-kill nationwide by 2025. We are forever grateful for the generous and dedicated people, companies and foundations who gave to the animals this past year. You are a lifesaving force to be reckoned with, and the animals are lucky to have you by their side.