10 Shelters That Kicked Ass in 2019

January 6th, 2020

In celebration of the new year, we are sharing ten shelters that kicked ass in 2019! These shelters have embraced change in a variety of ways and are becoming lifesaving leaders in their own communities. They’ve got what it takes to make lifesaving a way of life across the country. Let’s give these shelters the shout out they deserve.

1. Gateway Pet Guardians (St. Louis, MO)

In 2019, Gateway Pet Guardians cut their length of stay in half by embracing conversation-based adoptions/matchmaking strategies and revamping their foster program. They have also managed to save $61K in veterinary expenses this year by adopting a shelter medicine model. Gateway Pet Guardians has embraced American Pets Alive! educational opportunities and have become very involved. Multiple staff members have attended Maddie's® Lifesaving Academy apprenticeships, and they truly put our teachings into practice. They also continue to reach out to AmPA! for support, showing a dedication to saving more lives by changing their animal sheltering practices.

Nominated by: Clare Callison, Maddie’s Canine Lifesaving Advisor

2. City of Cabot Animal Shelter (Cabot, AK)

The City of Cabot Animal Shelter is run by executive director, Mike Wheeler. He started as an Animal Control Officer over 10 years ago and has been a driving force for change at the shelter. He and his staff have spoken at City Council meetings, attended Maddie's® Lifesaving Academy apprenticeships, and continue to demand change in the community to save the animals in the shelter. Watch our recent interview with Mike.

Nominated by: Dr. Ellen Jefferson, Executive Director

3. Clermont Animal CARE Humane Society (Batavia, OH)

Clermont Animal CARE Humane Society is a shelter truly maximizing their educational opportunities! Staff members from this shelter have attended several Maddie's® Lifesaving Academy apprenticeships, as well as our annual conference. They have been able to take this information and make everything in their shelter more efficient, from shelter layout to medical intake protocol to animal enrichment. This year, they fought hard to get more money from the county for 2020 and which resulted in a $109K increase in funding.

*Honorable Mention Shout Out! Ohio Alleycat Resource has been a great support to Clermont Animal CARE Humane Society. By working together, they’re bringing no kill to the local government level and are really striving to make changes in their overall community.

Nominated by: Faith Wright, Shelter Management Advisor

4. Rusk County Pets Alive (Henderson, TX)

Rusk County Pets Alive has built a great partnership with Henderson County Animal Shelter by basing their organizational changes on the AmPA! model. This has led Henderson County Animal Shelter to meet their all-time highest live release rate of 90+% in 2019. One way they’ve increased lifesaving is through saving parvo puppies and cats with ringworm. Lastly, they attended our online transport class and they have learned how to transport more dogs to rescue groups nationally. This group is a great example of a rural shelter doing a lot with a little.

Nominated by: Clare Callison, Maddie’s Canine Lifesaving Advisor

5. Fort Bend County Animal Services (Fort Bend County, TX)

Fort Bend County Animal Services have created a TNR (Trap Neuter Return) and SNR (Shelter Neuter Return) program in Fort Bend County. This has allowed them to save many cats that never would have had a chance in the area otherwise.

Nominated by: Faith Wright, Shelter Management Advisor


For more information about animal sheltering jargon like TNR and SNR: Onboard Lifesaving: Shelter Jargon


6. Tupelo-Lee Humane Society (Tupelo, MS)

By working with AmPA! in 2019, Tupelo Lee Humane Society has been able to drastically increase their save rates by implementing our teachings. Since attending apprenticeships, they started making all animals available for public view onsite and online immediately, as well as allowing sick animals to go to foster homes. This has helped them reduce their length of stay and work towards being a safe haven for more homeless pets.

Nominated by: Dr. Ellen Jefferson, Executive Director

7. Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby (Memphis, TN)

The Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby has been able to make some great changes since their volunteer coordinator, Ashley Garrison, attended the Maddie's® Growing an Existing Foster Program Apprenticeship. They were able to get 9 dogs into temporary foster care for Thanksgiving, which also gave them some more information to market these dogs with. Turns out some of the dogs who they originally believed couldn’t lived with other dogs did great! The Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby ended 2019 with their first “Home for the Holidays” push and have been very open to changing how they’re doing things so that they can save more lives.

Nominated by: Regan Goins, Dog Foster Manager

8. San Diego Animal Control (San Diego, TX)

San Diego Animal Control connected with AmPA! for advice on disease management and sent their shelter manager to the Maddie's® Systematic Canine Lifesaving Leadership Master Class. Since then they have stayed connected with Faith Wright and Clare Callison for ongoing support. In 2019, they successfully went from high kill to no kill which is incredible progress.

Nominated by: Faith Wright, Shelter Management Advisor

9. Randolph Regional Animal Shelter (Mendham, NJ)

Randolph Regional Animal Shelter has really embraced the idea that all dogs and cats are individuals and have become the “last resort” safety net shelter in their area. They created their own virtual foster program within days of returning from the Maddie's® Dog Matchmaker Placement Program Apprenticeship, and have been committed to proactive adoptions to help decrease their length of stay. Ultimately, Randolph Regional Animal Shelter jumped into the Matchmaker apprenticeship with great enthusiasm and started making changes in their shelter as soon as they returned home.

Nominated by: Clare Callison, Maddie’s Canine Lifesaving Advisor

10. One Tail at a Time (Chicago, IL)

One Tail at a Time attended the Maddie's® Lifesaving Leadership Master Class and in discussion with Dr. Ellen Jefferson decided to open their own clinic. They are also bringing a veterinarian on staff to help them increase lifesaving. The clinic should be opening at the end of February 2020. This clinic is a big step in the right direction for One Tail at a Time and should significantly improve their impact on lifesaving.

Nominated by: Jordana Moerbe, Maddie’s Medical Program Director

Little operational changes can make a massive impact and these shelters are proving it every day. There are a lot more shelters that are doing an incredible job and we want to know about them! Shoot us an email at [email protected] with your nominations for shelters that are kicking ass and maybe they’ll make the 2020 list!


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