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No Kill Shelters Gaining Momentum in Virginia – Save Rate Approaching 90%

2018 state reporting numbers have been released and Virginia is at an 88% save rate for sheltered dogs and cats. (Acording to data from

The state is close to crossing the no-kill finish line and proponents believe that Virginia is a model for other states in the region demonstrating that by working collaboratively the unnecessary killing of pets can come to an end in America’s shelters.

In 2016, the Board of the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies (VFHS), a group made up of public and private animal shelters, humane societies, rescue groups, sanctuaries, and animal control agencies, as well as animal caregivers and individual supporters across Virginia, met to strategize and create a goal to end the killing of healthy and treatable dogs and cats in local shelters by 2020. At that time the save rate for the state of Virginia was 83%.

To demonstrate its commitment to saving the lives of sheltered pets, VFHS launched “SaveVaPets – Crossing the No Kill Finish Line.” It was a way to brand the problem, bring awareness to what was happening and help partner groups spread the message. When the 2017 statistics came in, the save rate had increased to 86%.

They determined four key areas of the state, including the Southwest Virginia region, Tidewater, Shenandoah/Frederick County, and bordering communities of North Carolina that needed more resources and assistance to move the needle. And thanks to a generous multi-year grant from the Petco Foundation, programs were set-up to help with low-cost spay/neuters services, medical programs, transport assistance and the diversion of cats to nearby shelters.

2018 numbers have been reported and the save rate his risen to over 88%.  Over 10,000 animals have been saved in the last few years all because of the great works from partner organizations of the VFHS, Best Friends Animal Society and the Petco Foundation along with support from “Two Mauds” and Tito’s Vodka.

Best Friends originally funded High Five VA, a program dedicated to reducing the killing of healthy and treatable animals in Virginia through the robust transport and transfer of pets from areas of the state with fewer resources and adopters to regions with greater potential. Through the program, more than 3,000 pets were transported in 2018 alone.

They also selected Lynchburg Humane Society (LHS) as one of the first Best Friends Training Academy Host Sites. This collaborative partnership, sponsored and facilitated by Best Friends, allows the outstanding staff members at LHS to extend their reach to positively affect the outcome of homeless pets across the country through the training of others.

Trainings typically last 7-10 days in which groups are brought to LHS to observe and immerse themselves into the actual work. After the experience, the participating group continues working with Best Friend’s Shelter Outreach team on implementing all they’ve learned.

This incredible lifesaving progress could not occur without the generous and supportive partnerships of VFHS member organizations. VFHS members understand that success is achieved not by saving lives in just one shelter or one community, real success comes when every single healthy and treatable pet in the state is safe. In the meantime the group remains deeply committed to that goal.


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