Asilomar Animal Statistics
The Asilomar Accords are guidelines that facilitate the data collection process and assure consistent reporting across agencies. At The Anti-Cruelty Society, we strictly follow these guidelines to ensure that our numbers are accurate and that we are as transparent as possible to the public.
Download The Anti-Cruelty Society’s operation statistics below.
In August of 2004, a group of leaders in animal welfare industry from across the nation convened at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, California, for the purpose of building bridges across varying philosophies, developing relationships, and creating goals focused on significantly reducing the euthanasia of healthy and treatable companion animals in the United States.
Healthy: The term “healthy” means that an animal has not manifested any sign of a behavioral or temperamental characteristic that could pose a health or safety risk or otherwise make the animal unsuitable for placement in an adoptive home. In addition, these animals have manifested no sign of disease, injury, or a congenital or hereditary condition that adversely affects the health of the animal or is likely to adversely affect the animal’s health in the future. This definition includes all dogs and cats that are 8 weeks of age or older at, or subsequent to, the time the animal is taken into possession.
Treatable: The term “treatable” means and includes all cats and dogs that are “rehabilitatable,” as well as all cats and dogs that are considered “manageable.”
Rehabilitatable: The term “rehabilitatable” means and includes all cats and dogs that are not “healthy,” but are likely to become “healthy” if given medical, foster, behavioral, or other care that is equivalent to the care typically provided to pets by reasonable and caring pet owners in the community.
Manageable: The term “manageable” means and includes all cats and dogs that are not “healthy” and are not likely to become “healthy,” regardless of the care provided to them. However, these animals would likely maintain a satisfactory quality of life if given medical, foster, behavioral, or other care, including long-term care, that is equivalent to the care typically provided to pets by reasonable and caring owners in the community. This is provided that the term “manageable” does not include any cat or dog that is determined to pose a significant risk to human health or safety, or to the health or safety of other animals.
Unhealthy and Untreatable: The term “unhealthy and untreatable” means and includes all cats and dogs that display the following characteristics at, or subsequent to, the time they are taken into possession.
- Behavioral or temperamental characteristics that post a health or safety risk or otherwise make the animal unsuitable for placement as a pet. These animals must not be likely to become “healthy” or “treatable,” even if they receive care that is typically provided to pets by reasonable and caring pet owners in the community.
- Suffering from a disease, injury, or congenital or hereditary condition that adversely affects the animal’s health, or is likely to adversely affect the animal’s health in the future. These animals must not be likely to become “healthy” or “treatable,” even if they receive the care typically provided to pets by reasonable and caring pet owners in the community.
- This also includes animals that are younger than 8 weeks of age and are not likely to become “healthy” or “treatable,” even if they receive care typically provided by reasonable and caring pet owners in the community.
Each community is encouraged to work together to assign its own definitions for these four categories: healthy, treatable/rehabilitatable (T/R), treatable/manageable (T/M), and unhealthy/untreatable (U/U). The Chicago Shelter Alliance did this in 2008 and now reviews the definitions every 3 years. Our current community definitions are listed below.
AGGRESSION The animal has displayed or has history of biting, attacking, or other behavior that endangers people and/or animals. U/U if the animals are aggressive toward humans or animals, and thus place the staff and community at risk.
ALLERGY The animal exhibits symptoms of allergies. T/M if the symptoms are acute or moderate, but U/U if they are chronic or severe. Severe allergies can cause hair loss and red, itchy skin, and can also lead to self-mutilation. Diagnosis of an allergic skin disease is a difficult, and treatment is a life-long process.
AMPUTEE The animal has a limb or partial limb amputated. T/M if one limb is amputated, and the animal’s quality of life is still good. More than one limb severely compromises an animal’s life and is considered U/U.
AUTO IMMUNE DISEASE These diseases must be diagnosed by a veterinarian. An auto immune disease is one where the animal produces antibodies against its own tissue. Many animals with this condition have severe and life- long medical problems.
CANCER This disease must be diagnosed by a veterinarian and can be either T/M or U/U. The outcome is based on the type of cancer or the stage it is in, as well as veterinarian’s recommendation.
CANINE DISTEMPER This disease must be diagnosed by a veterinarian. Although this disease can be treated, it is highly contagious, can be fatal, and often has long-term health effects, so it is considered U/U. Euthanasia may be indicated to protect other animals.
CHRONIC MUSCULOSKELETAL CONDITIONS Examples include luxating patella, hip dysplasia, healed fractures, intravertebral disc disease, and arthritis. T/M if the symptoms are mild or moderate, but U/U if they are severe. These conditions can often be successfully managed with medication when they’re not severe. When the condition becomes debilitating, and the pain is not easily managed with medication, then euthanasia should be used to relieve suffering.
DIRECT EXPOSURE TO INFECTIOUS DISEASE If the animal is the littermate to, or has had other direct exposure to, an animal with a highly contagious, often fatal disease, such as parvo, panleukopenia, or canine distemper, that has been diagnosed by a veterinarian, then it is considered U/U due to the highly contagious and serious nature of the disease. Euthanasia is recommended to protect the population. This is indicated when the animal is diagnosed by a veterinarian.
EMACIATION This is when an animal has a body condition score of 1/5. These animals are considered either T/R or U/U. A veterinarian will consider the overall health of the animal, as well as the expected prognosis, and then determine its category.
ESCAPE Animals are considered U/U if they have a history of or display extreme escaping behaviors. Animals that have extreme escaping behaviors pose a safety risk to themselves and the public by running free.
EXTERNAL PARASITES This includes fleas, ticks, earmites, etc., but does not include mange. T/R because medication is usually curative, at least temporarily. Prevention education is important.
FAILURE TO THRIVE The animal is failing to thrive (e.g., not gaining weight, losing weight, refusing to eat, or not growing). U/U because sometimes animals, for no apparent reason or because of prolonged illness or stress, fail to thrive in the shelter environment, which leads to a poor quality of life. This is considered only if forced feeding and/or fluids do not bring about a discernible improvement in the animal’s condition.
FEARFUL The animal displays extremely fearful behavior. This can be either T/M or U/U. While some animals may have a very specific fear that can be avoided, it is not always safe or realistic. If an animal has “shut-down” and is unresponsive for a reasonable length of time, euthanasia is recommended due to poor quality of life concerns.
FeLV This is a cat that has tested positive for feline leukemia virus. This condition is contagious and eventually fatal, so it’s always U/U.
FERAL Feral animals are a danger to staff, because they cannot be handled safely. However, these animals are considered T/M only if they are ear-tipped and microchipped cats, and there is cat colony caregiver, and the animal can be returned to a source colony or managed barn colony. U/U if it’s a dog or no there is no available colony caregiver or colony.
FIP A feline infectious peritonitis that has been diagnosed by a veterinarian. U/U because this condition is fatal.
FIV These cats tested positive for feline immunodeficiency virus. U/U because FIV is a contagious disease that causes suppression of the immune system. Most cats with FIV will have a shortened life and die of illnesses related to their deficient immune system.
GERIATRIC These are simply animals that are 7 years of age or older. T/M because older animals may have health-related issues and may be more prone to stress, which could further compromise their health.
HEALTHY These animals have no noted medical or behavioral issues. They are considered H after they have received health and behavior evaluations and appear to be healthy.
HEARTWORM The animal has tested positive for heartworm. U/U because treatment is prolonged and requires close monitoring, which may not be possible in a shelter environment.
HIGH AROUSAL These dogs exhibit intense, high arousal levels (beyond normal puppy behavior), combining frantic mouthing, incessant tugging on leash in a tug-of-war manner, jumping on a person, and not stopping when there is a lack of interaction. These animals are considered U/U, and staff should be trained to recognize these behaviors.
HOUSE SOILING/INAPPROPRIATE ELIMINATION If the animal has a history of or is observed displaying this behavior, it is considered T/M or U/U. Many house soiling problems can be resolved in a different environment or with proper training. However, many long-term problems can be difficult or impossible to resolve. The stress of transition to/from a shelter environment may make the situation less likely to be resolved in a new home. The duration and complexity of problem are considered, as are possible medical causes and previous efforts for resolution.
HYBRID When an animal is essentially a cross between a wild and domestic animal. U/U because hybrids with wild animals can be dangerous.
INDIRECT EXPOSURE TO INFECTIOUS DISEASE When an animal has had indirect exposure to a highly infectious and often fatal disease, such as parvo, panleukopenia, or canine distemper that has been diagnosed by a veterinarian, it is considered T/R or U/U. A veterinarian must assess the risk to the population based on various factors, including the incubation period, the type of exposure, and the general condition of the involved animals, and then make a recommendation accordingly.
INJURED If an animal has an injury, the severity must be determined by a veterinarian. Injuries can be either T/R, T/M, or U/U. A veterinarian will make a determination based on the prognosis and extent of injuries.
INTESTINAL PARASITES The animal is diagnosed with a common parasite, such as round, hook, tape, or whip worms, coccidian, or Giardia. T/R because most animals can be successfully treated with anthelmintics.
KENNEL COUGH The animal exhibits signs of kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis). T/R because the dog just has an upper respiratory infection and should recover.
MALNOURISHED A veterinarian has diagnosed an animal as being malnourished. T/R because a malnourished animal has a reasonable expectation of resolution.
MANGE, DEMODECTIC This must be diagnosed by a veterinarian. If it’s localized, it is T/R, but if it’s generalized, it’s U/U. Generalized cases are usually associated with issues like genetics, immunologic, and underlying disease. Treatment is prolonged, and in adult onset cases, it may be refractory to treatment.
MANGE, SARCOPTIC This must be diagnosed by a veterinarian and is always U/U. Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious.
MEDICAL MODERATE A veterinarian has diagnosed the animal with a moderate medical condition. This is considered T/M. The condition may shorten or limit the animal’s quality of life, but it can be medically managed. Examples include some dental diseases, obesity, eye/ear conditions, gastrointestinal disorders, a thyroid condition, or a low grade heart murmur.
MEDICAL SEVERE A veterinarian has diagnosed the animal with a severe medical condition. This is always considered U/U. The condition is life-long, may be difficult to manage, or has a high rate of fatality, such as organ failure, a grade 5 heart murmur, diabetes, or neurological conditions.
PANLEUKOPENIA A veterinarian has diagnosed a cat with symptoms likely to be panleukopenia. U/U because the disease is highly contagious and often fatal.
PARVO (CANINE) A veterinarian has diagnosed a dog with symptoms likely to be parvovirus. U/U because the disease is highly contagious and often fatal.
PHYSICAL DISABILITY The animal has a severe disability. U/U because physical disabilities may be painful and stressful. They often require specialized care and can place the animal at life-threatening risk in the shelter environment. Examples include total blindness, paralysis, the loss of more than one limb, or cerebellar hypoplasia.
PHYSICALLY IMPAIRED The animal may be deaf, missing a limb, or have nuclear sclerosis that limits its vision. T/M if the animal is otherwise healthy, as an animal can overcome these impairments and continue to live with a good quality of life.
PREGNANT The animal is pregnant. T/R because pregnancies can be terminated and females spayed.
RINGWORM The animal is diagnosed with dermatophytosis. U/U because although ringworm is treatable, the animal must be isolated for an extended period of time. Ringworm is highly contagious to people and animals.
SEIZURES The animal has a history of or is diagnosed by a veterinarian as having seizures. This is always U/U, because determining the underlying cause may be difficult and require extensive testing. The animal may harm itself during a seizure. If it’s treatable, it requires lifelong medication and close monitoring.
SEPARATION ANXIETY The animal has a history of severe destructive behavior, such as eating through walls, jumping through windows, or self mutilation, when it’s left on its own. U/U because the animal may harm itself and become a risk to the community.
SURGICAL CONDITION A veterinarian has diagnosed a condition that requires surgery. This can be T/R, T/M, or U/U. A veterinarian will assess the animal and determine its prognosis for a return to a good quality of life. Many conditions, such as a simple fracture, cherry eye, or entropion, can be easily corrected. Others, such as bloat or foreign body, may have a poor prognosis and euthanasia is warranted.
THYROID CONDITION A veterinarian has diagnosed the animal with either a hypo- or hyper-thyroid condition. T/M because the condition may require life-long treatment.
TIME/SPACE/BREED The animal is healthy, but the shelter is beyond capacity. Obviously, this animal is considered H. Due to limited resources and overpopulation, the risk of healthy animals being euthanized is always present.
TRAUMA The animal has a traumatic injury, and its severity has been determined by a veterinarian. These situations can be T/R, T/M, or U/U. A veterinarian will make the determination based on the animal’s prognosis and the extent of its injuries.
TOO YOUNG The animal is under 5 weeks of age and is unweaned. T/R if it is with its dam, but U/U if it is orphaned. These animals require an extensive amount of additional time and care from trained personnel.
UNDER-SOCIALIZED Under-socialized animals are considered T/M.
UNSOCIALIZED The animal has not been socialized and is very defensive and/or fearful in regular or common situations. U/U because these animals may pose a risk to the community.
URI (CANINE) The dog exhibits signs of an upper-respiratory disease (usually kennel cough or infectious tracheobronchitis). T/R because the dog has an upper respiratory infection and should recover.
URI (FELINE) ACUTE A cat exhibiting symptoms of upper-respiratory disease is considered T/R.
URI (FELINE) CHRONIC A cat with an upper-respiratory infection that has become chronic is considered U/U.
The Guiding Principles for Our Statistics
The mission of those involved in creating the Asilomar Accords is to work together to save the lives of all healthy and treatable companion animals.
- We recognize that all stakeholders in the animal welfare community have a passion for our mutual goal of saving the lives of animals, and that we are all dedicated to this mission.
- We acknowledge that the euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals is the sad responsibility of some animal welfare organizations that neither desired nor sought this task. We believe that the euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals is a community-wide problem requiring community-based solutions. We also recognize that animal welfare organizations can be leaders in bringing about change in the social factors that result in the euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals, including the compounding problems of the failure of some pet owners to spay and neuter, properly socialize and train, be tolerant of, provide veterinary care for, or take responsibility for their companion animals.
- We, as animal welfare stakeholders, agree to foster a mutual respect for one another. When discussing differences of policy and opinion – either publicly or within and among our own agencies – we agree to refrain from denigrating or speaking ill of one another. We will also encourage those other individuals and organizations in our sphere of influence to do the same.
- We encourage all communities to embrace the vision and spirit of these Accords, while acknowledging that differences exist between various communities and geographic regions of the country.
- We encourage the creation of local “community coalitions” consisting of a variety of organizations (e.g., governmental animal control agencies, nonprofit shelters, grassroots foster care providers, feral cat groups, and funders and veterinary associations) for the purpose of saving the lives of healthy and treatable animals. We are committed to the belief that no one organization or type of organization can achieve this goal alone, that we need one another, and that the only true solution is to work together. We need to find common ground, put aside our differences, and work collaboratively to reach the ultimate goal of ending the euthanasia of healthy and treatable companion animals.
- While we understand that other types of programs and efforts (including adoption, spay and neuter programs, education, cruelty investigations, enforcement of animal control laws and regulations, behavior and training assistance, and feral cat management) play a critical role in impacting euthanasia figures, for purposes of this nationwide initiative, we have elected to leave these programs in the hands of local organizations and encourage them to continue offering, and expanding upon, these critical services.
- In order to achieve harmony and forward progress, we encourage each community coalition to discuss language and terminology that has historically been viewed as hurtful or divisive by some animal welfare stakeholders (whether intentional or inadvertent), identify “problem” language, and reach a consensus to modify or phase out language and terminology accordingly.
- We believe in the importance of transparency and the open sharing of accurate, complete animal-sheltering data and statistics in a manner that is clear to both the animal welfare community and the public-at-large.
- We believe it is essential to utilize a uniform method for collecting and reporting shelter data, in order to promote transparency and better assess the euthanasia rate of healthy and treatable animals. We determined that a uniform method of reporting needs to include the collection and analysis of animal-sheltering data as set forth in the “Animal Statistics Table.” These statistics need to be collected for each individual organization and for the community as a whole and need to be reported to the public annually (via web sites, newsletters, annual reports, etc.). In addition, we determined that each community’s “Live Release Rate” needs to be calculated, shared, and reported annually to the public, both individually by each organization and jointly by each community coalition. Individual organizations and community coalitions should strive to continuously improve of these numbers. The “Animal Statistics Table” and formulas for calculating the “Live Release Rate” are set forth in Section IV of these Accords.
- We developed several standard “definitions” to enable uniform and accurate collection, analysis, and reporting of animal-sheltering data and statistics. We encourage all communities to adopt the definitions, which are set forth in Section III, and implement the principles of these Accords.
- While we recognize that many animal welfare organizations provide services to companion animals other than cats and dogs, for purposes of this nationwide initiative, we have elected to only collect and share data that relates to cats and dogs.
- We are committed to continuing the dialogue, analysis, and potential modification of this vision as needs change and progress is made toward achieving our goal.
- Those involved in the development of the Asilomar Accords have agreed to make a personal commitment to ensure the furtherance of these accords, and to use their professional influence to bring about a nationwide adoption of this vision.