BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Best Friends Animal Society released its sixth annual pet lifesaving dataset, which gives a national and state-by-state overview of the number of dogs and cats that enter and exit shelters in a given year and found Arkansas to be at a 79.7% save rate.

According to a press release, 49,661 dogs and cats entered Arkansas shelters in 2021 and 39,570 were saved, giving the state an aggregate save rate of 79.7%. In the same year, 47.7% of the state shelters measured above the 90% benchmark. Those that were below it needed to save 6,267 more healthy or treatable animals to make Arkansas no-kill.

The release notes, that of the 42 shelters in Arkansas that are no-kill, 35% (or 15) are in the Northwest area, including Springdale Animal Services, Fayetteville Animal Services, Centerton Animal Control, Rogers Animal Services, Humane Society for Animals, Bella Vista Animal Shelter, and Good Shepherd Humane Society.

“These shelters had incredible save rates during a very difficult year,” said Jackie Roach, Executive Director, Best Friends Animal Society in Northwest Arkansas. “We hope their results will inspire other shelters across the state to adopt similar lifesaving policies moving forward so that they can save more dogs and cats.”

By comparison, in 2020, 48,657 dogs and cats entered Arkansas and 38,197 were saved, giving the state an aggregate save rate of 78.5%. At the time, Best Friends says an estimated 46.7% of state shelters measured above the 90% benchmark. Those that were below it needed to save an estimated 6,718 more healthy or treatable animals.

The data also showed that nationally for the first time in five years, U.S. shelter systems are seeing a setback in lifesaving. In 2021, the number of dogs and cats killed in U.S. shelters increased from 347,000 to 355,000 and was especially stark when compared to the dramatic lifesaving efforts seen throughout the previous year.

Best Friends says the reasons were partly due to staffing shortages that limited hours, decreased in-person volunteers, reduced adoption events, and pet care support.

“The responsibility of saving pets’ lives should not rest solely on shelters and those in animal welfare, but on entire communities including community members, government leaders, shelters and other animal welfare groups,” said Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society. “Through collaboration and community involvement, this model provides better support for pet owners, efficiency in shelters, and more lifesaving outcomes for pets. When a community supports its shelter’s critical needs, we see dramatic results.”

Individuals can help save lives by choosing to adopt from a shelter or rescue group, spay or neuter their pets, foster, volunteer, donate, support, and advocate for community cats through trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) and shelter-run TNVR programming.

In Bentonville, Best Friends runs a Lifesaving Center, is opening a Pet Resource Center later this year and leads the NWA PAW coalition. To learn more, visit bestfriends.org/nwa.