Overflowing shelters – solutions you can implement today

It’s a scary time for animal care workers. Shelters and rescues all over the country are overflowing with animals. Even shelters that had or have rescue partners in other areas, those partners can’t get animals adopted either so it can feel like there is nowhere to go. Euthanasia rates are on the rise for the first time in 5 years according to the Best Friends Animal Society annual report. It’s overwhelming. In this article, we are going to cover some small steps you can begin to overcome the high rate of animals in your care. You may have adopted some of these strategies already so feel free to jump around this article as needed.

Foster Programs

  1. Create a foster program – Fosters not only provide an opportunity for an animal to decompress outside of the shelter, but they also grow your network and help to get the animal out in front of the community. For a full guide, head over to our article on How to Build a Foster Program.
  2. Grow your foster program – If you have an existing foster program, provide incentives for new fosters. Head over to our article on Recruiting Fosters to find new ways to grow your foster team.
  3. Allow foster-to-adopts – While this isn’t always an option that rescues and shelters want to pursue for many reasons, it may give adopters the boost they need to take the leap. It also gives the animal a chance to be in a home setting which gives you more information to help with a future adoption.
  4. Empower fosters to market – Your fosters can be a huge resource when it comes to marketing your animals. Read our article on ways to Boost Marketing Through Fosters to learn more.


  1. Good pictures – Make sure the pictures of all adoptable animals are online and up to date. They should be clear and happy. Try to avoid pictures in dirty kennels or pictures where the animal looks particularly nervous. If you can, try contacting local photographers to donate photos of your longest stay residents.
  2. Bios – The majority of bios should be positive. Rarely should you need to explain that a dog marks, that can be discussed after a potential adopter becomes interested. Highlight the unique parts of the animal’s personality and avoid comparing them to other animals. If the animal is in a foster home, a quote from the foster family is a huge plus.
  3. Get out in the community – Host an adoption event, publicly show your capacity, contact local news, put up adoption flyers, ask businesses to host promotions. Anything to get your organization in front of people.
  4. Long stay animals – As adoption rates drop, more animals can be classified as “long-stay”. Check out our article on Getting Long Stay Animals Adopted.

More permanent solutions

While these are all great places to start when working through the current capacity crisis, it’s important to consider implementing more permanent programs. To get started working on your long term goals, head over to our Limiting Factors Series or learn how to Create and Maintain Partner Rescue Relationships.

If you are interested in customized solutions for your rescue or shelter, contact us!

Happy rescuing.

Is this article missing something? Have questions? Want help applying what you learned to your organization? Send us a message!

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