Special Report

Which State Has the Most Pet Shelters?

Dogs are popular pets all across the United States. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 38% of households in 2017-2018 owned one or more dogs. (And these are the most popular dog breeds.) Unfortunately, people are not always able or willing to give their dogs the care they deserve, and so there are pet shelters all across the country.

24/7 Tempo calculated the number of shelters for every 100,000 people in each U.S. state. It makes for interesting reading because there aren’t many discernible patterns in the distribution of shelters. The number of dog shelters per capita don’t appear to be correlated with size, geography, climate, or income level. By contrast, places with the most dog parks tend to be concentrated in Sunbelt states, which typically offer more opportunities for outdoor recreation and have relatively strong economies. Here are the most dog-friendly cities in America.

The No. 1 state on our list, Wyoming, has more than 10 times as many shelters as No. 50, Hawaii. Both are among the states with the smallest human populations. Connecticut ranks No. 2, while neighboring Massachusetts ranks a lowly 43, even though they have comparable income levels. Florida, New York, and California have the same number of shelters per capita but are at opposite ends of the country. It is important to note that because the size and capacity of the shelters counted may vary considerably, the number of shelters is not a perfect reflection of how many animals a state is able to shelter.

To identify the states with the most dog shelters, 24/7 Tempo used data derived from the pet shelter database Petfinder to find the total number of shelters in a given state. The number was then adjusted for population per 100,000. Population data comes from the American Community Survey 2018 1-Year Estimates, along with data on educational attainment, poverty rate, and median household income.

Click here to see which state has the most pet shelters.