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(BPT) - More Americans are embracing the idea that killing shelter animals is not an ethical or viable way to control companion animal populations in the U.S. End-of-year statistics from Best Friends Animal Society, a leading national animal welfare organization, illustrate the no-kill movement's progress.

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Rescued By The No-Kill Movement

Nearly 78 million dogs and 86 million cats share homes and lives with humans in the U.S., according to the American Pet Products Association's 2015-2016 National Pet Owners Survey. Yet for all the pets who spend their lives loved and pampered by their humans, millions still die every year in animal shelters. However, the tide is turning.

"The growth of the no-kill movement is apparent," says Best Friends CEO Gregory Castle. "The number of homeless companion animals killed in shelters continues to decline, and it's just a matter of time before we truly can save them all."

Although definitive tallies on the total number of animals housed in all the nation's animal shelters at any given time are not available at this time; a new multi-agency initiative, Shelter Animals Count, was recently launched to remedy this situation. In the meantime, Best Friends tracks the number of animals it helps through various programs every year. In 2015, the organization:

* Facilitated more than 76,000 adoptions of homeless animals across all programs, an increase of 46 percent over 2014.

* Supported the spaying and neutering of nearly 133,000 animals through various programs across the country, including trap/neuter/return programs. In 2014, BFA helped 123,000 animals through these programs.

* Helped reduce shelter killing by nearly 63 percent in Los Angeles and 79 percent in Utah, where 27 communities are now no-kill.

* Aided 20 cities and one county in overturning breed-discriminatory legislation.

* Encouraged bans on sales of puppy mill dogs in pet stores in 20 more communities, bringing to 91 the total in both the U.S. and Canada with such bans. Pet stores in these communities aren't allowed to sell dogs obtained from commercial breeding operations.

* Distributed more than $1.6 million in grants to No More Homeless Pets Network partner organizations. The more than 1,400 partner organizations helped more than 116,000 animals.

* Raised more than $2 million through the Strut Your Mutt nationwide dog walk and fundraising event. More than $1.4 million of the raised funds went directly to 284 partner organizations.

* Welcomed 1,340 animals to the Best Friends Animal Society Sanctuary, adopted out 1,400, and fielded 30,000 visits from people seeking education and new best friends.

"As a movement, we are in the home stretch of bringing an end to shelter killing and puppy mills because the animal-loving American public now knows there are better ways," Castle says. "It truly is just a matter of time before we can save every animal."

To learn more about the no-kill movement and Best Friends Animal Society, visit




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