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Orange County Animal Services Publishes 2023 Shelter Data

Shelter Achieves Live Release Rate of 90%+ for Third Straight Year

Orange County Animal ServicesOrange County, Fla. – Orange County Animal Services (OCAS) has published its statistics and third annual “Year End Report,” detailing the data for fiscal year 2023, which spanned October 1, 2022 through September 30, 2023. The figures confirm that trends observed nationwide are occurring in Orange County.

Shelter Animals Count, a national source for animal sheltering data, recently published their third quarter analysis and states: “shelters are in their third year of having too many animals and not enough adoptions — especially for dogs. The current trend shows dog adoptions down 1.2% from 2022 numbers, after shelter intake January-September 2023 saw a 2.5% increase in dog intake.”

Animal Services received 7,040 cats and 7,005 dogs in fiscal year 2023, with the latter category showing an annual increase in intakes since the start of the pandemic.

“A common misconception over the years is that our intake is tied to human population, with the fear being that if people are moving here in droves than dogs are also being abandoned at record rates,” said Diane Summers, manager for Orange County Animal Services. “Looking over our data since 2010, we’ve had a steady, if not slight decline, in the rate of dog intake. We saw a significant decrease during the pandemic, but unfortunately dog intake numbers have nearly bounced right back, up 27% in 2023 compared with 2020.”

Hill’s Pet Nutrition recently published their “State of Shelter Adoption Report” which also analyzes national animal welfare data and suggests that people are reluctant to own pets due to cost, with veterinary care cited as a top expenditure, and housing concerns, due to restrictions imposed by property owners.

Despite these challenges, Orange County Animal Services was successful in achieving a live release rate[1] of at least 90% for the third year in a row. In fiscal year 2023, Animal Services facilitated an adoption, rescue placement or owner reunification outcome for 94% of its dogs and 87% of its cats, an overall rate of 90%. This metric is meaningful as nationwide animal welfare industry leader Best Friends has established 90% as the threshold for a shelter to be considered “no-kill,” although Orange County Animal Services does not utilize this particular label.

“There’s a lot of good to be recognized in reviewing these numbers,” said Summers. “This past year we’ve implemented new programs, revamped and expanded existing programs, and the proof of that success is in this data, but more so in the faces of the pets we get to help each day.”

Additional data points of note:

  • The shelter was able to nearly double its Instagram followers, going from 32,887 in FY22 to 79,094 in FY23. Social media has been key in showcasing pets and pushing essential messages.
  • The enforcement operations team responded to 30,629 requests for citizen assistance.
  • The shelter’s clinic team conducted 7,855 spay/neuter surgeries and logged 16,834 veterinary exams.
  • There remains a wide divide in the reclaim rate of dogs versus cats with 37% of dogs reclaimed by their owners juxtaposed with just 4% of cats.

[1] Live release rate is a common shelter metric and is calculated by dividing the number of live outcomes by the total number of outcomes excluding pets whose owner requested humane euthanasia and animals who were turned over for disposal.

About Orange County Government: Orange County Government strives to serve its residents and guests with integrity, honesty, fairness and professionalism. Located in Central Florida, Orange County includes 13 municipalities and is home to world-famous theme parks, one of the nation’s largest convention centers and a thriving life science research park. Seven elected members make up the Board of County Commissioners, including the Mayor, who is elected countywide. For more information, please visit or go to Orange County Government’s social media channels.

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