World's Largest NO-KILL
Animal Rescue
and Adoption Organization

Our History of Innovation

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North Shore Animal League America is the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization. We’re proud of our history of innovation in animal welfare – striving to make continuous advancements that save more lives and support other shelter and rescue groups. Since 1944, our tiny shelter and grown by leaps and bounds to become a leader on innovation in the no-kill movement.

Timeline - See our history of innovation through the years.

Our Beginnings - Read about North Shore Animal League America's early years.

A Pioneer in the No-Kill Movement

Animal League America was a pioneer in the No-Kill movement, implementing a no-kill policy to ensure that the animals we rescue receive the care and support they need.

Most of the animals that we rescue are healthy pets that can be placed for adoption once they’re medically and behaviorally evaluated. Some rescued animals suffer from serious medical conditions that require intensive care – and a smaller group of pets require a lifetime of care and support. We make a commitment to care for every animal we rescue, regardless of the level of care it requires.

Raising Awareness of Shelter Pets

Shelter Advertising
Animal League America began shelter advertising close to two decades ago, with the expectation that once people learned that amazing shelter pets were available at a shelter close to home, they would adopt instead of buying a pet from a pet store. The idea worked so well that we quickly developed a major grant program that enabled other shelter and rescue groups to learn the effectiveness of adoption advertising. Today, shelters across the world use advertising to remind people that every type of pet is available at a shelter and adopting from a shelter is a responsible choice.

The Premiere Global Adoption Event
To generate added awareness to the plight of shelter animals, North Shore Animal League America launched Pet Adoptathon® – an adoption event where we kept our doors open for 36 hours straight. The concept caught the attention of the press to become the world’s Premiere Global Pet Adoption event. Today, over 2,000 shelters in the U.S., and in 26 other countries, join us for Pet Adoptathon with one common goal – to join forces and adopt over 20,000 animals into permanent homes over a single weekend.

Increasing Adoptions Nationally

Mobile Adoption Units Bring Pets out of the Shelter
Animal League America uses Mobile Adoption Units to bring dogs, puppies, cats and kittens out of the shelter and into high-traffic areas. By doing so, millions of people realize how wonderful and highly desirable shelter pets can be. These mobile adoption events save thousands of animals each year. We also lend our Mobile Adoption Units to other shelter and rescue groups so they can save more lives, too.

Mobile Adoption Tours
Animal League America learned that by hosting major adoption events at our shelter, we were able to attract a large group of adopters, including national and local press. To spread the word about shelter animals across the entire U.S., we launched the Tour for Life®, our national pet adoption tour that engages adopters and press from coast to coast. As our mobile adoption units cross the country, they stop at our shelter and rescue partners, helping those partners receive more visibility in their city and adopt more animals through high-visibility adoption events. A major national press and PR effort ensures that millions of Americans learn about the plight of shelter animals and where to find a local shelter.

Sponsored – The Not-for-Profit Shelter Pet Referral Website
Animal League America sponsors, which enables over 8,000 shelters and rescue groups across the U.S. to post animals that are available for adoption. has linked millions of potential adopters with local shelters and their pets, facilitating a tremendous number of adoptions each year.

Reducing Euthanasia and Overpopulation

Establishing the Largest Spay/Neuter Referral Service
SPAY/USA, our national spay/neuter referral program, provides public education about the benefits of spaying/neutering a pet and is the nation’s largest network for affordable spay/neuter services. By providing these spay/neuter services, Animal League America helps end the suffering of innocent dogs and cats by reducing the number of unwanted births. Anyone who needs assistance finding affordable spay/neuter services can access SPAY/USA. Within the past 12 months, SPAY/USA has provided over 50,000 spay/neuter referrals, estimated to reduce pet overpopulation significantly.

The Mutt-i-grees® Movement
Eight to ten million animals enter U.S. shelters annually – we call these vibrant, healthy and unique shelter animals Mutt-i-grees®. The Mutt-i-grees Movement is a movement that rallies millions of animal lovers to help end animal cruelty and reduce euthanasia.

Educating the Next Generation

The Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum
The innovation continues with The Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum, a national education initiative that uses dogs to teach children social and emotional skills. This curriculum was developed in collaboration with Yale University’s School of the 21st Century. The curriculum reaches children from Pre-K through 12th Grade.