The Socially Conscious Sheltering movement began because shelter leaders recognized the need to create a shared set of values to guide organizations —values that could be communicated easily and that would share the responsibility for animal welfare with the entire community.

Four large animal shelters in Colorado came together to discuss their animal welfare beliefs, including shelter practices. Out of that conversation came the Socially Conscious Sheltering model. The model was then shared with shelter CEOs from across the United States for their feedback, each shelter with different communities, intake policies and levels of community engagement. The insight was incorporated into the fundamental goals of Socially Conscious Sheltering, and a website,, was created. Before a marketing strategy could be developed, Socially Conscious Sheltering was adopted by many in the animal sheltering community.

Socially Conscious Sheltering is being embraced by communities across the United States, and it is also being considered in Australia. Additionally, the Association for the Advancement of Animal Welfare will be shepherding Socially Conscious Sheltering as a national initiative. This movement will be most effective when it is owned by the entire animal welfare community.

Hundreds of communities are going through the process of engaging their stakeholders to officially join the movement. Find out how you can become a Socially Conscious Sheltering community in the “Get Involved” tab.