6 Takeaways About the State of DEI in Animal Welfare

Last June, The Association’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee launched an historic, first-of-its-kind survey in order to get a baseline on the current state of DEI in animal welfare. With more than 2,600 responses, the findings were compiled in a report and rolled out to the field during the fall virtual conference. As Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the National Day of Racial Healing near, here’s a recap of the top 6 takeaways for reflection and renewed commitment.

Takeaway #1: There is a lack of cohesive vision and commitment to DEI in animal welfare

The survey reveals a range of attitudes about DEI, as seen most clearly in the ongoing internal debate about whom to put first—people or animals? The issue isn’t either/or, but it continues to get in the way of progress.

Takeaway #2: There is a lack of adequate diversity at all levels

While many attribute this to a lack of diversity in surrounding communities, others recognize the issue persists even in diverse areas.

Takeaway #3: Organizations face barriers to increasing and sustaining diversity in their workforce

Many organizations are unable to recruit and retain people of color; reasons cited include lack of targeted recruitment, low pay and unclear opportunities for career development.

Takeaway #4: Exclusionary and discriminatory behaviors are a problem

A full 30% of those surveyed have observed discrimination or harassment in their organization, and there is little trust that those who engage in these behaviors will be held accountable.

Takeaway #5: There is a lack of inclusive services and engagement with diverse communities

The survey revealed that pet adoption policies are still creating a barrier for people of color and low-income communities

Takeaway #6: There is a need for education, resources and leadership

Recommendations for next steps include training from outside experts, removing barriers to adoption, and diversifying boards.



While these insights may not be easy to hear, they indicate where works needs to be done. We urge you to register and listen to the recording of the DEI Committee’s discussion and next steps.

Learn More

Download: The State of DEI in Animal Welfare analysis report
Listen to the recording: Assessing the State of DEI in Animal Welfare: Where do we go from here?


The Association is the only international society of leaders actively leading and managing community animal shelters/animal control agencies.


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