Animal Shelters in USA

Americans are known to love their pets like their own children, but despite the vast number of domesticated animals in the country, many more can be found in pounds and various animal shelters in USA, most of which have lost track of their owners or abandoned.

Is the number of pets in shelters really as bad or worse than most people assume?

Facts about Animal Shelters in USA

Many people would assume that the terms “humane society” and “SPCA” have authority over animal shelters, but this is not always the case. In fact, those terms are considered generic. Despite their use, they are not part of the ASPCA or The Humane Society of the United States. There is no government institution or animal organization that is responsible for tabulating national statistics regarding animal protection. In fact, animal statistics are usually reported by national estimates, and figures tend to vary from state to state.

  • There are about 6.5 million companion animals that make their way to animal shelters in USA every year. Of these, around 3.3 million are dogs, and 3.2 million are cats. The numbers may seem vast, but the estimated numbers have actually declined from 7.2 million in 2011. The largest decline was in dogs, which went from 3.9 million to 3.3 million.
  • Animals who are not adopted are usually put down. Around 1.5 million shelter animals (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats) who can’t find forever homes were euthanized in the last year. The successful return to their owners as well as the increase in adoption of stray animals led to the decrease of euthanized pets—in 2011, approximately 2.6 million animals were put down.
  • Around 3.2 million shelter animals (1.6 million dogs and 1.6 million cats) are adopted to their forever homes every year, but thanks to GPS tracking technology readily available these days, as many as 710,000 are also returned to their owners. However, most of those that are returned are dogs. Around 620,000 dogs find their way back to their owners, as opposed to only 90,000 cats.

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Animal Shelters in the US

Pet Adoption and Forever Homes

  • The number of dogs and cats in the United States could compete with a large city’s population. It is estimated that there are 78 million dogs and 85.8 million cats in the country. The vast number is thanks to the number of households who like having animals with them at home. The American Pet Products Association said that approximately 44 percent of all households in the US are said to keep pet dogs, while 35 percent have cats.
  • The table below listed the most common sources of pets in the country. The information, however, was based on a multiple-response question, thus showing a result over 100 percent.
  • Dogs Cats
    Animal Shelter/Humane Society 23% 31%
    Friends/Relatives 20% 28%
    Breeder 34% 3%
    Stray 6% 27%
    Private Party 12% 6%
    Other 32% 39%

    As noted, 34 percent of dogs are purchased from breeders, while a smaller percentage of cats and dogs are obtained from different animal shelters in USA or the Humane Society.

  • In 2012, around 35 percent of cats are acquired as strays. The number today is a little less at 27 percent, compared to the 35 percent in 2012. The ASPCA’s National Rehoming Survey noted that the most common reason for owners abandoning or re-homing their pets included problematic and aggressive behaviors, fast increase in animal population in the home, or health problems that owners are unequipped to handle.

In buying or adopting a pet, it is imperative that these numbers are considered. Remember that pets, like children, are a big responsibility and should not be bought for the novelty of having an animal in the house. If you refuse to keep your pet indoors at all times, you may want to consider getting a GPS trackers like Trackimo so that you can keep an eye on your companion even when you’re at work or out with others.



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Emily Moore