25 Facts About Dog Shelters in the U.S.
Author: Norm Shriever, Rad N Bad Collars
- It's estimated that up to 47% of U.S. households have dogs as pets, adding up to about 70-80 million dogs in loving homes. But not all dogs are that lucky, as a huge number end up in shelters.
- Across the U.S., there are approximately 13,600 community animal shelters, most of them independent without any national organization to monitor and regulate them.
- In fact, the well-known terms "SPCA" and "humane society" are generic, which means that shelters using those names aren't automatically affiliated with the SPCA or the Humane Society.
- Even worse, no governmental institution or organization exists to keep accurate data and statistics on the animal protection movement.
- Every year, about 7.6 million companion animals end up in animal shelters across the U.S., with dogs making up approximately 3.9 million – or more than half - of them.
- Sadly, about 2.7 million of those animals – including 1.2 million dogs – are euthanized every year, which adds up to about 5,500 dogs euthanized every single day.
- Even more daunting, only about 1 out of every 10 dogs that are born will end up in a permanent home.
- Called “pet homelessness,” it’s estimated that there are at least 5 homeless animals for every homeless person in the U.S.
- It costs the U.S. taxpayer about $2 billion every year to round up, shelter and euthanize homeless animals – money that could be better spent on spaying, neutering, and encouraging adoptions to responsible pet owners.
- But the good news is that about 1.4 million dogs, and 1.3 other shelter animals, find homes after being adopted from shelters each year.
- Additionally, about 542,000 K9s that enter shelters are returned to their owners every year (most of them identified with the help of tags, tattoos or microchips.)
- Of all the stray dogs that end up at shelters (not counting dogs that are given up by owners), about:
- 35% are adopted,
- 31% are euthanized, and
- 26% are returned to their owners
- It's estimated that twice as many animals end up in shelters because they're stray, as opposed to being given up or relinquished by their owners.
- According to data from the American Humane Association, the most common reasons why people relinquish their dogs to shelters include:
- 29% Their new place of residence doesn’t allow pets
- 21% They don’t have enough time to take care of the dog
- 10%% Divorce or death of the owner
- 10% Behavior issues
- While 83% of pet dogs in permanent homes are spayed or neutered, that’s the case with only 10% of dogs that end up at shelters.
- Since an average fertile dog might give birth to one litter a year, producing four to six puppies, the cost of spaying and neutering is far less than the associated cost to shelter or even euthanize these dogs.
- For pet owners, the average cost of food, medical care, supplies, etc. for a dog is only about $400 to $700 annually.
- Amazingly, about 25% of dogs that enter shelters are purebred! There are even breed-specific shelters and rescue organizations that help connect owners with great dogs from their desired breed.
- However, breed bias against pit bulls or pit-associated breeds is hugely prevalent in the shelter system. In fact, 1 out of every 4 dogs that enter shelters are pits, and they’re euthanized at an alarming 93% rate.
- The average age of dogs entering shelters is only 18 months – still almost a puppy.
- 90% of the adult dogs that are in shelters roday are already trained, healthy, and ready to adopt immediately!
- How do people find their dogs? The American Veterinary Medical Association, estimates that:
- 40% of pet owners found their pet through word of mouth from acquaintances, friends and family members,
- 29% of dogs are adopted from shelters and rescue organizations, and
- 28% of pet dogs are purchased from breeders.
- Additionally, 65% of pet owners acquire their dogs for free or at low cost, verifying that adopting from a shelter is a great way to discourage the puppy mill business, which supplies most of the dogs to pet stores.
- Adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue doesn’t just benefit the animal, as studies show that dog owners are less stressed, in better health, and far more active than people without dogs.
- If you want some additional information about shelters and dog adoption, check out some of these great websites.