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25 Facts About Dog Shelters in the U.S.

                                 Author: Norm Shriever, Rad N Bad Collars

  1. 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. 
  1. 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. 
  1. 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.
  1. Even worse, no governmental institution or organization exists to keep accurate data and statistics on the animal protection movement. 
  1. 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. 
  1. 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.
  1. Even more daunting, only about 1 out of every 10 dogs that are born will end up in a permanent home.
  1. Called “pet homelessness,” it’s estimated that there are at least 5 homeless animals for every homeless person in the U.S.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.)
  1. 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
  1. 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.
  1. 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
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. For pet owners, the average cost of food, medical care, supplies, etc. for a dog is only about $400 to $700 annually.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. The average age of dogs entering shelters is only 18 months – still almost a puppy. 
  1. 90% of the adult dogs that are in shelters roday are already trained, healthy, and ready to adopt immediately!
  1. 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. 
  1. 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. 
  1. 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. 
  1. If you want some additional information about shelters and dog adoption, check out some of these great websites.








Featured Dog: Levy of TeamRio Bullies. 

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