Animal Shelter Statistics

Accurate record keeping is impossible at this time, due to the sheer number of animals handled and emergency shelters opening and closing daily. However, based on the only known statistics that the American Humane Society has recognized to date, the 1997 National Counsel On Pet Population And Study, of the 1,000 shelters that replied to the National Council’s survey, 4.3 million animals were handled. In 1997 roughly 64% of the total number of animals that entered shelters were euthanized – approximately 2.7 million animals in just these 1,000 shelters. These animals may have been put down due to overcrowding, but may have been sick, aggressive, injured, or suffered something else. A staggering 56% of dogs and 71% of cats that enter animal shelters are euthanized. More cats are euthanized than dogs because they are more likely to enter a shelter without any owner identification. Only 15% of dogs and 2% of cats that enter animal shelters are reunited with their owners. Only 25% of dogs and 24% of cats that enter animal shelters are adopted. It is widely accepted that 9.6 million animals are euthanized annually in the United States.

Why do so many animals wind up in shelters? The reasons given by the owners who relinquish their pets voluntarily to shelters are numerous. Some animals are captured by Animal Control Officers, and some animals are brought in by concerned citizens who’ve found them wandering the streets and neighborhoods. Another contributing factor to this staggering number of animals that face euthanasia every day in this country is owners sometimes fail to spay and neuter their pets. The pet reproduces, and the owner simply has no desire or room for more animals.

The top 10 reasons owners have given for voluntarily relinquishing their pets are:
Dogs:
Moving
Landlord issues
Cost of pet maintenance
No time for pet
Inadequate facilities
Too many pets in home
Pet illness (es)
Personal problems
Biting
No homes for littermates

Cats:
Too many in house
Allergies
Moving
Cost of pet maintenance
Landlord issues
No homes for littermates
House soiling
Personal problems
Inadequate facilities
Doesn’t get along with other pets

What does it cost to adopt a cat or dog from a shelter? The average cost for adopting an animal from a shelter is $45.00 for a dog and $35 for a cat. However, this can vary greatly from shelter to shelter! A standard adoption fee includes a rabies vaccination, worming, and the cost of the pet being spayed or neutered. Privately funded animal rescue missions and emergency shelters vary greatly in price as well, and do not always use the adoption fee to cover the cost of having the animal spayed or neutered. It is always recommended that you phone your local shelter or rescue mission ahead of time and discuss adoption fees and what procedures this may cover or include.

Why don’t more people adopt these animals? One of the most common objections to adopting animals from a shelter is – “You don’t really know what you’re getting”. Maybe the animal was abused, allowed to develop bad habits, or maybe it bites or acts aggressively. In most cases, the workers at the shelter have spent at least one – if not two – weeks with the animal prior to it’s being eligible for adoption. In this time, they have worked with the animal and observed it’s behavior. If any problems or peculiarities are noticed during this time, notes are made to the animal’s file. This information is then shared with any perspective adoptive owner. Some shelters even offer a “grace period” that can range from several days to several weeks, during which the perspective adoptive owner can take the animal home for a trial period. If within this trial period, the perspective adoptive owner is dissatisfied with the animal in any way, they may return it to the shelter for a refund.

What sort of animals are available for adoption in shelters? Honestly, any animal you could purchase has the potential of being found in a shelter. Typically there is always a wide selection of mixed breed animals to choose from, but it is also common for pure breed animals to be found in shelters – especially in larger cities. My family and I have always adopted our cats and dogs from shelters. Most recently we acquired Lady, this beautiful, two year old, pure breed German Sheppard. And Daisy May, this wonderful one year old, Golden Retriever/Labrador mix.

If you’re thinking of adopting an animal from a shelter, you might want to visit the American Humane Society’s website at:
http://www.americanhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=homepage

To search for your perfect pet on-line, you might want to visit:
www.petfinder.com

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