The number of cats and dogs in shelters continues to rise but each one of us can make a difference and help by providing a loving home and adopting a shelter pet. The overpopulation of animal shelters is truly one of those cases where it will take pet adoption from millions of families and individuals to reverse the trend. Fortunately, social media and traditional media have helped to raise awareness of the pet adoption crisis and more people are getting the word that they can help.
U.S. Animal Shelter Statistics
The statistics on shelter pets is staggering! According to the ASPCA*:
- Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.
- Each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats).
- Approximately 2.7 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.4 million dogs and 1.3 million cats).
- About 649,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners. Of those, 542,000 are dogs and only 100,000 are cats.
- Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized and 26% of dogs who came in as strays are returned to their owner.
- Of the cats entering shelters, approximately 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized, and less than 5% of cats who came in as strays are returned to their owners.
- About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners.
Pet Adoption… How You Can Help
We understand that caring for a pet is a lot of work. In a sense, pet adoption is like having a child and all that goes along with worrying about their health, taking demands on your time, and the expense that goes with providing food and a nice environment. But we also know that this is more than offset by the love that dogs and cats bring to a home. There are also proven health benefits of having a pet that will increase your quality of life. And, that warm feeling you will have knowing that you’re providing a wonderful life for another living being.
There are many online organizations to help you find your future pet. They really can help to match the right shelter pet to your particular circumstances. Some of the sites to check are Adopt-a-Pet.com, Petfinder.com, and TheSheltherPetProject.org. Take a look and get the information you need to decide whether this is right for you.
Local shelters are doing their best to help with the problem but there is just not enough space for all of these animals and millions end up being euthanized each year. If you can’t adopt, at the very least visit your local pet shelters and show support by providing cash and/or food donations. Also, get out the word to your friends and family via word of mouth and social media. You’ll feel better knowing that you made a difference.