Shelter Pets by the Numbers


Estimates about shelter pets in the US you may not know about.

The Animal Rescue Site

25% of dogs in shelters are purebred (HSUS)

6-8 million pets enter shelters every year (HSUS)

17 million people get a new pet every year (American Humane Association)

Of those 17 million, 3-4 million people choose to adopt (HSUS)

3-4 million pets are euthanized every year (HSUS)

5 out of every 10 dogs in shelters are euthanized (ASPCA)

7 out of every 10 cats in shelters are euthanized (ASPCA)

2-5% of cats that enter shelters are reclaimed by their owners (HSUS)

30% of dogs who enter shelters are reclaimed by their owners (HSUS)

Click here to see a list of Breed Specific Rescues from the AKC.

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12 responses to “Shelter Pets by the Numbers

  1. Thanks for sharing these figures. Awareness is so important.

  2. We think so too. Thank you Crystal! 🙂

  3. Hi!
    We encourage everyone to adopt. We of course adopted a group of collies that needed a home and a ton of cats also. In fact all of our cats were homeless. Please, everyone, if you love animals please consider adopting a homeless one. If everyone who has multiple dogs would adopt just one everyone would have a home… 🙂

    Great post!

    The Collies and Chuck 🙂

    • Hello Chuck and the Collies! Thank you for adopting and saving the lives of your beautiful Collies! They are all so very special 🙂

      Out of the 17 million, if only 6-8 million would choose adoption there would be no need for shelters– what a great day that would be! And it’s totally possible if people choose adoption as their first option 🙂

      Thanks for your comments– we are so glad you are alright!!!!

      -Deanna and the Crew

  4. I do not believe those HSUS numbers about purebred dogs in shelters are correct. At least not the shelters around here. All you have to do is go to any adoption event to know this is not true. Maybe they are including breed rescues (financed in most part by breeders…if you look at the link you posted those are rescues run mostly by the national breed club…breeders who are taking care of their own and those dogs are fostered by breeders and breed fanciers). But why can’t HSUS be honest about it and why skew the numbers? HSUS is anti-breeder so one should take their figures with a big grain of salt. JMHO

  5. I do not agree that HSUS is “skewing the numbers” because they did not do the research. These numbers are quoted and used by the Humane Society (and ASPCA, AMA, etc.) but actually come from the NCPPSP (National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy). The NCPPSP gets the numbers from rescue organizations and shelters all over the US.

    From my own experiences and being actively involved in rescue for years, I believe that AT LEAST 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred. I feel the reason many people don’t realize the purebreed number is so high is because numerous rescue organizations cater to specific breeds. Whenever a purebred dog comes in to a shelter, the shelter notifies the proper breed-specific rescue they work with. That rescue will then work to “pull” the dog asap and find him a suitable home.

    Any and all rescue organizations are included in these figures, including those run by the national breed club.

  6. Fair enough but you quoted HSUS as the source and they quoted that figure as their “estimation”…not fact, estimation. (I did read the link. :))

    Yes breed rescues run by breed clubs pull purebreds from shelters because they feel it is their responsibility and to lessen the stress on the shelter. Those dogs are not then included in the 3-4 million pets euthanized. Most dogs in breed rescue are fostered until adoption and few are euthanized (usually due to medical). That is what I meant by the numbers being skewed. It makes it sound like purebreds are the ones in the shelter being euthanized and that is not usually the case.

  7. If I’m correct, I believe the 25% is still an estimation due to the fact that the NCPPSP did not have info from every single rescue group in the US (that would be almost impossible I guess!).

    While some purebred dogs are lucky and get pulled, many others are not as lucky and some purebred dogs are part of the 3-4 million euthanized each year. Since there are no statistics, we don’t know how many for sure.

    Bottom line, if 6-8 million of the 17 million people who get a new pet each year choose adoption, that’s 9-11 million people who could purchase a dog from a responsible breeder. We’d spend WAY less on taxes as there wouldn’t be a need for so many shelters, we wouldn’t have to kill innocent animals and the world would be a much better place! But oh, I dream…

  8. It would be great if the shelters were empty, but I think we can agree that adoption is not for everyone. Not all people have what it takes to deal with a former shelter animal. I am not saying purebred is better than a dog from a shelter, but if you want a certain temperament, then you cannot guarantee that with a mix. Then there are the “rules” shelters have in order to get one of their animals. For example the requirement of a fenced yard. We can never ever get a rescue dog because we cannot have a fence. (Tried once for an adult rescue…no go…no fence.)

    I hope you have enjoyed this discussion as much as I have. It is interesting to hear different ideas. 🙂

  9. I have really enjoyed this discussion, too 🙂 I also agree that not all people are capable of handling shelter pets- especially the pets with extreme cases (like our baby girl Scarlett– she was almost too much for me at first!)

    While I understand why shelters and rescues have certain rules in place, I wish there could be exceptions for responsible pet owners like you. It would make it easier on people who really want to adopt but don’t meet certain guidelines (like no fence)!

  10. I didn’t realize any of those figures about shelters. Next time I am looking to get a dog will will have to look into adopting one from a shelter.

    Thanks for the great information.

  11. Thank you- we’re glad you found it helpful.
    It would be amazing if you found a shelter pet!! It’s truly a terrible cycle but every single life saved changes the world!!!

    When I look into my pups eyes, I can see they know they’ve been rescued and that alone is just an indescribable feeling that melts my heart and makes everything so, so worth it 🙂

We appreciate your comments, woofs and meows!

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