Statistics on pet adoption and pet ownership: crunching the numbers

National and local statistics don't favor shelter dogsNational and local statistics don't favor shelter dogs
AP Richard Vogel

National and local statistics are a telling look into the pet rescue and adoption world. Unfortunately, they don't bode well for the millions of homeless animals who find themselves in shelters. Due to the efforts of dedicated, hard-working staff and volunteers, euthanasia rates are about half of what they were in 1970, but we still have a long way to go as shown by the numbers that don't lie.

  • 7 million companion animals enter shelters each year in the U.S.
  • 50% of shelter animals were relinquished by their owners.
  • 20% of the people who relinquish dogs to shelters adopted them from a shelter.
  • 50% of shelter animals were picked up as strays.
  • 10% of dogs taken into shelters have been spayed or neutered.
  • 9.6 million animals are euthanized annually in the U.S.
  • 60% of shelter dogs are euthanized.
  • 70% of shelter cats are euthanized.
  • 5,000 shelters in the U.S.
  • 14,000 animals were euthanized last year in Palm Beach County.
  • 45-50 animals are taken in each day at Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control.
  • 25% of dogs in shelters are adopted.
  • 15% of dogs in shelters are reunited with their owners.
  • 2% of cats in shelters are reunited with their owners.
  • 20% of dogs adopted from shelters are returned, 50% within the first 2 weeks.
  • 19% of owned dogs came from a shelter.
  • 22% of owned cats came from a shelter.
  • 54% of shelters report "Big Black Dog Syndrome" keeps black dogs with them much longer.
  • 70 million estimated stray cats in the U.S.
  • 80 million, the number of cats that can be produced from one mated pair and their offspring in 10 years.

Whew, yes there is much work to be done in the rescue / sheltering / spay and neuter / ID pets / awareness areas! (Note: the above statistics are an average of ALL shelters collectively and do not correctly reflect those of no-kill shelters, such as Tri County Humane Society in Boca Raton.)

On a lighter note, here are some interesting statistics on pets and pet ownership:

  • 63% of U.S. households have a pet.
  • 77.5 million dogs are owned in the U.S.
  • 39% of homes have at least 1 dog.
  • 67% of homes with dogs have just 1.
  • 24% of homes with dogs have 2.
  • 9% of homes with dogs have 3.
  • 50% of owned dogs are male, 50% are female.
  • 75% of owned dogs are spayed or neutered.
  • 40% of dog owners also have at least 1 cat.
  • 40% of owned dogs sleep in their owner's bed!
  • 150...the number of words the average dog understands.
  • 250...the number of words the smartest dogs understand.

Statistics don't lie, so remember to adopt, spay or neuter, and tag your pets to be a part of the solution to pet overpopulation! (And if you sleep with your pet, you're not so odd after all!)

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