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Pet Statistics

How many pets are in the United States? How many animals are in shelters?

Facts about U.S. Animal Shelters:

There are about 13,600 community animal shelters nationwide that are independent; there is no national organization monitoring these shelters. The terms “humane society” and “SPCA” are generic; shelters using those names are not part of the ASPCA or the Humane Society of the United States. Currently, no government institution or animal organization is responsible for tabulating national statistics for the animal protection movement. These are national estimates; the figures may vary from state to state.

  • 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.

Facts about Pet Ownership in the U.S.:

  • It's estimated that 70-80 million dogs and 74-96 million cats are owned in the United States. Approximately 37-47% of all households in the United States have a dog, and 30-37% have a cat. (Source: APPA)

  • According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, approximately 40% of pet owners learned about their pet through word of mouth.

  • The majority of pets are obtained from acquaintances and family members. 28% of dogs are purchased from breeders, and 29% of cats and dogs are adopted from shelters and rescues.

  • More than 35% of cats are acquired as strays. (Source: APPA)

  • According to the American Humane Association, the most common reasons why people relinquish or give away their dogs is because their place of residence does not allow pets (29%), not enough time, divorce/death and behavior issues (10% each). The most common reasons for cats are that they were not allowed in the residence (21%) and allergies (11%).

Facts about Pet Overpopulation in the U.S.:

  • It is impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States; estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.

  • The average number of litters a fertile cat produces is one to two a year; the average number of kittens is four to six per litter.

  • The average number of litters a fertile dog produces is one a year; the average number of puppies is four to six.

  • Owned cats and dogs generally live longer, healthier lives than strays.

  • Many strays are lost pets who were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.

  • Only 10%of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered, while 83% of pet dogs and 91% of pet cats are spayed or neutered.

  • The cost of spaying or neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising puppies or kittens for a year.

The following data are ASPCA estimates unless otherwise indicated.


You may also wish to visit:

The National Council on Pet Population Study & Policy (NCPPSP)
http://www.petpopulation.org

The American Veterinary Medical Association
http://www.avma.org (see U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics)

Also, the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association is a great resource for statistics on pets and pet ownership in the United States. You can visit them and order their most current survey.

The following websites offer detailed information on homeless and unwanted animals, the pet overpopulation crisis, and the importance of spaying and neutering your pets: