General Statistics and information about The Shelter system
in the USA
Pet overpopulation is a big problem. The simple truth is there are too many homeless dogs
and not enough good homes. Having our pets altered is a solid and effective defense against
overpopulation in that it places few and fewer offspring in kill-shelters. Below are a few of the
grisly statistics compiled by national publications and animal rights organizations. If we are
aware of the problem, perhaps we can be part of the solution.
It costs U.S. taxpayers an estimated $2 billion each year to round up, house, kill, and dispose
of homeless animals. (USA Today)
Over 56% of dogs and puppies entering shelters are killed, based on reports from over 1,055
facilities across America. (National Counsel on Pet Population Study)
An estimated 5 million cats and dogs are killed in shelters each year. That's one about every
six and one half seconds. (The Humane Society of the United States) Millions more are
abandoned, only to suffer from illness or injury before dying. (Doris Day Animal League)
In six years one unspayed female and her offspring, can reproduce 67,000 dogs (Spay USA)
Less than 3% of dog guardians are responsible for surplus births (Save Our Strays)
The perceived high cost of altering is not the problem, but the lack of education on its
benefits. On average it costs approximately $100 to capture, house, feed and eventually kill a
homeless animal - a cost that ultimately comes out of our pocket. Low cost spay/neuter
services are far below that amount. (Doris Day Animal League)
The cost of having a pregnant female can be much higher than the cost of spaying
Seven dogs & cats are born every day for each person born in the U.S. Of those, only 1 in 5
puppies and kittens say in their original home for their natural lifetime. The remaining 4 are
abandoned to the streets or end up at a shelter (The Humane Society of the United States)
Each day 10,000 humans are born in the U.S. and each day 70,000 puppies and kittens are
born. As long as these birth rates exist, there will never be enough homes for all the animals
The public acquires only 14% of its pets from shelters; 48% get their pets as strays, from
friends, from animal rescuers, 38% get their pets from breeders or pet stores (The Humane
Society of the United States)
Only 30% of dog guardians are aware of the pet-overpopulation problem (Massachusetts
SPCA survey 1993)
In a study of relinquishment of cats and dogs in 12 U.S. animal shelters, 30% of the
surrendered dogs were purebreds. The same study indicated that 55% of the surrendered
dogs and 47% of the surrendered cats were unaltered. (Journal of Applied Animal Welfare
The Humane Society of the United States provided these statistics:
Number of cats and dogs adopted from shelters each year:
3–5 million (HSUS estimate)
Number of cats and dogs reclaimed by owners from shelters each year:
Between 600,000 and 750,000—15–30% of dogs and 2–5% of cats entering shelters (HSUS
Number of animal shelters in the United States:
Between 4,000 and 6,000 (HSUS estimate)
Percentage of dogs in shelters who are purebred:
25% (HSUS estimate)
Average number of litters a fertile dog can produce in one year: 2
Average number of puppies in a canine litter: 6–10
There are over 164 million pet dogs and cats in the United States. Of these, 1 in every 20 will end up
in a shelter by the end of the year.
Roughly every 8 seconds, a cat or dog is sent to an animal shelter.
There are currently about 8 million abandoned, stray and unwanted pets living in animal shelters in
the United States alone.
Roughly 5 out of every 10 dogs sent to an animal shelter will be euthanized.
Each year, between 3-4 million dogs and cats are put to sleep in shelters across the United States.
Only 15-20% of dogs who enter a shelter are returned to their owners.
More than 25% of shelter dogs are purebred.
Nearly 35% of dogs are purchased from breeders and pet stores.
Roughly 20-30% of pet cats and dogs are adopted from shelters or rescues.
More than 20% of shelter dogs are brought in by owners who adopted from a shelter.
On average, only 10% of pets brought in to shelters have been spayed or neutered.
The cost of spaying or neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising a puppy for one year.
The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy found that the #1 reason dogs are
relinquished to shelters is moving.
The #2 reason is landlord issues.
Pets relinquished to animal shelters have been found more likely to be intact, younger, and mixed
bred than pets kept in homes.
People relinquishing animals have been found to be significantly more likely to be men and younger
than 35 years old.