About Adopting

Animal Overpopulation: Shocking Facts and Figures

Every year, millions of cats and dogs are euthanized in our nation’s animal shelters because there are more pets than there are responsible homes for them. Just how bad is the animal overpopulation problem? Some of these statistics, compiled by the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society will shock you.

 The Shocking Facts and Figures:

• Number of cats and dogs born every day in the U.S.: 70,000 (nearly 3,000 born every hour or 50 born every minute)

• Number of stray cats and dogs living in the U.S.: 70 million

• Number of animals in the U.S. that die each year from cruelty, neglect, and exploitation: 30 million

• Number of animal shelters in the U.S.: 4,000 – 6,000

• Number of cats and dogs entering U.S. shelters each year: 6 – 8 million

• Number of cats and dogs euthanized by U.S. shelters each year: 3 – 4 million (nearly 10,000 animals killed every day)

• Number of cats and dogs adopted by U.S. shelters each year: 3 – 4 million

• Number of cats and dogs reclaimed by owners from U. S. shelters each year: 600,000-750,000 (10% of total entering shelters – 15–30% of dogs and 2–5% of cats)

• Yearly cost to U.S. taxpayers to impound, shelter, euthanize, and dispose of homeless animals: $2 billion

• Percentage of dogs in U.S. shelters which are purebred: 25 – 30 %

• Average age of animals entering U.S. shelters: under 18 months old

• Percentage of animals entering U.S. shelters that are healthy and adoptable: 90%

• Percentage of owned dogs that were adopted from an animal shelter: 18%

• Percentage of owned cats that were adopted from an animal shelter: 16%

 • Percentage of animals entering animal shelters by animal control authorities: 42.5%

• Percentage of animals entering animal shelters that were surrendered by their owners: 30%

• Percentage of people who acquire animals that end up giving them away, abandoning them, or taking them to shelters: 70%

• Percentage of animals surrendered to an animal shelter that were originally adopted from an animal shelter: 20%

• Percentage of animals received by animal shelters that have been spayed or neutered: 10%

What you can do to combat pet overpopulation:

  1. Always spay and neuter your pets.
  2. Always adopt your pets from a legitimate shelter or nonprofit rescue group.
  3. Consider all the responsibilities and consequences of pet ownership before deciding to get a pet and always make a lifetime commitment to your pet.
  4. Educate your children, friends, family members and co-workers about pet overpopulation, adoption and the importance of spaying and neutering.


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