About 1,000 shelters in the United States responding as part of Shelter Statistics Survey accepted an estimated 4 million pets each year in 1994, 1995 and 1996. Of those sent to the reporting shelters that participated in the study, about 64 percent--or 8.2 million pets--were euthanized.
The survey also revealed that, on average, 42.5 percent of pets that entered animal shelters were submitted by animal control authorities and nearly 30 percent were surrendered by their owners. The remainder were relinquished by other sources. Twenty-four percent, or 3 million, of the animals taken to shelters over the three-year period were adopted by new families. Only 10 percent, or 1.2 million, were reclaimed by their owners. (See accompanying fact sheet for full breakdown of the Reporting Shelter Statistic Survey.)
The studies mark the first, large-scale national effort to quantify pet overpopulation in the United States and identify reasons why pet owners relinquish their animals. With this information, the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy hopes to develop strategies to curb the epidemic of pets entering animal shelters.
"Up until this point, the nature and scope of pet overpopulation in the United States has been notoriously difficult to characterize," Salman said. "With the results of these studies, we have a much better picture of pet owners' reasons for relinquishing pets and what happens to them once they enter shelters. Now we can use this information to identify ways that could help reduce the number of pets euthanized each year."
A second study also initiated in 1994 focused on the demographic
characteristics of selected pet owners who surrendered their animals to 12
shelters in the United States over a one-year period. One region included three
shelters located in Denver, We
Contact: M.D. Salman
Colorado State University