Every year over 6.3 million dogs and cats, and other household pets are surrendered to animal shelters. Sadly just over 4 million find a home every year, leaving an ever-increasing number of animals in the shelter population.
I have been involved in animal fostering since I was a child. My bedroom was frequently used as a sanctuary for pregnant cats who could not go into the cattery we had built in the garden.
I have seen firsthand the level of work and sheer depth of requirements needed to run a charity.
Animal shelters often run on a bare-bones system with just enough to scrape by. The following collection of pet adoption statistics attempts to paint an accurate picture of the state of the pet adoption system as it currently stands.
Pet Adoption Statistics
Below are fourteen amazing pet adoption statistics.
Almost 6.3 Million Animals Enter a Shelter Annually (ASPCA)
Pet adoption statistics published by the ASPCA show that each year across the US, 6.3 million pets are surrendered to shelters each year.
To give that some context, 17,260 animals enter a shelter daily!
Approximately 4.1 Million Cats and Dogs Are Adopted Annually (ASPCA)
According to collected records from the ASPCA and Humane Society, between 3.5 and 4.1 million dogs and cats are adopted annually in the United States.
Within those numbers, we see that cats are almost twice as popular as dogs. Over 2 million cats are adopted yearly compared to just over 1 million dogs.
The Number of Cats Adopted from Animal Shelters Decreased from 2019-2020 (The Humane Society)
There was a decrease in the number of cats adopted from animal shelters during 2019-2020. In October 2020, cat adoptions were down 11% from previous years.
However, it must be remembered that these numbers are from the peak season of the Covid-19 pandemic, and many institutions and shelters were closed, or people refrained from socializing due to various social distancing requirements.
Black Cats Are Least Adopted as Compared to Other Cats (Peta)
According to a pet adoption statistics study, black cats spend 40% longer in shelters. Additionally, the majority of cats euthanized are black cats.
Sadly, there has long been a stigma surrounding black cats. From tales of superstition and bad luck to witchcraft. These folktales have made people wary of offering black cats a home.
Mostly Kittens Are Adopted from Shelters (ASPCA)
There is a heavy slant in favor of kittens regarding the likelihood of cats being adopted.
The study reported that over 81% of kittens in animal shelters are adopted, compared to just 54% of senior cats.
40% of the Dogs and 43% of Cats Are Adopted from Animal Shelters (Humane Society)
According to pet adoption statistics published by the Humane Society, almost half of all dogs and cats owned in the US come from shelters.
The study reported that 40% of all dogs and 43% of all cats are adopted pets.
4% of the Dogs and 24% of the Cats Are Taken in as Strays (APPA)
Results of an APPA survey revealed that just 4% of shelter dogs are taken in as strays, compared to 24% of cats.
Given that many cats wander around their neighborhood and have the freedom not afforded to dogs, it is understandable that more cats are found as strays. Regardless, it still means that 1 in 4 owned cats effectively run away from home each year.
26% of the Dogs and 25% of the Cats Are Adopted from Friends or Relatives (Frontiers)
As per a pet adoption statistics paper, a quarter of all adopted dogs and cats do not go through shelters but via family and friends.
A driving reason behind these numbers is the knowledge that the shelter system is overstretched, and people would rather take in another or a new pet than risk them being euthanized in a shelter.
10% of Dogs and 9% of Cats Are Purchased from Pet Stores (NCBI)
It was recorded that 10% of dogs and 9% of cats were purchased through a pet store. The paper also reported that just 13% of dogs and 17% of cats were adopted through shelters.
Many pets are adopted through unreported means, such as between family and friends.
4% of the Dogs and 3% of the Cats Are Received as Gifts (Humane Society)
Pet adoption statistics show that a small but still alarming number of dogs and cats are given or received as gifts.
4% of dogs and 3% of cats are received as gifts every year. While gifting a pet may seem like a lovely idea, it can backfire quickly if the recipient is neither prepared for nor interested in pet ownership.
Approximately 810,000 Animals Entering Shelters Are Returned Back to Their Owners (ASPCA)
Out of the more than 6 million animals that enter shelters each year, 810,000 are eventually reunited with their original owners.
This accounts for instances where people have ‘rescued’ what they believed to be a lost animal or those that have run away from home or gotten lost following a move to a new neighborhood.
From 2019-2020, the Number of Dogs Adopted from Animal Shelters Decreased (NCBI)
A report published by NCBI confirmed that fewer dogs were adopted during the 2019-2020 Covid pandemic.
While social distancing restrictions and a more complicated adoption process surely played a part, another aspect that has been reported is that over the same period, there was a sharp decrease in the number of animals surrendered to shelters.
During 2020 there were 23% fewer pet surrenders, as people found comfort during isolation by sharing their homes with their pets.
The Rate of Puppy Adoption Is Higher than Adult Dogs (ASPCA)
The rate of adoption is far higher in puppies than in older adult dogs.
Puppies have a 60% adoption rate, while older dog breeds have a rate as low as 25%. People often overlook adult dogs due to possible health conditions and engrained behaviors. However, even older dogs deserve a loving home.
Pitbulls Are One of the Six Most Common Dog Breeds in Animal Shelters (Pedigree)
Out of all dogs surrendered to shelters, pit bulls are among the most common. According to Pedigree, the six most common dog breeds in shelters are:
- Pit bulls
- Labrador retrievers
- German shepherds
Adoption Vs. Breeder Statistics
Below are four adoption vs. breeder statistics for your consideration.
The Number of Puppy Mills in the US Is Almost 10,000 (Humane Society)
There are almost 10,000 active puppy mills in the United States.
Puppy mills see female dogs kept in terrible conditions and used in breeding cycles until they are cast aside once their reproduction rate is no longer lucrative enough.
The Number of Purebred Dogs in the Shelter Is One-fourth (AKC)
A survey revealed that the number of purebred dogs accounts for only 5% of dogs in US shelters, as opposed to what is generally assumed (25%). If we take Pitbulls and Chihuahuas out of this picture, the total percentage further drops to around 3%.
The Number of Dogs Purchased from Breeders Is Higher than the Number of Dogs Adopted from Shelters (ASPCA)
Approximately 34% of all dogs are bought from breeders, while just 23% are adopted from shelters. A fifth of all dogs is unofficially adopted via a friend or a family member.
In addition, 6% of dogs are adopted and picked up by households as strays from the street.
More Cats Are Adopted from Shelters than Purchased from Breeders (ASPCA)
An ASPCA report on pet adoption statistics reveals that just 3% of cats are purchased directly from a breeder. This is an alarming contrast to the 34% of dogs.
This is possibly due to pet parents being less concerned about breed or lineage in cats.
Pet Ownership Statistics
Below are eight eye-opening pet ownership statistics.
90 Million Households in the US Own a Pet (APPA)
A 2022 survey from the APPA (American Pet Products Association) revealed that over 70% of US households own at least one pet. This means over 90 million homes own a pet.
The three most popular types of family pets are:
- Fish (freshwater)
8% of Households Foster a Pet (Humane Society)
Pet adoption statistics reported that just 8% of US households currently foster animals.
The difference between fostering animals and adopting them is that as a foster home, you look after the animals until a permanent adopted home is found.
11% of Pet Owners Also Foster Pets (APPA)
Further investigation showed the numbers and discovered that 11% of homes that own pets also act as foster homes for other animals.
This shows the mindset of many pet parents, who understand the animal shelter crisis as it currently stands and want to do their part to help save animals.
80% of Pet Owners Consider Their Pets to Be Part of the Family (AVMA)
Pets play a pivotal role in our lives and in family life. A survey reports that approximately 80% of pet parents view their pets as part of the family.
This is further defined based on the following four main pet breeds.
- Dogs: 85%
- Cats: 76%
- Birds: 57%
Freshwater Fish Is the Third Most Common Pet in the US (APPA)
According to an article, freshwater fish are the third most popular household pet in the United States.
Approximately 12% of US homes have an aquarium, with many citing the additional aesthetic benefit of a tank as a driving reason behind their purchase and upkeep.
In 2019, the North America Pet Insurance Company Crossed $1.71 Billion (NAPHIA)
More homes now understand the benefits of having additional pet insurance. As a result, 2019-2020 saw the North American Pet Insurance revenue exceed $1.71 billion.
This increase represented a 21% rise from 2018 levels. Incidentally, dogs accounted for 83% of insured pets, with cats comprising the other 17%.
People Spent $123 Billion on Their Pets in 2021 (APPA)
Owning a pet is about much more than just putting a roof over their head. Americans love their pets, and as discussed, many treat them as a part of the family.
For this reason alone, there are rising trends in the amount people spend on their pets per annum. According to a report, the US spent a combined total of 123 billion on pets in 2021.
Almost 50% of this was spent on food and treats.
The Average Annual Cost of Owning a Dog Can Be as High as $1,000 (ASPCA)
Owning a dog is not cheap. Depending on the breed, you can expect to pay more than $1000 a year.
According to ASPCA Pet Insurance, the typical costs related to dog ownership include; food, treats, medical expenses, toys, and licenses. There are also the ad-hoc costs you pick up along the way.
The average annual cost of dog ownership is below.
- Small dog: $512
- Medium dog: $669
- Large dog: $1,040
Dog Adoption Statistics
Below are seven incredible dog adoption statistics.
Almost 3.3 Million Dogs Entered Shelters in 2018 (ASPCA)
Over 3 million dogs entered shelters in 2018. This number has remained consistent through the years. In contrast, only 2 million dogs are adopted each year.
37-47% of the Households Own a Dog as a Pet (WebMD)
As mentioned in an article discussing allergies, between 37% and 47% of all US households own at least one dog as a pet.
Dogs were the first domesticated animal, with records of pet dogs dating back 30,000 years. It’s not surprising that they remain such a popular family pet.
In the US, 78 Million Dogs Are Owned as Pets (ASPCA)
An article confirmed that there are 78 million dogs currently owned as pets in the United States.
To put that into perspective, it means that there is currently approximately 1 pet dog for every 4 people.
Almost 670,000 Dogs Are Euthanized in Shelters Annually (Forbes)
There are approximately 670,000 shelter dogs euthanized every year. This stems largely from the fact that roughly 1 million more dogs are surrendered every year than are adopted.
54% of the Dog Owners Adopted a Mixed-breed Dog (Humane Society)
Pet adoption statistics from the HumanePro show that mixed breed dogs are the most popular adopted dog breed. Over half of all owned dogs (54% in 2021) are officially classed as a mixed breed or mongrel.
The Cost Associated with Feeding a Dog Is Between $400-$700 Annually (ASPCA)
The cost of feeding a dog can be as much as $700 per year.
Of course, this figure varies based on several factors, including dog size and breed and also the brand of dog food you buy.
Almost $1500-$9000 Are Spent Yearly on Dog Care (The Spruce Pets)
The full statistics show that the cost of owning a dog in the US can run anywhere between $1,500 and $9,000.
Interestingly, most of that cost was allocated to dog walking, with some Americans spending over $5,000 a year paying to have someone walk their dog.
Cat Adoption Statistics
Below are seven fascinating cat adoption statistics.
45.4 Million Households in the US
Own a Cat (III)
In an article published by the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 45.4 million US households own a cat. That is approximately 50% of all homes in the United States.
Cats are the second most common house pet in the US after dogs.
5% of Households Foster a Cat (APPA)
There are many reasons for an individual to foster a cat. If you are considering adopting one, fostering a cat can give you a picture of what to expect. Also, you could potentially save a cat’s life.
Some households fostered a cat as they had plenty of cats already and didn’t want to add another permanent member.
3.2 Million Cats Enter Shelters Annually (ASPCA)
There are approximately 3.2 million cats that enter the shelter system every year in the US.
Sadly, this is significantly more than the 2.1 million cats that get adopted.
In 2011, the Number of Pet Cats in the US Was 74.1 Million, and It Is Growing (AVMA)
According to AVMA, there were 74 million pet cats in the US a decade ago.
Interestingly, the article also confirmed that more cats are kept as pets than dogs, despite dogs being found in significantly more households.
Approximately, There Are 70 Million Stray, Feral, Uncared Cats in the US (ASPCA)
Feral and uncared-for cats are a big problem around the world. Studies show that there are approximately 70 million feral cats in the US alone.
There is even an NFT game, CatRescue, that donates 50% of its proceeds to help fight the rising surge of feral cats.
On Average, People Adopt Stray Cats More Often than They Adopt Stray Dogs (ASPCA)
A rehoming survey conducted by the ASPCA confirmed that more cats (27%) are adopted as strays than dogs (6%)
This statistic refers to strays from the street, not animals adopted from shelters. The stats make sense when thinking about the transient and self-adoptive nature of many cats.
According to a 2022 Survey, Almost $801 Is Spent Annually by Owners on Vet Care (Humane Society)
Statistics reveal that cat owners spend an average of $801 per year on vet care. This is almost three times as much as the average from 2018.
Interestingly, the rising cost of vet bills could also be directly correlated to the rising amount of aggregate spend on pet insurance plans.
Animal Abuse Statistics
Below are five startling animal abuse statistics.
Over 10 Million Animals Die from Abuse in the US (Veterinarians.org)
There are an estimated 10 million animals that die from abuse-related factors in the US each year.
That works out to 27,397 animals per day that die from abuse across the US alone! To further quantify that, it is 19 deaths every minute!
Stat Shows 71% of Individuals Who Are Involved in Domestic Violence Also Abuse Their Pets (Sheriffs.org)
71% of pet-owning domestic violence victims seeking shelter admitted that their spouse also abused and/or killed their pets.
The links between domestic abuse and animal abuse are clear, and more needs to be done in order to protect animals when victims seek sanctuary.
Dogs Make up 65% of All Abused Animals (Humane Society)
Dogs account for 65% of all abused animals. To put some relatable numbers to those, that equates to 56,160 dogs abused every single day!
Rescued Pet Statistics
Below are two shocking rescued pet statistics.
Six Months after Their Initial Adoption, Approximately 20% of Pets Are Returned Back to the Original Shelter (NLM)
According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, up to 20% of adopted pets are returned to the shelter within six months of being adopted.
There are numerous reasons for this, but most revolve around people being unprepared for the responsibilities that come from good pet ownership. 12% of dog owners admitted to returning their pet, and 90% of those cited aggressive behavior as the leading reason.
There Was a 20% Uptick in Cat Fostering Between 2018 and 2020 (Maddies Fund)
A report published by MaddiesFund shows that between 2018 and 2020, there was an increase in the rate of fostering by 20% for cats and 7% for dogs.
A prevailing theory is that due to the Corona-19 pandemic, people who were stuck home alone turned to animal fostering to help keep them occupied.
Animal Shelter Statistics
Below are five interesting animal shelter statistics.
The Number of Animal Shelters in the US Is 3500, 10,000 Animal Sanctuaries and Rescue Groups Are Working in North America (Do Something)
Americans are animal-loving people and are active participants in the fight to protect animals. This statistic is one proof of that.
44% of the 5,000 Animal Shelters Are Currently No-kill Shelters (Best Friends)
A study showed there are 4,850 brick-and-mortar-recognized animal shelters in the United States.
Out of these shelters, 44% are currently registered as no-kill-shelters, which shows an increase of 15% since 2018.
Almost 6.3 Million Animals Enter US Shelters Annually (ASPCA)
Close to 6.3 million animals are surrendered for pet adoption every year.
Pet adoption statistics reveal that while these numbers are showing a slight decrease, the rate of pet surrender still far outweighs the adoption rate.
The Number of Dogs and Cats Entering the Shelters Has Now Decreased from 7.9 Million in 2011 to 6.3 Million (ASPCA)
While there are still a large number of pets being surrendered for pet adoption, the yearly trends published by the ASPCA show a downturn in the animal shelter populations. Between 2011 and 2018, numbers dropped from 7.9 million to 6.3 million.
100,000 Stray Cats and 710,000 Stray Dogs Who Enter Shelters Are Returned to Owners Annually (ASPCA)
Each year 100,000 stray cats and 710,000 stray dogs are reunited with their owners.
While these numbers seem impressive, it’s important to realize that this represents just 2% of all cats brought into shelter care and 17% of dogs.
Animal Abandoned Statistics
Below are two unbelievable abandoned animal statistics.
Only Around 10% of the Dogs Born Own a Permanent House (Do Something)
For a dog lover, this percentage is quite low, and we would like to see this number on the rise. Around 10% of puppies coming into the world are lucky enough to find a house and family they live with forever.
In the US, 70 Million Animals Are Homeless (Bark Rescue)
According to pet adoption statistics discussed on BarkRescueCA, there are over 70 million pets (dog or cat) currently living as strays across the United States.
To put that into perspective, that is almost the same number of stray animals as there are owned dogs.
Almost 3.9 Million Dogs Are Abandoned Annually (Do Something)
Out of the 7.6 million animals being surrendered to animal shelters yearly, 3.9 million are dogs, while 3.4 million are cats. This is an alarming number, and precautions must be taken to prevent pet abandonment.
Approximately 30% of the Dogs in Shelters Are Purebred (Best Friends)
As per a report, between 25 and 30% of all shelter dogs are purebred dogs. This statistic shows that pet surrendering happens regardless of the dog breed and or the cost of acquiring them in the first place.
Surrendered Animal Statistics
Below are five surrendered animal statistics that will give you pause for thought. Each of the below statistics comes from the pet adoption statistics report based on research.
Owner’s Death Surrendered Almost 10.1% of the Animals (Best Friends)
A pet adoption statistics report from Best Friends confirms that 10% of surrendered animals are a result of owner bereavement.
Often, in the wake of a death, there are no family members willing to take on the obligation of pet ownership, especially if they already have pets themselves.
14% of the Dogs Surrendered Due to Housing Issues. The Percentage of Cats Surrendered per Household Is Higher (Best Friends)
The same pet adoption statistics report found that 14 percentage of dogs and 22 percent of cats end up being surrendered due to housing problems. This could be rental properties not allowing pets or simply because of too many animals living in the property.
Almost 7.8% of Animals Are Surrendered Due to Aggressive Behavior (Best Friends)
According to the report, aggressive behavior and general personality mismatches account for almost 8% of animals being surrendered to shelters.
Owners’ Finances Are Behind 7.2% of Animal Shelter Surrenders (Best Friends)
As the economy continues to rebound following COVID-19, people find themselves needing to make tough budgeting choices.
The pet adoption statistics data shows that over 7% of people have had to surrender their animals due to financial constraints.
More than 50% of All Dogs and Cats Are Killed in 5 US States (Best Friends)
The five states involved in most animal killings are California, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. These states accounted for 52% of shelter animals killed in 2019.
Euthanized Animal Statistics
Below are five heartbreaking euthanized animal statistics.
Almost 920,000 Surrendered Animals Are Euthanized Yearly (ASPCA)
There are approximately 920,000 surrendered animals euthanized every year.
The reason for this is system overload, with more animals being surrendered than rehomed. Rescue groups are working beyond capacity, and the result is that hard decisions need to be made.
The Number of Dogs and Cats Euthanized Yearly Has Decreased in Comparison to Stats of 2011, When 2.6 Million of Them Were Euthanized (ASPCA)
Every year, around 920,000 shelter animals are euthanized, but this number has seen a decrease from 2.6 million in 2011. This decline can be due to an increase in adoption rate and stray animals returned to their owners successfully.
81% of the People Prefer to Keep Community Cats Outside Rather than Risk Them Being Euthanized (Humane Society)
According to a pet adoption statistics presentation created by the humane society, 81% of people would rather leave wild cats alone to live their lives unowned rather than risk them being euthanized when surrendered to a shelter.
However, as the number of no-kill shelters rises, this statistic may slowly change.
Two Third of Cats Euthanized in Shelters Are Black (PETA)
According to a study by Peta, approximately 66% of the 530,000 cats euthanized each year are black cats. This is because of the social stigma that has been created surrounding black animals. Supersition and folklore are two primary drivers behind the black cat shunning.
Roughly 2.7 Million Cats and Dogs Are Killed Annually Because Shelters Are Full (ASPCA)
The main reason for animals in shelters being euthanized is shelter overcrowding and overpopulation. Shelters don’t have the means to sustain a huge number of animals and put them to sleep as a last resort.
Below are nine frequently asked questions relating to pet adoption statistics.
How Many Pets Are Adopted Annually?
Approximately 4.1 million shelter animals are adopted every year.However, sadly there are approximately 6.3 million animals that enter the shelter system each year.
This misalignment in figures is also a leading cause behind why close to 1 million animals are euthanized every year in the US shelter system.
What Is Local Shelter Life for Animals to Live In?
Life for animals in a local shelter is better than what many are used to; however, it remains rudimentary compared to a loving home. Shelters do their best in looking after and taking care of the animals they house.
That said, most are kept in small pens or cages – depending on the animal – and have a minimal degree of freedom and interaction with people.
Many shelters struggle for money and staff, and as such, they cannot give the animals as much love and attention as they would like.
Why Adopting a Pet Is the Best Choice?
Adopting a pet is the best choice because, in most instances, it saves an animal’s life. Animals in shelters have been through tough times. Adopting a shelter animal gives them a better life and means they no longer run the risk of being euthanized.
In addition, there are numerous health benefits, both physical and mental, that are associated with pet ownership.
How to Adopt a Pet?
The process of adopting a pet varies from location to location.However, the most commonly found process involves five key steps.
- Visit the shelter and meet the animals
- Submit an application for adoption
- Home visit
- Identification Validation
- Fee payment
Some shelters may have a different process or a different order in which they do things. However, the above are by-and-large mandatory for any adoption process.
How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Pet?
It costs anywhere from $50-$500 to adopt a pet. However, there is no set price for pet adoption. Different shelters charge different amounts based on their location, the pet’s age, and possibly their total amount of shelter time.
The biggest variable in pet adoption prices is driven by the type of pet. For example, most dogs are more expensive to adopt than cats.
For How Long an Animal Lives in a Shelter Before Being Euthanized?
The length of time an animal lives in a shelter before being euthanized varies depending on location and the shelter type.
Some shelters operate on a 5-day stay policy, with animals being euthanized on the sixth day of their stay. Some shelters, especially those that struggle for money, reduce this to just three days.
Then, there are an ever-increasing number of no-kill animal shelters that offer permanent shelter to their animals, should it be so required.
What Is Pet Fostering?
Pet fostering is the process of providing a temporary home to animals in need. As a pet fosterer, you take in an animal in conjunction with an animal shelter. You look after that pet until someone comes to offer a permanent home through adoption.
What Can You Do to Help Shelter Pets Other than Fostering and Adopting?
There are three great ways to help shelter pets other than being fostered or adopted.
Firstly, you can volunteer some of your time to help at a shelter. Cleaning, dog walking, or even just answering the phones or delivering pamphlets.
Secondly, shelters are always happy to receive donations; food, blankets, or bedding go a long way to helping shelter animals.
Finally, help spread the word about the charity. Share social media posts, or tell people looking for animals about your local shelter.
When Is National Pet Adoption Day?
National pet adoption day takes place on April 30th every year.The history of the day is unclear. National pet adoption day spawned from the American Humane Society and their Adopt a Dog day, which started in 1981 and still takes place on October 25th each year.
If all of these pet adoption statistics show anything, it is that there is something of a pet crisis going on right now.
Any downward trends reported over the last two years paint a possibly skewed viewpoint given the far-reaching impact of the Corona virus pandemic. In either case, there are more animals being surrendered than being given new homes.
Even with the rise in no-kill shelters, something needs to change in order to stabilize the ship.
Do you have an adopted pet? How has that experience worked for you? Personally, I have an adopted dog and couldn’t be happier with her. Let us know in the comments. We love hearing from you all.