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The Real Statistics on Pet Adoption

You might have read that people who were forced to put their social lives on hold due to the coronavirus adopted dogs and cats in record numbers last year, wiping out the population of these popular animals in shelters. As it happens, this was a bit of an exaggeration. A national database compiled by Shelter Animals Count found that the adoption rates from January to June, nationwide, rose from 64% in 2019 to 73% in the first half of 2020. Euthenasia was down 43% because more people were fostering.

Nevertheless, according to the ASPCA, an estimated 1.5 million shelter animals (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats) were euthanized in the past year. The good news is that this number is steadily dropping, down from a total of 2.6 million back in 2011. Approximately 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year from 3,500 animal shelters across the U.S.

The various websites that track statistics offer some additional interesting bits of data about pet ownership and where all those orphaned animals come from. Currently, about 67% of American households include at least one pet, with dogs (44%), cats (35%), freshwater fish (9%) and birds (4%) making up the majority. One of the most alarming statistics is the number of feral cats on the street—which points to the need for spaying pets as they are brought into the home. Of the total cat population, currently only about 47% actually live in homes as pets. Many of the rest are feral strays, and by one estimate, one unspayed female cat living on the street will produce 3,200 descendants over 12 years.



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