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Euthanasia is a hot potato among pet parents. Some think it should be encouraged while some are against it.
Irrespective of your stand, it’s important to be in the know.
Here are some interesting animal shelter euthanasia facts and stats that you may not know about euthanizing animals.
1. 64% of animals received in shelters in 1997 were euthanized.
According to American Humane, there are an estimated 3,500 animal shelters in the United States that take in approximately 6-8 million dogs and cats each year.
Of those animals, roughly 2.7 million are euthanized annually.
While that number has decreased significantly since 1997 when 64% of animals in shelters were euthanized, it’s still a staggering number.
2. 71% of cats and 56% of dogs that enter shelters are euthanized
Data from American Humane shows that the majority of cats that enter shelters are strays, while the majority of dogs are surrendered by their owners.
Because cats are more likely to be brought in as strays, they are also more likely to be euthanized.
In contrast, dogs are more likely to be returned to their owners or adopted because they usually have some form of identification, such as a collar or microchip.
3. Only 2% of cats and 15.8% of dogs received in shelters get reunited with their family
According to the American Humane Society, only 2% of cats and 15.8% of dogs that enter animal shelters are returned to their family.
The rest are either adopted by new families or euthanized.
4. 25 % of dogs and 24 percent of cats that enter animal shelters are adopted
Every year, millions of pets enter animal shelters.
Sadly, many of these animals are never reunited with their owners or adopted into new homes.
If data from American Humane is to be believed, only 25 % of dogs and 24% of cats that enter animal shelters are adopted.
The rest are either returned to their owners, transferred to another shelter, or put down.
5. Euthanization is on the decline
According to ASPCA, approximately 3.2 million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters each year.
While this number is still tragically high, it represents a significant decline from 2011, when approximately 2.6 million animals were euthanized.
This decline can be partially explained by an increase in the percentage of animals adopted from shelters and an increase in the number of stray animals successfully returned to their owners.
6. Animal control costs taxpayers a least $1.5 billion
Animal control services are a necessary part of keeping our communities safe and clean, and these services come at a cost.
Experts estimate that Americans pay $1.5 – $2 billion each year for animal control, including things like sheltering, adoption, waste removal, and euthanasia.
7. 57% of all euthanized cats are unweaned kittens
Unweaned kittens are those that are too young to eat on their own and require their mother’s milk for survival.
Because they are so dependent on their mother, unweaned kittens are often orphaned when their mother is killed or taken to a shelter.
When this happens, the kittens must be bottle-fed by hand until they are old enough to eat on their own.
Unfortunately, up to 75% of these kittens are euthanized because shelters lack the resources to care for them.
8. Only 10% of animal shelters are no-kill
A no-kill shelter is an animal shelter that does not kill healthy or treatable animals, even when the shelter is full.
Data from Best Friends reveals that the number of no-kill shelters in the United States has increased from 29% to 44% in recent years.
This trend is encouraging news for animal lovers, and it provides hope that one day all shelters will be no-kill.
9. 90% of euthanized animals are adoptable.
Many animals are euthanized simply because they cannot find a home.
In fact, approximately 9 out of every 10 animals euthanized in shelters are healthy and adoptable.
These animals are killed simply because there are more animals in shelters than people willing to adopt them.
10. Euthanasia is the leading cause of death in dogs
As unbelievable as it may sound, euthanasia is the leading cause of death in dogs.
It trumps sickness, accidents, or even old age. That’s according to data from South Carolina State Legislature.
11. 10- 25% of animals entering shelters are euthanized.
According to research conducted by vets across the country, 10-25% of all animals that enter shelters will be euthanized.
Sadly, most of these animals are perfectly okay and had many years of good life ahead of them.
As grim as it may sound, taking an animal to a shelter is almost like a death sentence – unless they are lucky enough to be adopted or reunited with their family.
12. 5 states account for 51% of all euthanizations
Five states—California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina—are responsible for 51.5% of all animal euthanizations.
Several factors contribute to this problem, including a lack of affordable spay/neuter services and a shortage of animal shelters.
However, the good news is that many organizations are working to address these issues and reduce the number of euthanizations in these states.
13. There are approximately 70 million strays in the U.S
PETA estimates that there are at least 70 million stray cats and dogs In the United States.
These animals struggle to find food and shelter and often suffer from malnutrition, disease, and injury.
In addition to being harmful to individual animals, this situation also poses a danger to public health.
Animal rescue organizations try to help by putting them in shelters but unfortunately, they almost always end up being euthanized.
14. Almost 88% of pets are not spayed or neutered
According to the Humane Society, only 12% of cats and dogs in underserved communities are neutered or spayed.
This leads to uncontrolled breeding and an increase in abandoned animals.
A surefire way of reducing the number of animals that are put down every day is by encouraging pet parents to spay and neuter their animals.
15. Over 10 million pets are stolen each year
According to the American Humane, more than 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the United States each year.
While many of these pets are eventually reunited with their owners, the chances of a successful reunion are much higher if the pet is microchipped.
16. Animal activists are aiming to make all shelters no-kill by 2025
Animal activists are fighting to make the U.S a no-kill country by 2025.
This means that all animals that enter shelters would be guaranteed a forever home, either through adoption or placement in a sanctuary.
While this goal may seem ambitious, there are already several shelters and rescues that operate on a no-kill basis.
17. Approximately 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized every year
According to Kitten Coalition, not less than 2.7 million healthy and adoptable cats or dogs are put down in animal shelters in the U.S every year.
While most shelters do their best to find homes for these animals, the sad reality is that there are not enough homes to go around.
18. 75% of Americans are against euthanization
A poll by the Nokill Advocacy Center found that 3 out of 4 Americans do not support the euthanization of pets.
Americans are Ok with the euthanization of sick and injured animals that have no medical recourse but they believe that healthy animals should be kept alive.
19. Less than 1% of animals in shelters require euthanization
According to No Kill Advocacy Center, less than 1% of animals are suffering enough to require euthanasia.
In most cases, animals can be treated and allowed to live out their natural lives.
The decision to euthanize should only be made after all other options have been exhausted.
20. There isn’t sufficient raw data on euthanization
Experts believe there is insufficient data on pet euthanization because not much research has been done on the subject.
As such, most of the figures at our disposal are rough estimates and the real numbers might be significantly higher.
Every pet parent ought to do their part in reducing the number of animals that are put down.
Adopt and consider rescuing a pet from a shelter instead of buying one from a breeder or pet store.
Most importantly, be a responsible pet owner and do everything you can to keep your animal companions safe and healthy.
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Sable McNeil is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.