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Homelessness Issues

Animal shelters across the country are forced to put their resources to the test to accommodate a large population of homeless and “at-risk” animals.


In communities across the country, we see repetitive problems that prevent individuals who adopt pets from accepting pets or keeping their adopted animals at home. Here are some of the most fundamental reasons why pets end up in a shelter system:

Many people do not know that most communities provide subsidized veterinary care for pets. Keeping a pet can be expensive and, in some cases, too expensive. Legal and social requirements such as registration fees and vaccinations can cost lots of money, as well as services necessary for animal welfare. Depending on the age of the animal or medical problems, things such as x-rays, neuter surgery, blood tests or routine veterinary checks can add up. Without the use of subsidized services, the high cost of a pet often leads people to leave their pets in the hands of a shelter system; they just cannot afford the cost of caring for them.

Pawing, excessive noise, jumping, destruction, and high energy are all common traits of many pets. With a little dedication and time on the owner’s and pet’s parts, all these behavioral problems can be tamed and managed. However, many owners find it difficult to solve this problem and often send the pets out of loving homes back into shelters.

Sadly, there are many communities or rental properties that limit the pets which residents can have. Some areas have severe restrictions, while others have mild limits which could exclude dogs like Doberman, Rottweilers, Pitbulls, and Pinschers. For pet parents moving to such restrictive residential areas, their only option could be the decision to give up their pets at local animal shelters. Also, pet owners already living in restrictive housing will be limited to certain types of animals when adopting, and this process eventually puts a strain on those animal shelters in these communities.



About 7.6 million animals go into shelters nationwide each year, and almost 3 million don’t make it out.


One of the significant challenges facing animal welfare organizations today is the number of animals in need of help. Every year, approximately 6.5 million companion animals get deposited into different shelters nationwide.
Although a lot of animals make their way into shelters for various reasons, there is often a reoccurrence of animals who strayed, got rescued, or were abandoned by their owners.

Animals rescued from cruelty – puppy mills, dog fighting rings and hoarding cases – suffer from trauma when found and they need rehabilitation, intensive care, and attention.

Found on the streets are stray animals brought in by kind-hearted people. If unattended to, these animals grow in areas where affordable and accessible spay/neuter services are unavailable.

Animals whose owners cannot take proper care of them again due to behavioral, financial or other unknown problems are what we call “surrendered animals”.

When all the animals with these problems and even animals that come through their door get into the shelter, it becomes almost impossible to handle or cater to them all due to these overwhelming intake rates.  A lot of animals’ lives are at stake, and it is vital for us to know what we are up against.

  • In an estimate of 6.5 million animals which makes it into the shelter system nationwide, approximately 3.2 million are cats, and 3.3 million are dogs.
  • Approximately 1.5 million animals get euthanized each year, and in this list are 860,000 cats and 670,000 dogs.
  • Approximately 3.2 million shelter animals get adopted each year and in this list are 1.6 million cats and 1.6 million dogs.
  • When counting, about 710,000 animals that get into the shelter when found straying are returned to their owners. This list consists of both 90,000 cats and 620,000 dogs.
  • 48% of all the dogs that gets into the shelter are adopted, while 20% are euthanized.
  • Of the cats entering shelters, approximately 50% are adopted, while 27% are euthanized.
  • More animals enter shelters as strays in contrast to animals that are surrendered by their respective owners.

*Note: There is no official animal organization responsible for the collation or tabulation of national statistics for the animal protection movement, so all these estimates may vary from state to state.