Animal Shelter Statistics

The number of animals taken into shelters daily is alarming and saddening. Even though people are embracing the adoption of pets in recent years, a large number is still euthanized yearly.

In this article, you learn more about what happens in animal shelters and what you can do to support them.

Animal Shelter Statistics

Dog Shelters In The U.S.

 1. In the U.S., there are 3,500 animal shelters.


In the U.S., there are quite too many animal shelters.

Kill shelters are another name for municipal shelters. They are physical locations that take in stray and abandoned animals. It is normal to euthanize animals when a shelter is overcrowded or when the animals are old and unwell.

2.In the U.S., there are over 14,000 shelters and rescue organizations.


In addition, to kill shelters, nonprofit rescue groups and no-kill shelters also operate in the U.S. In contrast to municipal shelters supported by the government, they depend on contributions and staff to run.

No Kill Animal Shelter Statistics

No-kill shelters ensure that all animals brought in are treated, healed, and saved. In addition, these shelters provide animals with a good quality of life.

3. No-kill shelters try to save 9 out of 10 animals


90% of animals in no-kill shelters are adopted or placed in new homes. However, this does not imply that euthanasia is not used at these hospitals. Older and unhealthy animals can still be euthanized with a 10% margin.

4. No-kill shelters might get overcrowded


According to statistics from cat and dog shelters, many no-kill shelters turn away unwanted animals because of the 90% benchmark.

5. In America, there are 4,000 no-kill communities


At times, No kill shelters euthanize animals. Nevertheless, they attempt to sustain their “no-kill” status as long as they reach a save rate of at least 90%.

 6. San Francisco became the first city with a no-kill policy in 1994.

(Best Friends Animal Society)

Rich Avanzino founded the no-kill movement. Animal shelters Facts show that he signed an adoption agreement with San Francisco Animal Care & Control. San Francisco became the first no-kill city in the U.S. as a result.

7. In 2019, Delaware became the first no-kill state.


Delaware has a 92.9% saving rate. This indicates that roughly 12,000 of the 13,000 animals housed in shelters were either adopted or given back to their owners. In addition, Delaware is the only no-kill state in the U.S.

8. In the U.S., 76.6% of animals in shelters are saved.


The lowest savings rates are in Texas and California. Less than 75% of animals in shelters in these two states are placed in new homes, according to statistics on animal euthanasia.

9. By 2025, animal rights groups aim to make the U.S. a no-kill country.


Even though it might appear difficult, animal lovers believe it is possible. Fewer animals are being put to death, and more pets are finding new homes.

Pet Population in Shelters

10. Animals in shelters are decreasing


One of the most devastating years ever for animals at shelters was 2011. Animal shelters in the U.S. took in 7.2 million animals.

Shelter animal statistics show that by 2019, that number has decreased by over a million due to adoption and rehoming.

11. Only 10% of animals entering shelters are neutered/spayed.

(DoSomething, One Green Planet)

If animals are not spayed/neutered, they lead to “overpopulation,” resulting to even more animals being put to death.

12. According to statistics from the Humane Society, 25% of dogs in shelters are pure breed.

(DoSomething, One Green Planet, Humane Society)

Nearly 25% of the canines who enter nearby animal shelters have a pedigree that can be documented. Pit bulls make up the majority of purebred animals in shelters. Unfortunately, they rank among the least preferred dogs in the U.S.

According to statistics on shelter dogs, if uncontrolled, an unspayed dog and her puppies can yield 67,000 dogs within only six years. Likewise, a female cat that hasn’t been spayed can produce 420,000 kittens in seven years, along with her offspring.

Homeless Animal Statistics: How Many Pets Leave Animal Shelters?

13.Annually, 710,000 stray animals are sent back to their owners.

(ASPCA, DoSomething)

620,000 dogs are given back to their owners out of all the stray animals that enter U.S. animal shelters. According to data on stray animals, 90,000 cats are returned to their owners.

14.Microchipping raises the rate of returns.


Cats with microchips have a 20 times higher chance of being returned to their owners. Unlike other strays in the shelter, dogs with microchips have a 2.5 times higher chance of finding their owners.

15. Every year, almost 1.6 million dogs are adopted from shelters.


Every year, 1.6 million more cats are taken home by new owners from animal shelters, bringing the total number of adopted pets to 3.2 million.

History demonstrates that under 50% of the 6.5 million cats and dogs sent into shelters are adopted.

The adoption rates are steadily improving, which is fantastic news. However, much work needs to be done to decrease the number of animals in shelters.

16. During the Covid-19 outbreak, the number of dogs adopted daily increased to 10–13.

(The Washington Post)

According to statistics, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles set new marks for pet adoptions. The nonprofit shelter saw a significant increase in adoptions from the year before.

The Animal Care Centers of NYC also report positive news. For example, 25% of those who took in dogs as foster care during the pandemic ended up adopting them, changing the course of animal shelter history.

However, of the 78 million dogs owned in the U.S., more than a third were purchased from breeders.

17. According to trends in animal shelters, the number of adopted shelter cats is basically at a standstill.


In 2020, more than 900,000 cats were taken in by shelters. They were mostly stray cats, by and large. However, the Shelter Animals Count (SAC) data indicates that their population is gradually declining.

Before the Covid-19 outbreak, the number of adopted cats was rising.

18. Less than 1% of the animals at shelters are in extreme suffering.

(No Kill Advocacy Center)

Animals experiencing extreme pain or who require immediate medical assistance have a low chance of surviving. This implies that 99% of shelter animals are thus healthy and adoptable.

19. The Covid-19 epidemic has led to a 36% decline in pet adoptions in 2020.

(Business Wire)

Even though dog adoptions are increasing, the pandemic has had an impact on all pet adoptions. The adoption rates have significantly decreased due to the adoption slowdown.

Pet Euthanasia in Shelters Statistics

 20. 625,000 animals were put to death in 2019

(Best Friends Animal Society)

This figure is evidently quite high. According to animal euthanasia stats, this is the second year in which fewer than one million dogs and cats were put to death in U.S. animal shelters.

21. In shelters, approximately 390,000 dogs are put to death annually.


390,000 dogs put to death is very disheartening. Overpopulation is the cause of euthanasia in shelters, and this shows the significance of planning before bringing an animal home. It also underlines how crucial it is to think about adopting an animal that may otherwise be put to death rather than purchasing one from a breeder at full price.

22. In 1984, approximately 17 million animals in American shelters were killed.

(Best Friends Animal Society)

Animal rights activists took charge and started the no-kill movement in the U.S. in response to this startlingly high number.

23. The majority of euthanasia deaths in American animal shelters occur in five states. 

(Best Friends)

Every year, 800,000 cats and dogs are put to death in shelters; fifty percent of those deaths occur in five states.

  • Texas – 125,000
  • California – 110,000
  • Florida – 66,000
  • North Carolina – 62,000
  • Georgia – 43,000

Cats account for 75% of euthanasia deaths in California.

24. Only 27 states fully outlaw using gas chambers to put animals to death at animal shelters.

(Humane Society)

Gas chambers are still used to put animals to death in shelters today, which is a brutal and archaic technique. However, since 2013, 70 gas chambers in 13 U.S. states have willingly shut down. Most shelters in America today use approved medications for humane euthanasia administered by injection.

25. According to data from animal shelters, PETA put 1,614 animals to death in 2019.


Sometime PETA puts animals to death. They assert that by doing this, they rid the animals of their misery, ailment, and pain. But unfortunately, even though they help many animals, they also kill many.

26. Euthanasia is defined as a “good death.”


How do animal shelters put animals to death? Sodium pentobarbital is quickly and painlessly administered intravenously for proper euthanasia.

27.Some shelters use cruel methods to kill animals.


The unfortunate reality is that a lot of animal shelters still use gas or decompression chambers. With this method, animals are cruelly put to death while other animals are made to see their suffering.

Even more distressing is the fact that some municipal officers shoot pets in the head to put them to death. According to statistics on pet euthanasia in animal shelters, this isn’t usually immediately successful and worsens the animal’s pain and suffering.

28. Animal activists are fighting to end cruel euthanasia.


About 70 shelters in 13 U.S. states have decided to shut down their gas chambers since 2013. Four states still use gas to put animals to death in shelters, while 27 states completely ban these chambers on pets.

The ultimate goal is to outlaw gas chambers in all 50 states.

29. In American animal shelters, four states still use gas chambers.


Ohio, Wyoming, Missouri, and Utah are among these states. Change.Org is taking action to support the prohibition of this inhumane practice by several states. 

Abandoned Pets Facts

30.Owners abandoned approximately 30% of animals in shelters.

(Animal Foundation Platform)

For instance, 42.5% of the animals in U.S. shelters are impounded by animal control. The percentage of abandoned pets is still quite high, despite animal control taking in more stray animals.

31. The major cause leading to abandonment is the pets’ issues.


According to statistics, 42% of rehomed cats and nearly 47% of rehomed dogs have been abandoned by their owners because of animal-related issues.

Aggressive behavior, animals getting larger than intended, and health concerns the owners couldn’t handle are a few examples of pet troubles.

32. About 8% of owners abandon their pets because they are relocating.


Other reasons for pet abandonment include living in a no-pet area, not getting along with other pets, and expenses.

A third of Americans suffer from allergies to cats and dogs. In addition, according to statistics from animal shelters, 4% of cat and dog owners reported they gave up their animal friends because of personal issues.

Shockingly, 11% of cat owners said they gave up their pets because they had too many pets in the house.

33. Most animals in shelters were owned for less than a year old.


Approximately 37.1% of dogs and 30% of cats were held in shelters for up to a year before being given back to their owners.

34. Pets from friends have a higher chance of being abandoned


 According to statistics from animal shelters, 32.2% of dogs and 33.2% of cats abandoned were received from a friend. The majority of surrendered companion animals are gifted animals.

35. Only 20% of individuals give back their pets back to a shelter.

(Animal Foundation Platform)

About one in five people who adopt a pet from a shelter return it eventually.

Animal Homelessness Statistics

36. In the U.S., there are about 70 million stray animals 

(One Green Planet)

Sadly, owner surrender is one of the primary ways pets end up in shelters. The other reason is that animal control officers take them up on the streets.

For up to 30% of shelter dogs, owners reclaim them. Barely 10% of animals brought to shelters are spayed or neutered, increasing the number of animals living in shelters.

37. Only one dog in ten will be adopted permanently

(Do Something)

As stated before, some people who adopt pets end up giving them back to the shelters.

Unfortunately, because cats have lower adoption rates, their euthanasia rates might be substantially greater. But I’ll talk more about that later.

Animal Shelter Funding Statistics

38. The ASPCA donated $100 million in grants between 2008 and 2017.


Over 3000 animal shelters, governmental organizations, sanctuaries, and rescue organizations benefited from those grants.

A healthy dog will cost you $200 for vaccinations, wellness exams, and other medical care. That doesn’t cover a bed, food, or any other necessities every dog requires.

A dog is a huge responsibility to adopt. However, statistics on pet owners show that with 89.7 million pets, the U.S. is the country that loves dogs the most in the world.

39. U.S. citizens spend up to $2 billion annually on animal shelters.

(One Green Planet, PetMD)

Between $1 and $2 billion is spent yearly on sheltering, euthanizing, and disposing of the animals that animal control picks up.

The majority of animal shelters receive their money from the government. Shelters do, however, also raise money through contributions, fundraising activities, and crowdfunding.

40. Not all animal organizations require financial support.

(Activist Facts)

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is one of those organizations. The animal shelter’s total registered revenue for 2019 was $271,999,050, according to records from 2020.

41. More than $237.6 million have been given through Maddie’s Fund alone through grants.

(Maddie’s Fund)

One of the top animal rights organizations is Maddie’s Fund. They have contributed significantly to foster care, medical education, community lifesaving, and many other causes.

Animal Shelter Volunteer Statistics

42. 2,546 volunteers contributed 175,000 hours of support to animals in need in 2016.

(Animal Humane Society)

376 volunteers fostered over 3,000 animals in the same year before being adopted.

The Animal Humane Society was given $6.5 million in 2016.

Additionally, nearly $2.4 million was donated via the contributors’ estate plans.

The Animal Humane Society is one of several organizations that help to lower the statistics for animal shelters in the United States. However, others besides shelters also profit.

43. Volunteering Can Aid in the Battle Against Anxiety and Depression


We are aware that being around animals benefits us. Even dogs are recommended for persons with mental health problems. Consequently, there is mutual benefit for you and the animals in the shelter.

Volunteering teaches you civic duty, time management, and the importance of assisting others, among other things.

Volunteer, whenever you can, to aid animals that might not have another opportunity to experience what it’s like to receive care.

44. Shelter Surrenders Decreased by 25.1% from 2019 to 2020.


During that period, there was a 44.6% decrease in shelter euthanasia.

Surprisingly, euthanasia in shelters decreased by 53.9% in 2021 compared to 2019.

In addition to the live outcomes for animals in shelters rising from 85% in 2019 to 89.3% in 2021, adoption rates climbed by 4.6% between 2019 and 2021.


45. What can I do to help?

Volunteering at a local shelter or animal rescue is one way you can contribute. Whether it’s through donations, fundraising, or simply spending time with the animals, they always need support. Your financial contribution can help in many ways because operating a shelter or rescue costs a lot of money. You can also offer to foster an animal before it is adopted into a permanent home.

46. How many animals are abused each year?

Instances of domestic violence result in the harm, abuse, or death of almost one million animals. Additionally, there is a direct correlation between violent persons toward their partners and their pets. Even now, the police use evidence of animal mistreatment to track down people who might pose a danger to society.

47. How many animals are euthanized each year?

It’s the most difficult part of managing a shelter. Every year, about three million animals are put to death there. Some of it is brought on by an animal getting older or for medical reasons. Some people kill with mercy, though. Some animals had such a slim probability of adoption that they would live most of their lives in cages without ever experiencing what it is like to have a family. So, that is another important factor encouraging more people to consider adoption.

48. Why are there so many stray cats?

Only 2% of stray cats are neutered or spayed, making overpopulation the main cause of stray or abandoned animals. In addition, public opinion has a great contribution. According to 81% of Americans, letting a cat go outside is preferable to having it put to death.

49. How long do animals have before euthanization?

Most states mandate a 5-7 day stay before being put down, depending on the state. This time is required by a holding period law that is in effect in more than 30 states so that owners who have lost an animal can get in touch with their local shelters to retrieve them. Sadly, this isn’t always the case; sometimes, only 48–72 hours pass before euthanasia.

50. How old do you have to be to volunteer at an animal shelter?

The normal age limit is 16; however, each shelter will have its policies. Therefore, we advise conducting a study to learn more. If you’re under 18, they might want your legal guardian to approve it.


Animal shelters play a great role in society. Without them, there would be many stray animals and animal suffering. In addition, they offer healthcare and home to the unfortunate animals.

Sadly, animal shelters cannot hold all the animals they receive; hence they end up euthanizing them. The best way to reduce shelter overcrowding is to practice controlled breeding or spay/neuter our pets.


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