ASPCA: Data Shows Fewer Surrenders, More Adoption, and Decrease in Eut

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) releases data that shows there are less animal in the US shelter system!

The ASPCA just released pet statistics that make a pet lover’s heart a little bit happier. The numbers show fewer animals are ending up in local animal shelters, and the ones that do are more likely to end up finding their forever family. The new statistics, a compilation of reports from various agencies, showed that approximately 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats (6.5 million altogether) end up in animal shelters. That’s a difference of 700,000 from 2011, when that number was up to 7.2 million.

Even better news: in 2011, approximately 2.7 million shelter animals were euthanized annually, whereas today, that number is 1.5 million–a tremendous decrease of over a million shelter animals whose lives have been saved! The ASPCA also says that pet adoption rates are on the rise. Today, approximately 3.2 million shelter animals find forever homes through adoption, compared to 2.7 million adoptions in 2011.

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The numbers are encouraging, according to the ASPCA’s vice president for research and development, Emily Weiss. She believes that these lower numbers can be attributed to a few different things. One of the biggest things they’ve seen is the move from difficult adoption procedures and regulations toward what is commonly known as an ‘open adoption’ process. These are adoptions where both shelter workers and potential adoptees have a more conversation-based adoption process that is less intimidating to potential pet owners.

As well, more low cost/free spay and neutering services are available, which is the biggest factor in preventing an increase in the numbers of unwanted, uncared for animals. More programs designed to offer pet owners suggestions and solutions for how to keep their animals out of shelters when times are difficult are available. Pet food banks, veterinary funds, and foster options offer pet parents temporary alternatives to getting through rough patches where before, the only solution might have been to surrender their animal.

The ASPCA has also seen an increase in microchipping pets, which means more lost pets are reunited with their owners and not forever lost to a shelter. In 2011, 649,000 pets were reclaimed by owners; in 2016, 710,000 furry family members find their ways back to their folds.

On the legal front, jurisdictions that are repealing ‘breed specific’ legislation (such as ones that regulate pit bulls or other ‘aggressive’ dogs based on breed only), which allows people to see dogs for who they are and what their behaviors are like, rather than just what their ‘breed’ is. Overcoming those restrictions and undeserved stereotypes has helped a number of lovable pups find their homes.

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In general, Weiss believes that society is more and more aware that pets are not just animals, but family members. As we view pets that way, it is harder to ignore what needs to be done to protect them and help them have their best lives. Weiss says that though these numbers are positive, we can continue to bring those numbers even lower.

How do we make these numbers even better? According to ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker, communities need to continue to offer and expand safety-net programs that give pet owners better options when catastrophic situations occur. Pet owners who have affordable access to imperative pet care services are less likely to turn to surrendering, and more focused on keeping their pets at home with their families.

Bershadker also believes that education on banned breeds, as well as continue to focus on rehabilitating abused and neglected animals, will help place pets with the families they deserve.

The best and easiest way to reduce shelter numbers though is to look there first whenever looking to bring a furry family member into your home. Though the statistics are good news, Bershadker says there are still lots of amazing pets in shelters who are just waiting to be found.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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