New Research Shows Dogs In American Shelters At An All-Time Low

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
New research indicates that the occupancy of dog shelters is at an all-time low, and we applaud the efforts of animal welfare groups. Is there is a ‘dog shortage’ in America?

New research from Mississippi State University is claiming that the availability of dogs at animal shelters in America is at an all-time low, and that demand for dogs as family pets is increasing to new, higher levels. The research was shared at the North American Veterinary Community Conference in Orlando, Florida, and gives some statistics that say of the 5.5 million dogs who enter American shelters, fewer than a fifth of those dogs end up being euthanized, while over 4/5ths are returned to their owners, adopted or transferred.

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While 776,000 dogs a year being euthanized is a sad number, that number is a far cry from the nearly 20 million dogs a year that were euthanized in the 1970s, and that is a testament to the efficacy of efforts from shelters and responsible pet industry leaders to save lives, according to Pet Leadership Council Chairman Bob Vetere. Former ASPCA president and current Pet Leadership Council Consultant Ed Sayres says that the data from MSU will help shelters to do even more specifically to reduce the number of dogs who are euthanized, as well as to reduce the homeless dog population.

More, this data is important to the ensuring that the demand for responsibly bred dogs is met in this country. Vetere says that there is an ever-growing desire for dogs in America, and that Americans own approximately 89 million dogs. To maintain current levels of ownership when factoring in the average lifespan of dogs (about 11 years), approximately 8.1 million dogs a year are needed. With only a quarter of that number being adopted out of shelters, and even fewer being transferred or euthanized, the dogs must come from other places, meaning there is great need for breeders to continue to produce pets, but with the assurance that the health and well-being of their animals being priority, as breeders will obviously want to meet the ever-growing demand.

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The PLC claims that a voluntary national certification program, Canine Care Certified, which conducts audits on breeders using science-based standards will go a long way in giving breeders important guidelines that impact the physical and behavioral well-being of bred puppies and dogs when looking to meet demand for dogs.

So while this is good news for dogs, be sure to still check with your local shelter when looking to add to your family. We’d love to see a day where there is not a need for shelters, and looks like we may be well on our way!

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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