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11 UK Animal Shelter Statistics & Facts to Know in 2022: Benefits, Facts & More

two women at an animal shelter

This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

It’s estimated that there are over 100 million animals in the UK. The pet population in this country has increased by 15 million in the last decade. In this country, people love caring for animals; it is no wonder that there are many animal shelters.

An animal shelter is a place where lost, abandoned, or unwanted animals are taken to be cared for, providing all their basic needs. Usually, they’re government-funded and rely on donations from the public.

In this guide, we’ll give you a range of interesting animal shelter statistics and facts, including:

divider-multipetThe 11 Most Shocking UK Animal Shelter Statistics and Facts

  1. An estimated 2.7 million animals enter UK animal shelters each year. Of these, 1.2 million are cats, 664,000 are dogs, and 184,000 are other animals (fish, small mammals, etc.).
  2. Over 50% of dogs entering UK animal shelters are not spayed or neutered. As a result, over 2 million puppies are born every year, and 600,000 of them will die before their first birthday.
  3. The number of stray cats and dogs arriving at shelters in the United Kingdom has increased by 6% over the last ten years.
  4. Most animal shelters do not have the funding available to save all animals that come into their care.
  5. Of all pets that enter UK animal shelters, only 11% are reunited with their owners. 
  6. Over 50% of dogs entering UK animal shelters are crossbreeds that don’t find homes as easily as pedigree breeds.
  7. 60% of animal lovers would consider rehoming a pet. Only 34% of people would consider euthanasia for their pet rather than rehoming it.
  8. On average, it takes an animal shelter four days to become full. 
  9. The most common reasons for animals being abandoned are due to owners moving homes or moving overseas.
  10. Before adoption, animals in a shelter are health-screened. 
  11. Animal shelters receive more than 80,000 calls a year from people looking for a pet to adopt.
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The 4 Saddest Statistics Regarding the Number of Animals in Shelters

1. An estimated 2.7 million animals enter UK animal shelters each year. Of these, 1.2 million are cats, 664,000 are dogs, and 184,000 are other animals (fish, small mammals, etc.). (RSPCA)

There are many reasons why people might relinquish their pets. They may have problems with the pet’s behavior or medical issues that they cannot address. Additionally, the animal may be too old or too young for the family.

The longer an animal stays in a shelter, the more likely it’ll get sick or stressed out. For this reason, animal shelters need to work quickly to find the animals a home.

All these will be put down by the shelter, and the rest will be re-homed. The number of animals being put down is going to increase dramatically in the next few years. It’s because of the pet overpopulation that has been caused by irresponsible owners. They breed pets without thinking about where their young ones might end up.

Dogs in shelter
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

2. Over 50% of dogs entering UK animal shelters are not spayed or neutered. As a result, over 2 million puppies are born every year, and 600,000 of them will die before their first birthday.

(PETA)

Puppies are cute. It’s natural to want one. The problem is that unless you have a responsible plan for your new pet, you’re creating another mouth to feed and another life to care for. Also, you’re increasing the demand for pets in animal shelters.

Shelters are overcrowded now because people don’t spay or neuter their pets. That means shelters are full of animals that need homes.

But it also means there are more homeless animals out there competing for those homes. Unless something changes, this puppy overpopulation will only get worse as time goes on.

The pet overpopulation statistics are devastating but it can be changed if every pet owner could take action to stop their dog prom reproducing unnecessarily.


3. The number of stray cats and dogs arriving at shelters in the United Kingdom has increased by 6% over the last ten years.

(MDPI)

There are two primary reasons for this increase. One is that there are more stray dogs and cats. It’s because there are now more pets in the UK than ever before. There are 24 million dogs and 10 million cats living in British households these days.

Euthanasia rates have also increased. Shelters are only allowed to house animals for a set time, after which they must euthanize them. They would rather not euthanize at all, but they often have no choice because of limited shelter space.

sad dog in shelter
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

4. Most animal shelters do not have the funding available to save all animals that come into their care.

(Frontiers)

The sad truth is that most animal shelters do not have sufficient funds to save all animals that come into their care. They end up euthanizing millions of cats and dogs annually due to a lack of space and resources.

divider-multipetThe 2 Most Shocking Statistics Regarding What Happens to Animals in a Shelter

5. Of all pets that enter UK animal shelters, only 11% are reunited with their owners. (Researchgate)

Many pets in the UK animal shelters are not reunited with their owners. Only 11% of cats and dogs in the UK animal shelters get back together with their owners.

The sad reality is that most UK animal shelters euthanize the remaining 89% of pets who enter their facilities due to many factors, including limited space and resources, age and health complications, and lack of interest from the public in adopting the pet.


6. Over 50% of dogs entering UK animal shelters are crossbreeds that don’t find homes as easily as pedigree breeds. (CountryLiving)

There are many reasons why people cannot keep their pets anymore. Also, others don’t have enough time to spend with their pets. It makes them surrender their animals to shelters.

The outlook of the pet population in the UK is interesting. There are more dogs than cats, but more cats are rehomed than dogs. The number of dog breeds that end up in shelters is also interesting. Crossbreeds aren’t as popular as pedigrees. So, finding them a home is more challenging.

One other important issue is that over 50% of dogs entering UK animal shelters are crossbreeds. They don’t find homes as easily as pedigree breeds. It means that fewer people adopt crossbreeds. It perpetuates this cycle.

dog in shelter
Image Credit: jwvein, Pixabay

The 3 Most Surprising Reasons for Taking Animals to Shelters

7. 60% of animal lovers would consider rehoming a pet. Only 34% of people would consider euthanasia for their pet rather than rehoming it. (ScienceDirect)

The idea of euthanizing an animal is repugnant to many. But, for some owners, it can be the most humane thing to do. Sometimes, euthanasia is considered a last resort when the owner has changed circumstances and can no longer care for their pet.

According to ScienceDirect, 60% of people would consider rehoming their pets. The other 40% would consider euthanasia. There are still major strides to be made in public education about what to do with your pet if you can no longer take care of your pet.


8. On average, it takes an animal shelter four days to become full. (NAP)

The UK animal shelters are filling up quickly. The number of animals being abandoned is rising. There can be several reasons for this. But it all comes down to one thing. People are abandoning their pets rather than looking at other solutions to the problems they’re facing.

Thus, on any given day, approximately 2,000 animals must be euthanized in shelters across the UK to create space for others. It’s estimated that more than twice as many animals are euthanized each year.

You can help change this statistic by adopting your next pet from an animal shelter.

happy shelter dog
Image Credit: pixexid, Pixabay

9. The most common reasons for animals being abandoned are due to owners moving homes or moving overseas. (AP NEWS)

There are several reasons why people give up their pets. The primary reason is owners moving home or overseas. If the new home is small or the conditions are not favorable for pet-keeping, it becomes homeless and end up at a shelter.

Abandoning an animal is against the law. So, if you feel like you can no longer care for your cat or dog, don’t only release it back into the wild but instead contact an animal shelter. They’ll find it a new home.

divider-multipetThe 2 Most Positive Statistics About Adopting Pets from Animal Shelters

10. Before adoption, animals in a shelter are health-screened. (Direct Line)

Before animals are adopted from a shelter, they’re health-screened to determine whether they have any health issues that the new owners will need to be aware of upon adopting it.

It can range from testing for diseases, such as FIV and FeLV to behavioral assessments. Those looking to adopt the animals may ask for proof of current vaccinations before adopting.


11. Animal shelters receive more than 80,000 calls a year from people looking for a pet to adopt. (National Geographic)

Those looking to adopt pets such as dogs and cats know that looking in a shelter is a sure bet. Thus, every year, animal shelters will receive numerous calls from people that want to adopt certain pets.

divider-multipetFrequently Asked Questions about UK Animal Statistics and Facts

1. How many animal shelters are there in the UK?

There are around 1,000 animal shelters in the UK. Many of them are run by two of the largest animal welfare organizations in the UK, the RSPCA and PDSA

Additionally, several other registered charities take care of abandoned animals. They provide a safe environment for them until they’re re-homed.

In recent years, the number of animals have increased considerably, so has the number of animals cared for at these shelters.

2. How many kill shelters are there in the UK?

There are approximately 6,000 kill shelters in the UK. Kill shelters can be dog or cat pounds or organizations set up to kill animals for profit.

Also, a “kill shelter” is a facility set up to euthanize unwanted, abandoned, or neglected animals. Usually, these shelters are operated by animal control agencies. They’re also operated by humane societies, SPCAs, and other similar organizations.

The goal of kill shelters is to reduce the number of stray or feral animals in a particular area. It’s an effort that may be misguided due to government intervention.

3. How many dogs are euthanized each year in the UK?

The number of dogs being euthanized in the UK is one of the most discussed topics among dog owners. According to the latest statistics from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), around 80,000 dogs are euthanized yearly.

Dog euthanasia is a term that describes the action of killing an animal via lethal injection. Usually, it’s for health-related reasons. In cases where an unsociable or aggressive behavior is exhibited by a dog, euthanasia may be recommended.

Local authorities have put down many dogs. The reason is that they can’t find new homes for them. Some of these dogs may be perfectly healthy and well-behaved. But they’re deemed unsuitable for re-homing by local authorities.

Sometimes, dogs are euthanized if they seem to be suffering from an incurable condition or disability. While many dog owners find it difficult to accept this, the humane thing to do is to make sure that the dog doesn’t suffer. In cases where a dog is in pain, euthanasia can end the misery.

two dalmatian dogs
Image Credit: artofvisionn, Shutterstock

4. Why is an animal shelter crucial?

An animal shelter provides temporary housing, food, health care, and socialization for abandoned pets.

Additionally, shelters may operate programs for spaying or neutering pets. It reduces the number of unwanted animals in the community.

Some shelters also offer adoption services to the public. They screen potential adopters for compatibility with their needs. Many shelters conduct adoption events at pet stores or shopping malls to raise awareness of their services.

5. What are the most important things that animal shelters need?

The biggest needs for animal shelters are:
  • Money: Most animal shelters are funded through private donations and fundraising efforts. The money they receive supports the animals in their care. Also, it pays for operating costs, such as facility and staff expenses. The money also pays for veterinary bills, food, and any other items that may be needed to keep the animals safe, warm, and healthy while at the shelter.
  • Supplies: Donations of towels, sheets, blankets, toys, cleaning supplies, paper towels, garbage bags and cleaning tools can help reduce operating costs at an animal shelter.

6. How long does a dog live in an animal shelter?

A dog stays in an animal shelter for five to seven days.

Dogs can be at risk for disease, injury, and violence while living in the shelter. The risk of dying also increases for dogs as they age. Thus, shelters may not keep them for long.

However, in cases where a pet owner voluntarily takes their dog to a shelter temporarily but delays getting it back, the shelter can keep it a little longer.

2 dogs behind safety rails
Image Credit: Alex Zotov, Shutterstock

7. What happens to shelter animals if they’re not adopted?

There are two primary options for shelter animals that aren’t adopted. The first is foster or rescue groups. They take in homeless dogs or cats to rehabilitate them and find them new homes.

The second option, which is becoming more popular, is to put the animal down. Not many people want their pet put down, but it’s an unfortunate reality.

What Kind Of Animals Are Housed At An Animal Shelter?

There’s a variety of different animals housed in a shelter. Some of the most common animals in a shelter include dogs, cats, raccoons, and skunks.

Most people have the popular belief that shelters house cats and dogs mostly. You may be surprised to learn that there are smaller animals, such as hamsters, gerbils, and birds, form the largest percentage of pets surrendered to shelters.

Thus, if your preference is not on cats and dogs, you can find other varieties such as reptiles and birds.

divider-multipetConclusion

Animal shelters and welfare organizations in the UK and around the globe help reduce the number of homeless and unwanted animals. They do this through adoption campaigns and rescue operations. Also, they can use marketing campaigns and other beneficial initiatives.

The time will come when we can say that we’ve achieved the goal of having enough people who can adopt pets from shelters as opposed to buying them from breeders or pet stores.

That’s when progress will be made towards reducing the number of homeless and unwanted animals. But, this is a big endeavor that will take a lot of effort from advocacy groups and individuals to get the ball rolling.


Featured Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

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