Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
Did you know that roughly 3.9 million dogs are currently in shelters across the United States? Many dogs end up in shelters for various reasons, and sadly, many are euthanized because no one adopted them. Some people prefer to buy from breeders because they want a puppy of a specific breed. Little do they know that dog shelters house 25% of purebred dogs on average. In short, you just may find the breed you’re looking for if you visit your local animal shelter.
In this article, we’ll discuss 14 shelter dog facts that will hopefully make you want to adopt rather than buy from a breeder. With your help, we can reduce the number of dogs in shelters. Read on to learn why you should adopt a dog from a shelter and what you can do to help.
14 Shelter Dog Facts That’ll Make You Want to Adopt
- Roughly 3.9 million dogs enter US animal shelters per year.
- Approximately 2 million dogs are adopted yearly.
- On average, only 1 out of 10 dogs born will find forever homes.
- Only 10% of animals entering shelters are spayed/neutered
- Roughly 710,000 dogs enter shelters every year.
- An estimated 10,000 puppy mills exist within the US.
- Only 5% of senior dogs are adopted yearly from shelters.
- Community dog intakes into shelters rose 11% between Jan 2021 to June 2022.
- Approximately 83% of dogs and cats were saved in 2021.
- Due to housing issues, 14.1% of dogs were surrendered to shelters.
- Roughly 390,000 dogs are euthanized in shelters per year.
- Between January and June of 2022, 7.4% of dogs were euthanized in the US.
- Approximately 25% of dogs in animal shelters are purebred.
- 75% of dogs in shelters are mixed breeds, or “designer dogs.”
US Dog Shelter Facts
1. Roughly 3.1 million dogs enter US animal shelters per year.
Sadly, that number is still high. However, this number has come down from 3.9 million since 2011. Adopting a dog is a huge commitment, and woefully, many families go into it lightly and end up surrendering the dog due to a lack of education on how to care for the dog. Some families simply give up too soon on behavioral issues or lack patience for training.
2. Approximately 2 million dogs are adopted yearly
While that number seems high, the amount of dogs entering shelters each year is still staggering, making adoption awareness imperative. As you can see, millions of dogs in shelters need forever homes, and you can adopt one for more than half the cost of buying through a breeder.
3. On average, only 1 out of 10 dogs born will find forever homes.
One out of 10 dogs that find their forever homes is simply unacceptable—that number should be 10 out of 10, making dog adoption awareness more crucial than ever. Some people do not have the patience or knowledge on how to train, which ultimately ends up with the dog entering a shelter.
4. Only 10% of animals entering shelters are spayed/neutered.
Spaying/neutering your dog is one of the most responsible aspects of dog ownership. Unfixed dogs may escape a yard and roam free, which can lead to an unplanned pregnancy. Remember, only one out of 10 dogs born will find forever homes, and spaying/neutering can cut this statistic drastically.
5. Roughly 710,000 dogs enter shelters every year.
Another important aspect of dog ownership is microchipping or keeping a collar on your dog with your contact information and the dog’s name. This number could be greatly reduced if more dog owners took the time to ensure their dogs won’t wind up in a shelter—shelters are overcrowded as it is.
6. An estimated 10,000 puppy mills exist within the US.
(The Puppy Mill Project)
No puppy mills should exist within the United States. Both licensed and unlicensed puppy mills exist, and if you buy a dog from a pet store or off the internet, odds are you are contributing to the problem.
7. Only 5% of senior dogs are adopted yearly from shelters.
Sadly, senior pets get overlooked because most people want a puppy. Senior pets may be more at risk for health issues, but most likely, senior pets will be housetrained and well-behaved pets. All dogs deserve a forever home, even seniors, and you can help a senior live out its best final days by adopting.
8. Community dog intakes into shelters rose 11% between January 2021 to June 2022
(Shelters Animal Count)
The reasons vary from person to person and usually involve certain scenarios, such as the dog not being a good fit, the dog bit someone, the owner’s health declining, and so on. Adopting through a shelter can help a dog regain a loving home, especially if its owner has passed away or is too ill to care for the dog any longer.
9. Approximately 83% of dogs and cats were saved in 2021.
This rate percentage is good, but we should strive for at least 90%. Only 10% of animals euthanized are due to health or mental issues that are beyond repair, which means aiming for 90% should be a realistic goal. In 2015, the percentage was 64% and has since had a steady incline. Through awareness programs and education, we can make this number 90%.
10. Due to housing issues, 14.1% of dogs were surrendered to shelters.
Many renters run into the problem where no dogs are allowed for the tenant. Some landlords are skeptical about renting to people with dogs, but with some time and effort, you can find a place that allows pets, so you don’t have to surrender your dog. Reach out to family and friends to see if they know of pet-friendly listings. Creating a resume for your dog may come in handy, too! You can offer the landlord to meet your pet and be willing to pay a little more if need be.
US Euthanasia Dog Statistics
11. Roughly 390,000 dogs are euthanized in shelters per year.
This number is not comforting, but it is a big decline from the 2.6 million dogs euthanized in 2011. Dogs that were returned to their owners and adoptions from shelters are partly to credit for the decline. As you can see, ensuring your dog has your contact information and adopting rather than buying from a breeder makes a significant impact on the declining number of dog euthanasia.
12. Between January and June of 2022, 7.4% of dogs were euthanized in the US.
(Shelter Animals Count)
Keep in mind this percentage is for only 5 months. Even though this number should be significantly lower, it’s still lower than it was in 2019, which was 8%. Overcrowding is the ultimate reason why dogs are euthanized; the shelters simply do not have the room to house all animals, and euthanasia is sadly the outcome.
US Purebred and Mixed Breeds in Shelters Statistics
13. Approximately 25% of dogs in animal shelters are purebred.
Some people elect to buy from a breeder because they want a purebred dog, but if you’re willing to spend the time looking in shelters, odds are you’ll find the breed you desire. Many perks accompany this decision, such as saving the life of a dog and saving money, as dogs in shelters are much less expensive and have had all shots.
14. 75% of dogs in animal shelters are mixed breeds, or “designer dogs.”
Designer dogs have become the craze over the last few years. Examples of designer dogs are Labradoodles (a cross between a Labrador and a Poodle) and Goldendoodles (a cross between a Golden Retriever and a Poodle). The idea is to breed two purebred dogs with exceptional temperaments and behaviors to create one special dog. Also known as “mutts,” these dogs make wonderful family members, and with this high percentage or 75%, you can find a remarkable dog in a shelter that needs a forever home for over half the cost.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dogs in Shelters
What Is Life Like for a Dog in a Shelter?
Shelter dogs long to be in a forever home. When one visits a shelter, the dogs will be both excited and nervous to interact with you. Sometimes, a dog may come off hyper and overlooked, but you must remember that these dogs are in a shelter, and any engagement will result in an excited dog.
On the other hand, some dogs may be too shy to approach you and hang out in the corner of their run; that doesn’t mean the dog won’t make an exceptional companion; it’s just too shy to show you how much it wants a forever home.
Some dogs enter shelters as siblings, and they want to stay together. We implore you to adopt both dogs if you run into that situation for the dogs’ sake. Siblings or bonded pups do not want to be separated, and they’ll be happier staying together. (Reader’s Digest)
How Long Do Dogs Stay In Shelters Before Being Euthanized?
Typically, dogs may be euthanized in as little as 5–7 days. Sometimes, it can be as little as 48–72 hours. This time period is deemed a “holding period” and is active in over thirty states. Most shelters provide this time in case the dog is claimed by its owner. Remember that roughly 710,000 dogs that enter shelters are returned to their owners.
Overcrowding is a common reason because shelters do not have the room to accommodate every animal at any one time. Every state is different, and it really depends on your particular state’s animal laws. (Michigan State University)
Do Some States Outlaw Euthanasia of Companion Animals?
We are ecstatic to report that the Best Friends Animal Society has launched a “No-Kill 2025” campaign that aims to succeed in saving 90% of cats and dogs that enter shelters. Only around 10% of dogs and cats that enter shelters have medical or behavioral issues beyond repair, and euthanasia is necessary due to no quality of life–that leaves 90% to have the chance of being rehomed.
Currently, Delaware and New Hampshire are the only no-kill states in the country with at least a 90% save rate. The ultimate goal of the no-kill 2015 campaign is to save every dog and cat in every state that does not need to be euthanized simply because they have not been adopted. (Best Friends)
Why Adopt From a Shelter Rather Than a Breeder?
Adopting a dog from a shelter is much cheaper than buying from a breeder. Dogs end up in shelters for various reasons, such as divorce, a change in finances, or a move where the dog was not allowed. With that said, most dogs in shelters are housetrained and have had all shots, been microchipped, and spayed/neutered, all of which decreases the cost.
Simply put, if the public adopted from a shelter or rescue, fewer dogs would be in shelters. Dogs in shelters deserve a forever home and a good life, and if you’re looking for a companion animal, you’ll find exactly that by saving a shelter dog’s life. (Humane Society)
What Can I Do to Help Shelters?
Not everyone can adopt a dog, but there are other ways you can help your local shelter. You can make a monetary donation or simply volunteer your time. It takes a substantial amount of money to run shelters, and your donation can go a long way. Shelters welcome any help, regardless of the state you live in, and by volunteering in any way you can, you’ll be making an impact on dogs’ lives. (Humane Society)
Adopting a dog is a commitment and one that should never be entered into lightly. Ensure you can afford to adopt and take care of a dog before committing, and if you’re not in the position to adopt, you can always volunteer or make a monetary donation at your local shelter.
Every dog deserves a great life–they do not understand why they are in a shelter, and all they want is love in return, they will give you unconditional love until their last day. Remember, adopt, don’t shop.
Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock