Articles Articles (Essential)

Debunking Pet Overpopulation

The twitter version:

Enter? 8 M Savable? 7 M Saved? 4 M Killed (Savable)? 3 M Need homes? 2 M Looking for pet? 17 M

The blog version:

  1. How many dogs and cats enter shelters annually? 8 million. (Some put it as low as 6 million, but I am going to use a “worst case” scenario.)
  2. Of those how many are savable? 90 percent or just over 7 million.
  3. Of those how many will be saved? 4 million.
  4. How many of the savable animals are killed? 3 million.
  5. How many need to find new homes? If shelters are doing their jobs comprehensively, just over 2 million (3 million on the high end). The remainder should be increased reclaims or in the case of feral cats, TNR’d.
  6. Other than those who will adopt from a shelter as a matter of course (those saved above), how many people in the U.S. are looking to bring a new dog or cat into their home next year but have not decided where they will get the animal and can be influenced to adopt from a shelter? 17 million. So, 17 million people for 2-3 million dogs and cats.
  7. Has this happened anywhere? Yes, there are many communities which have hit the 90th percentile in save rates.
  8. How long did it take them? They did it virtually overnight when new leadership committed to the No Kill philosophy and passionate about saving lives replaced long standing bureaucrats mired in defeatism and excuse making.
  9. Are shelters doing all they can to influence those people to adopt from them? This is a rhetorical question. Click here (audio) for an all-too-common experience shared with me by a potential adopter when I was assessing a local shelter.
  10. Why don’t they do better? A failure of leadership among the national animal welfare groups such as ASPCA and HSUS, a crisis of uncaring among shelter managers, unfettered discretion to avoid putting in place the programs and services that save lives, and the built in excuse of pet overpopulation.

The book version:


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