Dog Shelter and Adoption Statistics

Becky - author

Author: Becky Roberts
Last Updated: October 2020​

Due to minimal reporting requirements across the country, and differences in how data is collected and measured, it can be challenging to determine statistics for dog shelter intake and adoption.

Some of the most reputable sources for this information include the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Shelter Animals Count, the American Pet Products Association, the Humane Society of the United States, and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Here are some of the most interesting facts regarding shelter dogs and dog adoption in the United States (click here to go straight to our infographic):

  • According to the ASPCA, animal shelters across the country receive about 3 million dogs annually, down from 3.9 million in 2011. That’s about six dogs per minute!
  • Canine euthanasia rates have dropped nearly 42% in the last decade, but approximately 670,000 dogs are still euthanized every year per Shelter Animals Count data records.
  • Half of all shelter euthanizations occur in five US states (ordered from highest loss rate to lowest) Texas, California, Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia.
  • Two US states, Delaware and Michigan, currently hold status as “no-kill,” meaning 90% of all animals in shelters cumulatively across the state find homes.
  • Fewer dogs have been euthanized due to factors such as increasing adoption rates and the successful return of stray dogs to their owners.
  • Sterilization rates have also hit an all-time high at 83%, significantly reducing the number of stray dogs.
  • According to the ASPCA and Shelter Animals Count, about 1.6 million shelter dogs are adopted annually.
  • Approximately 620,000 dogs are returned to their owners following shelter entry as strays.
  • According to the American Pet Products Association, about 23% of dogs are adopted from an animal shelter or humane society, and 6% take in stray dogs on their own (reducing shelter intakes).
  • About 40% of pet owners become aware of a dog they later adopted through word of mouth.
  • The average dog waits 35 days to be adopted. Puppies are adopted the fastest (23 days on average), while older dogs wait longer (42 days).
  • Small dogs are adopted faster than large dogs, though color and gender don’t affect adoption rates.
  • Dogs are housed in approximately 3,500 animal shelters nationwide in the United States, based on 2014 data from the Humane Society of the United States.
  • There are about 10,000 rescue groups and animal sanctuaries across North America.
  • Human organizations spend, on average, $2.5 billion annually carrying for stray animals.
  • Animal control agencies spend an additional $800 million to $1 billion.
  • Of those dogs in shelters across the country, approximately 25% are purebred dogs.
  • The most common purebred dogs in shelters are pit bulls and other bully breeds, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Dachshunds, Jack Russel Terriers, Chihuahuas, and Beagles.
  • Bully breeds are adopted less frequently and put down more often than any other breed.
  • According to a report by the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, 47.4% of shelter dogs are between the ages of 5 months and 3 years old, and very few shelter dogs exceed age 8.
  • 4% of dogs are healthy at the time of shelter intake.
  • According to data from the National Rehoming Survey conducted by the ASPCA, 6% of owners rehome their dogs within the first 5 years.
  • 47% of dogs are rehomed due to pet problems that include problematic habits, aggressive behaviors, growth beyond expectations of owners, and overwhelming health problems.
  • 36% of owners who chose to rehome their dogs take them to a shelter.
  • Based on the biennial 2019-2020 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey, 4 million US households, or 38% per the American Veterinary Medical Association, own at least one dog.

The Infographic

Dog Shelter Infographic 1

Dog Shelter Infographic 2

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