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Michael Hamilton By Michael Hamilton • September 18, 2018

The missing pet epidemic in the United States- facts and figures.

The missing pet problem in the United States is more than just a problem- it's an epidemic.

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IMG_1284.jpgIf you have a dog or a cat, the chances of you reporting him lost at some point in his lifetime is 1 in 3 and if that happens the odds are close to 80% against you that you will NEVER see him again. He will remain stolen or placed in a shelter where he can be euthenized anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 days of arrival. 
 

The American Humane Association estimates that every year close to 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the US alone every single year. source and 1 out of 3 pets will become lost at some point in their lifetime source.

From this (not even accounting for strays)* we can glean that closer to 10 million are killed in the US each year as noted below- (opposed to the ambiguous and under reported numbers reported by the ASPCA).

According to the ASPCA, only 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year and approximately 2.7 million of them are euthanized (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats) out of 3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats. It is also estimated by the ASPCA that approximately 3.7 million animals were euthanized in the nation’s shelters in 2008. A difference of 1 million is quite substantial. Typo or not - and it isn't as if the findings are from 2 separate reports.

Either way, not only are these reported stats totally inconsistent, they are grossly under reported. We are currently compiling more conclusive data that we will make available for the curious public to view in a thorough report upon completion. For starters, here is one of numerous credible sources we have found. http://www.americanhumane.org/fact-sheet/animal-shelter-euthanasia-2/

In another 2009 study of more than 7,700 stray animals that wound up at the ASPCA showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 2.2% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time. (Lord et al, JAVMA, July 15, 2009). The purpose of the study was to show that microchipping works. Either way these numbers are distressing.


Conservative estimate (JAVMA study) sample:

  • 7700 lost pets with microchips
  • 3850 dogs
  • 3850 cats
  • 1848 dogs with microchips were killed (48%)
  • 2387 cats with microchips were killed (62%) 

According to the Coalition for Reuniting Pets and Families (2005), less than 23% of lost pets in the U.S. are reunited with their owners. In contrast, 47% of lost dogs are reunited with their owners in the United Kingdom, where ISO standard chips are available and a more efficient database is utilized.


Conservative estimate:

  • 30 million pets lost/missing/stolen every year in the US.
  • 6 million returned to rightful pet owners
  • 24 million pets stolen or killed every year in the US alone.
  • 10,000,000 killed

National euthanasia statistics are difficult to pinpoint because animal care and control agencies are not uniformly required to keep statistics on the number of animals taken in, adopted, euthanized or reclaimed. While many shelters know the value of keeping statistics, no national reporting structure exists to make compiling any national statistics on these figures possible.

However, American Humane is one of the founding members of the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy. “Unfortunately, the most recent statistics published by the National Council are from 1997, and only 1,000 shelters replied to the survey at that time. Using the National Council’s numbers from 1997 and estimating the number of operating shelters in the United States to be 3,500 (the exact number of animal shelters operating in the United States does not exist), these estimates were made:”

25 percent of dogs and 24 percent of cats that enter animal shelters are adopted.


Actual:

Out of the 1,000 shelters 0f 3,500 that replied to the National Council’s survey, 4.3m per were reported euthanized: + (4.3m).5 = 15.1 million. 9,664,000 million animals were handled and in 1997, roughly 64 percent of the total number of animals that entered shelters were euthanized — approximately 2.7 million animals in just these 1,000 shelters. From these numbers we can glean an approximate size of the actual euthanasia rate. 1.35 + 8.1 = 9.45 million killed.

Conclusion: the ASPCA grossly under reports the number of pets they Euthanize.

* What is defined as a "stray" varies from shelter to shelter.


Related Content:

Data driven ways to get pets out of shelters

Scan the Chip! Saving Pets and Preventing Pet theft

Cleaning up the pet microchip mess.     

The AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Tool falls short.