Facts & Figures

Pet Population Facts

Purebred dogs:

The American Kennel Club, the largest breed registration organization in the U.S. , registered 1,322,557 new individual dogs in 1996. This is an increase of 45,518 animals from 1995, in which 1,277,039 animals were registered. The HSUS estimates that 25-30% of the dogs that enter shelters nationwide are purebred.

Approximate number of animal shelters in the U.S. :

4,000 to 6,000

Average number of animals handled by an animal shelter in the U.S. each year:

5 to 7% of the human population of a community (5,000 to 7,000 animals per year in a community of 100,000 people).  

Number of dogs and cats in U.S. households

In 1996 there were approximately 52.9 million dogs and 59.1 million cats living in households in the United States . More households (31.6%) had dogs than cats (27.3%), but the average number of dogs per household was 1.69 and the average number of cats per household was 2.19. Thus, more households have dogs, but cat-owning household tend to own more cats. 

Estimated number of animals entering U.S. animal shelters annually:

8 to 12 million  

Estimated percentage of lost animals reunited with their guardians by U.S. animal shelters each year:

4% (cats) to 14% (dogs) 

Estimated number of animals euthanized by U.S. animal shelters each year because homes are not available:

4 to 6 million. Although the number of animals euthanized varies by geographic region, approximately 30-60% of all animals brought into animal shelters are euthanized nationwide.

Number of litters a female cat can produce: up to 3 per year

Number of kittens per litter: 4 to 6 in an average litter

Age at which a female cat can first produce a litter: 4 to 10 months

Gestation period (length of pregnancy) for cats: 58 to 70 days

Number of litters a female dog can produce: up to 2 per year

Number of puppies per litter:6-12 for medium or large breeds, 4 to 8 for smaller breeds

Age at which a female dog can first produce a litter: 7 to 9 months

Gestation period (length of pregnancy) for dogs: 58 to 71 days

Information obtained from: http://www.enter.net/~pstacks/petpop.htm

Pet Overpopulation

As a nation, we claim to love cats and dogs. Millions of households have pets, and billions of dollars are spent yearly on pet supplies and food. But as a nation, we should take a hard, sobering look at a different annual statistic: the millions of dogs and cats given up to shelters or left to die on the streets. And the numbers tell only half the story.
Every cat or dog who dies as a result of pet overpopulation—whether humanely in a shelter or by injury, disease, or neglect—is an animal who, more often than not, would have made a wonderful companion, if given the chance. Tremendous as the problem of pet overpopulation is, it can be solved if each of us takes just one small step, starting with not allowing our animals to breed. Here’s information about this crisis and why spaying and neutering is the first step to a solution.

Solving the Pet Overpopulation Problem

The solution can be simply stated. Its implementation, however, requires sweeping efforts from a variety of organizations and people, including you.

The solution is this:
Only by implementing widespread sterilization programs, only by spaying and neutering all companion animals, will we get a handle on pet overpopulation. Consider the fact that in six short years, one female dog and her offspring can give birth to 67,000 puppies. In seven years, one cat and her young can produce 420,000 kittens.

Given these high reproductive rates, it stands to reason that, in only a few years, carefully planned and implemented sterilization programs could produce a dramatic reduction in the number of unwanted companion animals born. In fact, in those towns and cities that have implemented such programs, we’ve already seen the number of companion animals who had to be euthanized decline by 30 to 60 percent—even in those communities where human populations have been steadily increasing.

But these programs don’t create themselves. They require the planning and coordination of many people. Successful pet population control programs range from subsidized sterilization clinics to cooperative efforts involving local veterinarians to mass media educational campaigns. Only through the continued nationwide establishment of such programs will we bring an end to the tragedy of pet overpopulation. 

Community-Based Solutions

Legislation can have the most direct impact simply by requiring that every pet adopted from a municipal or county shelter be sterilized within a certain period of time. Similarly, differential-licensing laws—laws that substantially increase license fees for pets who have not been spayed or neutered—give guardians an incentive to sterilize their pets.

Education, too, is an essential part of solving this problem. Unless people know the facts about pet overpopulation and sterilization, they are virtually helpless to do anything about the problem.

Reduced spay/neuter fees play an important role as well. Subsidized spay/neuter clinics and programs in some communities have already helped bring down the cost of sterilization. In areas where veterinarians have agreed to reduce their spay/neuter fees, we’ve seen a significant decline in the number of animals euthanized.

Finally, pet guardians can do their part by having their companion animals spayed or neutered. This is the single most important step you can take. Have your pet sterilized so that he or she does not contribute to the pet overpopulation problem, and adopt your next pet from an animal shelter.

Information gathered from: http://www.hsus.org/pets/issues_affecting_our_pets/pet_overpopulation_and_ownership_statistics