Pet Abandonment, Pet Overpopulation, & Pets In Animal Shelters: Stats, Impact, & Cost

Pet abandonment & overpopulation, as well as the number of pets entering animal shelters each year worldwide, and in different countries, are significant problems.

In this guide, we outline the size of the issues with stats, outline the impact and effects, and also what it costs society.

We also look at potential solutions for addressing the issues.


Summary Of Pet Abandonment, Overpopulation, & Pets Entering Animal Shelters

The number of stray animals living just in the US is roughly 70 million

In countries with poor dog and cat population control, that number can be higher

In the US, about one million owners re-home their pets annually

In the US, about 5 to 7 million pets are admitted to animal shelters annually, and roughly 2.7 are euthanized

In the US, roughly 3.2 million shelter animal are adopted yearly

In the US, about 710,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners

The cost of caring for stray pets is roughly $2 billion a year in the US

Tax payers pay roughly $150 per stray pet (from capture, through to euthanizing).

The public or private cost for pets entering stray pet or abandoned pet care programs per day, per pet, can be roughly $25 according to some sources

There’s a range of potential effects and impacts on pets themselves, pet owners and people, public and private resources and costs to manage surrendered and stray pets, and veterinarian resources – to deal with pet abandonment and stray animals

There’s a range of potential solutions to deal with the issues of pet abandonment, overpopulation, and pets entering shelters.

There’s also programs and initiatives in place to help pet owners who are struggling with their responsibilities as a pet owner, or who are thinking of surrendering their pet


Stats On Stray Animals In The US

There are about 70 million stray animals living in the U.S



Stats On Re-Homing Of Pets Annually

[In the US] … on average, more than one million owners re-home their pets each year.



Stats On Pets Entering Animal Shelters Annually

… the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that 5–7 million pets are admitted to shelters each year in the US



More than 100,000 dogs and more than 30,000 cats enter animal shelters annually in Spain



Stats On Pets Being Euthanized Annually

Of the estimated 7.6 million animals who enter animal shelters each year, approximately 2.7 million are euthanized



Stats On Pet Shelter Adoption & Returning Pets To Their Owners

In the US:

Approximately 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.6 million dogs and 1.6 million cats).

About 710,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners. Of those, 620,000 are dogs and only 90,000 are cats.


Stats On Total Pet Ownership Numbers In The US

Read more about pet shelter stats, pet surrender and other pet statistics at


Financial Cost Of Stray Pets To Society

… the care of stray pets carries a large public and private cost (e.g. $2 billion per year in the in the US) 



[for] the impoundment, sheltering, euthanasia and subsequent disposal of homeless animals – U.S. taxpayers shell out between one to two billion dollars annually.



It costs approximately $150 to capture, house, feed, and eventually kill each stray animal – a cost which you, the taxpayer, eventually pay.



Other Impacts & Effects Of Abandoned Or Given Up Pets On Society

Might include:

– The physical and mental suffering of the pet.

In extreme cases when owners are told they will have to wait or pay to drop a pet off at an animal shelter – animals can be tortured or killed in brutal ways.

Read more about potential issues with some animal shelters at

– The suffering of the owner and family members (especially children)

– Council resources allocated to managing stray animals

– Human resources (time and money) allocated to managing and caring for stray and shelter animals

– The cost to vets who have to subsidize their services to help others out


Reasons Why People Give Up Their Pets

Read more on the reasons why people surrender or give up, or even re-home their pets in this guide.


Solutions To Pet Abandonment, Overpopulation, & Overcrowding Of Animal Shelters

We’ve already written a guide outlining how we might decrease the rates of pet abandonment, overpopulation, and overcrowding of animal shelters.

Some interesting approaches and solutions that have already shown to work in real life scenarios are:


Pet Owner Support Programs

One example is the ASPCA launched a “Safety Net” program, and another example is the program run by the Animal Humane Society.

The Safety Net program for example has obtained data that up to 80% of the people they help end up keeping their pets in the short/early term [but there is no long term data we could find yet].

Read more on them at:

The Need To Help People Keep Their Pets (

Why People Give Up Their Pets (

AHC Annual Report (


It’s been found in one survey that up to 80% of people are unaware of the resources out there to help support them and their pets, but up to 88% choose to pursue finding out about resources rather than going straight to surrendering their pet (


Pet Portals & Hotlines

RSPCA Queensland has a pet portal, and the Animal Human society has a pet helpline.

Both services help pet owners know their options when they are thinking of surrendering their pets.

Some results achieved from the pet portal are:

There has been 22% fewer surrenders from 2016-2017

Each pet that is surrendered to the RSPCA costs about $25/day to care for and the surrender portal have saved the RSPCA an estimated $800,000 in animal care costs

For every 9.59 views on the Surrender Portal, there was one pet owner that changed their mind about surrendering their pet


Read more on each service at:



Options To Consider Before Giving Up A Pet

There’s also this guide which outlines some options for people to consider before giving up their pet





















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