Rachel is a stay-at-home pet mom, caring for her dog, cat, turtle, tortoise, and fish. She's a content writer in various niches but most notably in the pet field, educating pet parents on the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, or organizing something.

How Many Shelter Dogs Are There In The USA?

Rachel Poli Author
May 4 ·
shelter dogs in the USA

How many shelter dogs are there in the USA, and how did they get placed in the shelter in the first place? The answer might surprise you, so let’s talk about it. 

Quick Facts About Dogs In United States Animal Shelters

Let’s go over some quick statistics about dogs in animal shelters in the United States. Unfortunately, more dogs end up in animal shelters than you’d think. Sadly, not all of them have a happy ending.

How Many Dogs Are In Shelters Across The USA?

Across the United States, there are about 14,000 animals shelters and rescue organizations. These places take dogs, cats, and other animals. However, some rescue places will only take dogs or certain breeds of dogs.

About six million animals are brought into shelters in all of these places. Nearly three million of these animals are dogs.

How Many Shelter Dogs Are Euthanized Each Year In The USA?

Sadly, about 920,000 of these dogs are euthanized every year. While there are no-kill shelters, some shelters simply don’t have room for all of these animals.

So, dogs may get euthanized if they’ve been at the shelter for weeks. Also, it could be because they’re too old, disabled, or too sick.

If the illness is the cause of euthanization, it’s most likely because the dog didn’t have much chance at survival anyway. Or the shelter might not be able to cover the costs of care.

Most shelters and rescues are non-profit organizations. They’re run by volunteers and keep going by donations and adoption fees.

How Many Of These Dogs Are Rehomed In The USA?

While many dogs are euthanized each year, the number of dogs that find new homes vastly outweighs the euthanizations.

Remember, three million dogs end up in shelters across the United States. About two million of these dogs, which is way more than half, get rehomed.

No matter their age or breed, these dogs are lucky enough to get paired with a new forever, loving home. They get adopted by families that are right for them.

So, no matter how they end up in the shelter, they get a happy ending.

How Often Do Stray Dogs Get Reunited With Their Owners?

About 810,000 animals are caught from the streets as strays and brought to the animal shelter. Seven hundred ten thousand of these animals are dogs, while the rest are cats.

That’s a lot of stray dogs. These dogs accidentally escape their backyard or leash on a walk-in in most cases. They wander off, following a scent, and before they know it, they are lost.

Luckily, these 710,000 dogs are reunited with their owners. With the power of social media and word of mouth, people can look high and low for their furry friends. If caught, the dog is brought to the shelter, where they’ll do their best to locate the owner.

Lost animals are one of the reasons why it’s so important to get an ID tag for your dog’s collar and get them microchipped. It can happen to anyone, so if your dog gets lost and an animal shelter picks them up, they’ll be able to locate you easily and reunite you and your four-legged friend.

Why Do Dogs End Up In Animal Shelters?

Dogs can end up in animal shelters for many reasons.

One reason is that they might have gotten lost in their home. As mentioned before, some dogs accidentally wander too far from home and get lost.

It might be too late for their owners to notice, but someone will find the pup and spread the word on social media about their whereabouts. If they can catch the doggo, they’ll bring them to an animal shelter. The shelter will care for the dog and do its best to find the owner.

Another reason is that the dog might have already been on the street. Maybe a stray had a litter of puppies, so the puppies were born without a home.

How do dogs become street dogs, though?

Sometimes, a lost pet is never found and ends up living on the streets. Sadly enough, some owners will abandon their dogs on the streets.

If you can no longer care for your animal, see if a family member or friend can take them in. Or bring them to the animal shelter and surrender them. 

Why Do Owners Surrender Their Dogs?

It’s sad but true. Unfortunately, some dog owners might have to give up their pets for several reasons.

For example, they might not be able to care for the dog anymore because of the following:

  • Financial obligations (the owner lost their job, have health issues with many medical bills, etc.)
  • The dog becomes ill, and the owner can’t care or afford the medical care
  • The owner is moving and can’t bring the dog with them (for example, they have to downgrade to an apartment that doesn’t allow animals)

If this ever happens, surrendering your dog is the best option. It’s sad to think about, but your pup will get adopted by someone who will love them and be able to care for them well. 

Adopt, Don’t Shop

Now that you know how many dogs end up in shelters and the various reasons why it’s a good idea to adopt from shelters. If you want to add a furry friend to your family, head to a shelter and give a pup a new, loving forever home.

Rachel Poli Author
Rachel is a stay-at-home pet mom, caring for her dog, cat, turtle, tortoise, and fish. She's a content writer in various niches but most notably in the pet field, educating pet parents on the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, or organizing something.
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