A dog, a cat, a hamster, having a pet by our side can make life (more than) a little bit better. And one of the more common ways you can get a pet is by adopting one.
Pet adoption statistics and facts below can help you learn about the state of the animals we like to take on as companions.
Before we continue on the subject, check out the top 10 stats and facts on pet adoption.
Key Pet Adoption Statistics for 2021
- Annual expenses for a dog add up to around $1,500 to $9,000.
- The USA has the largest global dog and cat population, at nearly 70 million and over 74 million, respectively.
- A quarter of pets ending up in shelters have been abandoned by their owners.
- The North American pet insurance industry surpassed $1.71 billion in 2019.
- Every year, more than 6.5 million animal companions end up in shelters.
- It’s estimated people have spent $99 billion on their pets in 2020.
- Around 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred.
- 2019 was the second consecutive year with less than a million euthanized pets.
- Compared to the 1970s, pet ownership in America has increased by more than 300%.
So, before you decide to adopt a new family member or convince someone to do so, read the article below, and learn a bit about pet shelters and adoption.
Elementary Pet Adoption Statistics
Many people long for companionship from animals. But, before you even start thinking about adopting a pet, you should get familiar with all the details.
1. Most black pets in shelters end up euthanized.
(PETA 2, HuffPost)
The relevant black cat adoption statistics are, unfortunately, straightforward. Almost all black cats that end up in shelters get euthanized.
This happens due to decades of ignorance, superstition, and general intolerance. Black cat adoption rates have slightly improved over the years.
Unfortunately, that’s not enough. Black cats are correlated and associated with bad luck. This is why they make up the majority of shelter animals that get euthanized.
Recent data reveals that these dogs are doing OK following campaigns that encouraged people to adopt black dogs.
Still, some are highly unlikely to get adopted. So, which dogs are least likely to be adopted? Black pit bulls still wait the longest time to get adopted, and many of them end up euthanized, as black dog syndrome statistics report.
2. Annual expenses for a dog add up to around $1,500 to $9,000.
(The Spruce Pets)
Too many people are dissuaded from getting a pet due to the expenses it can have. On the flip side, too many people get pets when not being able to actually take care of them.
We will deal with how much does it cost to adopt a dog from a shelter in our FAQ section. However, you should know that the general annual expenses of taking care of a dog (food, vet bills…) add up to around $1,500 to $1,900.
Of course, this cost can vary significantly due to the size of your dog (i.e., breed), health, as well as the cost of dog food and veterinary services in your area.
3. The USA has the largest global dog and cat population, at nearly 70 million and over 74 million, respectively.
Dog adoption facts and stats indicate that the United States of America has the largest dog and cat population globally.
There are 69.9 million dogs in the US, with runners-up China and Russia being far behind, at 27.4 and 12.5 million, respectively.
As far as cats are concerned, the numbers are closer. The US has over 94 million household cats, China is at 53.1, while Russia is at 17.8 million
4. On average, people adopt stray cats much more often than they do dogs.
The pet adoption stats gathered by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) show an interesting fact.
Namely, of all the yearly adopted dogs, 23% come from shelters, while only 6% are picked up from the streets. Then, 34% comes from breeders, while another 20% comes from friends and family.
However, while the other numbers are similar for cats (31% from shelters, 28% from friends and family), only 3% of cat adoptions come from breeders. A whopping 27% of adopted cats come from the streets, according to the stray animals statistics.
5. A quarter of pets ending up in shelters have been abandoned by their owners.
Both dog and cat adoption statistics show that a quarter of animals ending up in shelters have been abandoned by their owners.
Most animals in shelters have been on the streets for some time — essentially strays. Sadly, too many are simply left by their owners.
There are many reasons – financial troubles, too many obligations, or simple neglect. But, the point stands — too many people rush into getting a pet.
6. Public perception of rescue dogs is shifting.
(New York Times)
The animal adoption statistics and data gathered by the NYT show that people’s perception of rescue dogs is shifting. Namely, people now see that having a rescue is a badge of honor.
Matt Bershadker, the ASPCA president, claims that adopting a dog from a shelter is now seen in a much more beneficial light than before. It’s clearly reflected in the latest shelter and homeless animals statistics.
America and Pets
Most Americans love their pets. More than 90% of pet owners even consider them a part of the family. Yet, some rush to get a pet and then abandon them. Ever wondered how many dogs are in shelters? We’ve got the answer.
7. Euthanasia rates in the US are plummeting.
(New York Times)
Statistics also report that pet euthanasia rates are much lower than before. In fact, this rate has decreased by around 75% in big cities compared to more than a decade ago.
A pet being rescued, returned to the community, or simply adopted is now much more likely.
8. Around 85 million families in America own a pet.
Pet ownership statistics for 2019 show that a considerable number of Americans own a family pet.
It has been estimated that there are over 128 million households in America. More than 85 million of them own a pet, and the most popular are dogs, cats, and fish, in that order.
9. Around 90% of Americans claim that their pet is a part of their family.
We researched surveys and pet adoption statistics. As it turns out, 9 in 10 Americans who have adopted a pet claim that their pet is a part of their family.
They treat their pets almost as their equals, having substantial emotional and financial investment in them.
10. After dogs and cats, freshwater fish and birds are the most popular pets.
Pet adoption statistics show that roughly 63 million households have dogs and 42 million have cats. However, people also like adopting birds and freshwater fish.
There are around 11.5 million households that own freshwater fish and around 5.7 million who have birds. Note, there is, of course, a great deal of overlap, where often families have more than one pet.
11. The North American pet insurance industry surpassed $1.71 billion in 2019.
(Code Condo, NAPHIA)
According to pet adoption statistics from 2019, more and more people are insuring their pets. More than 2.81 million pets were insured in 2019 alone.
There are many excellent insurance companies out there. Most of them are under cover of the NAPHIA — the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. This is a coalition of more than 20 different pet issuance brands.
12. Every year, more than 6.5 million animal companions end up in shelters.
The data gathered by the ASPCA shows that there are over 6.5 million animals that enter US shelters every year.
But, what percentage of dogs end up in shelters? Of this number, approximately 3.3 million are dogs, while 3.2 million are cats.
13. It’s estimated people have spent $99 billion on their pets in 2020.
According to the APPA, every year, people spend over $90 billion on their pets. Pet adoption statistics for 2020 estimate that people have spent:
- Over $38 billion on food and treats
- More than $19 billion on supplies and OTC medicine
- Over $30 billion on product sales and vet care
The rest — some $10 billion, goes on “other” expenses, such as grooming, boarding, insurance, etc.
Animal Adoption and Abandonment Statistics
People are warming up to the idea of adopting a pet instead of buying one. Sadly, the number of stray pets and animals in shelters is still enormous. Some get adopted, but the least lucky ones are typically euthanized.
But how many kill shelters are in the US? Keep reading to get all the answers.
14. Better sterilization and education practices lead to lower euthanasia rates.
(Animals – Basel – NCBI)
Pet adoption facts and stats point towards the evolution and improvement of dog management in the United States.
There are states where euthanasia has dropped significantly. They’ve implemented shelter sterilization policies, better sterilization practices, and different licensing fees.
15. Around 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred.
(The Humane Society of the United States)
One of the lesser-known animal shelter data is that there are actually purebred dogs in shelters.
This generally shouldn’t matter. A dog without a pedigree isn’t any less valuable than a dog with one. This is still a piece of information few people know.
Namely, some individuals abandon purebred dogs (or the dogs simply run away), which make up one-quarter of all shelter dogs.
16. There are around 3,500 animal shelters in the United States and 10,000 animal sanctuaries and rescue groups on the North American continent.
(The Humane Society)
While more can always be done, it should be pointed out that there are around 3,500 animal shelters all around the United States.
Furthermore, Humane Society’s pet adoption statistics show some 10,000 animal sanctuaries and rescue organizations are located on the North American continent.
17. 2019 was the second consecutive year with less than a million euthanized pets.
(ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society)
One of the darker animal adoption facts is that, sadly, animal adoption simply doesn’t happen fast enough. 625,000 pets were put to sleep in 2019 due to overflowing shelters.
While euthanasia numbers are certainly dwindling, and no-kill shelters are gaining traction, this is still a severe tragedy.
18. Estimates point towards the existence of roughly 70 million strays on the streets in the US.
All the information, dog adoption statistics, cat gathering data show at least some positive trends. Some of them being lowering of euthanasia numbers and the growing number of families treating their pets as a family member.
However, the ASPCA estimates that around 70 million furry souls are wandering the streets of the US.
19. A significant number of strays are lost pets with no proper identification.
According to lost pet statistics, most strays found on the streets did not grow up there. Instead, they are pets that have been lost and that can’t be identified.
20. Compared to the 1970s, pet ownership in America has increased by more than 300%.
It seems everybody has a pet nowadays, and with good reason. They offer us protection, companionship, and, most important of all, unrequited love. So it’s not that great of a shock to know that pet ownership has actually tripled since the 1970s.
Statistics on pet adoption show that half of American households have a cat or a dog (explaining a tripled ownership rate in less than half a century).
21. Some shelters were rehoming up to 13 dogs a day during the Covid-19 pandemic.
(The Washington Post, Business Wire)
Pet adoption statistics during Covid have both soared and plummeted. Shelters and sanctuaries report that people were going crazy over adopting dogs. Some shelters were rehoming up to 13 dogs a day!
Unfortunately, other animals weren’t as lucky. Due to the pandemic, the overall adopting numbers have dropped by 36%.
22. How many pets are adopted each year?
According to the Humane Society of the United States, around 3.2 million cats and dogs are adopted from shelters every year. They also claim that around 25% of dogs and around 24% of cats found in shelters get adopted.
23. Why adopting a pet is the best choice?
Getting a pet from a shelter is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your family, and the animal in question. Here you get a loyal companion, a creature that will provide you with unconditional love and affection.
Becoming a pet owner is a great choice. You will most likely save their life and reduce the number of animals that will get euthanized.
24. How to adopt a pet?
Adopting a pet is actually pretty straightforward. First, find a suitable shelter in your vicinity. Go online, talk to friends, do whatever you can.
Once you reach the shelter, you will talk to someone there who will give you a form and show you around. Once you find your future family member, you need to sign some papers.
You should know that many shelters in America have a right to look at your living situation. They should assess whether you can provide a good home for your future adopted cat or dog.
Of course, these terms can differ between shelters and states, but the general rules apply.
25. How many animals are mistreated every year?
This is very difficult to answer. For example, there are somewhere around 1,000 to 2,000 cases of animal hoarding every year. Then, there are lab testing instances, dog fighting, and general mistreatment that’s not recognized until it’s too late.
26. How long does a dog stay in a pound before put to sleep?
This depends significantly on the shelter. However, by law, they need to wait at least 72 hours before euthanizing an animal.
Many places will hold on until the animal finds its owner or becomes an adopted pet to a loving family. However, sometimes resources are limited, and there is only so much they can do to provide for the animals they can foster.
27. Where to adopt a dog?
There are over 3,500 animal shelters in the US. Search online and visit the closest animal shelter near you to see whether they have the kind of dog you wanted to adopt.
28. How much does it cost to adopt a dog?
One of the things that really scare people when bringing home an adopted dog is the cost. However, these fees are rarely anything near substantial. General adoption fees range between $50 and $300.
29. How to adopt a cat?
Same as any other adopted animal—you can go to a shelter, talk to a friend, or if you’re willing to pay extra, go to a breeder. Always try to get one from a shelter; every life saved counts.
30. How much does it cost to adopt a cat?
Like dogs’, cats’ adoption fees vary depending on the shelter, age, behavior, etc. Know that kittens often carry higher adoption fees. Similar to dogs, the fees range between $50 and $200.
31. How to adopt an emotional support dog?
Now, bringing home an adopted dog that is also a real emotional support dog is not easy.
You need documented proof from licensed psychologists or therapists. They need to confirm that you suffer from an emotional disability and that you need this kind of pet.
You need to explain why you should adopt a pet and why that pet should be of the emotional support kind. How to get one—get in contact with specific service dog organizations or things of that nature.
32. How old do you have to be to adopt a dog?
To legally adopt a dog, you need to be at least 18 years old.
33. Where can I bring my dog for adoption?
Things happen – you get into financial trouble, your health starts failing, life happens. And for one reason or another, you have no other choice but to put your dog up for adoption.
How do you do that? Well, first, you get your dog to a dog shelter and have the people try their luck there. Or, you can post an ad, let it spread by word of mouth that you are looking to give away your puppy.
Just remember to vet the newly adopted dog owners, keep an eye on them, and bail if you see anything fishy.
34. Why should you adopt a pet rather than buy one?
Getting an adopted dog or cat is a much better choice than simply going to a breeder. You are saving a life, first and foremost. Many animals get euthanized in shelters, and by adopting one, you are doing your part to make things right.
Furthermore, many initial costs of getting a cat or a dog (such as spaying, neutering, vaccinations) tend to be covered by the shelter.
35. How to adopt a stray cat?
Adopting a stray cat is not as simple as merely picking it up and carrying it home.
First, you need to be sure that you can actually take care of it. Then, check if your hopefully newly adopted stray cat is an actual stray. Bring it to the vet, see if it has identification, like a microchip or ID tattoos.
36. How long does a dog adoption process take?
While these processes vary from place to place and shelter to shelter, a general rule of thumb is that it can last between one and two hours. It basically boils down to you filling out your paperwork and actually choosing the pet.
37. When is the National Pet Adoption Day?
The National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day is, well, the national day you should get a pet. It occurs on the 30th of April and is there to raise awareness about shelter animals.
As you can see, adopting a pet isn’t nearly as difficult or as complicated as you would think. And since so many people have pets of their own in the States, you will definitely find like-minded people to give you some extra tips.
We hope that our FAQ section, facts, and pet adoption statistics for 2021 have answered some questions you might have had. We believe they can enlighten people on things they might not have been aware of before.
So, what are you waiting for? Visit a local shelter, and get your home ready for a new family member!