Many people long for companionship from animals. A dog, a cat, a hamster, having a furry friend 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. The relevant pet adoption statistics and facts below can help you learn about the state of the animals we like to take on as companions.

Namely, many of our furry friends are out there, on the streets. Even if they’re “just” animals, it’s a shame having them outside in the cold, left to fend for themselves.  On a more practical level, high populations of strays carry with them their own set of problems. 

So, before you decide whether you want to adopt a new family member (or maybe convince someone to do so), read the article below, and learn a bit about pet shelters and adoption.

Key Pet Adoption Statistics & Facts to Be Aware of in 2019

  • Euthanasia rates in the United States are plummeting, they are 75% lower compared to 2009.
  • Around 1.5 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year in America.
  • Most black pets in shelters end up euthanized.
  • Estimates point towards the existence of roughly 70 million strays on the streets in the US.
  • Every year, 6.5 million animal companions end up in shelters.
  • Around 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred.
  • People adopt stray cats much more often than they do dogs.
  • In regard to adoption sources, stray cats (27%) are adopted more often than dogs (6%).
  • Most dogs are acquired from shelters (23%) and breeders (34%).
  • The USA has the largest global dog and cat population, at nearly 70 million and over 74 million, respectively.

General Pet Adoption Facts and Stats

1. Most black pets in shelters end up euthanized.

(PETA 2) (HuffPost)

The relevant black cat adoption statistics are unfortunately rather clear. Due to decades of ignorance, superstition, and general intolerance, almost all black cats that end up in shelters get euthanized. Correlated and associated with bad luck, black cats make up the majority of shelter animals that get euthanized.

Although once facing the same kind of discrimination (there’s even a term for it – black dog syndrome), black dog adoption statistics are starting to turn around. Recent data shows that these dogs are doing OK following campaigns which encouraged people to adopt black dogs. However, black pit bulls still wait the longest time to get adopted, and many of them end up euthanized, unfortunately.

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. While we will deal with how much does it cost to adopt a dog from a shelter in our FAQ section, 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 greatly 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 as well as the cat population in the world. There are 69,929,000 dogs in the US, with runners up China and Russian being far behind, at 27,400,000 and 12,520,000, respectively.

As far as cats are concerned, the numbers are closer. The US has 74,059,000 cats, China is at 53,100,000, while Russia is at 17,800,000.

4. On average, people adopt stray cats much more often than they do dogs.

(American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

The pet adoption stats gathered by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals point towards an interesting fact. Namely, of all the dogs that are adopted on a yearly basis, 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 pretty similar for cats (31% coming 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.

5. A quarter of pets ending up in shelters have been previously abandoned by their owners.

(American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

Both dog and cat adoption statistics show that a quarter of animals ending up in shelters have been abandoned by their owners. While most animals in shelters have, indeed, been on the streets for some time (essentially strays), too many are simply left by their owners. Whatever the reason – financial troubles, too many obligations, or simple neglect – the point stands that 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 shows that the perception people have towards rescue dogs is shifting. Namely, people now see that having a rescue is a badge of honor. Matt Bershadker, the president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals claims that adopting a dog from a shelter is now seen in a much more beneficial light than before, and this is clearly reflected in the latest rescue dog statistics.

America and Pets

7. Euthanasia rates in the US are plummeting.

(New York Times)

Statistics on animal adoption also report that pet euthanasia rates are much lower than before. In fact, in big cities, this rate has decreased by around 75% when compared to 2009, 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.


The relevant shelter pet adoption facts show that a huge number of Americans own a family pet. It has been estimated that there are around 127 million households in America. Of this number, 85 million own a pet, of which around 60 million has a cat or a dog.

9. Around 90% of American claim that their pet is a part of their family.


According to a survey and pet adoption statistics found on, 9 in 10 Americans who have adopted a pet claim that their pet is, in fact, a part of their family. They treat their furry friends almost as their equals, having substantial emotional and financial investment in them.

(American Pet Products Association)

While animal shelter adoption statistics indicate that roughly 63 million households have dogs and 42 million have cats, people also like adopting birds and freshwater fish. In fact, 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 is valued at around $774 million. 

(Code Condo)

More and more people are insuring their pets. And there are many insurance companies out there, most of them under the cover of the NAPHIA, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, which is a collation of more than 20 different pet issuance brands. This industry has been valued at over three-quarters of a billion dollars. 

12. Every year, 6.5 million animal companions end up in shelters.

(American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

The data gathered by the ASPCA shows that there are over 6.5 million animals that enter US shelters on a yearly basis. Of this number, the pet adoption statistics show that 3.3 million of these animals are just our canine friends, while 3.2 million are cats. 

13. Around $72 billion has been spent on pets in the United States in 2018.

(American Pet Products Association)

According to the data gathered by the American Pet Products Association, $72.6 billion is spent on our pets every year. Of this number, roughly $30 billion goes to food, $16 billion to supplies and over the counter medicine, $18 billion on veterinarians, and the rest going onto “other” expenses.

Data on Shelters and Adoptions

14. Better sterilization and education practices lead to lower euthanasia rates.

(Animals – Basel – NCBI)

pet adoption facts and statistics from 2018 point towards the evolution and improvement of dog management in the United States. This paper, among other claims, states that euthanasia has dropped significantly. Some of the core factors purported by this analysis are the implementation of 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 pet adoption stats is that there are actually purebred dogs in shelters. While this generally shouldn’t matter, as a dog without a pedigree isn’t any less valuable than a dog that has one, it’s still a piece of information that not many people know. Namely, there are individuals who 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, as well as 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, the relevant pet adoption statistics for North America, gathered by the Humane Society, points towards around 10,000 animal sanctuaries and rescue organizations being located on the North American continent.

17. Shelters are too full, and approximately 2.7 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year.

(American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

One of the darker animal adoption facts is that, sadly, animal adoption simply doesn’t happen fast enough. Every year around 2.7 million dogs and cats are put to sleep, due to overflowing shelters. While euthanasia numbers are certainly dwindling, and no-kill shelters are gaining traction, this is still a serious tragedy.

18. Estimates point towards the existence of roughly 70 million strays on the streets in the US.

(American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

All the information, the dog adoption statistics, cat gathering data, these all point towards at least some positive trends, like the lowering of euthanasia trends, and the growing number of families treating their pets as one family members. However, the ASPCA estimates that there are around 70 million furry souls wandering the streets of the US.

19. A great number of strays are lost pets with no proper identification.

(American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

According to cat adoption facts, most strays found on the streets did not grow up there. Rather, 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 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. 

The relevant statistics on pet adoption point towards half of all American households having a cat or a dog at home (explaining a tripled ownership rate in less than half a century). 


21. What percentage of pets are adopted?

According to the Humane Society of the United States, every year around 3.2 million cats and dogs are adopted from shelters (both are pretty evenly distributed). They also claim that around 25% of dogs and around 24% of cats found in shelters get adopted.

22. 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.

23. How to adopt a pet?

Adopting a pet is actually pretty straightforward. First, find a good 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 as well as show you around. Once you find your future family member, you need to sign some papers.

Know that many shelters in America have a right to take a look at your living situation, and 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.

24. 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 instances of lab testing, dogfighting, and general mistreatment that simply isn’t recognized until it’s too late.

25. How long do animals stay in shelters before being put down?

This depends greatly on the shelter. However, by law, they need to wait at least 72 hours before they can euthanize an animal. Many places will actually hold on until the animal finds its owner, or until it 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.

26. 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.

27. How much does it cost to adopt a dog?

One of the things that really scare people when it comes to bringing home an adopted dog is the cost. However, these fees are rarely anything near substantial. General adoption fees range between $50 and $300.

28. 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.

29. How much does it cost to adopt a cat?

Just like with dogs, adoption fees for cats vary depending on the shelter, its age, behavior… Know that kittens often carry larger adoption fees. Similar to dogs, the fees range between $50 and $200.

30. How to adopt an emotional support dog?

Now, bringing home an adopted dog that is also a real emotional support dog is not easy. Namely, you need documented proof from licensed psychologists or therapists that you indeed 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. As far as how to get one – get in contact with certain service dog organizations, or things of that nature.

31. How old do you have to be to adopt a dog?

In order to legally adopt a dog, you need to be at least 18 years old.

32. 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 owners of the newly adopted dog, keep an eye on them, and bail if you see anything fishy.

33. Why should you adopt a pet rather than buy?

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.

34. How to adopt a stray cat?

Adopting a stray cat is not as simple as simply picking it up and carrying it home. First, you need to be certain 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.

35. How long does a dog adoption process take?

While these processes do 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. 

36. When is national pet adoption day?

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. The above pet adoption statistics, facts, and dedicated FAQ section have hopefully answered some questions you might have had, as well as enlightening you on things you 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!


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