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Millions of animals are waiting to come home with you. Are you ready?

The statistics are staggering. And these are just the statistics for the United States. The problem is even greater in other parts of the work.

Facts about U.S. Animal Shelters

There are about 5,000 community animal shelters nationwide that are independent; there is no national organization monitoring these shelters. The terms “humane society” and “SPCA” are generic; shelters using those names are not part of the ASPCA or the Humane Society of the United States. Currently, no government institution or animal organization is responsible for tabulating national statistics for the animal protection movement.

  • Approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats). Shelter intakes are about evenly divided between those animals relinquished by owners and those picked up by animal control. These are national estimates; the percentage of euthanasia may vary from state to state.

  • According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), less than 2 percent of cats and only 15 to 20 percent of dogs are returned to their owners. Most of these were identified with tags, tattoos or microchips.

  • Twenty-five percent of dogs who enter local shelters are purebred. (Source: NCPPSP)

  • Only 10 percent of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered, while 78 percent of pet dogs and 88 percent of pet cats are spayed or neutered, according to the American Pet Products Association (Source: APPA).

  • More than 20 percent of people who leave dogs in shelters adopted them from a shelter. (Source: NCPPSP)

Facts about Pet Ownership in the U.S.

  • About 62 percent of all households in the United States have a pet. (Source: APPA)

  • About 78.2 million dogs and about 86.4 million cats are owned in the United States. (Source: APPA)

  • According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), about 65 percent of pet owners acquire their pets free or at low cost.

  • The majority of pets are obtained from acquaintances and family members. Twenty-six percent of dogs are purchased from breeders, 20 to 30 percent of cats and dogs are adopted from shelters and rescues, and 2 to 10 percent are purchased from pet shops.

  • At least one-third of cats are acquired as strays. (Source: APPA)

  • More than 20 percent of people who leave dogs in shelters adopted them from a shelter. (Source: NCPPSP)

  • The cost of spaying and neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising puppies or kittens for one year.

  • The average cost of basic food, supplies, medical care and training for a dog or cat is $600 to $900 annually. Seventy-eight percent of pet dogs and 88 percent of pet cats are spayed or neutered. (Source: APPA)

Facts about Pet Overpopulation in the U.S.

  • It is impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States; estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.

  • The average number of litters a fertile cat produces is one to two a year; the average number of kittens is four to six per litter.

  • The average number of litters a fertile dog produces is one a year; the average number of puppies is four to six.

  • Owned cats and dogs generally live longer, healthier lives than strays.

  • Many strays are lost pets who were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.

  • Only 10 percent of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered, while 78 percent of pet dogs and 88 percent of pet cats are spayed or neutered.

  • The cost of spaying or neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising puppies or kittens for a year.

So where do you begin?

You don't need to adopt millions of animals to do it. You just need to understand the situation. You need to understand how you can help with your pets, your children, your friends, your neighbors, your community, and yourself.

The little day to day things that we do will make a difference. Take the time to find out more about animal homelessness. Find out how you can prevent your own pets from becoming lost. Talk to your veterinarian to find out what is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies. And, if you have room in your home, please consider visiting your local animal shelter and giving a homeless animal a place in your home.

We all are waiting for you.

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