Pet shelter intakes, outcomes down in spring 2023

In 2022, the number of cats and dogs adopted from pet shelters in the United States remained similar to the year before, with only a small increase.

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Both pet shelter intakes and outcomes, which include adoptions, declined slightly in the spring of 2023. Data from 24Pet’s ShelterWatch revealed this trends in pet adoptions in the United States. 24Pet is a software provider for animal welfare organizations.

In January 2023, outcomes and intakes were higher than last year. The number of dogs and cats taken in by pet shelters hit 46,807 during January of this year. In January 2022, that figure stood at 45,063. At the same time, adoptions, fostering and other outcomes rose to 56,563 in January 2023, over 54,156 in that month last year.

However, from February to May, both intakes and outcomes lagged last year’s figures. In May of this year, intakes declined to 83,529 from 84,770 in May 2022. Likewise, outcomes dropped to 58,355 from 60,389 in May 2022.

24Pet’s data on intake, adoption or fostering came from more than 1,000 pet shelters in the U.S.

Dog, cat adoptions from US shelters up slightly in 2022

In 2022, the number of cats and dogs adopted from pet shelters in the United States remained similar to the year before, with only a small increase. Cat adoptions increased more than dogs in 2022 compared to 2021, according to data from 24Pet’s ShelterWatch.

Dog adoption numbers stood at 398,477 in 2022, a slight increase over the previous year’s 393,712 dog adoptions. This represents an increase of approximately 1.2%. 

Last year, U.S. residents adopted approximately 2% more cats than in the previous year. In 2021, 528,526 cats were adopted from shelters, rising to 539,015 in 2022.

At the same time, the number of both dogs and cats taken into shelters decreased from 2021 to 2022, especially when comparing the final months of both years.

What are pet shelter outcomes?

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Pet shelter outcomes refer to the different possible outcomes for animals that enter a pet shelter or animal rescue organization. These outcomes can vary depending on the specific shelter's policies, resources, and objectives. Here are some common pet shelter outcomes:

  1. Adoption: Adoption is one of the most desirable outcomes for animals in shelters. It occurs when an individual or family chooses to provide a permanent home for a shelter pet. Adopted animals are typically spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and may undergo behavior assessments or training before being placed in a new home.
  2. Foster Care: Foster care is a temporary placement option where animals are placed in the care of volunteers or foster families until they can find a permanent home. Foster care helps to alleviate overcrowding in shelters and provides animals with a home-like environment while they wait for adoption.
  3. Return to Owner: Sometimes, lost pets are brought to shelters, and if their owners can be identified through tags, microchips, or other means, they can be reunited with their families. Returning a pet to its owner is a positive outcome, as it prevents unnecessary shelter stays and helps to maintain the human-animal bond.
  4. Transfer to Rescue Organizations: Some shelters may transfer animals to rescue organizations, which specialize in certain breeds or have more resources to help specific types of animals. These organizations work towards finding suitable forever homes for the animals they take in.
  5. Long-term Shelter Stay: Unfortunately, not all animals are quickly adopted or able to find foster care. In such cases, the shelter may provide long-term care for these animals, ensuring they receive necessary medical attention, socialization, and basic needs while they wait for adoption.
  6. Euthanasia: Euthanasia, or humane euthanasia, is a last resort option for animals that are suffering from incurable diseases, aggressive behavior, or other conditions that significantly impact their quality of life or pose a danger to others. Shelters strive to minimize euthanasia rates through efforts such as adoption campaigns, spaying/neutering programs, and behavior rehabilitation.
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