Showing posts with label dog adoption. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dog adoption. Show all posts

Sunday 7 January 2024

Adoption rates have declined from US animal shelters due to increased living costs

I've been doing some research on animal shelters and adoption rates in the United States. Euthanasia rates are linked to adoption rates. The picture is a little confusing but overall it would appear that fewer people are adopting animals from shelters than they were before the pandemic. There are added complications. Some shelters have not opened as they usually would have, which was the norm before the pandemic, which puts a barrier between the adopter and the shelter. This slows adoption rates.

Adoption rates have declined from animal shelters due to increased living costs in the US
Adoption rates have declined from animal shelters due to increased living costs in the US. Image: MikeB

Also, because there was a surge in adoptions during the pandemic, the marketplace encouraged people to go into dog and cat breeding. Now that purchases of dogs and cats has decreased, it's left breeders with a surplus of animals. My guess is that some of these animals are finding their way to animal shelters.

Some animal shelters are overcrowded with some overcrowded quite dramatically. One website says that animal shelters in America are 'broken'. Some are under extreme pressure being oversubscribed at about double their normal capacity. There aren't enough adopters because, as mentioned, people are more cautious in America and elsewhere about the cost of cat and dog caregiving which has climbed with inflation to a point where it becomes untenable for many people in the lower echelons of earning capacity.

Nathan Winograd, in his newsletter to me, says that 753,022 animals were adopted in America during the 2023 Home for the Holidays campaign. That's good news he says but it's almost "half a million below prior year totals because fewer shelters are participating and others are refusing to fully open post-pandemic, offering fewer adoption hours and increasing bureaucratic obstacles, such as requiring an appointment before visiting. As a result, they are killing more animals, despite fewer intakes."

The problem is not the number of intakes to shelters. These have remained fairly stable on my understanding of the situation. It is a reduction in people prepared to adopt shelter animals which is the cause of what might be described as a growing crisis at some shelters.

The Colleton County Animal Shelter in Walterboro, South Carolina would seem to be a typical example.  Laura Clark works there and she says that they have 65 permanent dog kennels. Sixty are available because they like to keep five open at all times for new dogs. At the moment they have 195 dogs in their care. Of those, 141, are at the shelter full-time. They are at more than double their capacity.

Clark says that when she first started working at the shelter they took in over 3,000 pets per year which is come down to around 2,000. But the problem as mentioned is adoptions for the reasons stated. 

Also, there might have been a backlash to unethical breeding. During Covid-19 there was a lot of unethical breeding; breeders producing unhealthy dogs which has been discussed a lot on the Internet. This educated people about the problem. They are now more cautious. This has possibly resulted in less purchases of dogs and therefore reduced the intake as mentioned at shelters.

But post-pandemic attitudes have changed about dog adoption. I presume by the way that the same applies to cats. Most of the discussion on this topic is about dogs which is why I have referred to them in this article.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Monday 25 December 2023

Animal shelter has a true miracle at Christmas: empty cages

Brilliant empty shelter at Christmas at the Adams County SPCA in Gettysburg
Brilliant empty shelter at Christmas at the Adams County SPCA in Gettysburg. Image: Facebook

What better Christmas gift for shelter staff than achieving the Holy Grail of sheltering: all cats and dogs adopted for Christmas? None left at the shelter. It is empty except for the staff twiddling their thumbs! Well not quite because there was one tabby kitten (believed) remaining for adoption probably because he came in quite recently.

The shelter I am writing about is the Adams County SPCA in Gettysburg and they announced their miracle moment on their Facebook page.

The post says it all. It is the first time in 47 years that they have been empty (bar one kitten who I hope has been adopted by now).

"It's a true miracle. To say that we are beyond excited is an understatement."

P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Friday 26 May 2023

Gen Z are trading marriage, homes and babies for cats and dogs

Since Covid (and continuing after Covid) Gen Z - those born between 1997-2012 - have traded all the usual milestones such as getting married, buying a home and having kids for a much simpler goal which is having a cat or dog or even two of them.

Gen Z are trading marriage, homes and babies for cats and dogs
Image: MikeB

The trend started during Covid because they were allowed to work from home and it continues because a lot of them are still allowed to work from home although there is a backlash building from employers who often don't like it. Elon Musk says that it is a bad idea for productivity and creativity.

But the cost of living in the UK and perhaps elsewhere has encouraged Gen Z young people to downsize their traditional objectives.

A lot of people in Britain can no longer afford to buy a home because of the high cost of the deposit. It takes years to save the money or your parents step in if you are lucky. So, there are many more people renting.

Rental prices have gone up as a result. Covid started off the trend for adopting pets because of lockdowns. People had no work as they were on furlough and many, I presume, became a bit lonely and they had the time on their hands to look after a dog or cat.

The problem is that it was a temporary situation. There's not much planning going on here. If these people are forced to return to the office they can no longer look after their companion animal properly. There will be many distressed cats and dogs too. There are already reports of dogs being poorly socialised because of poor breeding and poor caregiving.

In addition, they often adopted companion animals without proper preparation in terms of learning about what is needed and in respect of dog and cat behaviour. And of course, the budgetary requirements are very important. A lot of people are sure have found out that they can't really afford to look after a companion animal successfully.

There is a lot of instability in the pet marketplace in the UK. But Gen Z think that animals are relatively cheap compared with the unaffordable traditional milestones. I would not call caring for a cat or dog cheap. If you have a couple of pets to care for it is going to be quite expensive. There is probably some misplaced expectations here.

Pets at Home (pet products chain in the UK) said that Gen Z are adopting pets earlier than previous generations because they are perhaps delaying child-rearing, marriage and getting a flat. They are using all their energy and resources to look after "fur babies" especially in urban areas.

RELATED: Pope Francis says that cats go to heaven.

I can remember the current Pope saying that he was concerned for the reasons mentioned. Italy needs young couples to marry and have children in order to raise kids who can contribute to the economy. And the Pope doesn't like people channelling all their family emotions into pets. He wants people to love other people rather than cats. I think he is out of touch!

Saturday 29 April 2023

Gen Z pet owners (ages 18 to 25) are far more likely than other age groups to have a variety of pets

Forbes Advisor has produced some interesting statistics about pet ownership in the United States of America. Perhaps the leading statistic from this research is in the headline. Generation Z as they are called are far more likely than other generations to have a pet with, for example, 86% having a dog and 81% having a cat. 

It doesn't stop there because 46% have a bird and 30% keep a hamster or guinea pig. By contrast, baby boomers, those born after the Second World War, are the least likely to have a pet; 50% have a dog and 42% have a cat. Only 6% have a hamster or guinea pig by comparison.

Image: MikeB - Gen Z pet owners (ages 18 to 25) are far more likely than other age groups to have a variety of pets.

Big increase in pet owners

So, there's been a massive increase in the number of pet owners in America and the same applies to the UK by the way. And this increase is mainly coming from Generation Z, the country's young people. 


They are turning to pets and I wonder whether Covid-19 had a major role to play in this. You know those two years when people were stuck at home getting bored and feeling isolated? Well, that's certainly brought about a surge in adoptions simply for companionship.

And they felt that because they were at home working, they had the time to give to a newly adopted companion animal. Perhaps, though, the problem was that they weren't fully prepared. Sometimes they adopted in a self-indulgent way.

These thoughts are, I notice, supported by the Forbes survey when they state that "78% of pet owners surveyed by Forbes Advisor acquired pets during the pandemic".


Forbes say that you would find a pet in the USA in 1988 in 56% of homes. In 2023 the percentage has climbed to 66%.

More dogs than cats

I have read many articles in which the general tenor is that there is an equal number of cats and dogs in the US but these statistics undermine that statement. As at 2023, dogs are the most popular pets in the US with 65.1 million US households owning a dog followed by cats at 46.5 million and freshwater fish at 11.1 million. 

That means the number of dog owning households is 1.4 times the number of cat owning households in America. That's a big difference. Although by itself it doesn't say that there are more dogs than cats in the US.

Although, I just noticed that in this case it does mean just that. They estimated that there are 65.1 million dogs in the US as at 2023 in comparison to 46.5 million domestic cats. In comparison, there are 2.2 million horses kept I presume as pets or companion animals in the US as at this date. 

Lower than I am used to seeing

Note: these figures seem lower than what I read in the past. I've seen figures as high as 80 million domestic cats in the US but clearly these were estimates. And also, on a separate topic, there are many estimates about the number of feral cats in the US and the numbers vary wildly indicating that the experts simply don't know.


On the issue of costs, typically dog owners spend $339 on food for their dog and $367 on veterinary care, $79 on toys, $99 on grooming and $28 on "other" making a grand total of $912 per year on a dog in the US.

As for cats, a cat owner spends $310 on food annually, $253 on veterinary care, $50 on toys, $18 on grooming, and $22 on other making a grand total of $653 annually on a cat. Note, I have used the singular "cat" or "dog" in those statements. I have made a presumption because Forbes does not tell me whether those are the costs for cats, plural, or dogs, plural. I will presume it must be for one cat or one dog.

Overall, in 2022, Americans spent $136.8 billion on their pets which is up 10.68% from the previous year.

Adoption - buying

Perhaps rather sadly, 42% of dog owners acquired their pet from a store which is considered not the ideal route to acquire a pet because when you buy one from a store sometimes you don't know how good the dog is in terms of health and their pedigree. The same of course applies to any animal bought at a pet shop. 

In contrast, 43% of cat owners got their pets from a store. 40% of cat owners acquired their cat from a shelter while 30% of dog owners did the same thing.

Home owners

As expected, people who own their homes are more likely to have a companion animal compared to those who rent.

Better off

Also, the better-off households are more likely to own a companion animal. 63% of households with an annual income of a hundred thousand dollars lived with a dog while 40% lived with a cat. You can see the bias towards dogs here and I would suspect that households with higher incomes are more likely to adopt or purchase a dog than a cat. 

My argument is that higher income families are more alpha in their behaviour and more alpha males, for example, are more likely to prefer dogs to cats. That may be a crude argument but I think it is plausible.


7% of cat owners bought their cat from a breeder. In comparison, 23% of dog owners bought their dog from a breeder. This probably reflects the fact that there are far more purebred dogs than purebred cats for the simple reason that domestic dogs have been around far longer than domestic cats. There are more dog breeds than there are cat breeds. Far more in fact as I recall. So, it is far more normal to buy a purebred dog than a purebred cat.

One cat or dog

65% of dog owning households owned just one dog in 2020 compared to 60% in 2016 and 56% of cat owning households owned just one cat in 2020 compared to 53% in 2016.

The best cities for pet owners in the USA

In the following order, the best cities for pet owners in the USA, led by Tucson, Arizona with a score of 100 are: Raleigh, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; Wichita, Kansas; Cincinnati, Ohio; Plano, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; Glendale, Arizona.

Tucson had a dog vet cost score of 90, a cat vet score of 89.89, a vet access score of 92.67, a pet friendly spaces score at 78.02. Glendale had a dog vet cost score of 72.22, a cat vet cost score of 71.91, a vet access score of 96.00, a pet friendly spaces score of 80.70 and an overall score of 88.99. Glendale was in 10th place but still of course in the top 10 best cities for pet owners in the USA.

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