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An Estimate of the Number of Dogs in US Shelters in 2015 and the Factors Affecting Their Fate

By Kimberly Woodruff, David R. Smith

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

The objective of this study was to estimate the total number of shelters in the United States; estimate the number of dogs entering US shelters annually; determine what happens to the dogs that enter shelters; and identify the characteristics of shelters affecting the outcome of the dogs in their care. An initial list of 10,890 animal shelter and rescue organizations was refined to include 2862 organizations. A telephone survey of each shelter was conducted. A mark-capture method was used to estimate the total number of shelters in the United States. In total, 413 (14%) completed the interview. Authors estimated that there are 7,076 (95% CI 6,399–7,890) dog shelters in the US. In 2015 5,532,904 (95% CI 5,003,528–6,169,579) dogs entered shelters. Of these, 2,628,112 (95% CI 2,376,660–2,930,531) dogs (48%) were adopted; 969,443 (95% CI 876,689–1,080,998) dogs (18%) were returned to their owners; 778,385 (95% 703,911–867,955) dogs (14%) were transferred to other facilities; 776,970 (95% CI 702,631–866,377) dogs (14%) were euthanized; and 6% of the dogs were lost to follow-up. Several characteristics, such as the number of dogs entering the shelter, funding source, region the country and source of dogs, explained dog outcomes.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 23
Issue 3
Pages 302-314
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2019.1663735
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Tags
  1. Dogs
  2. Shelter medicine