Veterinary Practice News reports that a new study suggests shelter dog numbers might be at an all-time low.
The study, produced by researchers Kimberly Woodruff and David R. Smith at Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, indicates that shelters take in approximately 5.5 million dogs every year, while 2.6 million dogs are adopted and 776,000 are euthanized. These results differ from those of similar studies conducted previously. In addition to shifts in shelter trends, these results may be due to different data collection methods.
“For many years, people have quoted numbers of animals going in and out of shelters, but there’s never really been any research behind them. Even beyond that, nobody really knows how many shelters are in the United States. There’s no official registry for shelters and no group providing oversight. Shelters can be anything from a few kennels to a huge facility that adopts out thousands of animals a year.”
— Kimberly Woodruff, Assistant Clinical Professor, Shelter Medicine, Mississippi State University
While increased in the numbers of adopted pets likely comes as good news to many, other aspects of the observed trends suggest there are other problems that need to be addressed.
“For example, there are a lot of dogs moving out of the Southeast and into other regions,” Smith said. “Well, this is a highly endemic heartworm disease area, we possibly could be transporting heartworms across the country. That means we need to do due diligence to control that disease. We may need to ask those shelters about how they’re addressing heartworm disease and other regional diseases.”
The results of the study were presented at the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) Conference earlier this month. A downloadable version of the presentation is available here.