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U.S. missing Pet Epidemic: Facts/Figures:

The American Humane Association estimates that 1 out of 3 pets become lost at some point in their lifetime and close to 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the US every single year and according to the Coalition for Reuniting Pets and Families, less than 23% of lost pets in the U.S. are reunited with their owners. 

National euthanasia statistics are difficult to pinpoint because animal care and control agencies are not uniformly required to keep statistics on the number of animals taken in, adopted, euthanized or reclaimed. While many shelters know the value of keeping statistics, no national reporting structure exists to make compiling national statistics on these figures possible. With that noted, there are many discrepancies between reported sources. 

The American Humane Association is one of the founding members of the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy- the most accurate gauge of facts and figures of pet euthanasia in the U.S. 

Out of 1,000 shelters that replied to the National Council’s survey, 4.3 million animals were handled and roughly 64% percent of the total number of animals that entered these shelters were euthanized — approximately 2.7 million animals in just these 1,000 shelters. There are approximately 3,500 animal shelters in the United States. From these numbers we can glean the approximate size of the epidemic and euthanasia rate. 

One-third of all dogs and cats in the United States are reported missing in their lifetimes, more than 80% are never found, and between 9,450,000 and 9,632,000 pets that wind up in shelters in the US are killed.

  • 3,500 shelters

  • 1,000 of which surveyed

  • 4.3 million pets at 1,000 shelters

  • 4.3 million pets at 1,000 shelters X 3.5 shelters = 15,050,000 million pets enter shelters in U.S. every year. 

  • 64% are euthanized

  • 64% of 15,050,000 million = 9,632,000 million pets euthanized


  • 2.7 million pets euthanized per 1,000 shelters

  • 3,500 shelters

  • 2.7 million X 3.5 = 9,450,000

Peeva saves missing pets and brings them home to their families.

From these numbers we can glean an estimated number of pets euthanized is U.S. shelters every year are between 9.4 to 9.6 million.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), however, estimates that 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats. Each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats). 

The ASPCA also reports 25 percent of dogs and 24 percent of cats that enter animal shelters are adopted. "It is estimated that approximately 3.7 million animals were euthanized in the nation’s shelters in 2008."  This is quite a big gap in numbers between the same reported source, never the less, the ASPCA represents the generally accepted statistic that is widely used by many animal welfare organizations either way.

In 2009 a study of more than 7,700 stray animals that wound up at the ASPCA showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 2.2% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time. (Lord et al, JAVMA, July 15, 2009) The purpose of the study was to show that microchipping works. Either way these numbers are distressing.

Conservative estimate (JAVMA study) sample:

  • 7700 lost pets with microchips

  • 3850 dogs, 3850 cats

  • 1848 dogs with microchips were killed (48%)

  • 2387 cats with microchips were killed (62%) 

According to the Coalition for Reuniting Pets and Families (2005), less than 23% of lost pets in the U.S. are reunited with their owners. In contrast, 47% of lost dogs are reunited with their owners in the United Kingdom, where ISO standard chips are available and a more efficient database is utilized.

From this - not accounting for strays (definition of a "stray" needs clarification)- we can also glean a conservative estimate in the US alone at close to 10 million every year as noted.

POTENTIAL FOR UPDATE: In the beginning of October 2018, 2018 of the largest organizations have come to come to usse a key statement on the importance of sharing key data and as defined by Animal Shelters Count and we will keep this updated with their findings.

The main point to take away- the ABOVE numbers would all be drastically lowered and the missing pet epidemic could be resolved if scanning for microchips was standard procedure for all vets and shelters.