Shelter Animals Count, the most trusted and current source for animal sheltering data, spotlights a trend in dog euthanasia from the newly-released Intake and Outcome Data Analysis report for Q1 2023. Full report PDF here.
Getting (and keeping) dogs out of shelters is important right now, as national data shows that more dogs are entering shelters and straining the facilities’ capacity for care. While 2020 and 2021 reflected decreases in incoming animals and increased adoptions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this trend has not continued.
“The crisis shelters are facing does not originate within the shelters,” said Stephanie Filer, executive director of Shelter Animals Count. “Shelters need help now more than ever. This is a community problem that requires a community solution.”
The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control has seen a similar trend. In the first quarter of 2023, 4,971 dogs were admitted into DACC’s seven animal care centers. This is an increase of 1,048 dogs (26.7%) over Q1 in 2022.
“We believe the economy is driving this upward trend in dog admissions,” said Marcia Mayeda, DACC director. “The primary reasons people surrender their dogs are the inability to pay for their care, especially veterinary medical expenses and losing pet-friendly housing.”
DACC has also seen an increase in stray dogs that are not reclaimed by their owners, indicating owners’ inability or unwillingness to keep or redeem their dogs. These dogs are admitted into DACC animal care centers to protect them and the safety of the public but add to the increased number of dogs admitted into care. Stray dogs admitted into care have risen from a low of 57.6% of all admitted dogs in 2020 to 65.6% in Q1 of 2023.
To provide alternatives to admission to animal care centers, DACC has implemented national award-winning programs to help owners keep their pets and reduce the numbers of stray animals in the community. DACC has received more than a million dollars in grant funding and donations to sustain and further expand its Pets Are Family (PAF) program, which provides critical resources to pet owners. These include Care vouchers that cover up to $500 in medical expenses; free wellness exams and vaccinations provided through Vet@ThePark outreach clinics; free pet food and supplies provided through DACC’s Pet Food Pantry Program; a medical helpline that has processed and helped connect thousands of pet owners to critical resources; collaborating with community cat caretakers to ensure the population control, health, and welfare of free-roaming, unowned cats in the communities; providing low-cost spay/neuter and vaccinations, and other resources.
“DACC is committed to making all efforts to keep pets with their families and place unowned, adoptable animals into new homes,” Mayeda said. “Our progressive and innovative programs have saved thousands of animal lives and greatly reduced euthanasia in our care centers. We encourage anyone who is having difficulty keeping their pet to call us for advice and resources. But most importantly, we need the community’s help in adopting from and supporting their local animal care center.”
Since data alone only tells part of the story, SAC also surveyed animal shelters across the nation to gain a deeper understanding of what shelters are facing and how their communities can help. Hundreds of early responses indicate a greater need for public support.
Of the survey respondents, 44% said euthanasia of dogs had increased in 2023 compared to January-March 2022. Another 45% said euthanasia had stayed the same, while only 11% said it had decreased. When asked about the considerations behind euthanasia, the most common reasons were not having enough adopters or interest, dogs exhibiting behaviors that made them unadoptable, and a lack of space.
In nearly a hundred comments on the survey, respondents repeatedly emphasized the urgent need for help from the community. They ask that people adopt from local shelters, foster, and volunteer to walk and socialize shelter dogs. In addition, respondents urge pet owners to spay and neuter their pets, train and socialize them, and, if they find themselves in need of assistance in order to keep their pet, reach out to local shelters and rescues to find out what programs and support are available in their community.
“Our euthanasia is not a shelter issue,” one respondent said. “We are doing everything and then some to get animals out alive. It takes action from our immediate community to keep euthanasia numbers low… People can help by choosing to adopt, foster, volunteer, and donate.”
About Shelter Animals Count (SAC): SAC is a collaborative, industry-led nonprofit organization formed by a diverse group of animal welfare agencies to create and share The National Database of sheltered animal statistics, providing facts and enabling insights that will improve animal welfare throughout the country.
About Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control (DACC)
DACC is the largest animal care and control agency in the nation, operating seven animal care centers and providing services to more than three million residents and their pets. DACC operates under the nationally recognized Socially Conscious Sheltering model to ensure the best possible outcomes for animals and the community. As a community resource center for pets and owners, DACC protects people and animals from harm, provides care for lost and unwanted animals, reunites lost pets with their families, and strives every day to move closer to its North Star: a loving home for every adoptable pet that comes through its doors. To learn more about DACC, the resources DACC provides, and view its animals, visit www.animalcare.lacounty.gov or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. To support DACC’s efforts, please donate to the Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation at www.lacountyanimals.org. To learn more about Socially Conscious Sheltering, visit https://scsheltering.org/.