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Too Many Animals In Care, Not Enough Adoptions

February 9, 2024, Emily Tolliver

Join Shelter Animals Count on February 28 for an in-depth analysis of 2023 data

2020 marked a pivotal re-set in animal welfare. In the years following, we have seen steady increases in animal intakes, flatlines or decreases in outcomes, and a persistent gap in animals awaiting an outcome. The result? An ongoing capacity crisis. 

Shelter Animals Count’s just-released full-year 2023 report affirms that more that 6.5 million animals (3.3 million cats and 3.2 million dogs) entered animal shelters and rescue organizations last year. Across the country, animal sheltering organizations are full, entering their fourth consecutive year of having too many animals in care and not enough adoptions — especially for dogs. And now, as the reality of this “new normal” firmly takes hold, we are faced with confronting the added challenge of the year-over-year buildup of animals who have entered and lingered in organizations since 2021, waiting for an outcome — that total reaching an estimated 900,000 animals. 

Our industry peers explain it best:

“We are trying to empty a river of unwanted pets with a small bucket,” said Kelley Kimble, President, Briscoe Animal Resource Center of Uvalde, TX.

“We ALWAYS have a full shelter and a long wait list to accept new cat and dog intakes,” shared Jeanne Stelmak, Director of Four Footed Friends in Indiana, PA. “The answer is not to build more shelters. No matter how many are built, there will still always be a need for more. We want to help every animal in need but sadly, we do not have the space or manpower to do that. We need individuals to help.”

Since our founding in 2012, Shelter Animals Count has been on a collaborative journey of data collection and sharing. Through it all, our work has been driven by the belief that understanding the number of animals entering and leaving animal shelters is essential. With this knowledge, we are able to identify real solutions to the challenges faced by animal shelters today. 

Join us on Wednesday, February 28, for Data: Looking Back and Forward, an in-depth analysis of key data insights, challenges, and successes from 2023.  Samantha Hill, Director of Data and Technology, and I will provide an exclusive opportunity to stay abreast of the continually evolving landscape of animal welfare. Discover what SAC has in store for 2024 and be part of our collective efforts to make a positive impact on the lives of animals in need.

Learn More

Shelter Animals Count’s 2023 Annual Analysis Report

About Emily Tolliver
Emily Tolliver joined Shelter Animals Count in April 2023 as the Director of Communications and Design. After kickstarting her career in digital communications at her local humane society in 2011, her passion for helping people and animals eventually led her to run large, national social media programs at both Best Friends Animal Society and the American Red Cross.