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Recent animal shelter data shows significant increase in stray dog intake

La Plata County Humane Society offers tips to keep pets home safe

Shelter Animals Count, the most trusted and current source for animal sheltering data, encourages pet owners to take precautions to keep their pets home and safe, in recognition of National Lost Pet Prevention Month, observed every July.

According to SAC’s Industry Trends Dashboard, data from January to May 2023 has shown a 4% increase in stray intake compared with 2022, and an increase of nearly 18% compared with 2021. This trend has been especially dramatic for dogs.

Over the past two years, the stray intake rate for dogs has increased significantly. Data from January to May 2023 shows a 10% increase in stray dog intake compared with 2022, and an increase of 30% compared with 2021. Fortunately, cats saw a 1% decrease in stray intake compared with 2022.

For each of the past three years, only about 10% of animals entering shelters are returned to their owners.

Helping keep pets – especially dogs – out of overcrowded shelters is especially vital right now, as shelters across the country continue to struggle. According to SAC’s Outcome Data Analysis report for Q1 2023, dog intake increased 7% during the first quarter of 2023 compared with the same period last year. Additionally, 3.3% more canines entered than left shelters during the same time, contributing to the ongoing over-capacity crisis for dogs. Download the full report (PDF): http://bit.ly/Q12023Report.

“Summer is the busiest time of year for shelters, with increases in kittens and puppies, as well as lost pets who commonly escape their homes or yards during fireworks and other summer festivities,” said Stephanie Filer, executive director of Shelter Animals Count. “Shelters are now in their third year of having too many animals and not enough adoptions, especially for dogs, and many shelters are having to make difficult decisions about how to manage limited space. This makes it more important than ever to keep our canine companions home and safe, and out of overburdened shelters.”

No matter how careful we are, pets can still get loose, so it’s best to be prepared. Here are tips to help keep pets home and out of shelters:

  • Make sure your pet is microchipped and wearing a collar with identifying information, including a phone number. This helps them to be quickly and easily reunited with you should they become lost. Microchips are often available from local shelters for a lower cost. Make sure tags are current and microchip information is updated with the veterinarian or shelter that implanted the chip.
  • Ensure you have current photos of your pet from all angles. These can be used to make flyers and post on neighborhood apps and lost pet pages if the pet gets lost.
  • If your pet gets lost, start looking in your neighborhood right away. Carry a leash or carrier with you, and make sure to have your cellphone in case someone calls you while you’re out looking.
  • Call your local shelter or visit its website to learn how to file a lost pet report. Many animal control officers strive to return pets to their owners while still in the neighborhood, avoiding a trip to the shelter.
  • Check local social media pages and neighborhood apps and post a photo of your lost pet. These resources are extremely helpful for posting lost and found pets in real time. Many happy reunions have occurred quickly because of the power of social media.
  • Visit the shelter the first day if possible, and at least every other day to look for your pet in person. People’s perception of breed and description can vary, so relying on someone who doesn’t know your pet to find it in the shelter may not be effective.
  • Create posters with a clear photo of your pet, with a brief description and a cell number. Place the flyers around your neighborhood and at any local businesses.
  • Don’t give up! Lost pets have been found weeks, months or even years after they’ve been lost.
  • If you find a lost pet, try to find their owners by walking the neighborhood and checking neighborhood apps/social media groups before taking them to a shelter. Many pets are reunited with their owners within minutes or hours without ever leaving the neighborhood.

Shelter Animals Count 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.