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American Animal Shelters Are Running Out of Space, Here’s What We Know

Dog Waiting to be Adopted
Dog Waiting to be Adopted. Image from Unsplash

From east to west, north to south, animal shelters across America are feeling the strain of an overwhelming rise in unwanted pets — some can no longer house animals.

The executive director of Shelter Animals Count, Stephanie Filer, candidly stated, “Shelters are quite literally at crisis, and some are making tough decisions like closing doors or reducing hours of operation.”

There are a myriad of factors driving this sour trend, but primarily, the combination of rising pet care and food costs, along with declining wages, suggests that pet owners are struggling to look after themselves, let alone their furry best friend.

Border Collie
Image by Anna Dudkova via Unsplash

In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, animal shelters experienced a record low – 5.5 million – pet intakes, but soon after, it began to rise dramatically. In 2023, it jumped to 6.5 million.

Another concern is that once animals enter the shelter, they stay there for prolonged periods of time; people aren’t seeking pets like they used to. For some, it’s a financial strain they just can’t overcome. Between 2022 and 2023, around 177,000 animals had yet to be taken out of shelters, leaving them in the claustrophobic confinements of animal shelters, who, through no fault of their own, are having to deal with overpopulated kennels. 

coats of cats and their personality
Image by luckybusiness via Depositphotos

In a bid to house as many as possible, there are some instances where shelters have begun placing beds in their hallways, showcasing the extremities they’re experiencing. It’s getting so bad that around 690,000 dogs and cats were euthanized in 2023, an unsettling statistic.

For millions worldwide, pets are an integral part of the household—the ones who’re always by your side, even when the kids leave for college. But now, their demand is diminishing, and with that comes fatal blows in the hundreds of thousands.

They’ll always be loved, but by how many? 

Cats
Image by Andrea Tummons via Unsplash

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