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Overcrowded: Intake of stray dogs at American animal shelters up nearly 25 percent since 2021

Rebecca Barnabi
happy dog on leash
(© sonyachny – stock.adobe.com)

A decrease in adoptions and increase of stray dog intakes accounts for the overcrowding of America’s animal shelters, according to a survey by Veterinarians.org.

Stray dogs taken in by shelters is up 22 percent since 2021, and shelters are starting to not accept surrenders because they lack space and resources to care for more animals.

The Special Reports Team at Veterinarians.org surveyed 1,000 U.S. dog owners and found that approximately one in six dog owners gave up a dog in the past 12 months, with 31 percent citing the inability to afford dog food and/or veterinary care as a contributing reason.

The survey also found that percent rehomed the dog with a family member, friend or neighbor, while 25 percent surrendered the dog to an animal shelter or rescue organization. An additional 25 percent rehomed a dog through an online listing, such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

While 23 percent of respondents cited behavioral issues as the reason for giving up their dog, 14 percent indicated that a new job and the resulting lack of time had led to their decision, while 19 percent indicated the decision was the result of a change in life circumstances, including pregnancy, birth of a child or caregiving for a family member.

More than a third of dog owners (34 percent) said they have had to shop for cheaper alternatives for dog food. Twenty-eight percent of dog owners have had to put off veterinary treatment in the past year because of rising costs. Thirty-one percent have had to delay paying either pet expenses or their monthly bills, such as a utility, rent or mortgage, to make ends meet.

In the last 12 months, 40 percent of American dog owners have considered adding another dog to their household but postponed the decision, and 33 percent of respondents cited financial constraints as a cause.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.