Cat and dog intakes, euthanasia numbers are down for almost 900 AWOs

by Nicole Adrian

According to a recent PetPoint Report, data from close to 900 animal welfare organizations (AWOs) indicate dog and cat intakes, surrenders and euthanasia rates have gone down since the same time period last year.

The report compares data from January 2011 to data from January 2010. While the data is encouraging, factors such as adverse weather events may be affecting the numbers.

"Given that some of the larger PetPoint users may have had significant operational impacts from the weather this January, Id chalk a lot of that decrease to the doors of the facilities being actually or effectively closed by weather," said Michael R. Moyer, VMD, Rosenthal director of shelter animal medicine and adjunct associate professor of shelter medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Moyer is also the current AAHA president.

The 2011 report takes data from 889 AWOs—including animal control agencies, humane societies and rescues groups—in the United States that use the PetPoint Animal Management Software. Only data from AWOs that had data available in January 2010 and January 2011 are included in the report.

The report includes information on 107,556 dogs and cats that entered AWOs during the month, through intake or surrender processes, and 109,946 cats and dogs that left the AWOs in the same period.

According to the report, cat intakes, owner surrenders and stray cat intakes decreased in January 2011 compared to the same categories in January 2010:

  • Intakes declined 9%.
  • Owner surrenders declined 7%.
  • Stray cat intakes declined 13%.

The drop in intakes and owner surrenders is similar for dogs:

  • Intakes declined 4%.
  • Owner surrenders also declined 4%.
  • Intakes of stray dogs declined 6%.

Likewise, the report indicates euthanasia rates for cats and dogs decreased in January 2011, compared to January 2010:

  • Cat euthanasia rates declined 17%.
  • Dog euthanasia rates declined 7%.

Although these numbers seem to indicate good news for the 889 AWOs included in the report, it’s not accurate to conclude that these trends hold true for all AWOs in the United States.

"While decreasing overall need for shelter intake is what we are all hoping for in the sheltering field, we can’t be clear that this is what’s happening in U.S. shelters as a whole from the data that is presented," said Sandra Newbury, DVM , National Shelter Medicine Extension Veterinarian at the University of California-Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine. "With only two data points to compare, it is difficult to say if this change is a significant difference or if it may just be in the range of normal variation."

Additionally, the report also indicates that transfers of dogs from reporting AWOs have increased—up 12% in January 2011—which could be good news and give some indication of why intake and surrender numbers have decreased.

"More (AWOs) are embracing the concept of customer service/marketing to adopt more animals by being friendlier, having more retail-like hours and facilities, and eliminating barriers to adoption," Moyer said. "More (AWOs) are working more effectively with partnering organizations to move pets from shelters to rescue/foster—other outlets that have adoption opportunities."