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More Dogs Euthanized Than Cats in 2023

The nation’s animal shelters are grappling with a significant growth in shelter animal populations. In three years, the number of these animals has increased by a million. This had a direct impact on euthanasia, boosting its numbers. Surprisingly in 2023, more shelter dogs were euthanized than cats.

As shelters face overcrowding, more dogs than cats were euthanized last year

Since 2021, the nation’s animal shelters and facilities have been grappling with an increase in pets. As a result, euthanizations have reached a five-year peak in 2023. Shelter dogs, however, have faced more euthanasia than cats. Over 359,000 dogs and 330,000 cats have been euthanized, as USA Today reports. 

Kelley Kimble, president of Briscoe Animal Resource Center in Uvalde, Texas, lamented the overwhelming challenge of managing this surge. In her words, “We are trying to empty a river of unwanted pets with a small bucket.”

A nonprofit in Atlanta, Shelter Animals Count, revealed the results in a yearly examination of shelter populations. The organization, established in 2012, includes a diverse array of animal welfare agencies. 

The organization’s executive director, Stephanie Filer, said, “It’s truly about an imbalance of animals coming in at faster rates than they’re leaving.” 

Filer further noted cats have usually been at a greater risk of euthanasia for years. They entered shelters in large numbers with relatively low adoption rates, leading to this situation. However, over the past two decades, advocates have implemented targeted initiatives to counteract these trends. 

As a result, cat adoption rates are high. On the other hand, dog programs are experiencing a decline. Dog adoptions in the past four years have consistently remained below the levels seen in 2018 and 2019, barely reaching the levels observed in 2016-2017.

Therefore, while cat adoptions are on the rise, according to Filer, dog adoptions have not improved. Consequently, shelters are overflowing not only with expected breeds like large Mutts and Pit Bulls but also with Huskies, French Bulldogs, and designer dogs. 

Nonetheless, the unexpected shift where dogs surpassed cats in euthanization rates has caught advocates off guard.

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