Christopher– Posted on June 26, 2012
New data released by the ASPCA, HSUS, and the American Pet Products Association‘s
National Pet Owners Survey show that shelter killings are at an all time low in
both whole numbers and percent of pet dogs in America. Down from a high of
nearly 25% of all dogs per year in the 1970s, as little as 2% of dogs now find
their end in US shelters per year, the majority of them are pit bulls.
Despite both the human and pet dog populations in America rising, the number
of dogs entering and dying in shelters has fallen steadily for decades. While
this vast improvement hasn’t stemmed the degree of vitriol against “breeders” by
those in the shelter/rescue community, a look at statistics shows that there is
little foundation for their anger. The situation is getting better every
year and very little of the past or remaining problems have anything to do with
hobby breeders or people who buy their dogs.
credited to the advancements made in spay/neuter programs. Nearly four out
of five pet dogs are now desexed. Despite making up only 1 in 5 pet dogs,
intact dogs account for 9 out of 10 shelter intakes, a staggering asymmetry.
million pet dogs, but up to a quarter of intakes are deemed to be pure versus
75% deemed mixed-breed. The most significant disparity between the general
population of dogs and dogs that enter shelter and are euthanized is
being designated as a “pit bull” or a pit bull mix.
Whereas the percent of dogs desexed has increased since spay/neuter programs
were widely introduced in the mid 70s, the popularity of pit bulls and their
share of euthanized dogs has steadily increased from as little as 2% in the
1980s to the 60% we see today.
currently pets make up between 3% and 4.5% of the owned dogs in the USA yet the
1.1 million that enter shelters each year account for nearly 30% of all shelter
intakes and 60% of all dogs euthanized. That means that more pit bulls are
killed than all other breeds combined. Pit bulls also account for 60% of fatal dog attacks with Rottweilers coming
in second with 14%. Fatal attacks are fleetingly rare, but bites and
maulings are not, and even pit bull apologists will admit that their aggression
propensity towards other dogs and cats is significantly higher than it is
towards humans. Yet the average age of dogs entering shelters is only 18
months, so a staggering share of these failed relationships
are occurring with adolescent dogs and problems with dog aggression or
anything similar doesn’t even register on the top 10 reasons people report for
why they are abandoning the dog at the shelter.
The biggest lie in dogdom today is that there is an “overpopulation” problem.
This ignores the steady increase in both percentage of homes that have dogs, the
rising number of dogs per home, the increase in population and the increase in
The next biggest lie is that breeders are to blame and that every purchased
puppy condemns a shelter dog to death. This ignores that the majority of
dogs are acquired for little to no cost from friends or family, not from
breeders, and that every aspect of buying a dog from a breeder decreases the
chance that the dog will ever see the inside of a shelter.
- Purebreds are less likely to end up in shelters than mixed-breeds.
- Dogs purchased from breeders or pet stores are less likely to end up in
- Dogs given as gifts or acquired for more than $100 are less likely to end up in a shelter.
- Dogs acquired for less than $30 or dogs adopted from a shelter are more
likely to end up in a shelter.
Pit bull rescuers will wail and complain and blame puppy mills, hobby
breeders, and puppy buyers with the most heinous of crimes against dogs and
humanity. But the truth is that the foster pit bull at their feet is more
likely to end up back in a shelter and more likely to get put down than any
puppy mill dog sold in a mall, any purebred dog sold by a hobby breeder to a
family that paid for it, or even the most carelessly bred oops mutt.
In fact, those pit bulls are making all other breeds of dog and dog
enthusiasts look worse than they are. Without pit bulls in the picture,
the yearly euthanization rate could be less than 1% of dogs. If you’re
decrying dead shelter dogs and the first words out of your mouth are “breeders” and “buyers” or “overpopulation,” and not “pit bull culture” then you’re dangerously misinformed.
The rising status of dogs in our families combined with spay/neuter, foster
and rescue, and no-kill programs have made the last 30 years an increasingly
better time to be alive for dogs. While there’s still work to be done, and
there will always be animals in need, the old paradigm of blame
and internecine hatred–especially attacks aimed at people who endeavor
to do right by their dogs from conception to old age–are misguided and distract
from the real problems.