25 Insane Facts About Animal Shelters

Posted by , Updated on January 16, 2024

Animal shelters provide an invaluable service for countries that utilize them. Without them, societies would have large populations of stray animals roaming the streets, usually malnourished, carrying disease, and potentially dangerous. Plenty of good comes out of having animal shelters. Despite that, animal shelters still get a bad rap. Usually, a bad apple spoils the whole bunch. And, make no mistake, these bad apples are very bad. From abusive treatment to poor living conditions, there’s a reason people have mixed feelings about them. So, get your tissues ready! Here are 25 Insane Facts About Animal Shelters.


There are an estimated 3,500 brick and mortar animal shelters in the United States.

animal shelterSource: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/pet_ownership_statistics.html

On top of the thousands of animal shelters, there's also an estimated 10,000 rescue groups and animal sanctuaries in the United States.

animal rescueSource: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/pet_ownership_statistics.html

It's a myth that all animals shelters are bad places. The worse option would be malnourished animals out on the cold streets with no one to take care of them.

sad dogSource: https://www.petmd.com/dog/centers/nutrition/evr_dg_animal-shelter-myths-debunked

Many good animal shelters provide quality services for pets, including veterinary care, spay and neutering, clean environments, and dog training classes.

vetSource: https://www.peta2.com/news/animal-shelter-facts/

Only 10% of animals entering shelters are spayed or neutered, which is quite problematic. For instance, one un-spayed female dog and her offspring can create 67,000 more dogs in just six years.

bulldog litterSource: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/12-alarming-facts-about-pet-homelessness/

Animals end up in shelters for two reasons: They were surrendered by their owners or were picked up off the street by animal control officers.

animal controlSource: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/12-alarming-facts-about-pet-homelessness/

Animal shelters aren't just for dogs and cats. Many house other animals as well. You can usually adopt rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, hamsters, birds, and reptiles, too.

guinea pigSource: https://www.peta2.com/news/animal-shelter-facts/

Do not confuse all animal shelters with "puppy mills." Puppy mills are commercial dog breeding facilities that only care about profit and have poor veterinary care, small cages, and awful, unsanitary conditions.

puppy millSource: https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-puppy-mills

Of course, not all animal shelters are run well. In a report by NBC News, the Toronto Humane Society bragged about its low euthanasia rate, but it's facility was inhumane and disgusting with rampant disease and animals dying slowly in their cages. Due to the poor conditions, police raided the facility and arrested the five managers responsible.

toronto humane societySource: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/35880984/ns/health-pet_health/t/animal-shelter-turned-house-horrors/#.Wxk0CFMvzVo

Many pets at a shelter don't find homes. While numbers vary, every year, approximately 8 million pets enter animal shelters and only 4 million make it out. The other half are euthanized for medical or behavioral reasons, or to make space for other homeless pets.

dog adoptionSource: https://www.petsmartcharities.org/blog/12-little-known-facts-about-shelter-pets

According to the Animal Humane Society, 80% of the cats and dogs euthanized are usually perfectly healthy, treatable, and adoptable.

dogs at shelterSource: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/pet_ownership_statistics.html

More cats are euthanized than dogs. The Animal Humane Society estimates that 70% of cats that enter shelters are euthanized.

cat faceSource: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/pet_ownership_statistics.html

Thankfully, the number of euthanized animals has significantly dropped over the years due to an increase in adopted animals and successful returns to their owners when they get lost.

scared catSource: https://www.aspca.org/animal-homelessness/shelter-intake-and-surrender/pet-statistics

No-Kill shelters will not euthanize any animal they take in. However, they likely will turn away animals they don't have space for or don't believe are adoptable.

cat no killSource: https://www.globalanimal.org/2013/09/09/throw-local-animal-shelters-a-bone/

The American Pit Bull Terrier and other pit bull types are the most commonly sheltered breed of dog. With 3 to 5 million Pit Bulls in the United States, they're the most commonly bred, leading to overpopulation. Sadly, they're also the number one most commonly euthanized when they reach animal shelters. Some shelters don't even give them the chance for adoption.

pit bull terrierSource: https://iheartdogs.com/15-most-common-dog-breeds-found-in-shelters/

Sometimes animal shelter polices can be very strange. For instance, in one case, a New York shelter employee took photos of Pit Bulls with humans in an effort to save them from being euthanized. Turns out, her strategy worked, but she was fired for violating their policy to not photograph animals with humans.

pit bull kissSource: https://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/08/fired-from-a-shelter-after-photographing-the-animals/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Sheltering homeless animals isn't cheap. It costs tax payers 2 billion dollars a year secure, shelter, and possibly euthanize homeless pets.

cash moneySource: https://barkpost.com/mindblowing-facts-about-shelter-dogs/

While a large portion of dogs in animal shelters are mixed breed, you can still find pure breed dogs at shelters, too. According to the Animal Humane Society, 25% of their dogs are pure breed.

beagleSource: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/pet_ownership_statistics.html

In 2013, the Society of St. Francis, a no-kill shelter in Wisconsin, was raided by state authorities for harboring a wild animal. Ray Schulze, the owner of the shelter, said the officials were "armed to the teeth." The wild animal in question was a baby deer. Schulze was preparing to take it to a wild-life reserve the next day, but the authorities killed the deer and put it in a body bag.

baby deerSource: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/aug/1/13-wisconsin-officials-raid-animal-shelter-kill-ba/

On occasion, animal shelters experience break-ins. In Macon, Georgia, a woman was indicted for breaking into a animal shelter and letting all the dogs loose, thinking she was helping them. Instead, many of the dogs attacked each other in a brutal and bloody melee. Three dogs were killed and many others had severe emotional trauma afterward.

smashed windowSource: http://www.macon.com/living/pets/article30125583.html

Animal shelters don't all euthanize the same way. Some give an animal a high dose of sodium pentobarbital to peacefully and painlessly put them to sleep. Other shelters find that process too expensive and inefficient. These cost-focused shelters will put tons of animals in a chamber and fill it with carbon monoxide to kill them. While the American Veterinary Medical Association says it's humane, many others disagree and have called for the practice to be banned.

injectionSource: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/04/0411_050411_peteuthanasia.html

Called "Black Dog Syndrome," some studies have show that black dogs and cats are much less likely to be adopted than their counterparts. Some of this has been attributed to superstitious beliefs.

black dogSource: https://www.peta2.com/news/black-cats/

Even more disturbing, some shelters have banned the adoption of black cats on Halloween for fear of animal torture. While there's little evidence of Satanic or occult sacrifice of black cats, shelters apparently do it as a precaution.

black catSource: https://gizmodo.com/shelters-ban-black-cat-adoption-on-halloween-to-prevent-1652829811

Back cats are really quite cool. Find out more in our list of 25 Facts About Black Cats That Are Absolutely Purrfect!


People commonly believe animal shelter pets all have behavioral problems. This is untrue. Many animal shelter pets are perfectly good family pets in need of a loving home.

dogsSource: https://www.petmd.com/dog/centers/nutrition/evr_dg_animal-shelter-myths-debunked

Often, adult dogs at animal shelters will be highly trained, knowing many of the basic commands, and can be easier to take care of than getting a puppy from a breeder.

dogs stittingSource: https://www.americanhumane.org/fact-sheet/animal-shelter-euthanasia-2/

Photo: Featured Image - Shutterstock, 1. MaxPixel.com (Public Domain), 2. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 3. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 4. Joe Parks from Berkeley, CA, Reclining black dog, CC BY 2.0 , 5. Uwe Gille, Intracardial-injection-rat, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 6. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 7. BITAN43610, BABY DEER AT BANDHAVGARH NATIONAL PARK, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 8. Pixnio.com (Public Domain), 9. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain), 10. PxHere.com (Public Domain), 11. HorraxC, AmericanPitbullTerrierBrooklynBr, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 12. IndyDina with Mr. Wonderful, Cats Haven (no-kill shelter for cats), CC BY 2.0, 13. Watchduck (a.k.a. Tilman Piesk), Surprised young cat, CC BY 3.0 , 14. pixabay (Public Domain), 15. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain), 16. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain), 17. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain), 18. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain), 19. Jay Reed User:J.reed, Small Guinea Pig, CC BY-SA 2.0 , 20. Manny Marko, Maricopa County Animal Control, CC BY 2.0, 21. zanerudovica, French Bulldog with puppies, CC BY 2.0 , 22. Nettis Air Force Base (Public Domain), 23. nathanmac87, Sad Dog, CC BY 2.0, 24. WikipediaCommons.com (Public Domain), 25. Nhandler, Dog in animal shelter in Washington, Iowa, CC BY 2.5