7 Heartbreaking Facts About Dog Abandonment in 2022

The data and figures provided by certain organizations aren't at all positive. Although dog abandonment is decreasing, it continues to be a serious social and ecosystemic problem.
7 Heartbreaking Facts About Dog Abandonment in 2022
Samuel Sanchez

Written and verified by the biologist Samuel Sanchez.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Dog neglect remains a problem we need to combat, and the 7 heartbreaking facts about dog abandonment we’re going to show you below prove it. Despite being unethical and an act prosecuted by law, today thousands of dogs are looking for homes and sadly die before they find one.

According to statistics, 38 to 53% of North American households have a dog. In European regions such as Spain, this figure is around 26%, but this is still very high, which means that at least 2 out of every 10 homes in high-income countries have adopted or bought a dog. How is it possible, then, that the abandonment figures are so high?

When a human being commits the crime of abandoning a pet, many factors come into play. Below, we’ll show you a series of figures and enlightening data on dog abandonment and its possible explanations. Don’t miss it.

1. 70% of the world’s dogs live in abandonment

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Royal Spanish Canine Society (RSCE) calculated, in 2020, that 70% of the world’s dogs live in a situation of abandonment. This translates into approximately 500 million homeless dogs.

Other sources are somewhat more conservative, but still estimate a minimum of 200 million abandoned dogs worldwide.

An abandoned dog.

2. 80% of abandoned dogs die in the street

As indicated by the Italian portal Pet Trend, 80% of abandoned dogs that aren’t rescued die before their time due to the lack of strategies to survive. Pets get used to humans providing for them and keeping them healthy, so the lack of a reference figure results in death in almost all cases.

A stray dog must face many challenges: lack of food, being run over, parasites, encounters with other feral animals and many other things. When a human being abandons their dog, they must accept that they’re responsible for slowly killing them.

3. Every year 6.5 million pets enter shelters in the U.S

According to the ASPCA, 6.5 million pets enter U.S. shelters each year, of which 3.3 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats. Fortunately, this number has been decreasing over the years, as in 2011 the number of rescued dogs was 3.9 million.

Of all the animals that enter these places, only 710,000 are picked up by their original owners (mostly dogs). For this reason, it can be deduced that a large number of abandoned canines never return to their original home.

4. Some 670,000 abandoned dogs are euthanized each year in the U.S.

This is undoubtedly one of the hardest facts about dog abandonment to digest. In the United States, 670,000 canines lose their lives in shelters every year because they aren’t adopted by anyone. Some sources are much less conservative and estimate that 5500 dogs are euthanized every day in this region.

Again, this figure is on the decline, as 1.5 million pets were euthanized in the USA in 2020, while, in 2011, the value was about 2.6 million. In any case, the situation remains unacceptable. If even a single animal were to lose its life due to abandonment, the battle would still need to be fought.

5. The main reason for abandonment: lack of money

The Affinity Foundation shows us revealing data on dog abandonment with its They would never do it 2021 report and video. For the first time in the history of monitoring, lack of money was the first reason for abandonment in countries such as Spain, with an attribution rate of 25%.

Keeping a dog in this region costs about 1250 euros per year, but lack of money still isn’t an excuse for abandonment. There’ll always be someone willing to adopt a dog of a family on the poverty line.

Unwanted litters (14%), behavioral problems (12%) and the end of hunting season (10%) remain common reasons for abandonment.

6. The profile of the abandoned dog

55% of the dogs collected by shelters are adults, while 22% are puppies and 22% are older dogs. Only 30% of those arriving at the facilities are purebred dogs, as the remaining 70% are mongrels. The vast majority are medium to large-sized dogs and only 28% have an identification microchip.

Thus, with this data on abandoned dogs, it’s easy to make a profile of the potential stray dog: unchipped, mongrel, adult, and large-sized. It seems that the “exclusivity” of some breeds saves some dogs from homeless life.

7. In Spain, 49% of dogs in shelters are fostered

Fortunately, not all the data provided are negative. According to reports already cited, up to 49% of the dogs living in Spanish shelters end up being adopted. Puppies spend only 3.2 months on average in the shelter until they find a new family, while adult dogs must wait almost 10 months.

This translates into encouraging figures, but they must be seen from another perspective: in 2019, 53% of the dogs residing in homes in Spain were adopted, 27% purchased and 10% acquired from others. Although more than half of the pets come from adoption, we’re still very shocked that up to 1 in 3 dogs come from pet shops or similar establishments.

A dog in the street.

With all these data on the abandonment of dogs in the U.S., Spain, and the world in general, one fact is very clear to us: it’s necessary to continue fighting to end these criminal attitudes. In addition to individual support, public institutions must join us in the cause, toughening the penalties and laws against crimes of animal abuse.

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