As a pet lover, you already know that there are many benefits to adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue rather than purchasing, most importantly saving the life of a pet in need. But adoption is only the first part of the rescue; making a life-long commitment to the dog or cat is just as important. A new study published this month by the American Humane Association reveals some sobering facts: more than one out of every ten animals adopted from an animal shelter are no longer in the home just six months later. This 10% adoption failure rate could represent hundreds of thousands of homeless pets.
Approximately half of those pets were returned to the original shelter, and the other half had other outcomes such as being given to another person, becoming lost, or having died. There was no difference in retention rates between dogs or cats or between male and female pets. There was also no difference between prior pet owners and first time pet owners. Some of the key findings included:
– Dogs and cats that had had a veterinary visit were more likely to remain in the home.
– Pet owners aged 25 – 35 had the highest rate of pet retention, followed closely by those aged 45 – 54.
– Pets allowed to sleep on a family member’s bed were more likely to be retained.
– Pet retention was higher for college graduates and lower among those living in a s mall town.
Shelters work hard at finding homes for dogs and cats, but still nearly four million healthy pets are euthanized in the US every year. The American Humane Society plans to use this data about pet retention to develop strategies to help pet adopters keep their newly adopted pets in the home for life. Understanding the reason that pets are relinquished is the first step in developing strategies to increase the number of dogs and cats that remain in the home.