Friday, November 14, 2008

The Numbers Game

Do you know how many pets are killed in the Atlanta metro area? In your county shelter? In the US as a whole?

One of the biggest problems we struggle with is a lack of awareness of the problem. I don't blame people for not knowing. We in the animal welfare community have not done a great job exposing the problem. We try not to overwhelm our supporters with sad stories, graphic pictures or overwhelming numbers. But the truth is, simply, that there are too many sad stories, graphic pictures and overwhelming numbers. And my goal is that everyone who reads this post can no longer not know, and can no longer not act.

I'll save the sad stories and graphic pictures for another day, but let's talk about the numbers. In July of this year, Animal People magazine released national statistics. (Click this link and go to page 8 to see the full set of statistics.) There are a lot of numbers, but I'll highlight some of the most important, and disturbing, numbers that we all need to know.
  • The South Atlantic states (of which we are a part) euthanizes roughly 25% of all pets euthanized in the country. This is NOT in proportion to our population, at all.
  • Euthanasia statistics for 2007 went UP nationally. And based on feedback from our area shelters, we can expect this number to go up again in 2008 as a result of the failing economy.
  • U.S. shelters killed 2.3 million cats & 1.9 million dogs in 2007. Nearly half of the dogs were pit bulls.
  • The Atlanta metro area euthanizes approximately 16.9 pets per thousand people. In comparison, Chicago is 6.7, Los Angeles is 3.7 and New York City is 2.0.
  • We kill over 5 times as many pets in a year as New York City, which is almost double the size of Atlanta.
  • Pit bulls account for roughly 25% of dogs in shelters, almost half of the dogs euthanized in shelters, but are only 5% of the total dog population in the US.
So, now you know. And hopefully you cannot ever forgot. And I hope you will join us in our mission to end the problem of pet overpopulation. The numbers are staggering, I know. But the solution is clear: humane education, spay/neuter programs and rescue/adoption will move us closer to our goal where not one more pet is killed because there is no place to call home.

Join us.

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