Canadians are adopting more animals, fewer euthanized

Kim Elmslie —

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) released its report on the 2012 national animal shelter statistics today.  A first of its kind, the report is an accumulation of data from 102 shelters across the country and represents the best information about companion animals in Canadian shelters.

Many companion animals still in need of a home for the holidays

The collection of shelter statistics is vital to improve the welfare of companion animals in Canada,” says Toolika Rastogi, Policy and Research Manager at the CFHS.  “Having good data presents the overall situation and provides a way to monitor trends over time.  Statistics also allow animal shelters to evaluate the effectiveness of their programs.”Dog-humane-society-story

In 2012 more than 119,000 cats, 53,000 dogs and 15,000 other animals were taken in and cared for by Canadian shelters.  This is a conservative number and only represents the 102 shelters who responded to the CFHS shelter statistics survey and not all of the Humane Societies, SPCAs, municipal pounds and other organizations that care for animals across the country. The intake of cats to shelters is consistently twice the intake of dogs in a given year.  Since 2008 the number of animals brought in to shelters has increased, which may be related to the economic recession in Canada as well as other factors.

“Only 4% of cats brought in to shelters were reclaimed by owners compared to 26% of dogs,” says Dr. Rastogi.   “We strongly encourage everyone, members of the public and shelters, to use a permanent method of identification to ensure that lost animals are reunited with their families.”

Overall only 7% of dogs and 5% of cats (both stray and owner surrendered) entering shelters are already spayed or neutered.  96% of responding shelters spay or neuter animals in their care before adoption as a matter of policy. In 2012 shelters spayed and neutered over 22,000 cats and more than 10,000 dogs!

Adoption rates for dogs have dropped slightly from 52% in 2010 to 48% in 2012. Many dogs (4.3%) are transferred to another facility with more capacity or to a rescue group.  Cat adoption rates for 2012 are 46% which is an increase from 2007 when only 38% of cats were adopted.

Euthanasia is the starkest reality of companion animal overpopulation due to a lack or responsible pet ownership. Six times as many cats were euthanized as dogs in 2012. 41% of cats in shelters were euthanized compared with 15% of dogs. The 2012 euthanasia rates are similar to those in 2011, however the rate has decreased since 2007 and 2008 and is much better than in the mid-1990s when euthanasia rates were closer to 60% for cats and 30% for dogs.

“It is rare for a shelter to euthanize healthy animals,” says Dr. Rastogi “only 3% of healthy cats and 1% of healthy dogs were euthanized in shelters in 2012.”

The CFHS made several recommendations to increase adoption rates and decrease euthanasia including, widespread education, accessible spay/neuter initiatives and mandatory spay/neuter and identification for all animals leaving shelters.

To read the full report visit

About the Canadian Federation of Humane SocietiesThe Canadian Federation of Humane Societies is the national voice of humane societies and SPCAs. Since 1957, it has worked on behalf of its member societies to improve animal welfare and advocate for the humane treatment of animals in communities, on the farm, in the lab and in the wild.