ASPCA estimates 1 million dogs and cats are re-homed annually in the U.S.
Lower-income households reported access to free or low-cost pet services could prevent relinquishment. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates more than 1 million households in the United States re-home their cats or dogs annually according to its recently released report, “Goodbye to a Good Friend: An Exploration of the Re-Homing of Cats and Dogs in the U.S.”
The ASPCA conducted a telephone survey of nearly 10,000 current or past cat or dog owners and found that 590 had re-homed a cat or dog within the preceding five years. Most pet owners gave the pet to a friend or family member (37 percent), or took the pet to a shelter or rescue organization (36 percent). Those re-homing options were followed by giving the pet to a veterinarian or other pet care professional (14 percent), giving the pet to someone they didn’t previously know (11 percent), or setting the pet free to be found by someone else (1 percent).
The study found the most common reasons for re-homing were a problem with the pet (46 percent); a family problem (27 percent); or a housing problem (18 percent). “Those who re-homed to a friend, family or neighbor were more likely to be re-homing due to family issues and housing issues—in other words, a reason that did not have to do with the pet’s behavior or health,” says Emily Weiss, PhD, lead author of the study and ASPCA vice president of research and development, in an ASPCA blog post. “Those relinquishing to a shelter, however, were more likely to be re-homing due to issues related to the pet himself (medical and behavior issues, with aggression being the primary driver of significance), as opposed to an external driver.”
The most common individual pet-related reasons for re-homing:
- 35 % AGGRESSION
- 29% PROBLEMATIC BEHAVIOR (such as being destructive or loud)
- 26% HEALTH PROBLEMS
Surveyed pet owners with a household income under $50,000 said access to free or low-cost services to better care for their pet would have changed their decision to re-home. Free or low-cost services that respondents said would have made a difference included veterinary care, training or behavior help, guidance on finding pet-friendly housing, spay-neuter services, pet food, temporary pet care or boarding, or assistance in paying pet deposits for housing. “This study gives us a small window into the complexity of the re-homing issue,” Weiss says. “There are many cases where re-homing is the right thing for the pet and his person, and many for which providing a supportive hand could shift a re-home to a ‘stay home.’”
The most common family-related reasons for re-homing:
- 44% FAMILY HEALTH TROUBLES
- 24% ALLERGIES
The most common housing-related reasons for re-homing:
- 43% LANDLORD
- 39% NOT ENOUGH SPACE