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Pet Overpopulation

Compassion In Action’s primary focus is on the number one killer of companion animals: pet overpopulation. Tragically, millions of healthy and loving cats, dogs, puppies, and kittens are killed in the US each year simply because they are homeless. Nobody wants to contribute to that sad statistic, but many do so unwittingly.

It costs U.S. taxpayers an estimated $2 billion each year to round up, house, kill, and dispose of homeless animals. (Source: USA Today)

Taxpayers bear this incredible burden while low cost spay/neuter services are less expensive and far more humane.
Pet overpopulation claims the lives of an estimated 4 million healthy, but homeless, dogs and cats each year. This translates to 11,000 animals losing their lives in US shelters every day. Countless others die at the hands of unkind humans or are abandoned to fend for themselves.

While death is the end of their story, it’s not the entire story for relinquished or abandoned animals. Former house pets suddenly find themselves in crowded kennels, surrounded by barking dogs  and unfamiliar people until their terror ends in death. The fate of abandoned pets is often worse: they suffer from starvation, illness, acts of unkind humans, poisoning, animal attacks, struck by vehicles, and other tragic fates. They may linger in pain for days until finally succumbing to death.

These innocent victims of human greed and irresponsibility suffer and die through no fault of their own. Each of these animals had a personality and a will to live. And given the chance, they would have made loving and devoted companions.

Average number of litters a female dog can produce in one year: 2

Average number of puppies in a canine litter: 6-10

In six years, one female dog and her offspring can theoretically produce 67,000 dogs


The primary cause is there are too many animals being born due to irresponsible pet owners, backyard breeders, and puppy mills/pet stores.

It’s estimated that seven dogs & cats are born for each human birth in the US. With census data indicating there are approximately 11,700 humans born daily, this means there are more than 81,000 pups and kittens being born in this country every day. As long as these birth rates continue, there will never be enough homes for the animals. Quite simply, the birth rates must be curbed.

Lack of Adoption: Only 16% of owned cats and 18% of owned dogs were adopted from shelters. (American Pet Products Manufacturers Association)

Average number of litters a fertile cat can produce in one year: 3

Average number of kittens in a feline litter: 4-6

In seven years, one female kitten and her offspring can theoretically produce 420,000 cats.

As a result, an average of 56.5% of dogs entering shelters are euthanized and more than 70% of cats are destroyed. (NCPPSP)

Uncommitted Caretakers: Only 1 in 5 puppies and kittens stay in their original home for their natural lifetime. The remaining 4 are abandoned or relinquished. (HSUS)

According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), less than 2 percent of cats and only 15 to 20 percent of dogs are reclaimed by their owners. Most of these were identified with tags, tattoos or microchips.


Spaying/Neutering: Since it’s virtually impossible to substantially increase the number of homes available, the obvious – and only – solution is to prevent the births. This is done through spaying and neutering.

Because we feel surgical sterilization is the most effective  means of humane population control currently available, Compassion In Action has a spay/neuter campaign consisting of educational materials, print ads, merchandise, and a spay/neuter assistance program to subsidize surgeries for those in financial need.

For additional information, please see our Facts Sheets on Spaying and Neutering and Early Age Spaying and Neutering for more information on this highly beneficial surgery.

In addition to promoting and subsidizing spaying and neutering, Compassion In Action also strives to strengthen the bond between people and their pets. Committed and responsible caretakers are unlikely to relinquish their pets to shelters.

And for those pets that do find themselves homeless, we’re working to bring awareness to their plight while encouraging people to adopt their next family member from an animal shelter.