Post-9/11 shelter killing hits 4.9 million a year

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2004

Entering 2004, ANIMAL PEOPLE hoped that 2003 would prove to
have been the year when U.S. shelter killing of dogs and cats fell
below four million for the first time since the first national
estimates of the toll were developed circa 1960.
Instead, surging intakes of pit bull terriers,
Rottweilers, and mixed breed dogs with pit bull or Rottweiler traits
appear to have more than offset all the reductions achieved since
1997 in feral cat intake, accidental litters of puppies and kittens,
and surrenders of unruly year-old purebred dogs of other types.
Thus the estimated U.S. shelter death toll soared by 17%, to
4.9 million.
The ANIMAL PEOPLE estimate is based on data from every
shelter in cities, counties, or sometimes whole states containing
more than a third of the U.S. human population, and is
proportionately weighted to get regional balance. It includes data
collected only in the three preceding years.
Thus the 2004 ANIMAL PEOPLE estimate is the first to consist
predominantly of data reflecting the economic conditions following
the high-tech stock collapse of 2000-2001 and the terrorist attacks
of September 11, 2001.

Replacing data from the fiscal years ending in 2000 and the
first half of 2001 with data from fiscal years ending in 2003 and
early 2004 brought a shock that required extensive further research
to explain.
The surge in shelter killing did not actually occur all in
just one year–only in data that was not yet available one year ago.
Analyzing 2001 data in isolation from the years preceding and
following indicates that the second half of that year was really when
the toll jumped, and that 2002 and 2003 may have only brought a
plateau.
Further, only intakes and killing of pit bulls,
Rottweilers, and their mixes really did increase.
In 1997, ANIMAL PEOPLE found, 57% of the animals killed in
U.S. shelters were cats. As of 1993, when ANIMAL PEOPLE producd our
only previous breed-specific survey of the U.S. shelter dog
population, just over 30% were purpose-bred dogs other than pit
bulls and Rottweilers.
Currently, only 43% of the animals killed in U.S. shelters
are cats, and according to our findings from a June 30-July 2 survey
of 3,023 dogs at 23 major open-admission shelters in representative
cities around the country, only 17% were purpose-bred, exclusive of
pit bulls and Rottweilers.
What changed is that the pit bull and Rottweiler component of
the shelter dog population increased from under 5% to just over 26%.
This included a more-than-four-fold increase in actual numbers of pit
bulls, to 13%; an increase in Rottweilers from less than 1% to 3%;
and an apparent five-fold increase in the numbers of pit and Rott
mixes.
By 1993, according to data collected by ANIMAL PEOPLE editor
Merritt Clifton since September 1982, pit bulls kept as pets,
exclusive of dogs trained to fight, already accounted for more than
half of all life-threatening dog attacks. Rottweilers accounted for
20%.
Over the past decade the number of life-threatening and fatal
pit bull attacks increased 789%. The number of life-threatening and
fatal Rottweiler attacks leaped 2000%.
Crippled by catastrophic payouts after 9/11, the U.S.
insurance industry looked for ways to reduce risk, and recognized
insuring pit bulls and Rottweilers as a major loser, at payout rates
in maiming and death cases often exceeding half a million dollars
apiece. At least nine major insurance groups will no longer cover a
homeowner or renter who keeps a pit bull, a Rottweiler, or–in
deference to humane society opposition to breed-specific
regulation–any other dog of comparable size. That means not only
pit bulls and Rottweilers but all big dogs are now much harder to
adopt.
For several years the fast-dropping body counts of cats and
dogs other than pit bulls, Rottweilers, and their mixes masked the
effects of the pit/Rott population explosion.
ANIMAL PEOPLE estimated in 2002 that total U.S. shelter
killing was just 4.2 million, down from 4.4 million in 2001, 4.5
million in both 1999 and 2000, and 4.9 million in 1997, the first
time the toll fell below five million. But those drops were achieved
almost entirely through the advent of neuter/return to control feral
cats, plus marked increases in adoptions of both cats and dogs.
Twenty-five years ago, only one dog in 10 in a home came from a
shelter. Today, two of 10 do, and in some regions the figure is
nearly three in 10.
Post-9/11, however, the funding available for neuter/return has
declined, and the numbers of dogs arriving at shelters other than
pit bulls and Rottweilers and their mixes are down as well.
Relatively few shelters are seeing increases in incoming cats, but
fewer now are seeing the marked decreases that were achieved during
the 1990s. Neither is adoption likely to save many more dogs than
are already being saved.
With ways and means of decreasing shelter killing of cats and
dogs other than pit bulls and Rottweilers having hit limits, at
least temporarily, the rise in the pit/Rott toll finally became
starkly obvious.
There were warnings as early as the first days of January
2004, when New York City Center for Animal Care & Control chief Ed
Boks told news media that the CACC had managed to rehome only 460 of
the 6,300 pit bulls it received in 2003, and that pit bulls now make
up almost a third of all of the dogs that the CACC kills.
As yet, however, the humane community has not responded
effectively to pit bull and Rottweiler proliferation. Since 1984 the
American SPCA and the Humane Society of the U.S. have lined up with
the American Kennel Club and other dog breeders’ associations to
oppose breed-specific legislation. During that time, pit bulls,
Rottweilers, and their mixes have gone from being less than 1% of
the total U.S. dog population to as much as 8%, almost perfectly
parallel to the the rates of increase in life-threatening and fatal
attacks involving them.
Despite the post-9/11 surge in U.S. shelter killing, the
overall trend remains positive. The peak toll appears to have been
about 23.4 million circa 1970.
As of 1970, U.S. animal shelters collectively killed 115
dogs and cats per 1,000 U.S. human residents. By 2000 the killing
rate had fallen as low as 14.8, and is now 17.4.
The momentum toward becoming a no-kill nation that has been
lost since 9/11 can be regained, but only if the humane community
squarely faces the problem.
Fairly evaluating the community data below requires taking
into account the evident regional differences. Most of the lowest
rates of shelter killing are clustered in the Northeast, with the
highest in the South, except around Washington D.C. and in some of
the more affluent parts of Florida.
The low Northeastern and D.C. area figures appear to result
from high-density living, associated with low rates of pet-keeping;
cold winters, the D.C. area excepted, which inhibit survival of
late-born feral kittens and suppress estrus in dogs and cats,
decreasing litter frequency; a relatively strong humane
infrastructure to encourage neutering; and animal control agencies
which have historically ignored free-roaming cats.
The high Southern figures conversely reflect suburban
populations, high pet ownership, warm winters, and a general lack
of access to low-cost neutering.
Animal population analysts Peter Marsh and Bob Christiansen
have found in separate studies of data from California, Georgia,
New Hampshire, New Jersey, and North Carolina that the poorest
counties in each state kill dogs and cats at up to four times the
rate of the richest.
No other nation has ever killed homeless dogs and cats at
comparable rates, largely because no other nation has ever kept so
many dogs and cats. The U.S. ratio of dogs to humans, for example,
is about 1-to-4. The ratio in most European nations is closer to
1-to-8 (1-to-10 in Britain), and in India, including street dogs,
the ratio is 1-to-10. Most other Asian nations have far fewer than
one dog per 10 humans.
Data collected annually by Dogs Trust shows that shelter
killing of dogs throughout the United Kingdom has fallen to 1.7 per
1,000 humans, according to 2003 data disclosed on July 20, 2004.
The highest U.K. rate of shelter killing of dogs is 2.4, in Northern
Ireland.
Comparable data pertaining to cats is not available, but
U.K. shelters are believed to be killing fewer cats than dogs.

Animals killed YEAR 1,000s Animals
per 1,000 people of people killed
Ithaca, NY 1.8 2003 97 178
San Francisco 2.5 2002 771 1,892
West Orange, NJ 3.4 2001 45 154
Onandaga County, NY 4.2 2003 311 1,300
New York City 4.6 2001 8,009 36,500
San Diego 4.9 2002 2,863 14,019
Denver 5.8 2002 1,961 11,407
MAINE 6.3 2001 1,275 8,000
SF Bay area 7.1 2003 7,039 50,000
Richmond, VA 7.1 2002 265 1,884
Oswego, NY 7.5 2003 18 135
Madison County, NY 7.8 2003 70 548
COLORADO 8.3 2001 4,301 119,340
Silicon Valley 8.5 2003 1,668 14,097
Los Angeles 8.7 2003 9,638 83,780
Pittsburgh, PA 9.5 2001 1,270 12,000
Chicago 10.4 2002 2,896 30,000
Harford Cnty, MD 11.2 2002 219 2,448
OREGON 11.5 2001 3,421 40,505
Berks County, PA 11.8 2002 85 4,489
Phoenix, AZ 11.9 2003 3,195 38,048
Cincinnati 13.1 2002 835 10,951
Sacramento 13.4 2002 1,269 17,000
St. Petersburg 13.7 2001 922 12,600
Fredrick Cnty, MD 13.7 2003 203 2,784
Lodi, CA 13.9 2002 57 790
UTAH 13.9 2003 2,233 31,072
Ft. Laud/Miami 14.1 2001 5,007 70,514
Collier County, FL 14.2 2001 266 3,785
Las Vegas area 14.5 2003 1,641 23,758
Clark County, WA 14.6 2003 361 5,283
Wake Cty, NC 15.2 2003 656 10,000
Lincoln, NE 15.3 2001 263 4,018
Butler County, OH 15.8 2002 835 5,329
Norfolk 15.9 2003 1,500 23,869
Animals killed YEAR 1,000s Animals
per 1,000 people of people killed
Payette, ID 16.6 2002 60 1,000
Kansas City 16.6 2002 1,500 25,000
Springfield, MO 16.9 2002 594 9,689
U.S. AVE. 17.4 (sample of 37%)
Lewisville, TX 17.5 2001 78 1,367
Columbia, SC 17.6 2001 321 5,666
Grants Pass, OR 17.8 2003 78 1,400
Minneapolis 17.9 2002 1,115 20,000
Philadelphia 18.4 2002 1,518 27,952
San Bernardino 18.5 2002 1,766 32,656
Lee County, FL 18.7 2002 463 8,667
VIRGINIA 18.8 2001 7,079 132,978
St. Louis area 19.9 2001 1,912 38,000
Clermnt Cnty, OH 20.3 2002 182 3,700
Twin Falls, ID 20.6 2001 35 721
LaPlace, LA 20.8 2003 50 1,042
Knoxville 20.9 2001 382 8.000
Tucson/Pima 21.3 2001 844 18,000
Volusia, FL 21.6 2001 443 9,563
Atlanta region 22.4 2001 4,152 94,256
South Bend, IN 22.6 2001 265 6,001
Sioux Falls, SD 22.6 2001 148 3,345
Pasco Cnty, FL 22.8 2001 345 7,880
Dallas/FtWorth 23.0 2002 3,439 79,207
Indianapolis 23.5 2003 857 20,100
Denton, TX 24.2 2001 81 1,956
Riverside, CA 24.3 2002 1,636 39,687
Warren County, OH 27.1 2002 169 4,572
Muskogee Coty, GA 27.5 2003 275 7,500
Modesto, CA 27.6 2003 469 12,943
Concord, NC 28.0 2002 136 3,808
Victorville, CA 28.6 2002 300 8,598
Volusia County, FL 28.6 2003 455 13,000
El Paso, TX 29.4 2001 680 20,000
Evansville, IN 29.2 2001 121 3,561
Chilicothe, MO 31.1 2001 15 453
Longview, WA 31.3 2002 80 2,500
Oklahoma City 31.6 2001 506 16,000
Tampa 32.4 2002 1,000 32,431
NORTH CAROLINA 32.4 2002 1,186 265,289
San Antonio 33.0 2001 1,393 46,000
Tuskaloosa, AL 33.0 2003 167 5,502
Chatanooga 36.1 2001 308 11,112
Charleston, SC 36.4 2001 549 20,000
Hutchinson, KS 37.1 2001 41 1,521
Merced, CA 37.9 2001 211 8,000
Kingman area, AZ 39.5 2003 162 6,404
Lincoln County, KY 43.7 2003 24 1,045
Springfield, MO 43.6 2002 152 6,610
Corpus Christi 46.3 2001 314 14,541
Columbia, MO 50.4 2002 80 4,033
Amarillo 50.9 2002 174 8,859
Hattiesburg, MS 56.2 2002 73 4,100
Hamilton, IN 60.5 2000 172 10,406
Gulfport, MS 73.9 2001 190 14,000
Valencia, NM 75.8 2001 66 5,000
Flagstaff, AZ 79.5 2003 100 7,950
Fresno, CA 80.0 2002 500 40,000
Thomas Cnounty, GA 81.0 2001 43 3,476
Visalia, CA 81.1 2002 100 8,100
________________________________________________
Crude totals: 18.2 105,364 1,913,644
projects to 5,117,238
Proportionate: 17.4 projects to 4,889,400
2001 proportionate: 17.5 projects to 4,917,500

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