Shelter killing drops after upward spike

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2005:

The numbers of dogs and cats killed in U.S. animal shelters
appears to have resumed a 35-year decline after a brief spike upward,
according to the 12th annual ANIMAL PEOPLE review of shelter exit
data. The overall rate of shelter killing per 1,000 Americans now
stands at 15.5.
Shelter killing is coming down in all parts of the U.S., but
progress remains most apparent where low-cost and early-age dog and
cat sterilization programs started first, decades ago, followed by
aggressive neuter/return feral cat sterilization, introduced on a
large scale during the early 1990s.
Regions with harsh winters that inhibit the survival of stray
and feral kittens were usually killing more than 100 dogs and cats
per 1,000 humans circa 1970. The U.S. average was 115, and the
Southern toll (where known) soared above 250.
Current regional norms vary from 3.6 in the Northeast to 27.5
along the Gulf Coast and 29.2 in Appalachia.
The Northeast toll is as low as it is partly because most
animal control agencies in Connecticut still do not actively pick up
cats, although they were authorized to do so in 1991–but even if
Connecticut agencies collected two or three times as many cats as
dogs, the overall Northeast rate of shelter killing would be less
than 4.5 dogs and cats per 1,000 humans.

For most cities in most parts of the U.S. 5.0 is for all
practical purposes the threshold of achieving no-kill animal control,
as on average about five animals per 1,000 humans will be too
severely injured, ill, or dangerous to save. New York City is
unique in having by far the highest human population density in the
U.S., with only about half the U.S. per capita rate of pet-keeping.
This reflects the predominance of high-rise apartment house living.
The no-kill threshold for New York City is accordingly about
2.5–and the city is almost there, having cut shelter killing almost
in half during the 18-month tenure of current Center for Animal Care
& Control director Ed Boks.
San Francisco, a distant second in human population density,
crossed the no-kill threshold in 1994, and continues to reduce
shelter killing by finding ways to save ever more of the animals who
would have no chance elsewhere due to lack of resources for treatment
and rehabilitation.
At the present rate of New York City progress, however, New
York could become the most successful U.S. city at saving animals’
lives in one more year–or less.
The most remarkable new finding in the ANIMAL PEOPLE data
analysis is that the percentage of unsterilized dogs and cats who
have homes is now almost equal, in many locales, to the number
killed in shelters per 1,000 humans.
This quick-and-crude approach to estimating dog-and-cat
reproductive potential may be more a recurring coincidence than a
rule, and does not appear to hold up where the rate of dog and cat
sterilization is known to be less than 70%, but it did hold up in
every U.S. city where ANIMAL PEOPLE had both sterilization and
shelter killing data.
Seventy percent is the tipping point at which the remaining
unsterilized animals cannot reproduce in excess of attrition, if the
70% sterilization ratio is maintained.
After initially estimating U.S. shelter killing each year by
projecting the rate per 1,000 humans based on a limited number of
whole-state surveys, ANIMAL PEOPLE in 1997 shifted to the present
method of using only data from the three most recent fiscal years,
and using proportionally weighted city and county data where
whole-state surveys are unavailable.
Research commissioned by the National Council on Pet Population
Study, done during 1994-1996, subsequently confirmed the estimate
of dogs and cats killed in shelters that ANIMAL PEOPLE projected.
A new paper resulting from the NCPPS investigation, “Birth
and Death Rate Estimates of Cats and Dogs in U.S. Households and
Related Factors,” appeared in volume 7.4 of the Journal of Applied
Animal Welfare Science just as the July/August 2005 edition of ANIMAL
PEOPLE went to press. Co-authors of the paper included John C. New
Jr. and William Kelch of the University of Tennessee, Jennifer
Hutchison of the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries,
and Forestry, Mo Salman and Mike King of Colorado State University,
Janet Scarlett of Cornell University, and Philip Kass of the
University of California at Davis.

Estimating feral cats

Based on 1996 survey data from 7,399 U.S. households, the
new paper establishes that “The crude birth rate was estimated to be
about 11.2 kittens per 100 cats in households, and 11.4 puppies per
100 dogs in households.”
Attrition included a death rate of 8.3 amog cats, 7.9% among
dogs, plus a disappearance rate of 3% among cats, 1.1% among dogs.
Cat births in households equalled attrition; dog births in
households exceeded attrition by 2.4%.
Twice as many kitten litters as puppy litters were born,
with a surprisingly large average kitten litter size of 5.73 and
puppy litter size of 7.57. About 82% of the animals were from
unplanned litters.
Thus about 6.63 million kittens were born in households,
5.46 million of them through unplanned births, along with six
million puppies, 2.6 million through unplanned births.
The number of unplanned births was almost exactly equal to
U.S. shelter admissions, and movement of feral cats into homes and
shelters appears to have been approximately equal to net growth in
the household population pus cat killing in shelters, as projected
by ANIMAL PEOPLE.
The number of feral cats in any locale can be estimated by
adding net cat acquisition to shelter killing and multiplying by
three, to account for the numbers of queens, toms, and siblings
not entering homes or shelters who must exist to produce the numbers
of ferals who are either adopted or killed.
However, nationally the feral population is markedly
reduced. A total of only six million feral cats surviving each
winter and 12 million at the summer population peak (about 16% of the
current household cat population) would be sufficient to produce all
of the current annual net gain in pet cats and all of the cats killed
in shelters.
U.S. shelter killing had declined from 17.4 in 1996 to 14.8
in 2000-2001, according to the ANIMAL PEOPLE projections, but
rebounded to the 1996 level after the high-tech stock market slump
and terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 brought a catastrophic
dip in funding for nonprofit and government-subsidized low-cost dog
and cat sterilization.
Neuter/return had apparently caught on well enough that the
feral cat population continued to drop, but at a slower rate than in
the 1990s.
However, shelter dog intake and killing sharply increased
during the first half-decade of the 21st century, coinciding with a
five-fold increase in admissions of pit bull terriers and
Rottweilers, from under 5% of the dogs received to more than 26%,
according to ANIMAL PEOPLE shelter surveys done in 1993 and 2004.
The same years brought a 789% increase in the numbers of
people killed or maimed by pit bulls, who committed about half of
all the life-threatening or fatal dog attacks in the U.S., plus a
2000% increase in the numbers of people killed or maimed by
Rottweilers, who committed about 25% of the life-threatening or
fatal dog attacks.
The increasing volume of pit bulls and Rottweilers entering
shelters was enough to tip the balance of shelter killing from 43%
dogs and 57% cats in 1996-1997 to 57% dogs and 43% cats in 2003-2004.
ANIMAL PEOPLE did not re-survey the shelter dog population in
2005, as there seemed to be no indication of any change in the trend
since 2004.
Fifteen Americans were killed by pet dogs during the first
six months of 2005, 11 by pit bulls and three by Rottweilers.
Police seized 693 pit bulls in connection with dogfighting, 14%
fewer than in the first half of 2002 but approaching the totals
seized in each full year from 1999 through 2001, and nearly twice as
many as were seized in 1998.
(Please note that the regional and national totals appearing
in the accompanying table in bold are not tallies of the data used to
produce them, but are rather estimates proportionately weighted to
reflect demography. The percentage figure in parenthesis is the
percentage of the regional human population from which the totals
were derived.)

Animals killed YEAR 1,000s Animals
per 1,000 people of people killed
—————————————————
CONNECTICUT 0.8 2003 3,483 2,647
Ithaca, NY 2.2 2003 97 214
New York City 2.6 2005 8,086 21,171
Onandaga County, NY 4.2 2003 311 1,300
Oswego, NY 7.5 2003 18 135
Madison County, NY 7.8 2003 70 548
—————————————————
NORTHEAST (36%) 3.6 33,396 120,486

NEW JERSEY 5.9 2003 8,638 50,637
Pittsburgh, PA 8.6 2003 1,261 10,907
Baltimore 9.2 2003 762 7,003
Harford Cnty, MD 11.2 2002 219 2,448
Berks County, PA 11.8 2002 85 4,489
Frederick Cnty, MD 13.7 2003 203 2,784
Philadelphia 19.7 2002 1,518 29,935
—————————————————
MID-ATLANTIC (43%) 8.5 29,704 251,634

Chicago 10.4 2002 2,896 30,000
Cincinnati 13.1 2002 835 10,951
MICHIGAN 13.3 2004 9,991 133,000
Tippecanoe Cty, IN 15.2 2003 155 2,360
St. Louis 15.6 2003 1,365 21,336
Butler County, OH 15.8 2002 835 5,329
Kansas City 16.6 2002 1,500 25,000
Springfield, MO 16.9 2002 594 9,689
Minneapolis 17.9 2002 1,115 20,000
Jefferson Cty, MO 18.9 2003 198 3,745
Winnebago Cty, IL 19.2 2004 284 5,449
Clermnt Cnty, OH 20.3 2002 182 3,700
Kansas City, KS 21.6 2004 158 3,412
Indianapolis 23.5 2003 857 20,100
Madison/St Clair IL 24.5 2003 515 12,627
Warren County, OH 27.1 2002 169 4,572
Athens, OH 46.6 2004 64 3,000
Columbia, MO 50.4 2002 80 4,033
Hamilton, IN 60.5 2000 172 10,406
—————————————————
MIDWEST (36%) 15.1 60,436 913,081

Richmond, VA 7.7 2004 195 1,489
Miami/Dade County 9.2 2003 2,300 21,205
Wake Cty, NC 15.2 2003 656 10,000
Norfolk 15.9 2003 1,500 23,869
VIRGINIA 18.1 2003 7,386 133,800
Lee County, FL 18.7 2002 463 8,667
Tallahassee 22.4 2004 239 5,350
Coweta Cty, GA 22.6 2004 101 2,288
Muskogee Cnty, GA 27.5 2003 275 7,500
Volusia County, FL 28.6 2003 455 13,000
NORTH CAROLINA 31.2 2002 8,407 265,289
Tampa 32.4 2002 1,000 32,431
Columbia, SC 37.0 2004 332 12,275
Augusta, GA 45.3 2004 198 8,967
Buncombe Cty, NC 25.6 2005 213 5,444
—————————————————
SO. ATLANTIC (52%) 23.5 45,644 1,070,496

Lewisville, TX 17.5 2001 78 1,367
Fort Worth 19.6 2004 1,486 29,177
LaPlace, LA 20.8 2003 50 1,042
Dallas/FtWorth 23.0 2002 3,439 79,207
El Paso, TX 31.4 2004 700 22,000
Lafayette, LA 28.0 2004 195 5,439
Tuskaloosa, AL 33.0 2003 167 5,502
San Antonio 35.3 2003 1,418 50,000
Amarillo 50.9 2002 174 8,859
Hattiesburg, MS 56.2 2002 73 4,100
—————————————————
GULF COAST (19%) 27.5 33,997 934,295

Loudon Cty TN 18.9 2003 40 754
Chattanooga 22.5 2004 307 6,918
Blount Cty, TN 22.6 2003 108 2,437
Knoxville 27.6 2004 393 10,848
Roane Cty, TN 32.1 2003 52 1,669
Anderson Cty, TN 32.3 2003 72 2,327
Spartanburg TN 32.8 2004 261 8,562
Union Cty, TN 42.8 2003 18 788
Lincoln County, KY 43.7 2003 24 1,045
Sevier Cty, TN 44.4 2003 74 3,275
Jefferson Cty TN 53.1 2003 45 2,390
—————————————————
APPALACHIA (34%) 29.2 4,124 120,627

San Francisco 2.5 2004 771 1,892
San Diego 5.9 2004 2,931 17,421
Portland/Multnomah 6.8 2004 686 4,714
SF Bay area 7.1 2003 7,039 50,000
Silicon Valley 8.5 2003 1,668 14,097
Los Angeles 8.7 2003 9,638 83,780
OREGON 9.3 2002 3,560 33,132
Sacramento 13.4 2002 1,269 17,000
Lodi, CA 13.9 2002 57 790
Clark County, WA 14.6 2003 361 5,283
Grants Pass, OR 17.8 2003 78 1,400
San Bernardino 18.5 2002 1,766 32,656
Riverside, CA 24.3 2002 1,636 39,687
Modesto 30.5 2004 489 14,903
Victorville, CA 28.6 2002 300 8,598
Longview, WA 31.3 2002 80 2,500
Bakersfield, CA 33.3 2003 676 22,500
Fresno, CA 80.0 2002 500 40,000
Visalia, CA 81.1 2002 100 8,100
—————————————————
PACIFIC (69%) 12.1 47,082 570,636

Denver 5.8 2002 1,961 11,407
Phoenix, AZ 11.9 2003 3,195 38,048
Billings 14.3 2004 133 1,900
Las Vegas area 14.5 2003 1,641 23,758
UTAH 15.4 2004 2,352 36,121
Payette, ID 16.6 2002 60 1,000
Albuquerque 26.9 2004 581 15,600
Flagstaff, AZ 30.7 2003 59 1,848
Kingman area, AZ 39.5 2003 162 6,404
Navajo Nation 136.0 2003 46 6,952
—————————————————
WEST (53%) 14.3 18,883 269,883
—————————————————
U.S. TOTAL 15.5 290,810 4,506,206

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