7,400 pets are killed every day in the US

7,400 pets are killed every day. That’s 2.7 million each year. If pets were humans, the entire city of Chicago would be gone within a year. Why?

Are animals in shelters across the country in such an urgent need? What are the best ways to help shelter animals? How many animals are in shelters each year? Are there any actionable ways to help shelter animals, which we could act on as soon as possible?

7.6 Million Animals End Up in Shelters Each Year

The number of animals in shelters is shocking. According to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), a whopping number of 7.6 million animals end up in shelters nationwide each year. With 13,600 animal shelters scattered across the country, this yields on average 550 animals per each individual animal shelter every year. Even with the best resources available, this is a large number of animals to take care of.

So, what happens with those 7.6 million shelter animals across the country?

  • Adoption or Home Return. Around 3.4 million animals get either adopted or returned to owners. In fact, I have explored some successful pet adoption stories where both dogs and cats were able to find their forever homes filled with love, respect and appreciation. After all, those are the best ways to help shelter animals.
  • Remain in shelters. Around 1 million animals remain in shelters each year, with the lack of prospects to find forever homes.
  • Euthanasia. Nearly 2.7 million animals in shelters get euthanized every single year.  This is particularly true in Southern states, where many of the healthy dogs and cats are routinely euthanized. You could ask, are there no ways to help shelter animals in Southern states?


shelter animal statistics

What happens to 7.6 million animals that end up in animal shelters each year? Source: ASPCA.

I found the number of animals killed every year upsetting. Some euthanized animals are terminally ill or exhibit severe animal aggression. However, as Dr. Rachel S. Geller reports, “many of these sweet, loving animals are euthanized due to overcrowding.” That said, hundreds of thousands of animals in shelters are euthanized due to insufficient resources.

Animal shelters and pet rescues are not publicly funded. In most cases, they rely on the generosity of people who find ways to help shelter animals with not just money but time, energy and patience.

We need to face the reality:

Our inaction or lack of interest is a direct and undeniable contribution to the loss of each and every pet euthanized in shelters.

Ways to Help Shelter Animals: 6 Life Saving Actions

There are ways to help shelter animals. If we act quickly together, we can save at least some of the 2.7 million dogs, cats and other pets from being killed due to insufficient resources. We need to put in some effort. Every one of us.

Together with our experts, we have come up with 6 Ways to Help Shelter Animals.

  1. Volunteer in whatever way you can. Run a fundraising event or organize an educational program for your local school.
  2. Donate food, money, toys, or anything that will be helpful for your local animal shelter.
  3. Talk with your shelter about their needs.
  4. Opt to adopt or foster.
  5. Assist with transportation of pets from one place to another (especially from the southern states to the north).
  6. Make sure you don’t add to the shelter load.


6 Experts on Animal Euthanasia and Ways to Help Shelter Animals

The ways to help shelter animals discussed above are just a tip of the iceberg.

What follows are the accounts of experts with significant contributions to the well-being of animals in shelters and pet rescues. I discovered their lifelong commitments to and passions for animals They shared invaluable perspectives on ways to help shelter animals. They told me the truth.

The conversation with each individual further motivated me to act quickly in order to save at least one kitten, one puppy, one living-being.

To learn more, please click on the expert’s name to expand the text:


Vivian Goldbloom, Founder and CEO of Emerald City Pet Rescue. She has dedicated her life to saving lives of each and every living creature.

How have you become passionate about pet?

I have been passionate about animals my entire life. At the age of seven I began to rescue, my heart went out to animals in need and I was rarely found without a stray to bring home, or a pet in my arms. Animals cannot speak for themselves, so I have always felt a calling to be their voice and their protector. They are sentient beings who deserve our love, compassion, and respect.

Should people care about cats and other animals in shelters? And if so, why?

Absolutely! Animals often end up in shelters through no fault of their own. Overbreeding, not spaying and neutering, and physical and behavioral challenges can all contribute to pets ending up in shelters, but like us, they all just want to be loved and cared for. They want, and deserve, to experience the joy and peace of being safe and protected throughout their lives. It’s the least we can do for them, when they give us so much in return!

What are some ways to help shelter animals, and how will shelter animals benefit from those things?
If people are able to adopt and give a deserving pet a forever home, a shelter or rescue is a wonderful place to find an animal that will appreciate every single moment of kindness you give them. Fostering is also an excellent and compassionate way to help those in need. Fostering gives animals the opportunity to “learn the ropes” of being in a home environment, to get positive and compassionate training, and to experience the love of a family while they wait for a forever one of their own.

If you are unable to foster or adopt, you can always donate goods or monetary funds to your local shelter or rescue, or sponsor a pet’s medical needs. Pets are always in need of warm blankets, food, supplies, and toys as well as vaccinations, spay and neuter surgeries, dentals, and more. Last but not least, spread the word! Share posts of pets available for adoption. Tell your friends, your family, and your neighbors, you never know when a perfect match may happen!​

Dr. Rachel S. Geller, Ed.D., vice president of the Gifford Cat Shelter, a member of the Board of Directors of the Marcus Maurice Foundation, and a Certified Humane Education Specialist through the Humane Society of the United States.
Rachel Geller Ways to Help shelter animals

Dr. Rachel S. Geller, Ed.D. is the vice president of the Gifford Cat Shelter. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Marcus Maurice Foundation, which provides care and comfort for homeless and abused cats. Rachel is a Certified Humane Education Specialist through the Humane Society of the United States, and is a member of the Academy of Prosocial Learning.

How have you become passionate about cats?

I first decided to share my life with a cat when I was 5 years old, and brought home an adult stray who found her way into my heart. My parents said “yes” and Buttercup became a cherished family member. As a child, I learned about the unconditional love one gets from having a cat, but also about the responsibility of owning a cat. I learned to feed the cat before I fed myself because she was dependent on me, to care for all of her emotional and medical needs, and that cats are sentient beings.

As I got older and began to navigate the world of friendships and relationships, I always knew that my cat loved me completely and fully. My insecurities didn’t scare her and my flaws didn’t make her think less of me. My love for one cat turned into a passion for all cats upon my first trip to an animal shelter. I had persuaded my parents to get Buttercup a companion, and my mother took me to a shelter.

I was surprised, shocked and horrified to see so many cats in cages, yearning for a home, and I wanted to save them all. As I learned about the realities of too many unwanted cats, animal abuse and neglect, I knew that my life’s mission was to save cats.

My dad was a rabbi and taught me this important lesson from the Talmud, the central text of Judaism: “And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved the entire world.” This lesson is important because every life has value, so even if I couldn’t save every cat’s life, I could start by saving one cat’s life – and to that one life, that’s all that matters.

And this is what I am doing today: saving the lives of cats, one life at a time. Because of my love for cats, I also decided to become a certified cat behavior counselor. This further fueled my passion for cats because I learned that cats are amazing communicators, and their minds and bodies work in harmony together to let us know exactly what they want to tell us. Because of this, the cat-human bond is very special.

Should people care about cats and other animals in shelters? And if so, why?

We should care very much about cats and other animals in shelters. Every year, between six and eight million animals find their way to shelters, and many of these sweet, loving animals are euthanized due to overcrowding. When a person decides to adopt a cat from a shelter, that person gets a furry best friend and is giving a cat a second chance in a permanent home.

Not only is that life saved, but a second life can be saved because now there is a spot for another homeless cat to enter the shelter. Many people think there is something “wrong” with animals in shelters. They think that there are behavioral problems or the animals are sick and neglected.

This simply isn’t true. Most animals in shelters are there because their owner could no longer care for them. Death, financial crises, new babies with allergies, divorce are all examples of why an animal might come to a shelter. At most animal shelters, including the Gifford Cat Shelter, animals are fully vetted and vaccinated by a veterinarian.

Shelters have staff and volunteers to work with the animals, socializing them and giving them love and attention so that they are in tip-top shape before they are adopted. So, why should we care? Many animals in our society are suffering. They may be homeless, unwanted and hungry, living on the streets.

Some animals are abused and neglected. Many of these animals are brought to shelters. It is important to understand that animals are beings with emotions and feelings; they feel pain and understand what it means to be loved. The humane and moral response to this problem of shelter overcrowding is to end the needless killing of homeless companion animals by adopting animals in shelters.

What are some ways to help shelter animals, and how will shelter animals benefit from those things?

  • Volunteer. Volunteers may be the only love an animal receives when she is placed in a shelter. Often staff is stretched thin just doing the basics, and we need people to love and cuddle the animals. Most shelters operate on shoestring budgets, constantly fundraising, so volunteers are an essential part of their daily operations. If you are like me, it will make you sad to see so many loving, beautiful animals without a home. However, I promise that your heart will be filled with happiness and boundless joy to know that you are giving love to these animals and enriching their lives while they wait to find their own families.
  • Donate food. Animal shelters always need bags, boxes and cans of pet food for cats and dogs. Typically, the biggest need is for canned cat and dog food. Pet food can be expensive, so pet food drives can be a wonderful way to help. Adults and young people can organize a pet food drive at their schools, places of worship, supermarkets, pet stores and other organizations of which they may be a member.
  • Donate money. If you are unable to go to an animal shelter, monetary donations are always appreciated. Donations help cover operating costs and necessary items such as blankets, toys for the animals, food, litter, cleaning supplies and even office supplies. Young people can get involved by organizing a fundraiser at their schools, such as a bake sale.


Paris Permenter & John Bigley, a husband-wife team who has authored 33 pet and travel books.  They love traveling with their rescue dogs, Irie and Tiki. Their initiative PawZaar.com donates 10% of the proceeds to pet rescues.
ways to help shelter animals Paris Permenter

Paris Permenter and her husband John Bigley are a team of professional writers. They frequently write on their blogs DogTipper.com and CatTipper.com. They own an online store, PawZaar.com. Featuring products for pet lovers from around the globe, our products lend a helping paw. Ten percent of the proceeds from every purchase is donated to the week’s featured pet rescue.

How have you become passionate about pets?

I’ve always lived with dogs, and I can’t imagine my life without them. Today John and I share our home with two mixed breed dogs and three cats, all rescues. While we’d always been passionate about pets, we hadn’t made a career of pets until 2008 when we switched from travel writing to pet writing. The change has opened our eyes even more to the many ways that pets improve our lives. Now we travel with our dogs Irie and Tiki, and love seeing the world through their eyes.

Should people care about dogs and other animals in shelters? And if so, why?

Shelters and rescues everywhere are filled with great pets who are just waiting for a home. Many are perfectly ready to be a family member, and wound up in a shelter through no fault of their own. Every day animals are abandoned at shelters because of life changes — death, illness, moves, deployments — and the spring and summer months also mean puppy and kitten season, with many unwanted litters brought to shelters. Adopting a shelter pet literally means saving a life–and not only the life of the pet you take home but also the life of an animal who will take a spot in that now-empty kennel while waiting for a new home.

What are some ways to help shelter animals, and how will shelter animals benefit from those things?

  • Opt to adopt. If you are considering adding a pet to your family, please consider adoption. Regardless of the type of pet you’re looking for, you’ll find one in a shelter or rescue–including purebred dogs (as many as 25% of the dogs in the shelter system are purebred and many rescues are devoted to a specific breed).
  • Talk with your local shelter and ask how you can help. Whether you choose to help by walking dogs, socializing cats, sharing adoptable pets on social media, or donating money or supplies, you can make a huge difference in the lives of shelter pets.
  • Make sure you don’t add to the shelter load. Be sure that your pets never become a part of the shelter system. Always spay/neuter your pets to avoid unwanted litters. Microchip your pets so that, in the event they are ever lost, the shelter can scan them and reunite you and your pets. (Be sure to register that microchip number to that you will receive that important call.) Always tag your dogs and cats with ID tags with your current phone number. Finally, make plans for your pets in the event of your death, just as you would two-legged children.


Melissa Smith, a self-taught fine artist known through Melissa Smith Art. She make a difference by donating proceeds towards pet rescue organizations doing amazing work supporting shelter animals.
ways to help shelter animals melissa smith

Melissa Smith is a self-taught artist selling her pet portraits through MelissaSmithArt.com. She has a deep burden in her heart for the severe pet overpopulation problem in this country and she is trying to make a difference by donating proceeds towards awesome pet rescue organizations doing amazing work.

How have you become passionate about pets?

I was raised on a farm in the countryside of Upstate NY so I was taught to be compassionate and respectful of animals from a young age. As an adult, I adopted my first companion dog from a high kill shelter outside of Dallas TX because I knew I would save a life that way. Seeing the conditions of a city run shelter and readings so many horror stories on social media of pets being abused, neglected, and abandoned made me want to get more involved on how I could help make a difference in these sweet lives.

Should people care about dogs and other animals in shelters? And if so, why?

People should care more about shelter animals. We as humans have a duty as caretakers of the other species on this planet and domesticated pets is something we started so we need to do a better job of it. Over breeding of these animals is the main problem and I believe there should be more laws in place to control this. Breeders mostly exist to make profit off puppy sales. The more dogs that are brought into this world means the more dogs are left unwanted and disposed of. Over 1.5 million pets are needlessly euthanized every year in shelters in this country…it’s disgusting. We have a responsibility as a human race to minimize this and to show more compassion instead of turning our heads the other way. These are innocence souls being treated this way and it’s wrong.

What are some ways to help shelter animals, and how will shelter animals benefit from those things?
Everyone can help by raising more awareness of alternative ways of obtaining a family pet instead of buying puppies from breeders. Puppies are also available through pet rescue organizations and by any specific dog breed desired. Adoptions can be made by any rescue across the nation since most have volunteers who help with transportations. More adoptions means less demand from breeders. (See PetFinder.com!)

Along with raising awareness, people can donate their time and their hearts to rescue organizations who do amazing work in trying to make a difference. I fostered one dog at a time back when I lived in Texas and it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I was hesitant at first to foster because I was afraid it would be too emotional to let them go once they found their forever home and, yes, I did get attached, but the rewards of being apart of their journey and getting to know their sweet souls is so worth it. And the sooner my foster dog got adopted it meant the sooner I could get another foster dog which meant the more lives the rescue could pull out of imminent death at the shelters! Talk about making a huge difference!

These rescue organization are all volunteer run and rely on monetary donations, supply donations as well as foster homes to help save more lives. If people cannot foster then donations go a very long way in helping. Vet bills are the bulk of their costs. Any little bit that can be donated to your local pet rescue organizations can help immensely for them to be able to take on more animals. I donate 10% of every one of my pet portrait painting orders at www.melissasmithart.com to pet rescues.


Rebeca Rambal, an author of dozens of articles about dogs and cats. She writes frequently on her blog and online initiative Your Pets Universe. She has translated over 1,500 movies into Spanish for internationally known studios.
ways to help shelter animals rebeca rambal

Rebeca Rambal is an author of dozens of articles related to dogs and cats. She writes frequently on her blog and online initiative Your Pets Universe, featuring products for pets. In addition to her passion for pets, Rebeca has translated over 1,500 movies into Spanish studios like Warner Bros, Universal and Dreamworks.

How have you become passionate about pets?

I grew up with 10 German Shepherds and my nanny was tha matriarc of the pack. Misha was a wolf-dog. She was my constant companion from my birth day until I was 6 years old. Saved my life a couple of times… once, pulling me from the riptide on a beach, and the second time she saved me from a scary rat. I have never lived without a dog or a cat by my side.

Should people care about dogs and other animals in shelters? And if so, why?

First and foremost, if you adopt, you will be saving a life… and enriching your own in the process. Millions of incredible animals are put to death in shelters every year, many of them because uninformed people buy them and then abandon them when they become a burden, or just allow them to procreate without control… and that is not fair to any living creature. These animals are amazing, whose feelings go so much deeper than humans seem to give them credit for. Any dog (or cat) deserves to have a loving home and live a sheltered life.

What are some ways to help shelter animals, and how will shelter animals benefit from those things?

If you ever decide to bring a pet into your life, adopting him or her from the shelter will already help a lot. Paying for a puppy at a store will only cost you a lot of money, and you will be supporting puppy mills… just google what that is.

If having a pet is not possible, or if you already have all the pets you can handle, why not volunteer at a shelter? You will get to know a lot of amazing creatures, learn a lot about them, and at the same time give them the socialization and company they so badly crave. At the same time they will be supporting the organization so they can keep saving lives. It’s an incredible activity for your kids as well. Some shelters will allow you to come in and even just cuddle kittens or puppies!

You can donate to your favorite shelter, if not money, items like food, blankets, toys, beds, etc. Just be aware of the great work some of the shelters do, and support them so they can keep rescuing abandoned animals and finding them forever homes.

Help all shelters become “no kill” shelters. Push for your city to pass laws against buying from puppy mills and have stores sell shelter animals instead.


Adam Yamada-Hanf & Singing Dogs,  a blogger, writer, artist, and most of all dog lover. He likes playing music with both his Singing Dogs, Cody and Sierra.
7 ways to help shelter animals

Adam Yamada-Hanff and his Singing Dogs. Adam frequently plays music with his Singing Dogs, Cody and Sierra. They made appearances on the national television networks. You may listen to some of their compositions on YouTube.

How have you become passionate about pets?
I had a great dog when I was growing up, Roger. He was easy, smart, loyal, and loving. Most people that are big dog people tend to have had a dog or several dogs when they were growing up.

Should people care about dogs and other animals in shelters? And if so, why?

I am a dog person, so I will say Yes. 🙂

I know there are lots of social causes to support out there. It’s my belief that animal shelters and rescue groups are worthwhile organizations to support in society.

The stories of animals that are in shelters can be quite heartbreaking. Especially ones that come in and are abused that require intense medical care. It’s difficult to hear about some of these stories and troubling.

Often these cases can be disturbing. Research and studies have shown people that are abusive to animals will be violent toward people.

Catching and prosecuting animal abuse cases should be a high priority. It’s important to show the public that abuse towards animals or people should not be tolerated.

I also think that supporting animal shelters is just as important as supporting the programs they run. Many shelters don’t just care for animals but have educational and outreach programs for the community. Caring about animals in shelters is very important, but making sure we support shelter outreach programs is vital.

Adopting an animal from a shelter or rescue group can be a rewarding experience. Caring for animals teaches people a lot. Thinking and caring about a being that isn’t you and saving a life.

What are some ways to help shelter animals, and how will shelter animals benefit from those things?

It depends on how much people want to get involved. We have fostered before and it can be a very rewarding experience. Fostering requires work with training and making sure the dog, cat, or pet fits with your current pet, or no pet, situation.

Fostering is a great way to see if a dog or cat works for your living situation. I often recommend it, but there are other ways to get involved.

  • Money. Donating money is always a good idea. Shelters daily costs are add-up which is why fundraisers happen all the time. The money goes into food, cleaning and medical supplies, full time staff pay, etc. It’s important to understand many shelters rely on community funded support. Giving a little bit goes a long way.
  • Volunteering. You can volunteer to help out at a shelter. I know people that have volunteered for shelters before but don’t take care of the animals. Although, that is why most people volunteer there are a lot of other jobs. Administrative and fundraising tasks are something animal shelters typically always need help with. Professional and hobby photographers are a huge asset. Photographers that make the animals look good with proper lighting. These photos are used on the shelter’s website and social media for potential adoption. Shelters can also use help for certain programs that range from kids education to how to report animal abuse. Sometimes shelters want to do more outreach initiatives but don’t have the resources or staff to do it. This would be a great area to work with a shelter in. You can help out just for one or two days as well. Major fundraising events usually need a large staff for a short period of time. They recruit a lot of people to help with these large events.
  • Transport. I’ve transported dogs before which is something they need people to help with a lot more. This relates to volunteering but I’ve found that there is such a need it was best to put it in a separate category. Many rescue groups will coordinate or request transportation for animals for a variety of reasons. Transportation isn’t usually for just one shelter but often rescue groups. You can check in your area or online to see if there are any requests. I hope these suggestions get minds thinking about helping animals. Perhaps in creative ways I haven’t even mentioned here. The best way to see about helping with a local animal shelter is contacting them. Be flexible and open-minded and you will meet great people with great values.



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