Pet Overpopulation

Pet Overpopulation

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) believes that pet overpopulation is a significant welfare issue facing companion animals in the United States. Since there are more adoptable animals than homes to care for them, over 6 million cats and dogs enter shelters in this country and approximately 1.5 million are euthanized annually, as of 20181. While the Northeast and Pacific Northwest have made significant strides with pet overpopulation, we recognize that this issue is still greatly impacting animals in other parts of the country. Tackling this problem requires a collaborative and multifaceted approach.

Pet overpopulation has traditionally been addressed by wide spread spay-neuter efforts, which have significantly decreased the number of unwanted litters entering shelters since the 1970s. More recently, there have been initiatives by humane organizations to address the causes of relinquishment to shelters through community programs including targeted wellness clinics, trap neuter return (TNR) efforts, food banks and behavior counseling.

Interstate transport programs have also been employed to decrease the number of animals being euthanized in shelters. In certain areas of our country (rural areas, the south and southwest) shelters are overwhelmed with cats and dogs. It makes sense for shelters in these regions to partner with humane organizations in areas with less population pressures (mainly in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest) to responsibly transport highly adoptable animals that would otherwise be euthanized.

Therefore, the Animal Rescue League will continue to address pet overpopulation by:

1. Requiring that cats and dogs are spayed and neutered prior to adoption.

2. Offering High Quality, High Volume Spay/Neuter services to the public at an affordable cost.

3. Engaging in community services that decrease the numbers of animals entering our shelters.

4. Responsibly transporting and adopting out animals from regions with high numbers of companion animals entering shelters.


[1] “Shelter Intake and Surrender – Pet Statistics.” ASPCA, 2019, https://www.aspca.org/animal-homelessness/shelter-intake-and-surrender/pet-statistics.