14 Animal Shelter Statistics in Canada: Things to Know (Updated 2022)
Note: The statistics in this article come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this site. Canadian shelters are notorious for their low euthanasia rates and high adoption success rate. American humanity estimates that 56% of dogs and 71% of cats entering American shelters are euthanized. According to a study by Canadian Veterinary Journal, only 19% of dogs and 40% of cats were euthanized in Canadian shelters. If these facts shock you, read on. We’ve compiled a list of 14 other surprising Canadian shelter stats you should know. Top 14 Animal Shelter Statistics in Canada Pandemic Trends
1. In 2020, a historically high number of stray animals were returned to their owners. (Humane Canada) 2020 proved to be an unprecedented year for stray cats and dogs in Canada. 80% of stray dogs were reclaimed from their owners while 17% of stray cats were returned to them. These percentages are higher than in 2019, when only 28% of dogs and 5% of cats were reclaimed by their owners.
2. The average length of stay for dogs in shelters in 2020 was just nine days.
(Humane Canada) In 2020, the median length of stay for dogs in shelters was just nine days. This is a decrease from the average length of 12 days for dogs in 2019. This may be due to the fact that shelter capacity has been low during the pandemic, with many shelters ramping up the grooming program, leaving more animals than usual housed outside of shelters became. 3. The average length of stay of cats in shelters was only 12 days in 2020 (Humane Canada) In 2020, the average length of stay of cats was only 12 days compared to 15 days in 2019. Again, this may be partly due to the following reasons : the unusually large number of animals shelters have had to place in foster care during the pandemic.
4. Over the course of 2020, there was a 25% drop in cat admissions. (Humane Canada) In 2019, Canadian shelters accepted over 78,000 cats. However, in 2020, shelter intake fell by 25% compared to the previous year. However, the proportion of intake sources remained the same as in previous years, with 48% of cats coming to shelters as strays and 35% being abandoned by owners. 5. Over the course of 2020, there was a 28% drop in dog adoption. (Humane Canada) During 2019,
Canadian animal shelters adopted nearly 28,000 dogs. In 2020, emergency shelters were reduced by 28% compared to the previous year. As with cats, the proportion of intake sources remained relatively similar from 2019, with 38% of intakes from dogs arriving as strays and 34% given up by their owners.
70% of cats admitted to shelters were adopted. (Humane Canada) (The Suburban) The number of cats adopted during 2020 was the highest on record, with nearly 70% of cats placed in Canadian shelters being adopted. In 2019, 60% of cats were adopted. 7. 14% of shelter cats were euthanized in 2020. (Humane Canada) Over 50% of Canadian shelter cats were euthanized in 2008, and the number has been steadily declining since then. There were historically low euthanasia rates in 2020, with only 14% of shelter cats being euthanized.
This is only slightly lower than reports from 2019, but compared to previous years, it’s clear that the number of cats euthanized in Canadian shelters is down sharply. 8. 18% of current pet owners have adopted a pet during the pandemic. (Narrative Research) The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant increase in pet ownership across Canada. Around 18% of pet owners have adopted a new pet since the pandemic began in March 2020. Canadians aged 18-24 are the most likely demographic at 38% to have had a pet during the pandemic, while baby boomers have been the least likely to welcome a new pet into their home at just 9%. 9. In 2020, 58,793 cats were admitted to animal shelters in Canada.
(Humane Canada) In 2020, animal shelters across Canada took in 58,793 cats. In 2019, emergency shelters took in 78,462. In 2018, the number was slightly higher at 81,602. Looking at the number of cats admitted to animal shelters over the years, 2020 was the lowest number of admissions since 1995.
10. In 2020, 20,239 dogs were admitted to animal shelters in Canada (Humane Canada). The year 2020 was a historic year with low numbers of dog shelter admissions across Canada. In 2020 there were just 20,239 registrations. In 2019 it was 27,945, in 2018 it was even 29,955. 2020 had the lowest number of dog boardings since records began in 1993.
Homeless pets 11. 64% of people believe there is a homeless cat overpopulation crisis in their community (Canadian Federation of Humane Societies) A 2017 survey of SPCAs, Communities, vets, animal rescues, animal welfare organizations and trap neuter return (TNR) groups revealed that 64% of respondents believe there is a cat overpopulation crisis. The survey is further broken down to show what percentage of each group thinks there is a problem. 95% of TNR groups, 89% of rescue organizations and 88% of humane societies state that cat overpopulation is a serious problem,
while only 33% of communities see a problem.
12. During the spring and summer, about 400 kittens are born on the streets of Toronto every day. (Animal Alliance of Canada) It is estimated that there may be around 100,000 homeless cats currently living on the streets of Toronto. These cats will inevitably mate, resulting in around 400 kittens being born on the streets of Toronto every day during the warmer months of the year. Cats are very efficient at reproducing, and kittens can become pregnant as young as five months old and can conceive again almost immediately after birth. 13. Housing issues are the number one reason Canadian cat and dog owners give up their pets. (Canadian Federation of Humane Societies) According to a 2016 study by Humane Canada, housing issues are the top reason owners give up their cats and dogs, at 29%. Housing issues include moving, landlord issues, or shift issues.
The second most common reasons are that their pets take up too much time or responsibility (17%) and financial concerns (15%). 14. The Ontario SPCA reported that 161,098 offspring were prevented by spaying and castration programming. (Ontario SPCA) In 2021, the Ontario SPCA spayed 482 females and spayed 551 males. They have spayed 1,166 female cats and spayed 969 male cats. Almost 170 feral cats were neutered and 131 feral cats were neutered. The SPCA also neutered two rabbits and neutered four. These sterilization and castration procedures prevent the birth of an estimated 161,098 offspring.
1. How many animal shelters and shelters are there in Canada?
According to Humane Canada, there were 174 animal shelters operated by humane societies and SPCAs across Canada in 2020. Statistics for 2021 and 2022 were not yet available at the time of writing this report. There are also 125 humane societies and SPCAs across the country with approximately 26,000 volunteers at any one time. More specifically, there are 57 Humane Societies and 68 SPCAs in Canada. These organizations spend an estimated $118.4 million each year to protect hundreds of thousands of animals. Ontario has the most humane Societies and SPCAs with a total of 34, while Alberta comes second with 19. (Humane Canada) 2. What is the Trap Neuter Return (TNR) program? Trap-Neuter-Return is a humane approach to combating the growing homeless cat population.
Not only does it improve the lives of street cats, but it also halts breeding cycles and makes for happier communities. Cities that have TNR programs in place humanely capture cats and take them to a vet for spaying or neutering. These cats also often receive vaccinations at this time, and are “ear-tipped” to indicate they have been spayed or spayed and vaccinated. Ear tips are a surgical procedure that removes a quarter of a cat’s left ear. TNR replaces the need for “catch and kill” protocols to attempt to control the feral cat population. (Alley Cat Allies)
3. Are Canadian Shelters Killing Animals?
Canadian shelters sometimes kill animals, but there are certain circumstances that must be present to justify euthanasia. A study that included 67 animal shelters across Canada showed that of those 67 facilities, only seven reported that they do not euthanize any animals on their premises at all. Twenty said they perform on-site euthanasia, while 24 sent the animals to local veterinary clinics for the procedure. There are very specific guidelines that must be followed when euthanizing an animal at an animal shelter. The Canadian Advisory Council on National Shelter Standards Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters state that the following guidelines must be adhered to:
A veterinarian with the appropriate training for the procedure must be consulted. The animal must be treated with respect. The method of euthanasia must result in rapid loss of consciousness and must be reliable and irreversible. Death must be as painless, fearless and stressless as possible. For identification chips, the animal in question must be scanned several times. Evaluation must take place to ensure that the correct drug dose, needle size, and fixation method are used.
(The Canadian Veterinary Journal) (Canadian Advisory Council on National Shelter Standards)
4. What are no-kill facilities?
A true no-kill facility is one where the animals that are taken in are kept alive at all costs. Absolutely no animal entering the facility with face euthanasia, regardless of its state of health or temperament. While no-kill facilities appear great on paper, there are some downsides. These institutions fail to recognize that emotional suffering can be just as damaging to animals as it is to humans. An animal that is suffering emotionally or behaviorally can be just as distressed as one that is physically injured. These facilities adopt animals with anger issues, even though they may pose a threat to their adoptive families. Even PETA disagrees with the sentiment behind no-kill easements. They state that once these shelters reach capacity, they have two options – turn away more animals than they can accommodate, or accept animals that exceed their capacity limit and store them in substandard living conditions.
Closing Thoughts While it appears the tide is about to turn for Canadian animal shelters as they adopt more and euthanize less, only time will tell if these numbers continue to dip in favor of the shelter animals. The pandemic left many people with far more free time than they were used to, leading to adopting new pets in record numbers. It will be interesting to see what the stats for Canadian shelters are for this year and beyond.