An American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) study found that more than 1 million households are re-homing their pets each year.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed Open Journal of Animal Sciences, aimed to uncover how and why pet owners re-home their pets.
According to the study, an estimated 6.12 million households are re-homing, or surrendering, their pets every five years.
“While some of the reasons people re-home their pets are quite complex and difficult to change, many reasons given by the respondents in this study might have been easily resolved through affordable, accessible veterinary care, pet-friendly housing and access to other supplies and resources,” said Dr. Emily Weiss, vice president of research and development for the ASPCA. “Knowing that many pet owners would’ve opted to keep their pet with them if they’d had access to such critical services illustrates the need for programs and services that intervene and reach these pet owners before they’re forced to make this difficult decision.”
Thirty-seven percent of re-homed pets were given to a friend or family member, while 36 percent were taken to a shelter.
The most common primary reasons for re-homing a pet were related to the pets themselves, followed by family situations and housing issues. Twenty-six percent of those who gave away the pet due to a pet-related issue said they could not afford medical care for the pets’ health problems.
The study also uncovered a stark difference in responses between those with a household income below $50,000 and those with a household income above $50,000. Those with income below $50,000 were significantly more likely to re-home due to cost and housing issues as opposed to pet-related issues.
“Efforts to address animal homelessness often focus on helping animals in shelters, but this research and our own community-focused programs show we need to focus just as much on keeping pets from entering shelters in the first place, specifically by helping owners access critical resources,” said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA. “When pets are kept out of shelters, it not only protects those animals, but keeps families together and frees up critical shelter space and supplies for other animals in need.”