Background

Hundreds of thousands of healthy and treatable cats and dogs are being abandoned and killed in pounds, shelters and vet clinics each year in Australia. Currently there is no legislated requirement for statistics on abandoned cats and dogs to be gathered nationally. Only the NSW Government gathers and reports statistics on the fate of pound animals annually, but this does not include independent shelters and rescue groups who take surrendered animals. Current data from NSW pounds and shelters (extrapolated using ratio of NSW/Australia human populations) indicate approximately 400 000 cats and dogs are being abandoned and 180 000 euthanased/killed each year in Australia. See calculations.

Studies in whole cities in Australia and internationally show that at least 90% of stray and surrendered dogs and cats are either healthy or treatable. Based on the ethical treatment of animals, and community expectations, these animals should be rehomed. By definition, euthanasia should only occur if an animal is irremediably suffering. In addition, some dogs and cats may need to be killed if they are aggressive (i.e. likely to cause significant harm to people or other companion animals and the prognosis for rehabilitation is poor).  In a whole city these untreatable animals represent less than 10% of all stray and surrendered animals.

However, currently on average 20-40% of stray and surrendered dogs and 60-90% of stray and surrendered cats are being killed in the majority of pounds and shelters in Australia and these proportions have not reduced significantly in the last 10 years, with a few exceptions.