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.

A research study1has determined that in 2012-13, there were 211,655 dog admissions to council, shelters and rescue groups, with 43,900 were euthanised (21% of all admissions). A similar study has not yet been done to collate national statistics for cats. However, 2009/10 data from NSW pounds and shelters (extrapolated using the ratio of NSW/Australia human populations) indicated approximately 153 000 cats are admitted to councils and shelters and 100 000 euthanased/killed each year in Australia. See calculations. This is not a complete picture for cats, as some Councils have not been providing collection and rehoming services for stray cats, except pest eradication.

Data from whole cities locally 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 approximately 20-30% of stray and surrendered dogs and 30-60% of stray and surrendered cats are being killed in the pounds and shelters in Australia and these proportions have not reduced significantly in the last 10 years, with a few exceptions.

1 Chua D, Rand J, Morton J, Surrendered and Stray Dogs in Australia - Estimation of Numbers Entering Municipal Pounds, Shelters and Rescue Groups and Their Outcomes. Animals 2017, 7, 50.