“Staggering Statistics” Actually Just Felt a Bit Woozy for a Moment, Now Right as Rain

An 8 pound dog on a chokepole, as pictured on the Charlotte pound's PetHarbor site.  AHA acknowledged the pound as demonstrating extraordinary commitment and "profound grace and respect" with regard to the animals in their care.

An 8 pound dog on a chokepole, as pictured on the Charlotte pound’s PetHarbor site. AHA acknowledged the pound as demonstrating extraordinary commitment and “profound grace and respect” with regard to the animals in their care.

American Humane Association brings the drama:

The numbers are sobering: Every year, some 7-8 million animals end up in our nation’s shelters, which struggle valiantly to provide life-saving services to them. Nearly 4 million are euthanized. Now, new research published by American Humane Association indicates that hundreds of thousands of animals who manage to get adopted from the nation’s shelters are no longer in their homes six months later. These staggering statistics do not even factor in the number of homeless pets abandoned by their former owners to the streets, who wander aimlessly without a roof over their heads, unsure of when their next meal will be. What can be done to get these animals in to loving, forever homes?

Oh noes!  This sounds terrible.  Hundreds of thousands of shelter pets being jettisoned from their homes in addition to the untold hordes of pets already turned out into the streets.  It’s little wonder any of us can make it out to the mailbox without wading through a sea of homeless pets.  Adoption is pointless.  There’s no way out.  I see that now.  Oh!  This is the big one!  I’m coming, Elizabeth!

Before I depart this mortal coil though, let’s take a look at the AHA study.  The survey included 572 recent adopters from 3 cities – Charlotte, Ft. Worth and Denver.  In each city, adopters were selected from one municipal facility and one private shelter.  Results determined that roughly 90% of the adopters still had their pets after 6 months.  Approximately 5% had returned the pets to the shelter and the remaining pets had been rehomed, gotten lost or died.

Gee, when I type it all out, it doesn’t sound so TerribleHorribleReallyQuiteBad anymore.

Let’s go back to that dreadful news on the AHA website:

New study: 1 in 10 adopted pets gone within six months

“Gone” sounds so, I don’t know – final. Like they were sold for use in the slave trade in some faraway land. Or they were fitted with cement shoes and tossed into the river because they couldn’t repay their gambling debts. But really, what the AHA study found was that 90% of adopters kept their pets. Isn’t that kinda yay? And 5% returned the pets to the shelter – the safe haven, if you will – presumably because the pet wasn’t a good fit for their family. Isn’t that kind of expected? And the remaining 5% either had a pet get lost or die or gave them to someone else. Again, this falls under the expected category to me, not the Hair on Fire Emergency that AHA seems to think it is. Things happen. Pets get lost. Pets die. People die. Pets need to be rehomed.  No need to deploy the National Guard.

Kitten at the Charlotte pound, as shown on PetHarbor.  The respect.  It's profound.

Kitten at the Charlotte pound, as shown on PetHarbor. The respect. It’s profound.

I’ll be honest and admit I didn’t read most of the rest of the study.  You might like to read it in full.  In the main, I don’t trust AHA since they kill dogs and cats. But with this study specifically, they seem to be making a mountain – a fiery, ash-spewing type of mountain – out of a molehill. I am concerned though that AHA may attempt to use the findings to encourage shelters to restrict adoptions even further. Better dead than taking a chance on anything else, right?

Overall, my take on this study is this:

  • 90% pet retention 6 months post adoption=pretty good.
  • 5% return rate=about what I’d expect.
  • 5% other life stuff happens rate=about what I’d expect.

Stand down.  Unbunch your panties.  Keep calm and keep adopting.