Most of the time when you see numbers such as how many animals enter US shelters, they don’t give you a clue how they came up with them. Or they quote a source such as the Humane Society of the US or ASPCA, and maybe you assume that they collect data from all the shelters in the US. They don’t. Having “Humane Society” or “SPCA” as part of the name of an animal shelter has no more meaning that having the word “Animal” in it. Anyone can use those words in their organization’s name.
HSUS (http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/pet_ownership_statistics.html#.UzhqeoUXma8) says, “There is no central data reporting system for U.S. animal shelters and rescues. These estimates are based on information provided by the (former) National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy.” http://www.petpopulation.org/statsurvey.html The NCPP’s last survey seems to have been in 1997.
They also credit the American Pet Products Association. “The American Pet Products Association (APPA) was established to promote, develop and advance responsible pet ownership and the pet products industry.” It’s a marketing survey. On the basis of 527 completed surveys on dogs and 461 on cats, they came to their conclusions. http://americanpetproducts.org/Uploads/MemServices/2013_14NPOSBackgroundandPurpose.pdf
The ASPCA (http://www.aspca.org/about-us/faq/pet-statistics) used the same sources.
The Pet Adoption Topline Research report for the Shelter Pet Project (http://www.animalsheltering.org/how-we-help/work-for-change/pet-adoption-research-topline.pdf) have footnotes to the same sources, as well as:
Note: numbers are extrapolated based on Ohio statistics collected in 2004 [How much can you project nationally data 10 years old from a state representing less than 4% of the national population?]
Source: Linda Lord, Demographic trends for animal care and control agencies in Ohio from 1996 to 2004 [ibid]
Source: Maddie’s Fund 2007 Shelter Statistics [Not all that current. Also their data comes from their grant recipients, a rather limited and self-selected sample]
In a future blog, I’ll give you my estimates on some of these figures and explain how I came up with them.