These Photos of Abandoned Pets Will Melt Your Heart
These Photos of Abandoned Pets Will Melt Your Heart
A seven week old Daschund cross puppy waits to be re-homed at the Cheshire Dogs Home on Jan. 4, 2010, in Warrington, England. The puppy is one of hundreds waiting for a new home at the Manchester and Cheshire Dogs Home and other animal shelters across Britain. There has been a huge surge in the number of abandoned pets over the Christmas and Winter period. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

A seven week old Daschund cross puppy waits to be re-homed at the Cheshire Dogs Home on Jan. 4, 2010, in Warrington, England. The puppy is one of hundreds waiting for a new home at the Manchester and Cheshire Dogs Home and other animal shelters across Britain. There has been a huge surge in the number of abandoned pets over the Christmas and Winter period. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Tobi, an American Staffordshire Terrier, looks on at the Sacramento SPCA in Sacramento, Calif., on Feb. 1, 2008. Tobi is one of many dogs and cats who were either abandoned or surrendered to many SPCA and county shelters nationwide by their owners because they have gone through home foreclosures and had to move. In December 2007 the amount of pets being dropped off whose owners listed moving as a reason more than doubled from that of a year ago, according the Sacramento SPCA records. (David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

Tobi, an American Staffordshire Terrier, looks on at the Sacramento SPCA in Sacramento, Calif., on Feb. 1, 2008. Tobi is one of many dogs and cats who were either abandoned or surrendered to many SPCA and county shelters nationwide by their owners because they have gone through home foreclosures and had to move. In December 2007 the amount of pets being dropped off whose owners listed moving as a reason more than doubled from that of a year ago, according the Sacramento SPCA records. (David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

A rescued puppy waits to be adopted at the

A rescued puppy waits to be adopted at the "Let The Animals Live" pet shelter in Ramle, Israel, on July 10, 2009. Animal welfare activists say that in Israel thousands of pets are dumped at the roadside as families go away for their summer holidays, while in Europe the numbers of animals abandoned in the holiday season can climb into the hundreds of thousands across the continent. (David Silverman/Getty Images)

A Chihuahua waits adoption at a Los Angeles Department of Animal Services shelter in Los Angeles on Dec. 15, 2009. Chihuahuas make up about a third of the dogs at many California shelters, so many that some shelters are shipping Chihuahuas to other states to find homes. A shelter in Oakland sent about 100 to Arizona, Oregon and Washington. Recently, a Los Angeles city shelter flew 25 Chihuahuas to Nashua, New Hampshire where all found homes within a day through the local Humane Society. Experts have blamed the glut of abandoned Chihuahuas in California on the influence of pop culture, a bad economy, puppy mills and backyard breeders. Fans sometimes abandon the dogs when they are no longer new and cute to them or when expensive vet bills start to add up. The tiny dogs are named for the Mexican state of Chihuahua. (David McNew/Getty Images)

A Chihuahua waits adoption at a Los Angeles Department of Animal Services shelter in Los Angeles on Dec. 15, 2009. Chihuahuas make up about a third of the dogs at many California shelters, so many that some shelters are shipping Chihuahuas to other states to find homes. A shelter in Oakland sent about 100 to Arizona, Oregon and Washington. Recently, a Los Angeles city shelter flew 25 Chihuahuas to Nashua, New Hampshire where all found homes within a day through the local Humane Society. Experts have blamed the glut of abandoned Chihuahuas in California on the influence of pop culture, a bad economy, puppy mills and backyard breeders. Fans sometimes abandon the dogs when they are no longer new and cute to them or when expensive vet bills start to add up. The tiny dogs are named for the Mexican state of Chihuahua. (David McNew/Getty Images)

A rescued puppy waits to be adopted at the

A rescued puppy waits to be adopted at the "Let The Animals Live" pet shelter in Ramle, Israel, on July 10, 2009. Animal welfare activists say that in Israel thousands of pets are dumped at the roadside as families go away for their summer holidays, while in Europe the numbers of animals abandoned in the holiday season can climb into the hundreds of thousands across the continent. (David Silverman/Getty Images)

Dogs stand in a cage after being dropped off at the animal shelter at the Animal Health Technology Center at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on June 22, 2006. The center was setup for pets that were either found or abandoned after the Cedar River inundated the city with flood waters. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Dogs stand in a cage after being dropped off at the animal shelter at the Animal Health Technology Center at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on June 22, 2006. The center was setup for pets that were either found or abandoned after the Cedar River inundated the city with flood waters. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Max, a two year old Border Collie, waits to be re-homed at the Cheshire Dogs Home on in Warrington, England, on Jan. 4, 2010. The puppy is one of hundreds waiting for a new home at the Manchester and Cheshire Dogs Home and other animal shelters across Britain. There has been a  huge surge in the number of abandoned pets over the Christmas and Winter period. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Max, a two year old Border Collie, waits to be re-homed at the Cheshire Dogs Home on in Warrington, England, on Jan. 4, 2010. The puppy is one of hundreds waiting for a new home at the Manchester and Cheshire Dogs Home and other animal shelters across Britain. There has been a huge surge in the number of abandoned pets over the Christmas and Winter period. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

A dog stands in a cage after being dropped off at the animal shelter at the Animal Health Technology Center at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on June 22, 2008. The center was setup for pets that were either found or abandoned after the Cedar River inundated the city with flood waters. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A dog stands in a cage after being dropped off at the animal shelter at the Animal Health Technology Center at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on June 22, 2008. The center was setup for pets that were either found or abandoned after the Cedar River inundated the city with flood waters. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A rescued kitten waits to be adopted at the

A rescued kitten waits to be adopted at the "Let The Animals Live" pet shelter in Ramle, Israel, on July 10, 2009. Animal welfare activists say that in Israel thousands of pets are dumped at the roadside as families go away for their summer holidays, while in Europe the numbers of animals abandoned in the holiday season can climb into the hundreds of thousands across the continent. (David Silverman/Getty Images)

Thinking of getting a pet? Or perhaps giving one to somebody? If you’re debating between a pet store or a shelter, you can consider these stats.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), across the United States every year:

  • some 7.6 million pets enter shelters, 96 percent of which are dogs and cats
  • 26 percent of dogs, but only 5 percent of cats, are reunited with their owners
  • over one third of dogs and cats are adopted
  • 31 percent of dogs and 41 percent of cats are put down

To be sure, about twice as many animals that enter shelters are strays versus being abandoned. It is therefore likely that some of the animals above were actually strays. But if you lose a pet and don’t check the local shelter, losing can easily turn into abandoning.

There are some 140–170 million cats and dogs owned in the United States. Tens of millions more are strays. The most common reason people get rid of a pet is because their residence doesn’t allow it. Other common reasons are death of the owner, divorce, or that the owner doesn’t have enough time to care for an animal. About 10 percent of dogs are relinquished because of behavior problems, and 10 percent of cats are given away because of allergies.

That’s it for the numbers. The rest is the same as what your parents probably told you: Getting a pet on impulse may be a bad idea. First learn what the animal actually needs to flourish and make sure you’re able to provide it over the long haul. And if you find it in your heart, perhaps enjoy one from a shelter.

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