An Estimated 245,000 Additional Dogs and Cats Are Waiting in the Shelter System This Holiday Season

 Compared to This Time Last Year, There’s No Better Time to Adopt

Shelter Animals Count (SAC), the most trusted and current source for animal  sheltering data, urges potential pet parents to be holiday adopters rather than holiday shoppers when getting a pet this season.

There’s no better time to adopt, as new estimates show nearly 245,000 additional pets are waiting in the shelter system this holiday season compared to last year.

This means the shelter population will grow by nearly a quarter million animals in 2023. This is critical for shelters, which were already  overwhelmed and overcapitated at the end of 2022.

“Opting to adopt from shelters or rescue groups not only saves lives and sends a message of support to  struggling shelters, but it also fills the demand of pet-seeking families with pets from within already saturated  communities,” said Stephanie Filer, Executive Director for Shelter Animals Count. “Adopting a pet is the most sustainable and socially-conscious choice, which helps alleviate the shelter crisis, rather than compounding it.” 

“For those not ready to adopt, fostering is also a wonderful way to help, as it offers animals a break from the  shelter environment and lightens the load for overburdened shelter staff, even temporarily,” Filer added. 

In addition, fostering helps dogs get adopted. Recent research funded by Maddie’s Fund found that brief outings  and temporary foster stays increased dogs’ likelihood of adoption by five and more than 14 times, respectively. 

Get ready to unwrap the gift of companionship and make this season extra special by giving a loving home to a  four-legged family member. Deck the halls with doggy joy as they offer a special holiday deal to fill your home with wagging tails! Adoptable dogs, one year or older, will have a festive $50 off their adoption fee through December 24.

Check out the adoptable dogs and cats at

Looking for a way to give back to the animals? The shelter is always in need of essential items to keep our  shelter dogs and cats happy!

They always need dog treats, cat litter, pet food, and cleaning supplies.  Check out their Amazon Wish List here: 

As for the ages, sizes, breeds, and types of dogs entering shelters, people may discover options they never  thought they’d find available for adoption. SAC recently surveyed shelters and rescues to get a snapshot of what  kinds of dogs are coming through their doors. With 314 responses from organizations across 45 states, nearly  80% of respondents said people would probably be surprised by the types of dogs entering their  organizations.  

People who haven’t checked out adoptable pets recently may not realize that more and more small-breed dogs,  puppies, purebreds, and “designer dogs” like doodles, oodles, and poos, as well as dozens of other non-poodle  combinations, are arriving at shelters for the same reasons that other dogs do. So, people looking to bring a pet  home for the holidays should check their local shelters and rescues and adoption databases like, which also features available pets for rehoming by individuals. 

The holidays are a popular period for pet acquisition, so animal advocates encourage a shift away from buying  from pet shops, breeders, and online sellers and toward adopting dogs and puppies from shelters and rescues  desperate for adopters. Due to the increasing trend of home breeding as a side hustle and the ongoing  issue of puppy mills, many shelters are not only receiving people’s pups they purchased and can’t keep but also  leftover puppies that breeders can’t sell and adult breeder dogs that are no longer wanted or needed. 

Other key findings from the SAC survey: 

Nearly 90% of survey respondents said they’re receiving puppies from their communities. More than 60% of respondents said they’re receiving doodles and other intentional mixed breeds. Almost half (44%) said they’re getting more purebreds.

More than half (54%) said they’re getting “leftover” puppies/litters from breeders who can’t sell them. Nearly 60% said they’re receiving surrenders (or surrender requests) of dogs that people say they paid a  lot of money for and now can’t afford to keep. 

Pets adopted from the Alliance are already spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and often microchipped. Those services can cost hundreds of dollars, so when you adopt a pet, you not only save a life but also save a lot of money,  which leaves more in your budget for future pet care. 

Shifting from buying puppies to adopting homeless pets has become increasingly critical, as the recent Shelter  Animals Count report highlights that animal shelters across the country are in crisis. Nationally, shelters are in their third year of having too many animals and not enough adoptions — especially for dogs. The current trend shows dog adoptions down 1.2% from 2022 after shelters saw a 2.5% increase in dogs arriving in January and September 2023. Nationally, 5% more animals are entering shelters than leaving.

Animal organizations continue to struggle with over-capacity status and urgently request community support,  asking that people adopt or foster from local shelters or rescue organizations, spay or neuter their pets, and volunteer or donate. 

About Shelter Animals Count (SAC): SAC is a collaborative, industry-led nonprofit organization formed by a  diverse group of animal welfare agencies to create and share The National Database of sheltered animal statistics, providing facts and enabling insights that will improve animal welfare throughout the country. 

Animal Friends Alliance: Adoption-guarantee shelter and subsidized spay/neuter clinic offering resources to keep pets in loving homes. Serving Northern Colorado and beyond.

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