Animal Euthanizations Sees Sharp Decline Nationwide

PetMD Editorial
Published: July 11, 2011
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In 40 years, the number of euthanized dogs and cats in the U.S. has declined from 20 million to 4 million per year -- an 80 percent drop in unfortunate animals being "put down." For the campaigns of change championed, this is a story of success.

The decline can somewhat be attributed to aggressive rescue campaigns finding more people and places for pets through adoption, but more through the increase in spaying and neutering pets.

The message for population control has gone beyond a statement delivered by Bob Barker moments before The Price is Right’s credits roll. States, counties, and cities enacting laws mandating the spaying or neutering of animals in states like Rhode Island and cities like Los Angeles. Private and public shelters as well as rescue clinics have donated money, time, space and care to performing the procedures at lower-cost and greater convenience.
Stephen Zawistowski, science adviser for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recalled having the only dog on the street to be spayed 50 years ago, "She had an incision that must have been a foot long and was sewn up with what looked like piano wire." Now animal sterilization can be performed through a two-inch incision with self-absorbing sutures or chemically even.

The 80 percent drop in the amount of animals being euthanized each year comes even as the pet population nearly tripled. In 1970, there were about 62 million companion pets and today there are about 170 million, Zawistowski explained.

With 4 million animals having been put to death this year, pet population is certainly still an issue, though scientific advancements have been made and new methods are being considered.

In 2003, for example, the FDA approved a sterilant for male dogs which should be expected for use throughout the United States sometime in the next year.

Image: Geoff Stearns / via Flickr

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