Ann Arbor, MI (February 16, 2024) – 689,000 animals were euthanized in animal shelters nationwide in 2023, according to Shelter Animals Count (SAC), the most trusted and current source for animal sheltering data. They recently released their Annual Analysis report, comparing animal sheltering from 2023 to 2022, 2021 and 2019 (pre-pandemic). The total number of animals euthanized was 19% higher than in 2022, and the highest number of dogs killed in the past five years.

More than 6.5 million animals (3.3 million cats and 3.2 million dogs) entered animal shelters and rescue organizations in the US last year, about the same number as 2022 and up slightly from 2021. Of these, 48% came in as strays, and 25% were surrendered by their owners. Shelters across the country are full, and are now entering their fourth year of having too many animals and not enough adoptions—especially for dogs.

“Of greater concern than the volume of animals entering shelters, even, is the ongoing reality that more animals are entering than leaving, perpetuating this national capacity crisis,” said Stephanie Filer, Executive Director for Shelter Animals Count.  “A total of 900,000 additional animals have entered and lingered in our nation’s shelters since January of 2021. That’s nearly a million more dogs and cats on top of the population already residing within organizations.”

“We’re seeing it here, too,” said Tanya Hilgendorf, CEO of Ann Arbor’s Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV). “Particularly related to our adult dogs, who are taking longer to get adopted, causing a space crisis and extra strain on our team.”

Similar to the nationwide statistics, HSHV also has an increasing concern around strays (e.g., lost animals) in Washtenaw County. There was a nearly 10% decrease in families coming to get their lost pets last year, which could indicate that folks in the community are struggling to care for their animal companions.

“To make matters even worse, animals whose owners abused them and are awaiting their time in court are sitting in our care longer,” Hilgendorf said. “These animal victims end up with us for years at a time while the slow wheels of justice turn. It’s not fair. They deserve to be in permanent, loving homes.”

“With slower adoption rates, fewer lost animals going home, and cruelty case animals stuck here, the critical problem for us is around space. When we are overcrowded, it causes cascading challenges. When an animal lingers in our care, it also means another animal can’t be helped.”

HSHV took in over 6,500 domestic animals and over 1,000 wildlife last year. The shelter remains “no-kill,” meaning no animal has a time limit, and all healthy and treatable animals are saved.

“We’re so fortunate to have really amazing staff and the incredible support of volunteers, donors, foster parents, adopters and sponsors—their generosity allows us to maintain our high adoption rate and save rate,” Hilgendorf said.

What can individuals do? There are many ways individuals can help solve the shelter crisis in 2024. Microchip and spay or neuter your pets, volunteer or donate, and “adopt, don’t shop.” Shifting from buying puppies to adopting homeless pets has become increasingly critical to help struggling shelters.

“Opting to adopt from shelters or rescue groups not only saves lives, but it also sends a much-needed message of support to struggling shelters and their staff,” Filer said. “Adopting a pet is also the most sustainable and socially-conscious choice, which helps alleviate the shelter crisis, rather than compounding it.”

“And if you can’t adopt, please consider fostering,” added Hilgendorf. “As we also have a long wait list of dogs who need foster homes.”

“The crisis shelters are facing does not originate within the shelters,” Filer said. “Shelters need help now more than ever. This is a community problem that requires a community solution.”

See adoptable animals at HSHV at or sign up to become a foster parent at  And if you’re struggling to care for your beloved companion animal, HSHV reminds people they have support services including food and medical assistance to help people keep their pet. See for more.




About The Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV):

The Humane Society of Huron Valley, located in Ann Arbor, is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and relies solely on the generosity of our supporters to provide critical community programs and services. HSHV is an award-winning organization, recognized for our best practices and highest animal “save-rate” among all similar shelters in Michigan. Charity Navigator, the nation’s top charity evaluator, awarded HSHV a 4-star ranking, the highest possible. The mission of HSHV is to promote the loving, responsible care of all animals in our community. HSHV is not affiliated with any other humane organization and does not receive funding from the United Way. More information can be found on HSHV’s website ( and on our annual report (

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.