National Data Collected by 24PetWatch Indicates a 36% Decrease in Pet Adoptions During COVID-19

Americans urged to consider pet adoption as shelters struggle to manage at-risk animal population during pandemic

CHICAGO--()--As the world continues to navigate through a new reality, animal shelters across the U.S. are encouraging Americans to remember the nation’s pet population which remains vulnerable and in-need. Shelters from coast-to-coast are working together to raise awareness of the need for, and benefits of, pet adoption as they prepare for a surge in animals that will require permanent homes when the pandemic eventually subsides.

While the number of animals in foster care has increased by over 35 percent since mid-March, national data collected by 24Pet® ShelterWatch points to challenges post-pandemic due to an anticipated increase in animals entering shelters which, due to temporary restrictions in place, are currently unable to be taken in. The problem will further be exacerbated if animals who are currently being fostered are returned to the shelters as people go back to work.

Despite many shelters reducing their capacity and some even closing to the public in light of the current pandemic, at least 105,126 new animals have arrived in the 1,191 shelters monitored in the 24Pet® ShelterWatch Report since the start of the pandemic. That figure contrasts with 212,733 that arrived during the same period last year a 51 percent decline due to the crisis.

“While we’re heartened by the overwhelming interest in fostering during this uncertain time, the numbers point to a challenging few months and years ahead if we can’t find permanent homes for the animals coming into shelters and in foster care,” said Michelle Cole, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer at Pethealth Inc., parent company of 24PetWatch. “As we look to improve the long-term outcomes for these animals, we are calling on all Americans to consider the benefits of adopting a pet including a reduction in stress levels, an increase in physical activity, and the benefits that come with companionship and the unconditional love pets provide.”

By the numbers: Statistics on the U.S. pet population comparing March 13 – April 26, 2020 to the same period in 2019

Shelters across the country are working tirelessly to cope with the impact of the pandemic and prepare for an anticipated surge in animals entering shelters post-pandemic. Data collected from the 1,191 shelters tracked by 24PetWatch have uncovered the following trends and insights:

  • A total of 121,263 dogs and cats are currently under the care of shelters (an 18 percent decrease)
  • 105,126 dogs and cats have entered shelters
    • 61,581 dogs have entered shelters (a 47 percent decrease)
    • 43,545 cats have entered shelters (a 55 percent decrease)
  • 51,158 dogs and cats have entered foster care
    • 27,698 dogs have been fostered (a 47 percent increase)
    • 23,460 cats have been fostered (a 7 percent increase)
  • 75,508 dogs and cats have been adopted
    • 45,716 dogs have been adopted (a 27 percent decrease)
    • 29,792 cats have been adopted (a 30 percent decrease)

Connecting Americans with Animal Shelters to Increase Animal Adoptions

24PetWatch makes key data available each week to inform national and regional strategies and efforts, uniting the U.S. shelter community in its collective efforts to support animal welfare at this critical time. The 24Pet® ShelterWatch Report: COVID-19 Impact is available to the general public, and Americans are encouraged to read it to learn more about the animal shelter population.

“While shelter staff are working hard in every region of the country to protect and care for our at-risk animal population, most shelters are dealing with changes in operations and reduced staffing,” said Cole. “We want to remind Americans that if you are having trouble connecting with a shelter in your area, be patient and reach out to multiple organizations.”

In addition to contacting local shelters to submit an adoption application, Americans who want to adopt are encouraged to visit pet adoption websites, or for more information.

About 24Pet® ShelterWatch Report: COVID-19 Impact

The 24Pet® ShelterWatch Report: COVID-19 Impact is a weekly gauge of U.S. homeless pet populations in the care of 1,191 animal welfare organizations. Representing approximately 35 percent of our nation’s shelter animal population, the report is relied on by shelters, industry leaders and Americans from coast-to-coast as an accurate assessment of changes in animals entering and leaving shelters and the potential impact those changes will have in the future.

This initiative reflects 24PetWatch’s commitment to transparency and sharing data-driven insights with others who are invested in our at-risk animal population.

The numbers and data contained in this Press Release and in 24Pet® ShelterWatch Report: COVID-19 Impact are from sources that 24PetWatch believes to be reliable, but they have not been verified by 24PetWatch or any of its affiliates. 24PetWatch and its affiliates disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any of such information.

About 24PetWatch®

A leading North American provider of pet insurance and pet protection services to pet owners, 24PetWatch® also provides software and microchips to 1,500 US animal shelters and rescues. For more information visit


Aby Bueno
Broad Reach Communications
T: 416-858-3135


Aby Bueno
Broad Reach Communications
T: 416-858-3135