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« Reforming Animal Control Webinar on Friday 5/20 | Main | How will history perceive you? »

May 17, 2011



Katie -- I know that the number was referenced in the documentary, but I am pretty certain the origin of it is much older than that, but I could be wrong.

H. Houlahan

Late to the party here, but the "1 in 600" factoid reminds me of this little gem:

And, of course, the creative math about cat fecundity that would have us all drowning in a hundred-foot-deep sea of lolcats if it had any basis in reality.

Northern Sentinel

Thanks for all you do.

Rachel Buyher

I realize this is a VERY old post but I happened to run across it & wanted to add... I've been in the animal welfare industry for 18 years.As manager of Operations for an Indiana shelter that euthanizes, I have heard a similar yet much more realistic version of this statistic for years - that 1 in every 600 pit bulls find a home FOR LIFE. And from my experience that may not be so far off from all dogs or pets in general. The rate of rehoming, while not always negative, is alarming. I think this was the original & more accurate statistic and, like the game of "Telephone", it somehow evolved into an incorrect statement. Just my 2 cents if anyone cares. :)


I think that 1 in 600 number, even with the "for life" measure, is entirely problematic. First of all, it's not at all quantified. Second, if you make any attempt to quantify this it would prove to be really far off.

Every year, approximately 5% of dogs need to be rehomed (based on an estimate of 4 million dogs entering shelters each year, and 80 million owned dogs nationwide). Thus, 95% of dogs stay in their homes each year. Even if you account for pets rehomed not through the shelter/rescue system it would take a LOT of made-up math to get to less than .2% of pit bulls finding their permanent home. I think generally we're better off working with facts we know than making them up.

Jason Estevam

Granted this is 8 years old but......

"In this country, it is generally agreed upon that somewhere between 4 -4.5 million animals are killed in shelters every year. The majority of these are cats -- leaving roughly 2 million dogs killed in shelters each year."

In 2019:

Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats). The number of dogs and cats euthanized in U.S. shelters annually has declined from approximately 2.6 million in 2011.

*So your 4-4.5 million figure was 1.4-1.9 million too high in 2011.

And today it's only 670,000.

"Of those 2 million, based on the percentages from a lot of the data from urban shelters around the country, about 40% or so of the dogs killed in the shelters are "pit bull" type dogs."

Your 40% figure is used when you Google "how many pit bulls are euthanized a year"

It'd be nice if you had a source, so other sites ( were referencing a site, with actual references.


Jason, thanks for the feedback.

Obviously there is a LOT more data available than in 2011 when I initially wrote this post. That said, even now, it's still imperfect. Even the 1.5 million number for 2019 you posted even questionable as Best Friends Animal Society is now estimating that # to be about 1/2 that:

I think it's pretty telling that in a 150 year old industry just how inaccurate the data is we're working with. It's better now than it's ever been before, but still has holes. And historical data is very flawed as well. My guess is that most of the historical information is probably over-estimated based on what we now see.

That said, there are still too many pets dying in shelters, and definitely too many cats and pit bulls dying. But the overall point of the post wasn't necessarily to do an accurate census of shelter populations as to note how purely ridiculous the 1 in 600 claim was -- both then, and even more so today.

The "40%" number was an average of a handful of shelters that I had data for that I felt were somewhat representative of the national picture at the time...far from scientific, and probably overly inflated just to avoid under-estimating the number and disrupting the point I was trying to make.

But it'd be interesting to dive into a historical look at the data...some day I'll do that as I recently found a lot of the original work that led to the initial estimates.


I think the entire premise of this article is wrong.

The statistics didn't say that 599 are killed for every one that lives a nature life.

It was that only 1 out of 600 has a forever home. Meaning, 599 of them are killed ***or*** are rehomed at least once.


The framing of this "statistic" has changed a lot over the last decade. But it was a made up, nonsensical statistic at the time, and is even further from the truth now than it was a decade ago.

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