Shelters Reflect but Cannot Solve Underlying Problems with Relinquished and Stray Animals - A Retrospective Study of Dogs and Cats Entering and Leaving Shelters in Denmark from 2004 to 2017
By P. Sandøe, J. B. Jensen, F. Jensen & S. S. Nielsen (2019)
Data covering about 90% of the estimated intake of dogs and cats to Danish shelters from 2004 to 2017 were used to study the effects of tight control of dogs and of efforts to increase shelter services for unwanted or stray cats. During the period, there was a low and decreasing intake of dogs, while the annual proportion of euthanised dogs increased from 6% to 10%. The number of cats entering shelters increased by about 250%, while the annual proportion of euthanised cats increased from 15% to about 29%. At the same time, there seemed to be a decrease in the population of stray cats. The major increase in cat intake may be due to animal protection non-governmental organizations (NGOs) making it easier to relinquish cats into shelters. Dog shelters can successfully handle surplus animals because dogs are well controlled by owners and are tightly regulated. Cats are more difficult to confine, are often allowed to roam freely and are less regulated. Therefore, cat shelters cannot solve the problem of surplus cats on their own. It is argued that an economic analysis may serve as a point of departure for a discussion on better policy making for NGOs in charge of shelters.