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1 in 3 pets are homeless according to new global report

A global coalition of animal welfare experts, in partnership with Mars, Tuesday released the results from the largest ever international study into pet homelessness.

The ‘State of Pet Homelessness Project’ set out to understand the scale of pet homelessness and factors that contribute to pets being on the streets or in shelters, shining a light on the needs of a huge hidden population of pets today.

The ambition of the project is to drive more informed and targeted action to help reduce homelessness and ensure pets get the care they need. The findings from the countries revealed a stark picture that almost 35% of cats and dogs are either living on the streets or currently in a shelter waiting to find a home.

Across the 20 markets there are:

  • 143 million dogs living on the street and 12 million dogs in shelters
  • 203 million cats living on the street and 4 million cats in shelters

“Dog and cat homelessness is a hugely complex issue. This new data will help animal welfare organizations, policymakers, pet professionals, academics and researchers to better understand the scale and factors influencing the issue, which can in turn support the most impactful interventions,” said Jeffrey Flocken, President, Humane Society International.

The ‘State of Pet Homelessness Project’ used data from over 900 global and local sources, along with almost 30,000 public surveys and 200 expert interviews to build a picture of pet homelessness across Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, The Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, Thailand, the U.S., and the U.K.

While each country has different challenges, the data also reveals several common themes across the twenty countries:

  • Pet–friendly housing limitations: Almost 1 in 5 people that are considering giving up their cat or dog in the near future say it’s because they are moving and cannot take their pet with them. And almost half of those who have re-homed a pet in the past did so for that reason.
  • Pet ownership challenges: Globally, around 15% of pet owners are considering giving up their pet in the next 12 months.
    • A number of factors contribute, with personal health and fitness challenges to still be able to care for a pet being the number one reason globally, housing related factors coming second, and time pressure to be able to look after a pet being the third most common reason. Other factors like behavior, family allergies and cost also appear in the data.
  • Stemming homeless population increase:
    • A surprising number of people lose their pet, and often don’t get reunited. Almost half of people surveyed said they had lost a pet in the past, and of those almost 60% were never found by their owners.
    • Globally, pet owners report that only ~50% of owned dogs​ and ~60% of cats​ are sterilized, meaning the remainder, if allowed to reproduce unchecked, can result in unplanned litters, exacerbating the problem.

“We know that pets bring enormous benefit to our lives. We want to help ensure all pets get the care they need. For every two dogs or cats that are part of a family or community in the countries surveyed, there is another that is not so fortunate. That is not the world we want for pets, and we hope this data will help drive targeted interventions to give more pets the life they deserve, said Loïc Moutault, Global President Mars Petcare. “Big and small actions can make a difference, from considering adopting a pet, to changes that mean more rental accommodations allow pets, helping to keep pets and pet owners together. We are setting out to support 30 million vulnerable pets over the next five years and hope this data will allow us – and others – to make interventions that make a big difference.”

Working alongside Mars on this global data initiative is an advisory panel of leading animal welfare experts from organizations including Humane Society International, Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs, International Partnership for Dogs and the International Companion Animal Management Coalition.

To mark the release of this data, Mars has made a $500,000 donation to Humane Society International to fund projects in India, South Africa and Mexico to make interventions informed by the data. These programs will deliver reproduction control, training and care for thousands of animals. This builds on a significant history of work by Mars and its partners supporting almost 10 million vulnerable pets across the world over the last three years: donating more than 100 million meals to vulnerable pets, sterilizing over 30 thousand free-roaming animals and providing over 100,000 pets with comprehensive preventive care, including wellness checks, preventive medicine and vaccinations.

To find out more about the State of Pet Homelessness Project, visit

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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