Euthanasias and pet intakes are down this year for Ardmore Animal Care, and shelter officials are rejoicing — hoping they will one day be worked out of a job.
Jeannine Jackson, the executive director of Ardmore Animal Care Inc., said the decrease in pets surrendered to the shelter stems from different efforts the shelter has made to keep pets in the area from reproducing and a shift in the way society treats their animals.
“I’m so proud of our shelter and our staff and the job we’re doing out there,” Jackson said. “We give those animals hope. We give them a chance.”
Jackson attributes the shelter’s newfound success to the work they do one weekend a month to spay and neuter neighborhood animals. The low-cost weekend clinic offers pet owners the chance to get their cats and dogs spayed and neutered for $45 to $55, and bring them up to date on their vaccinations. Because of this, local pets are having less surprise litters and owners aren’t having to dump those babies at the shelter.
Ardmore Animal Care also stipulates that any animal adopted from the facility must be spayed or neutered before they leave— another factor that cuts down on unwanted litters, Jackson said.
The shelter has taken in 140 pets in the first nine days of this month, putting them on track to take in 482 animals for the month. Jackson said this number may seem like a lot, but it is a stark contrast from year’s past.
In 2006, the shelter took in 7,933 pets. But by 2016 their intake numbers had dropped to 4,852 pets— meaning during the last 10 years, the shelter has seen a 61 percent decrease in the number of pets they take in. The decline doesn’t stop there. In May of 2016 the shelter took in 562 animals. This May, the shelter’s intake number dropped to 512— a nine percent decrease since last year.
As a result of the decrease in the number of animals, the shelter has also seen a decrease in its euthanasia rate.
Jackson said in May euthanasias were down by 75 animals since 2016. Jackson did not have newer statistics ready at the time, but said that they have continued to see a decline.
“We used to take in as many as 600 a month,” she said. We are seeing a decline in the animal intakes. When our numbers are coming down … that’s wonderful.”
Another contributing factor is the increase in responsible pet ownership, and millennial obsession with their pets. In 1988 (when the oldest millennials were 8 years old), 58 percent of U.S. households owned a pet, according to the American Pet Products Association. According to the 2017-18 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, “68 percent of U.S. households now own a pet, which equates to 84.6 million homes.”
A study by the research firm Mintel also found that 71 percent of millennial men aged 18-44 own a dog, as well as 60 percent of millennial women. The study also found that older millennials in particular make up a large portion of the nation’s dog lovers as three quarters (75 percent) of consumers aged 30-39 own a dog.
Jackson said that all of these factors work together to help keep pets out of the shelter, and she hopes to see the declining number of pets in the shelter continue.
“Euthanasia is the unhappy part of my job,” Jackson said. “I can’t save all of the animals, but maybe I can save a few.”