Hill's Pet Nutrition Releases '2023 State of Shelter Adoption Report' to Provide Insights Into Shelter Adoption Crisis

Financial constraints, cost of pet ownership, economic downturn and views of the “perfect pet” are among the top barriers to adoption

Overland Park, Kan. (Nov. 13, 2023) - Animal shelters across the country are currently in crisis as they face a third-consecutive year of having too many animals and not enough adoptions. According to Shelter Animals Count, shelter intakes from January to September 2023 for cats and dogs combined were up nearly 10% compared to 2021. 

"The national animal shelter crisis demands urgent attention," said Jim Tedford, President and CEO of the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement and member of Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love Advisory Board. "Personal barriers like housing restrictions, economic uncertainty, and limited veterinary care access contribute to the problem, challenging local shelters to appropriately manage overpopulation and related issues. Overcoming these challenges requires educating potential owners and community members to help pets find loving homes."

To help understand the barriers to pet adoption and generate conversation around ways to address the crisis, Hill’s Pet Nutrition today released new findings in its 2023 State of Shelter Adoption Report.

The report, which surveyed more than 1,500 adults, explores the root causes behind shelter overcrowding and decreased adoption rates. It also unveils consumer perspectives on barriers to pet adoption, as well as what consumers want in a shelter pet, the positive impact of animal shelters, the importance of caring for people who care for pets, and actionable ways to create a brighter future for shelter pets and those who care for them.

One key finding showed that while 82% of consumers are aware of the crisis, they are still hesitant to adopt a shelter pet. Other impactful consumer insights include: 

  • 68% of pet owners are likely to adopt from a shelter when they are ready for their next pet, but right now the majority are not ready to adopt

  • The top barrier to shelter pet adoption is the cost of pet ownership (71%), which encompasses subsequent concerns like inflation, veterinary expenditures and lack of access to care

  • Not only are people not adopting pets, but they are fearful of fostering; 38% of people do not trust themselves to foster out of fear of wanting to adopt

The report also includes real-world insights from key leaders within the animal welfare community including:

  • Nancy McKenney, MNPL, CAWA, CEO and President of Marin Humane

  • Patricia Mercer, President and CEO, Houston SPCA

  • Brad Shear, CAWA, CEO, The Potter League for Animals

  • Apryl Steele, DVM, CAWA, President and CEO, Dumb Friends League

  • Jim Tedford, President and CEO of the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement

  • Ana Zorrilla, CAWA, Chief Executive Officer, Louisiana SPCA 

“While the animal welfare community continues to heroically provide unwavering support and care to animals in need, we continue to face crisis conditions in animal shelters across the country,” said Nicki Baty, President of Hill’s Pet Nutrition US. “Understanding consumer perspectives about shelter adoption and raising awareness of consumer barriers to pet adoption allows us to collaboratively work together with shelters to help end pet homelessness.” 

For decades, Hill’s has been on a mission to help end pet homelessness. In 2002, the Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love program was created in partnership with animal shelters across the country to help address many of the challenges facing animal welfare organizations. Since its inception, the program has provided more than $300 million dollars worth of science-led nutrition to more than 1,000 animal shelters across the U.S. and has helped support more than 14 million pet adoptions from shelters.

For more information, visit hillspet.com/shelter

About Hill's Pet Nutrition 

Founded 75 years ago with an unwavering commitment to science-led pet nutrition, Hill's Pet Nutrition is on a mission to help enrich and lengthen the special relationships between people and their pets. Hill's is dedicated to pioneering research for dogs and cats using a scientific understanding of their specific needs. As a leading veterinarian recommended pet food brand, knowledge is our first ingredient with 220+ veterinarians, PhD nutritionists and food scientists working to develop breakthrough innovations in pet health. Hill's Prescription Diet therapeutic nutrition plus our everyday wellness product line, Hill's Science Diet, are sold at vet clinics and pet specialty retailers worldwide. For more information about our products and nutritional philosophy, visit HillsPet.com. 

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1505 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between June 22-28, 2023.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US pet owners (aged 18+).