Florida Animal Shelters Struggle to Maintain Lifesaving Gains Amid COVID Challenges

A new study by the University of Florida revealed that the state’s animal shelters struggled to hang on to years of lifesaving progress during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Graph displaying dog and cat live release rate from Florida animal shelters. The rate has improved since 2013.

Shelter admissions of free-roaming animals and former pets surged by more than 36,000 cats and dogs in 2021, an increase of 11 percent over the previous year. Euthanasia of cats increased for the first time since Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the College of Veterinary Medicine began reporting statewide data in 2013.

Shelters collectively saved 85 percent of the 357,418 animals they took in throughout the year, down from 87 percent the year before. Despite a difficult year, the euthanasia of 12 percent of animals entering shelters was still markedly reduced from the euthanasia rate of 42 percent in 2013.

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