Last updated: 23 Nov, 2023
Published on: 21 Oct, 2020
The numbers: pets killed in council facilities
What we can estimate from the current data:
Each year, about 180,000 cats and 210,000 dogs are taken into care by councils, either directly or via shelters contracted to care for these pets on their behalf.
Of these pets, more than 1 in 5 dogs and 1 in 4 cats are killed.
Annually, this means around:
are killed in the care of councils, shelters, and rescue groups.
There are councils in Australia that kill a high percentage of cats (98-100%) and over a quarter (26%) of dogs that come into their care.
Importantly, some progressive councils across Australia excel in achieving better outcomes for pets. By supporting the people and pets in their communities, these councils recognise the bond between people and their pets and offer aid to pets and people in need, and run rehoming programs to help pets find new homes.
These estimates are derived from the following published studies investigating data available on the pound and shelter intake in Australia:
Chua D, Rand J, Morton J. (2017) Surrendered and Stray Dogs in Australia-Estimation of Numbers Entering Municipal Pounds, Shelters and Rescue Groups and Their Outcomes. Read it here.
- Chua D, Rand J, Morton J. (2023) Stray and Owner-Relinquished Cats in Australia-Estimation of Numbers Entering Municipal Pounds, Shelters and Rescue Groups and Their Outcomes Read it here.
Accurate data is crucially important for understanding the issues surrounding animal management in Australia, but accurate recording and reporting of pets entering and leaving council pounds and shelters is not mandated in most states.
This makes it incredibly difficult for those working in the animal welfare sector to comprehensively assess the needs or effectiveness of programs to support vulnerable pets in our communities.
Although some councils are apprehensive about transparency and accountability, others have seen transparency create an engaged and a united community working together for improved community-wide animal welfare - better data, better outcomes.
What’s happening in data 2024?
In Victoria, mandatory reporting of animal fate data has been introduced, and state-wide statistics for 2023 will be published on the Animal Welfare Victoria website in 2024. Read about it here
In NSW, the state government is reviewing legislation related to pet management by councils. PetRescue submitted to the inquiry and will work to advocate for better data collection and use to improve outcomes for pets and people in NSW.
PetRescue has joined Mars Petcare Australia in lobbying the Government to mandate council pound data reporting to improve data collection and availability and increase transparency and accountability.
Other useful data sources
NSW Pound Data report 19/20 (NSW is the only state that gathers and reports pound data annually)
RSPCA Annual reports by state (available on RSPCA state websites)
Image credits: Benjamin and Chloe from Precious Paws Animal Rescue