The myth of the new pandemic pet boom has been decimated; Fewer Adoptions 2021-22

As the pet food industry first reported in late 2020, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has not caused a significant increase in new dogs, cats, and pets in the United States. Cascadia Capital’s report “Pet Industry Overview: Fall 2022” documented pet population patterns from January 2020 to September 2022.

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“Reviewing the shelter data, and ignoring the seasonality of the cat population since summer is peak cat season, underlying pet adoption trends appear largely unchanged,” the Cascadia analysts wrote. In the second quarter of 2020, shelter dog numbers plummeted [approximately] 20,000 and the adoptive population grew [approximately] 5000, media narration support to increase sampling rates. However, these changes haven’t moved the needle and given the long-term trends, the number of pet adoptions is down 200,000 overall one year into the pandemic. Two years into the pandemic and pet adoptions have remained largely flat.”

In September 2022, pet adoptions from shelters remained lower than they were in December 2019, before the start of the global pandemic, according to data from animal shelter data management agency Shelterwatch, formerly PetPoint. Throughout 2020, shelter pet adoptions are down. From January 2021 to September 2021, adoption numbers have stagnated.

B2B media coverage of the pet population in an epidemic

The Cascadia Report corroborated the Petfood Industry’s earlier reports that demand for dogs and cats increased dramatically at the start of the pandemic, leading to empty pet adoption shelters. However, these shelters never filled up again because restrictions on movement limited the number of animals brought in. Pet adoption rates in the United States remained high in 2020, but the total number of dog and cat adoptions remained lower than in 2019, according to PetPoint (Shelterwatch). Much of the decline in the total number of pet adoptions has resulted from fewer pets available for adoption during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Between March 13 and September 18, 2020, the number of dogs and cats entering shelters decreased. The numbers of dogs decreased by 34% and cats by 28%. Overall during that period, 951,667 dogs and cats entered shelters.

The pandemic has caused the overall numbers of pets adopted from shelters to decline, while other dogs and cats have found themselves relocated to their homes. However, the rate of pet adoption seems to have gone up. In a blog post, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provided data from 24PetWatch Animal Sanctuary and Best Friends showing that the percentage of shelter pets being adopted rose in 2020 to 58.36%, up from 51.49% in 2019.

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