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State of Pet Homelessness 2024 Report reveals shocking numbers

State of Homelessness Project shines a light on challenges facing pets today across 20 countries

New research shows the global scale of pet homelessness estimating there are almost 362 million homeless cats and dogs across 20 countries studied.

Today, a global coalition of animal welfare experts in partnership with Mars, released the results from the largest ever international study into pet homelessness. 'The State of Pet Homelessness Project' set out to understand the scale of pet homelessness and factors that contribute to pets being on the streets or in shelters, shining a light on the needs of a huge hidden population of pets today.

The ambition of the project is to drive more informed and targeted action to help reduce homelessness and ensure pets get the care they need. The findings from the countries revealed a stark picture that almost 35% of cats and dogs are either living on the streets or currently in a shelter waiting to find a home. 

Across the 20 countries surveyed there are:
  • 143 million dogs living on the street and 12 million dogs in shelters,
  • 203 million cats living on the street and 4 million cats in shelters.

The 'State of Pet Homelessness Project' used data from over 900 global and local sources, along with almost 30,000 public surveys and 200 expert interviews to build a picture of pet homelessness across: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, The Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, Thailand, the USA, and the UK.

Jeffrey Flocken, President, Humane Society International said: 

"Dog and cat homelessness is a hugely complex issue, this new data will help animal welfare organisations, policymakers, pet professionals, academics and researchers to better understand the scale and factors influencing the issue, which can in turn support the most impactful interventions."

With only 3% of dogs and cats being homeless, Australia is well below the average [1] of 35% homeless cats and dogs, with the lowest overall pet homelessness of any of the 20 countries this project looked at. However, there are still significant opportunities to help more pets.
  • With 87,000 dogs and 98,000 cats going missing every year, this is a significant contributor to the stray population in Australia.

While each country has different challenges, the data also reveals several common themes across the twenty countries:

1. Pet–friendly housing limitations: 

Almost 1 in 5 people that are considering giving up their cat or dog in the near future say it's because they are moving home and cannot take their pet with them. And almost half of those who have rehomed a pet in the past did so for that reason.

2. Pet ownership challenges: 

Globally around 15% of pet owners are considering giving up their pet in the next 12 months.

A number of factors contribute, with personal health and fitness challenges to still be able to care for a pet being the number one reason globally, housing-related factors coming second, and time pressure to be able to look after a pet being the third most common reason. Other factors like behaviour, family allergies and cost also appear in the data.

3. Stemming homeless population increase:

A surprising number of people lose their pet, and often don't get reunited. Almost half of people surveyed said they had lost a pet in the past, and of those almost 60% were never found by their owners.

Globally, pet owners report that only ~50% of owned dogs and ~60% of cats are sterilised, meaning the remainder, if allowed to reproduce unchecked, can result in unplanned litters, exacerbating the problem!

Loïc Moutault, Global President Mars Petcare said: "We know that pets bring enormous benefit to our lives, we want to help ensure all pets get the care they need. 
For every two dogs or cats that are part of a family or community in the countries surveyed, there is another that is not so fortunate. 
That is not the world we want for pets, and we hope this data will help drive targeted interventions to give more pets the life they deserve.

Big and small actions can make a difference, from considering adopting a pet, to changes that mean more pet-friendly rental accommodation helping to keep pets and pet owners together. We are setting out to support 30 million vulnerable pets over the next five years and hope this data will allow us - and others - to make interventions that make a big difference."

Working alongside Mars on this global data initiative is an advisory panel of leading animal welfare experts from organisations, including: Humane Society International, Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs, International Partnership for Dogs and the International Companion Animal Management Coalition.

To mark the release of this data, Mars has made a $500,000 donation to Humane Society International to fund projects in India, South Africa and Mexico to make interventions informed by the data. These programs will deliver reproduction control, training and care for thousands of animals. 

This builds on a significant history of work by Mars and its partners supporting almost 10 million vulnerable pets across the world over the last three years. Including donating more than 100 million meals to vulnerable pets, sterilising over 30 thousand free-roaming animals and providing over 100,000 pets with comprehensive preventive care, including wellness checks, preventive medicine and vaccinations.

To find out more about the State of Pet Homelessness Project and to go deeper into the data, please visit:

About the State of Pet Homelessness Project:

The 'State of Pet Homelessness Project' reviewed data from over 900 global and local sources, along with 30,000 public surveys and 200 expert interviews: to shine a light on the needs of pets in the Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, The Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, Thailand, the USA, and the UK. It follows on from a pilot research study carried out in 2021 that looked at nine countries.

Data collection was carried out by specialist research agencies, Kantar and Euromonitor International. Data collection and analysis took from late 2022 and the first half of 2023.

Media Release, 23rd January 2024

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