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The Index pulls together data on homeless cats and dogs in 9 countries from more than 200 global and local sources, boosted by quantitative research on widespread attitudes.

Each country receives an overall score between zero and 10 (where 10 = no pet homelessness exists) based on data collected across three focus areas. The Index currently includes nine countries – the U.S., U.K., India, Mexico, Germany, Russia, South Africa, China and Greece. More than just a measure of pet homelessness per country, the Index model was developed to account for country-specific context and challenges and helps identify key factors both positively and negatively impacting the issue.

The Index also reveals the most impactful underlying issues that have influenced the score in each country.

Flag United States

United States

Icon Paw

Estimated homeless cats and dogs

48 million

Icon Cat

Estimated street or stray cats

41 million

Icon Dog

Estimated street or stray dogs

1.3 million

Icon Home Paw

Estimated cats and dogs in shelters

5.4 million


Index Score

Score Scale:



Number of cats and dogs on the street or in shelters


10=Low to nil

Data Highlights

All Pets Wanted:

Stray Populations & Responsible Breeding

The Index data for the USA shows that roaming and stray populations are perceived to be slightly less of an issue in the USA compared to the global average. Only 23% of respondents say they see stray cats at least once a day, compared to 26% globally. This is helping drive up the country’s ‘All Pets Wanted’ score.

The USA Index data shows a high concern amongst the general population around rabies, ticks and other conditions – 35% of the general population believe that rabies, ticks and other conditions are a problem in their area. This is bringing down the ‘All Pets Wanted’ score for the USA.

All Pets Cared For:

Pet Adoption & Access To Care

The USA Index data reveals a higher willingness to adopt a cat or dog from a shelter than seen in other countries, which is driving the country’s ‘All Pets Cared For’ score up. The data shows more than 6 in 10 (63%) respondents in the US say they would consider adopting from a shelter.

However, USA data shows there is overall a slightly lower interest from the general public in owning or fostering a dog or cat in the future which is driving the ‘All Pets Cared For’ score down. Only 48% of respondents say they would consider owning a dog in the future, compared to the global average of 50%.

All Pets Welcome:

Pet Ownership Barriers & Policies

The Index data for the USA shows a high desire for neighborhoods to have sufficient pet amenities, which is helping drive the country’s ‘All Pets Welcome’ score up. More than half (57%) of dog owners and 4 in 10 (41%) cat owners say they believe it is important their neighborhood has pet amenities like groomers.

The USA Index data shows 56% of respondents who currently care for a dog in their community, but do not own one, state cost as the reason why they are unwilling to own a dog. This perception is currently contributing to bringing the USA ‘All Pets Welcome’ score down.

The Data

With the advice and guidance of experts from leading pet health and welfare organizations around the globe, more than 200 global and local data sources were reviewed and quantitative research was conducted to fill the gaps.

Data was collected based on three focus areas, which form a framework for understanding the key factors contributing to pet homelessness:

All Pets Wanted

Evaluating reproduction control programs (spay/neuter and responsible breeding practices), roaming and stray populations, disease prevention, and cultural attitudes towards pet ownership.

All Pets Wanted

All Pets Cared For

Evaluating rates of shelter adoption and pet ownership, assessing shelter pain points, and access to veterinary care.

All Pets Cared For

All Pets Welcome

Evaluating barriers to pet ownership and responsible pet ownership, as well as government support and policy.

The data captured metrics that directly or indirectly, impact pet homelessness – such as the “number and rate of pet adoption per capita,” for example – as well as wider societal factors, such as gross domestic product (GDP). We consulted with an array of industry experts to identify which data points to include in the Index.

All Pets Welcome

Modelling the data

We prepared the data for analysis so it could be compared across geographies – such as by changing “total” metrics to “per capita.”

Using clustering algorithms, we then grouped countries to better understand the local nuances of the pet homelessness crisis, and the different solutions used to address it. This enabled us to group similar countries together, assigning weights to ensure they are compared fairly, taking into account these differences.

We then used unsupervised learning models to quantify patterns in the data and identify which of these metrics were most important and turned this into weights used to build the Index.

Building the State of Pet Homelessness Index

By multiplying these weights by the value of the metric, we were able to calculate the total contribution to the category and form a total score. These scores roll up to an overall score for each country, providing a view on each country’s progress on ending pet homelessness relative to other countries, while accounting for cultural nuances.

This modelling methodology can also be used in the future to gauge progress.

Want to know more or have data that would help improve the Index?

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