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Dogs in Danger: Euthanasia Threat Remains as Nationwide Adoption Dearth Lingers

MSPCA-Angell Relocates Hundreds of Dogs from High Capacity Shelters Across the Country, but More Need Help   

BOSTON, Nov. 1, 2023 – A dog population crisis that began unfolding earlier this year is worsening, despite ongoing efforts to address it by the MSPCA-Angell and others, putting thousands more dogs at risk of euthanasia, the organization announced today.

New data from Shelter Animals Count, which tracks animal shelter data across the country, show that euthanasia rates are 22% higher this year than last year—with 96,000 more dogs expected to be euthanized for nothing more than a lack of an adoptive home.

And, without serious intervention, that rate is expected to continue climbing into 2024.

A “Bleak Reality” for Homeless Dogs

“We saw this coming and have been working for months to try to reduce the risk for dogs across the country,” said Mike Keiley, director of adoption centers and programs at the MSPCA-Angell and board chair of Shelter Animals Count.

“The fact that we’ve found homes for hundreds of dogs in just a matter of months without making a significant impact in this crisis speaks to how bleak this reality is—and how critical it is not only for us to continue what we’re doing, but for other animal welfare organizations to join in as well.”

National data from Shelter Animals Count show that dog adoptions are down a little more than one-percent this year compared to last—meaning about 20,000 fewer dogs will be adopted nationwide in 2023, if the decrease holds through year’s end.

“There’s a snowball effect when adoptions slow down,” explained Keiley. “Shelters that receive transported dogs can no longer take them in, so they’re stuck in shelters that are over capacity.”

“When shelters get to that point, they’re in an impossible place. They either have to decide to euthanize healthy animals to make space for new animals in need—or they’re forced to reduce intake, which can lead to desperate decisions from owners who need to surrender—like abandoning pets on the streets.”

“Things haven’t been this bad for dogs in years,” he added. “We started making progress before the pandemic, and we were even able to continue that through 2021, but there’s been a major backslide since then, and now we’re in a really bad place.”

MSPCA Pushes Through Burnout to Save More Dogs

“Our staff has been burning the candle at both ends working to care for and rehome the more than one-thousand dogs we’ve taken in through relocation and local surrender since June,” Keiley expounded. “But we can’t, and we won’t, slow down until this crisis does.”

Keiley estimates the MSPCA will transport roughly 300 more dogs to Massachusetts now through December, while also continuing to accept local surrenders, which he notes are up nearly 40% this year compared to last.

To help find these dogs the loving new homes they deserve, the MSPCA will continue to hold special adoption events through year’s end—and will continue them into 2024 as well.

“We’re at capacity right now with dozens of dogs in our care who need—and deserve—to find great new homes,” said Keiley. “We’ve actually been operating at capacity basically all year to maximize as many opportunities to save dogs as possible.”

“But for that to work, we’ve needed adopters to step up—and they really have—but the need is still here, so we’re asking anyone out there with space in their homes and their hearts to come in and adopt. Help us end this crisis!”

Interested adopters may visit to see the dogs available for adoption, and visit open hours to talk to staff at any of the MSPCA’s shelters in Boston, Methuen, Salem, and Centerville on Cape Cod.

The MSPCA is also in great need of people who are able to foster dogs. More information may be found at

Those who are not in a position to foster or adopt but would like to help the MSPCA care for all these dogs and the incoming arrivals are asked to donate at