Since the 1940s, perceived companion animal overpopulation in the United States has been an important issue to the animal welfare community (Moulton, Wright, & Rinky, 1991). This surplus of animals has resulted in millions of dogs and cats being euthanized annually in animal shelters across the country. The nature and scope of this problem have been notoriously difficult to characterize. The number of animal shelters in the United Stares, the demographics of the population of animals passing through them, and the characteristics of per owners relinquishing animals are poorly understood. What portion of these animals are adopted or euthanized, why they are relinquished, and their source of acquisition are all questions for which there have been little data. Consequently, we are no closer to answering the fundamental question of how and why many animals are destroyed each year in shelters (Arkow, 1994).
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/john_new1/16/