Aug 30, 2023 - News

Franklin County averts spike in dog euthanasia rates

Data: Franklin County Dog Shelter & Adoption Center
Data: Franklin County Dog Shelter & Adoption Center

Dogs are spending more time at the Franklin County Dog Shelter & Adoption Center, but steps the organization has taken to reduce the number of dogs coming through its doors has prevented a spike in its euthanasia rate.

Why it matters: Pet adoptions surged during the pandemic, and now shelters are dealing with a rebalance of supply and demand.

  • Intakes at public and private shelters across the U.S. are expected to reach a 3-year high this year, and adoptions aren't keeping pace, Axios' Carrie Shepherd reports.

The big picture: Dog euthanasia rates have spiked 37% nationally from 2022 to 2023, per the Shelter Animals Count database.

  • Ohio's rate is nearly 7%, which is lower than the national average of 9.5%.
Explore the interactive map. Data: Shelter Animals Count; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

By the numbers: Data Franklin County provided to Axios shows the local shelter's 2023 adoption rate through July (50%) is higher than year-end rates over the last five years.

  • The euthanasia rate (21%) is about the same as last year, but higher than 2019-2021.
  • Dogs are increasingly spending more time in the shelter, though — an average of 22 days this year, up from 20 last year.

Zoom in: Dogs are euthanized for a variety of reasons, ranging from illness and injury to owner requests and aggressive behavior.

  • Euthanasia due to aggression was up in 2022 and is so far in 2023 — comprising about 35% of cases, compared to 19% the prior two years.
  • This may be due to dogs not being properly socialized during the pandemic, shelter director Kaye Persinger tells Axios.

Meanwhile, intakes to date this year are comparable to recent years, which Persinger attributes to changes such as:

  • Making intakes by appointment only, and encouraging owners to use social media to rehome their pet first.
  • Asking people who find friendly, healthy lost dogs to temporarily house them, if possible, with the shelter providing any necessary food or supplies.
  • Helping owners repair damaged fences to prevent escapes.
Adoptable dogs sit in cages at the Franklin County Dog Shelter & Adoption Center
A row of adoptable dogs. Photo: Courtesy of the Franklin County Dog Shelter & Adoption Center

Between the lines: In many places, economic stressors are compounding capacity issues because it's harder for owners to afford pet-related expenses.

Of note: The Franklin County Dog Shelter nearly hit capacity in June 2022 and most recently in March and April, when it temporarily only accepted dogs in emergency situations.

What they're saying: "We have our hand on it very tightly, and I pray every night to whomever will listen. We do not want to euthanize for space, and we have not thus far," Persinger says.

Find a fur baby


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Columbus.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Columbus stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Columbus.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more