It is not known how many cats and dogs are admitted to welfare organisations annually. This study produced the first estimates of the size of this population. A questionnaire was mailed out to welfare organisations during 2010, followed by a postal/email reminder and requests to non-responders for a telephone interview. The questionnaire covered areas including, the current number of cats and dogs being housed, how much of the year organisations were operating at full capacity as well as the number of cats and dogs admitted, rehomed and euthanased between January and December 2009. Responses were obtained from 54.8 per cent of organisations. Sixty-six per cent of cat welfare organisations and 48 per cent of dog welfare organisations reported that they operated at full capacity for 12 months of the year. The number of cats and dogs entering UK welfare organisations during 2009 was estimated as 131,070 and 129,743, respectively. This highlights the scale of the work performed by welfare organisations in caring for and rehoming unwanted cats and dogs annually and emphasises the urgent need to address concerns over the considerable number of these animals. This study has also produced useful baseline data, which will be essential for monitoring population changes over time.
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