Why more dogs and cats are making it out of shelters alive

Animal welfare experts tend to agree that since the 1970s, the number of stray animals entering American shelters has decreased sharply — the result of a successful push to promote spaying and neutering of pets (remember Bob Barker’s sign-off?).

A recent paper in the journal Animals found that up until about 2010, the drop in shelter euthanasia tracked very closely with the drop in intake. After that, the authors wrote, it appeared that adoptions helped to further drive down euthanasia rates.

Nearly all of the shelters in the Times analysis increased adoptions over the 10-year period surveyed.

“Rescuing an animal has become a badge of honor,” said Matt Bershadker, the president and chief executive of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “People proudly go to dog parks and walk around their neighborhoods talking about the animal that they rescued from a shelter.”