69.3 mn pets are homeless in India: State of Pet Homelessness Project by Mars highlights the challenges facing pets today

Hyderabad, February 8th, 2024: A global coalition of animal welfare experts in partnership with Mars, released the results from the largest-ever international study on pet homelessness, today. The ambitious ‘State of Pet Homelessness Project’ sets out to understand the scale of pet homelessness in 20 markets, and factors that contribute to pets being on the streets or in shelters, shining a light on the needs of a sizable hidden population of pets.

The report reveals that 1 in 3 pets are homeless in the world, estimating almost 362 million pets are still waiting to find a home. The global average of homeless pets across 20 markets is pegged at 35% of the total dog and cat population.

The findings from India reveal a stark picture with 69% of all cats and dogs without a home. Most homeless pets (60.5 mn) in India are living on the streets, while others (8.8 mn) are in shelters waiting to find a home.

● 69.3 million (69%) cats and dogs are homeless in India, accounting for approximately 19% of the global homeless pet population;
● 60.5 million (71%) dogs live on the street or in shelters in India, accounting for approximately 39% of the global homeless dog population;
● 8.8 million cats live on the street or in shelters, accounting for 4.25% of the global homeless cat population;
● While adoption from shelters is still low, 53% respondents from urban and rural areas would recommend adopting from shelters in the future
● 47% and 28% respondents are thinking of becoming dog and cat pet owners respectively;
● Friends, relatives are the most popular route for getting pets in the country with (28%) of dogs and (30%) of cats coming from these sources;
○ 33% respondents from rural areas have adopted pets from friends, family
○ 32% respondents from urban areas rely on pet shops for bringing home a pet
In India, 2,565 experts were interviewed from urban (1,402) areas and rural (1,163) areas for the Project. The project also included interviews with pet professionals from nine metro and non-metro cities in the country.

Salil Murthy, Managing Director at Mars Petcare India, said: “The State of Pet Homelessness Report is a clarion call to address the urgent issue of pet homelessness, armed with compelling data and insights that guide us towards actionable solutions. Despite the current low shelter adoption rates in India, 53% of respondents are receptive to the idea of adopting pets from animal shelters in the future. This is an opportunity to strengthen the human-animal bond and encourage existing and potential pet parents to adopt. Our goal is to create a better world for pets in India so every pet can get the care and nutrition they deserve.

At Mars Petcare, we are raising awareness about pet adoption, forging partnerships with NGOs in the animal welfare space, and are keen on collaborating with stakeholders in the ecosystem to force-multiply our efforts. We are pioneering the integration of digital solutions and innovative models to significantly scale adoption through NGOs. We believe that adoption should be a part of our strategy to effectively manage and reduce the challenge of pet homelessness. Our mission is to galvanize the entire ecosystem—NGOs, communities, and pet parents—towards creating a more compassionate and inclusive world for pets.”

While each country has different challenges, the data in India reveals some distinct themes.

Prevent Unplanned Pets: Large populations of stray pets which can breed at a rapid rate are a huge part of the problem. One unsterilized homeless pet can quickly create many more. Reducing uncontrolled or unplanned breeding is a critical approach to decreasing pet homelessness.

Ensure Sustained Care: Helping to provide more homeless pets with responsible loving homes, or sustained human care they need in the community, is a foundational step in tackling pet homelessness. With 47% respondents considering bringing a dog home, and 28% considering bringing a cat home, getting more people interested in pet ownership and turning interest to action is crucial. It is interesting to note that the Project reveals approximately 13% of dog and cat owners found their pets on the street.

Keep Pets in Homes: Pets are lost more frequently than many may realize, leading to an unintended yet noteworthy increase in homeless pets. Pets are at risk of being homeless through abandonment or casual pet owning practices that lead pets to stray or become lost. While 9% respondents lost their pet dogs, a smaller percentage of 6% respondents lost their pet cats.

A concerning aspect that the Project revealed was that 38% of respondents said they were considering giving up pet ownership for dogs, while the percentage was higher at 57% for cat ownership. Encouraging pet owners to keep dogs in homes for the long term, through education and awareness building of responsible pet ownership, can have a significant impact on pet homelessness in India.

To mark the release of this data, Mars has made a $500,000 donation to Humane Society International to fund projects in India, South Africa and Mexico to make interventions informed by the data. These programs will deliver reproduction control, training and care for thousands of animals.

Alokparna Sengupta, Managing Director, Humane Society International/India said: “Across India, millions of dogs and cats are suffering on the streets and in shelters. HSI/India is thankful to our partner, Mars Petcare, for supporting our work to manage street dog populations humanely, provide medical care to dogs and cats in need, and ensure a peaceful coexistence between communities and street animals. HSI/India, through government supported animal birth control programs, works on the humane control of street dog populations.

The support from Mars helps aid our dog management efforts, including community engagement, enabling us to work hand in hand with local communities to create more peaceful environments across India for people and companion animals. With the invaluable support from Mars, in the last quarter of 2023 itself, we were able to provide treatment to more than 240 sick and injured street animals in Hubli-Dharwad, hold more than 100 workshops and meetings in many local communities and improve the welfare and surgical protocols for over 7,000 dogs coming in for spay and neuter surgeries. Given the magnitude of the issue, we are looking forward to scaling up our humane and inclusive approaches to improving dog and cat welfare in India.”

This builds on a significant history of work by Mars and its partners supporting almost 10 million vulnerable pets across the world over the last three years. Including donating more than 100 million meals to vulnerable pets, sterilizing over 30 thousand free-roaming animals, and providing over 100,000 pets with comprehensive preventive care, including wellness checks, preventive medicine and vaccinations.

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