More than 11 million dogs and 8.2 million cats living in households that are not presently current with their rent or mortgage payments; ASPCA calls on policymakers to remove housing barriers for low-income pet owners

The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today released new data showing that more than 19.2 million pets in the U.S. live in households that are not presently current with their rent or mortgage payments, placing them at risk of eventual eviction or foreclosure as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. This includes more than 9.8 million dogs and cats living in rental homes and 9.4 million dogs and cats living in owned homes.

“Pets are incredible sources of love and companionship in our lives—and bring more comfort than ever during these stressful times—but they are vulnerable to family separation if their owners are evicted,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President & CEO. “The devastating economic hardships of poverty, the COVID-19 crisis, and impending evictions will create severe challenges for millions of pets in addition to people. We must help these families by implementing local and national policies that expand affordable pet-friendly housing options and improve access to critical veterinary services, food, and supplies.”

The ASPCA works with lawmakers to expand pet-friendly housing policies by removing housing barriers for low-income and homeless pet owners and recently called on policymakers to limit eviction proceedings during the pandemic to ensure that people and pets have a safe and secure place to call home as the COVID-19 crisis continues. Despite some progress nationally in increasing access to pet-friendly housing, pet restrictions remain an enormous hurdle for renters and homeowners across the country. These restrictions may be imposed by landlords or insurance companies and range from full prohibitions on pets to arbitrary limitations on size, breed, species, number and weight.

Although current national trends so far do not show an increase in owner surrenders or stray intakes, during any disaster situation, there’s always a risk that pet owners will not be able to provide adequate care for their pets, so it’s important for pet owners, shelters, and communities to prepare for any consequences this ongoing crisis may have on animal welfare.

The ASPCA estimates that more than 4.2 million pets in the U.S. are likely to enter poverty as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Consequently, the total number of animals living in poverty with their owners could rise to more than 24.4 million dogs, cats, horses, and other animals—a 21 percent increase compared to pre-COVID estimates. The ASPCA has launched programs and partnerships in the economically hard-hit communities of Los Angeles, Miami and New York City to help address the most urgent needs of pet owners living in poverty and make veterinary care more accessible and affordable.

In March, the ASPCA launched its COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Initiative to bring lifesaving services to pet owners and animals most in need. By providing access to free pet food, supplies, veterinary care, emergency boarding and information, the ASPCA is helping to keep vulnerable animals safe and healthy. Through its COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Initiative, the ASPCA has helped more than 320,000 dogs, cats and horses across the country.

For more information on the ASPCA’s efforts to help pets living in poverty, please visit www.aspca.org.

Kurt Goetzinger
Author: Kurt Goetzinger

Kurt Goetzinger is the founder of Dog Friendly Business and owner of Omaha Advertising, a digital marketing firm in Omaha, Nebraska. He studied journalism and advertising at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln and started a monthly newspaper called the "Omaha Pet Gazette" in the 1990s. He and his family are all avid dog lovers. In his spare time he runs a community garden on a lot he purchased next to his home.