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There’s a fantastic thing happening across U.S. animal shelters; the past four decades has shown a dramatic decline in the number of pets being put down in shelters.

“They were euthanizing about 15 million pets back in 1970,” Betsy McFarland, vice president of companion animals at the Humane Society of the United States told Fox News. “We’re now down to about 3 million every year. Of course, that’s 3 million too many. But that is tremendous progress that’s been made over the last four decades.”

This progress, coupled with the falling number of pets now entering shelters, is good news. Although, unfortunately, an average of 50 percent of pets coming in to shelters will still be euthanized. With the combination of dedication and creativity, animal welfare groups like the Humane Society are working hard toward a goal to bring that number down to zero.

Contributing factors to pet euthanasia rates at overcrowded U.S. shelters include irresponsible breeding, pets not being spayed or neutered, pet homelessness, and surrendering because a person can no longer afford to care for a pet.

Today, pets in American households are a big part of the family. “What we found was that so many of the calls from the people who wanted to surrender their pets, they didn’t actually want to surrender their pets,” said Debbie Setzer, community outreach director of LifeLine, in reference to owners in financial hardships or those dealing with bad pet behavior.

Responsible pet ownership is prevailing thanks in part to the education provided by enthusiastic animal welfare organizations and animal programs like Lifeline, working to end the euthanasia of healthy and treatable dogs and cats in animal shelters.

Down to three million shelter pets euthanized every year — progress, but we can do better than this, for the animals.

Take action now to reduce the numbers even more by helping to spread the word whenever possible about pet homelessness and the euthanasia rates in shelters.

Image Source: raneko/Flickr