What is the United States animal shelter market size?
The animal shelter market size in the United States is estimated to be between $543 million and $600 million. The recommended size for a standard animal shelter with an average length of stay of 10 days is 17,280 square feet with a capacity for 202 animals. The recommended size for a "no-kill" animal shelter with an average length of stay of 14-21 days is 26,070 square feet with a capacity for 357 animals. Below you will find my assumptions, methodology, and calculations.
Since the majority of approximately 5,000 shelters in the United States are for "companion animals" (cats and dogs), this brief does not provide allowances for other types of animals; however, the market size for shelters likely includes animals other than cats and dogs, but because the majority of information is behind a paywall, we cannot provide a granular segmentation. Still, since there are 6.5 million pets that go into shelters each year, most of which are cats and dogs, we can assume that the majority of the market size is represented by these two species.
Likewise, shelter size information is only available for cats and dogs, even though there are shelters that take in other types of animals. Despite extensively searching through market reports and industry studies, we were unable to find information on how much shelter space other types of animals require. As such, we have only provided information on cats and dogs.
There are very few reports available on the animal shelter market size in the United States. IBISWorld has completed one such study, but it is fully behind a paywall. Fortunately, I located a source that references the data contained within the IBISWorld report, meaning the source, Startup Jungle likely has access to the information behind the paywall. Therefore, I feel confident in saying that the top end of the U.S. animal shelter market size is $600 million, as referenced in Startup Jungle.
To verify this data, I also triangulated a market size using the total amount spent on live animal purchases in 2016 and the average percentage of dogs and cats that are obtained from animal shelters. The calculations are:
Total amount spent on live animal purchases: $2.01 billion
Percentage of dogs obtained from shelters: 23%
Percentage of cats obtained from shelters: 31%
Total amount spent on live animal purchases from shelters: $542,700,000 ($2,010,000,00 x 0.27 = $542,700,000, rounded to $543,000,000).
Low end market size for U.S. animal shelters: $543 million
Therefore, I have determined the U.S. animal market size to be worth between $543 million and $600 million.
AVERAGE SHELTER SIZE
Although there was no information available on the average size of a United States animal shelter, I was able to use available data to pull together some key findings. A study on animal shelters conducted by St. Mary's County, Maryland in 2016 determined "an initial shelter size for each model (standard and no-kill) and look[ed] forward 10 and 20 years to test shelter capacity based on average" length of stay (LOS). For its methodology, the study stated, "under normal circumstances we recommend initial shelter sizing using a basis of 10 days for 'standard' operating shelters. For shelters intending to operate using a 'No/Low Kill' approach we base shelter sizing on 14 days Average LOS for dogs and 21 days Average LOS for cats. The additional 7 days for cats assumes the longer time most shelters experience in achieving cat adoptions."
The study found that a standard shelter that has been in operation for 10 years and has an average LOS of 10 days should be 17,280 square feet in size and should have a capacity to house 202 animals, of which 83 should be dogs and 119 should be cats.
A no/low kill shelter that has been in operation for 10 years and has an average LOS of 14 days for dogs and 21 days for cats should be 26,020 square feet in size and should have a capacity to house 357 animals, of which 117 should be dogs and 240 should be cats.
The study also provides a "Rule of Thumb Shelter Sizing" guideline which shows that in standard shelters, dogs should have 115 square feet of space per animal, while cats should have 65 square feet of space per animal. In low/no kill shelters, dogs should have 110 square feet of space per animal, while cats should have 55 square feet of space per animal. While these are not average sizes for shelters in the United States, they do provide insight into how much space should be allotted per animal in a standard or low/no kill shelter.
Based on information taken from a paywalled research study and independent triangulation, the market size for animal shelters in the United States is between $543 million and $600 million. Standard shelters should allot 115 square feet of space for each dog and 65 square feet of space for each cat. Low or no kill shelters should allot 110 square feet of space for each dog and 55 square feet of space for each cat.