Longing to give a pooch a forever home? You probably won't have to wait forever to do so, but you may have to wait awhile—dogs are in short supply right now, and it looks like it might get worse before it gets better. Axios calls it "the great American dog shortage," spurred by a demand for dogs that the supply chain can't keep up with: The yearly demand for dogs is about 8 million, but the US imports only a tad more than 1 million of them annually. In June, the American Pet Products Association's biennial pet owners survey noted that "pet ownership has increased from an estimated 67% of US households that own a pet to an estimated 70%," with millennials claiming the largest cohort of pet owners. Plus, because more people are getting their dogs spayed and neutered than in the past, as well as keeping them for life, there aren't as many dogs available in shelters for adoption.
Factors that will likely affect how many dogs are up for grabs in the future: breeders facing increasingly rigid regulations, as well as a US crackdown on illegal dog imports and dogs deemed to be "high risk" due to rabies. In June, the CDC issued a temporary ban on that latter group, suspending the import of dogs from more than 100 nations—including Egypt, China, Russia, and India—said to be at that high-risk level, or even dogs that have simply traveled to those countries over the previous six months. The Healthy Dog Importation Act, a bipartisan bill currently working its way through the legislative pipeline, would mandate every dog brought into the US be up to date on all of its vaccinations and have proof of it from a properly credentialed veterinarian. "Pets aren't a fad, so we're still in the beginning phase—and that will stun some people—of this surge of continuing demand for pets," Mark Cushing of the Animal Policy Group tells Axios. (Read more dogs stories.)