While the number of pets has more than doubled over the past 40 years, the Humane Society says the number of pets euthanized in the U.S. has actually dropped from 20 million in 1970 to just 3 million in 2011. 

However, there's still some debate here in the Bayou City.

Monica Schmidt, a spokesperson for the Houston Humane Society, credits the decrease to an ongoing push for spay and neutering.

“If we can stop the amount of animals coming in the doors needing a home, that's going to make it much more likely that the animals already here at the shelter are going to find a home,” she tells KTRH News.

Bett Sundermeyer with the group No Kill Houston says as recently as 2005, local shelters virtually ignored efforts to save animals.

“SPCA had a 35 percent save rate, Houston Humane had only an 11 to 14 percent save rate, and CAP had a 54 percent save rate,” Sundermeyer says.

Her website says the city's five main shelters put down about 80,000 animals each year.

Houston BARC takes in roughly 2,000 animals each month, and has long been criticized for having a kill rate of well over 50 percent.  Spokeswoman Ashtyn Rivet says new measures have helped greatly reduce that figure in recent months.

“We're working with a rescue group to transport hundreds of animals to Colorado,” says Rivet.  “That has gotten 13 or 14 hundred animals out since September of last year.”

Rivet says those were adoptable animals going to an area where demand for shelter animals is much greater than here in Houston.

Sundermeyer argues the numbers of animals put down are still staggering.

“For 2013, BARC killed or lost 12,596 animals,” she says. “In my opinion there's just no excuse that is should be this high.”

Sundermeyer says her group has brought in no kill experts who have offered a plan for local shelters, but it has yet been followed through on. 

She notes some mass adoptions at area shopping centers have helped, but there needs to be more of them each weekend for it to make a dent in the situation.