At the Dumb Friends League, we love our pets! From furry to feathery to occasionally freaky, pets are our passion, which is why we are excited to share some fun facts about pet ownership in the United States! For the first time, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has made their Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook available for free to anyone who signs up! We couldn’t wait to share some fun pet facts!
Who owns pet?
Most people! According to the survey, in 2016, more than half of all households (57 percent) owned a pet in the United States. Thirty eight percent of households owned a dog, which is an increase of more than 5 percent since the previous survey in 2011. The current number of households with dogs is at the highest it has been since the survey began in 1982.
Cats are the second most common pet with 25 percent of households owning a feline friend. Unlike dogs, though, cat ownership has been in a steady decline, with a 16-percent drop in ownership since 2011.
Small mammals – or Smams as we like to call them – including ferrets, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils and other rodents, along with fish, turtles, snakes, lizards and chickens have seen a jump in rate of ownership, with more than 13 percent of households now counting such animals as pets.
Where do people own pets?
Everywhere! Not surprisingly, the survey found that the states with the largest number of people had the highest number of pets – California, Texas and Florida. However, our neighbors to the north in Wyoming were the top state with the highest percentage (72 percent) of pet-owning households, followed by West Virginia and Nebraska (71 percent and 70 percent, respectively). At 38 percent, the District of Columbia had the lowest rate of pet ownership. Maybe they need a League-DC Branch!
Where to people get their pets?
Good news! Shelters and rescue groups are the number one place where people get their canine companions (28 percent) and their feline friends (31 percent).
That said, only 7 percent of horses are adopted from shelters or rescue – most (60 percent) are bought or gifted from a friend, relative or a stranger.
Also, the large majority of small mammals are still acquired at pet shops/stores or from friends or relatives. Less than 10 percent are adopted from shelters or rescues with the exact percentage dependent on the type of small mammal.
Preventing pet overpopulation
Part of the League’s mission is to end pet homelessness. One way we do this is by addressing pet overpopulation through spay and neuter programs. Because of that, we were encouraged to see that, of all the sterilizations that occurred in 2016, a third of pups (33 percent) and 45 percent of cats were spayed and neutered at shelters, humane societies or publicly sponsored clinics in 2016.
One more thing we learned in the survey is when evaluating care for their pet, owners all chose “knowledgeable, high-quality care” that is “kind (and) compassionate.” Lucky for us, that is what we strive to provide every day at the Dumb Friends League.
This is just a sample of all the interesting pet facts found in the survey. If you want to download a copy for yourself, visit the AVMA website at www.avma.org.
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