Home > Animal Rescue, Backyard Breeders, Cats, Pet Adoption, Pet News, Pet Topics, Puppy Mills > Petsmart Study on Pet Owners and Pets – We have some work to do

Petsmart Study on Pet Owners and Pets – We have some work to do


Back in May, I shared a study released by Banfield on the state of our pets’ health. It was quite an eye-opener when it came to pet health trends (pet obesity being the most concerning of all). But there is another study I found just as interesting and even more concerning from the perspective of animal welfare. I read it a year ago, but for some reason forgot to share it. It’s still worth sharing now.

The study, conducted by Petsmart back in 2009, focused on pet adoption and the spaying and neutering of pets.

Among the objectives of the study were:

  • Measure awareness of pet adoption and spay/neuter problems in the U.S.
  • Gauge whether perceptions of and attitudes toward pet adoption and spay/neutering problems differ by geographic region in the U.S.
  • Identify the drivers for using pet adoption and spay/neuter services
  • Determine the barriers to pet adoption and spay/neuter services

What I found the most surprising (and yes, shocking) was the lack of knowledge and understanding people (especially people in the 18-34 year old category) have about the pet overpopulation problem, and how much it is impacted by choosing to spay or neuter a pet. Granted, this study was done in 2009, so maybe attitudes have changed since then, but I suspect they haven’t changed all that much.. Social media certainly has helped to educate people on the pet overpopulation problem, but there is clearly so much more work to be done.

I encourage you to read the full report yourself, but here are just some of the statistics I found interesting:

Pet Overpopulation

  • 62% of 18-34 year olds and 47% of people over 55 thought the number of pets euthanized each year was under 1 million. (Estimates place euthanization rates somewhere between 4-5 million a year.)

Acquiring a pet

  • Between 10 and 20 percent of dog/cat owners have had a litter (53% of dog owners and 54% of cat owners said it “was an accident.”)
  • The largest percentage of people got their pet from a family member (25%) or an adoption organization or animal shelter (24%).
  • For those that acquired their pet from a breeder/local pet store, the primary driver was they wanted a specific breed/purebred.

Spaying/Neutering a Pet

  • More than 1 in 3 recently acquired dog/cat owners have not spayed or neutered their pet.  (Younger adults and those living in the South were least likely to have their pet spayed/neutered.)
  • Many owners are confused about “when” to spay or neuter their pet, with men having the most misconceptions about when is a good time to spay or neuter.
  • Among the top reasons given for not spaying or neutering a pet were – young age of the pet, cost and time, “Haven’t gotten around to it”and “Did not feel it was necessary…”

Pet Adoption

  • Those who chose not to adopt listed these top 5 reasons – did not have the type dog or cat they were looking for (17%), wanted a purebreed (13%), don’t know what you’ll get with shelter animal (12%), don’t know much about pet adoption (10%) and adoption process is too difficult (10%).
  • “Saving an animal’s life” is the key motivation for pet adoption.
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  1. To Shea
    August 22, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    Very interesting Article Mel.
    About when to say or Neuter your pet, My wife and I were very lucky.
    My wifes cousin happens to be a Vet and she told us when and we went right to her.
    We are also very good friends with our local vet too, so she keeps tabs on Penny and calls us to let us know when certain things must be done.
    its good to have a friendly vet near by…:-)
    Penny and Alex

    • Mel
      August 23, 2012 at 7:07 AM

      Thanks Alex! It sounds like you had the right people around you to ask. Neither Daisy or Jasper were fixed when I got them, but were soon afterwards. Fortunately, they were both over the age when I needed to be concerned about when.

      BTW Alex – I read that they had to close a portion of the Mississippi down near Mississippi because it was so low. How sad. I took another look up here and I have to say it does not look as wide as it usually does, so I suspect we may be low here too. Just not as bad as out by you.

      • To Shea
        August 23, 2012 at 1:23 PM

        Kind of thought it looked low to me…:-(
        Hope this does not bring on any unusual dust storms out by you. We live on Long Island NY so we do not have dust storms. Just gets VERY Humid…LOL
        I would keep an eye on the level of the river….be cautious.

  2. August 23, 2012 at 6:01 AM

    I’ll admit I didn’t adopt because there wasn’t much choice, and I wanted a GSD or GSD mix. I will neuter my dog though when he’s old enough. (12 weeks old hardly seems right)

    • Mel
      August 23, 2012 at 7:05 AM

      I think choosing not to adopt is not a crime, although I do hope more people adopt to save the ones that are already out there. I think educating people on all the breed rescues who have purebreed dogs is something we can do better. And, of course, encouraging the spaying and neutering of pets.

      Enjoy your little boy!

  3. August 23, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    I think there’s a lot of misconceptions regarding adopting a pet and the whole spaying/neutering issue. IMO the people who are involved in rescue are the ones who really know what’s going on out there. For most people if it doesn’t affect them, they don’t know about it and don’t bother to learn about it. Really all it takes is one look at Petfinder and you have an idea of how huge the population of homeless animals really is. I also think people still don’t grasp the concept of pet store and puppy mill dogs. We just need to keep writing about it and know that we are making a difference.

  4. jackiebouchard
    August 23, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Interesting article. Obviously there’s still lots of work to be done and info to be shared. When we lived in Canada ages ago, it was SO cheap to get our dog spayed. I heard (but don’t know if this is true or if it’s still this way) that the cost was supplemented to encourage folks to get it done, and because it saves money on the ‘back end’ with less unwanted/unplanned pups. It would be wonderful if there was some way to lower the cost of s&n for folks so they’d be more likely to get it done. Of course, the great thing with adopting from a shelter is that cost is already taken care of!

    I also read a while back about some researchers working on a cheaper way to fix dogs. I forget the details, but it could be a huge help, especially in countries where there are stray dogs running lose in the streets.

    • Mel
      August 24, 2012 at 7:13 AM

      I agree Jackie. Lots of work to do for sure.
      Regarding neutering – there is a new drug that has been used successfully in 3rd world countries. It just got approved here, so I am hoping more people will take advantage of it as costs go down. I think it’s $10-20 per injection.

  5. August 24, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    Studies like this just prove to me how much I still operate in a bubble. I assume most people know these things because I always have, but that is clearly not the case. It can sometimes be my gut reaction to roll my eyes when people claim ignorance, which isn’t fair or remotely helpful. I am still stuck on how to get this information out there to people who don’t already know or care. Maybe I need to consider taking some marketing classes.

  6. August 25, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    I fail to see what is so confusing about knowing when to spay or neuter a pet. I’ll bet you anything that those “confused” people rarely take their animals to the vet, either.

    The “oops” litter makes me absolutely crazy. Jersey wasn’t spayed until she was 5 and guess what? No “oops” litters here. Makes me think of a person I casually knew. She had a female rottweiler that had a “liasion” with a GSD down the street. 13 puppies and all of them lived. After the monumental task of finding homes for all the puppies she decided it was a good idea to get the dog spayed. *nice* job 😦

  7. August 27, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    I live in New York City and have at least 3 publicized shelters and a great many small shelters that are run privately. Yet, people don’t know about the shelters and where they are. Somehow social media needs to be incorporated into advertising.

  8. Lauren @ Life With Desmond
    August 29, 2012 at 7:45 PM

    My husband just told me about a guy at our dog park who came in with an intact male Doberman and, when asked about that fact, said that his TRAINER told him not to neuter the dog because “it’s not right–the dog is so beautiful.” Random dude is lucky I was not at the park with Des & Joey that day, because there is no way I could have hid the horror from my face after hearing that, even if I managed to keep my big mouth shut.

    • Mel
      August 29, 2012 at 10:36 PM

      Ugh!!! I am always amazed at what people will say. Let’s just be honest. This dog will probably create puppies at some point. Because a dog that “beautiful” will have to be recreated.

  9. August 30, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    When I adopted Agatha and Christie in 1991, they were just over 3 months old. I was told to get them spayed at six months because that was the conventional medical wisdom at the time.

    The puppies I’ve fostered recently were fixed at 8 weeks. Over time, there have been studies showing that early spaying and neutering does not have health risks that are greater than the risks of producing accidental litters.

    BTW, at BlogPaws, Petfinder founder Betsy Saul said that nonsurgical pet sterilization is unlikely to appear any time soon in the U.S. Big Pharma doesn’t find it profitable. 😦

  1. August 30, 2012 at 2:50 PM

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