The PetSmart Charities Report on Homeless Pets is out. Have you read it?
Recently, PetSmart Charities came out with its 2014 U.S. Shelter Pet Report. The news is encouraging on some fronts and not so much on others.
Overwhelmingly, the message is more education is needed. People still underestimate the number of homeless pets that exist in our society and do not know about breed-specific rescue groups.
For those of us involved in rescue, it can be hard to believe, but every day I come across folks who have no idea what a puppy mill is, so how can I expect them to understand the pet population issue?
More work to educate the public is definitely needed.
Here is a brief synopsis of the report. I really do encourage you to take a look at the whole report (it’s a very quick and easy read).
- Pet ownership is on the rise – 81% of households now have a pet. (This was 63% in 2009.)
- 46% of people surveyed consider the homeless pet situation to be very important to them. So much so that 10% have donated their time, 30% have donated money or goods, and 14% have provided another form of support. That leaves 55% who have not gotten involved, but that is actually an encouraging number too. This used to be a much higher number.
- Pet adoption is becoming a more popular option for many people (66%) vs a few years ago (in 2011, it was 58%).
- No surprises here, but 25% of people still choose to purchase their pets. They like rescue groups and they like getting a pet that is already spayed or neutered, but they still prefer to purchase.
- Another unsurprising result? Many people don’t prepare for their new pet (impulse buy?). 40% said they did not prepare ahead of time for their pet. Only 25% researched online.
- Encouraging news – People hold a high opinion of rescues and shelters.
- Cats appear to be the big losers when it comes to homelessness though. 27% who said they would consider adoption would not get a cat.
- When it came to why people did not adopt? The top two reasons were the shelter or rescue group did not have the cat or dog they were looking for or they wanted a purebred dog. [Can anyone remember what Ed Sayres said he would be focusing on when he announced he was joining the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC)? Anyone? “I am especially interested in the challenge of breeding pure-bred dogs on a large scale…”]. More awareness is needed to show people the number of breed-specific rescue organizations there are around the country.
- There is still a stigma against shelter pets and animals from rescue organizations. People assume they are sick or have behavioral issues. More education is needed to help people understand that the majority of pets in shelters and rescue groups ended up there because of divorce, home loss, family change or getting lost from their original family.
- Shockingly, 85%of people underestimate the number of pets euthanized annually.
- The good news is 86% of pets are spayed or neutered. This is the highest number yet.
As I said, there is more work to be done. Now the question is… how?
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