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

August 22, 2012 15 comments

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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