The scoop on pet ownership |

The scoop on pet ownership

Dawn Armstrong
Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA

If a pet shares your home, you’re in the majority. According to the 2009-10 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey, 62% of U.S. households include a pet, which equates to 71.4 millions homes. Freshwater fish are America’s most numerous pet, and cats outnumber dogs by far.

Here’s the breakdown of the pets who share our homes, expressed in millions: bird 15.0; cat 93.6; dog 77.5; equine 13.3; freshwater fish 171.7; saltwater fish 11.2; reptile 13.6; small animal 15.9.

In 2004, the American Animal Hospital Association conducted a survey to measure the type of relationships companion animals and their caretakers share. The study was based on the responses of 1,238 pet owners throughout the US and Canada. Here are some of the results.

– Does your pet have human-like personality traits? 94 percent yes; 6 percent no

– If so, which human-like personality trait best fits your pet most of the time? Emotional/sensitive: 30 percent; outgoing: 28 percent; inquisitive: 26 percent; stubborn: 20 percent; laid back: 17 percent; competitive: 8 percent; reserved/shy: 6 percent; other: .8 percent

– How likely are you to risk your own life for your pet? Very likely: 56 percent; somewhat likely: 37 percent; not at all likely: 7 percent

– If you were deserted on an island and could have only one companion, which would you pick? Human: 47 percent; dog: 40 percent; cat: 10 percent; other: 2 percent; none: less than one percent

– If you were in distress, would you expect your pet to come to your rescue? Yes: 64 percent; No: 36 percent

– Who listens to you best? Pet: 45 percent; spouse/significant other: 30 percent; friend: 11 percent; family member: 11 percent; other: 3 percent

– Has your pet ever attended a pet birthday party? Yes: 18 percent; no: 82 percent

– How often do you think of your pet while you are away during the day? All the time: 21 percent; every hour: 7 percent; a few times per day: 54 percent; once a day: 13 percent; never: 3 percent; I am never away from my pet during the day: 2 percent

– How much have you spent on veterinary care for your pet during the past 12 months? Less than $50: 3 percent; $50-$99: 7 percent; $100-$249: 23 percent; $250-$499: 26 percent; $500-$999: 22 percent; $1,000 or more: 19 percent

Which of the following steps do you take to ensure your pet’s quality of life? Regular veterinary checkups: 94 percent; Pet spayed or neutered: 77 percent; premium pet food: 71 percent; Regular exercise: 58 percent; pet ID tags or tattoos: 46 percent; teeth cleaning at a veterinary hospital: 37 percent; Implanted ID (microchip): .25 percent; Teeth cleaning at home” 22 percent; car seat, safety harness, or crate in vehicle-21 percent; pet health insurance”: 3 percent

Which health care provider do you visit more often, your own physician or your pet’s veterinarian?; My pet’s veterinarian: 58 percent; my own physician: 27 percent; I visit both health care providers the same number of times: 15 percent

Do you have an emergency preparedness plan that includes your pet in case of natural disasters such as fire, flood or earthquake? Yes: 55 percent; no: 45 percent

All surveys demonstrate that pets are family. The marketplace reflects this with increased pet friendly places to stay, resources to fulfill pet needs for social and mental health, kind training methods, accelerated research into non-human animal diseases, prevention and treatment, pet safety equipment and more. The human-animal bond has entered a new age for mutual benefit on a new scale.

Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA to help “Keep Tahoe Kind.”

– Dawn Armstrong is the executive director the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and the SPCA.

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