Based upon a survey in October 20112, the following information was acquired, some of which is quite surprising. Obviously “pet” includes most typically cats and dogs so we cannot say this information relates to cats only but it provides good indications.
Place of Adoption
14% of people purchased their pet from a pet store. I find this figure very high considering that, today, a lot of people realise that buying from a pet store is not a good idea because it encourages unethical, backstreet breeders. A similar percentage of people purchased a pet from a breeder or alternatively a shelter at 31% of the people surveyed. This figure is probably distorted by the fact that most dogs are purebred and therefore bought from breeders. I don’t think this figure relates to domestic cats. In fact, in America 58% of people believe that adopting from a shelter is very important because it is a socially responsible thing to do. There is a lot of goodness out there and many kind-hearted people who wish to be socially responsible.
Interestingly, the most common way that an American acquires a pet is because the animal was given to them by a friend or family. Does this support the idea that there are a lot of unwanted pets in America because people are allowing their pets to breed? The percentage of people acquiring pets this way is 43%, while 34% of people took in a stray animal as a way of adopting that animal. This also is quite a high figure which once again supports the idea that there are cats and dogs out there requiring homes. Also, a lot of stray (unwanted) cats and dogs bypass the shelter system and are adopted directly from the street in which they are living. This, incidentally, is the way I adopted my second cat.
Of those people who adopted their pet from a shelter, a very high percentage, at 84%, said that they found the experience totally positive. This indicates that a very high majority of people have found that their local shelter is very good. Only 3% of people found their experience at a shelter was very negative.
The reason why they found the experience positive is because the staff were positive meaning friendly, helpful, caring and knowledgeable. In addition, the animals at shelters were considered to be “good”.
51% of respondents said that they were extremely likely to adopt a pet from an animal shelter or pet rescue centre, whereas 22% said they were not that likely to do it.
Health of Pet when Adopting from Shelter
Concerning the health of the pet that they adopted from a shelter, 36% of people said they were very concerned about it and a similar number, at 33%, said they were not at all concerned. Similar figures relate to whether they were concerned about the psychological aspects of the pet that they were adopting (mental health of the pets). Clearly, quite a high percentage of people are concerned as to whether the pet that they are adopting from a shelter has been abused and therefore has psychological problems and in addition whether the pet has been maltreated and therefore has health problems. I wonder whether shelters could do more to tackle this doubt?
Pet Fitting in at Home
The next question concerns whether people adopting from a shelter were worried about their pet fitting in with their family. This really applies to any adoption, whether from a shelter or other sources. A third of the respondents said they were very concerned whereas 41% said they were not all concerned about it. I think that the people who were concerned are more switched on because there is always a genuine possibility that the incoming pet will not fit in quickly or easily.
Taken Pets to Shelters?
23% of respondents said they had taken animals to a shelter in the past, whereas 77% said they had never done it.
I find it interesting that 59% of people said that when they went to a shelter with an animal it was on behalf of somebody else. 35% of the people said it was their own animal.
The most common reason why people took an animal to a shelter was because the animal was not theirs or it was abandoned. Just over one third (36%) of the people interviewed said that this was their reason. And 34% of people said that they could not care for any new pets. Perhaps these are the people who found a stray cat or dog and took him in to a shelter. 18% of people said they took their pet to a shelter because he/she did not fit in because of behavioural problems.
Spaying and Neutering at Shelter
A little more than two thirds of the people (69%) interviewed said that they very strongly favour spaying and neutering by shelters before the animals are adopted. Sadly, 17% of respondents said that they totally opposed spaying and neutering by shelters before the animals were adopted. I wonder why they responded in this manner? It must imply that they wish to allow the animal to breed informally. But that’s a guess. Or they disagreed with spaying and neutering because they thought that it changes an animal’s character, detrimentally.
Microchipping at Shelter
As for micro-chipping, 54% of people interviewed said that they totally favoured micro-chipping of shelter animals whereas a relatively large number at 30% totally opposed micro-chipping by the shelter. I find this statistic inexplicable because I can’t see any downside to micro-chipping other than that, rarely, there are health problems. Perhaps the person adopting did not want their name and address to be on record as the pet’s owner. If that is the case it is disturbing.
Euthanasia at Shelter
As for shelters euthanizing animals in their care, 71% of people said that animal shelters should only be allowed to euthanize animals when they are too sick to be treated or too aggressive to be adopted, whereas 25% said that animal shelters should be allowed to euthanize animals as and when necessary to control population numbers.
If there were a $25 charge for surrendering a pet to a shelter (as at 2011) then 34% of people said that they were “totally less likely” to surrender a pet to a shelter. 52% of people said that it made no difference.
What can we glean from this information? It probably depends upon the person reading the information but for me it indicates that the majority of Americans have the welfare of pets in mind and wish to, where possible, adopt from a shelter although they are concerned about the health, both mental and physical, of shelter adoptions. In addition there are too many unwanted cats and dogs in homes who are handed around between neighbours for adoption, bypassing the shelter system. That’s my gut feel. The bottom line is that the survey supports those who say that there are too many unwanted pets.
Note 2: AP-Petside.com poll of October 2011.
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