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Latest Studies Examine the Challenges Facing Pets in the U.S.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dog on boatDoes your dog love a cookout? Do your cats like watching Fourth of July fireworks on TV? As we celebrate Independence Day, it’s a great time to reflect on what it means to be a cat or dog in the U.S. today.
Since PetSmart Charities’ initial public survey about pet adoption and spay/neuter in 2009, we’ve seen some interesting changes. First, a growing percentage of people are getting pets (see below). That’s excellent news, right? Well, yes and no… means to be a cat or dog in the U.S. today.

It turns out that it is good news, but just for dogs. Recent research suggests that more people are acquiring dogs, but the number of people getting cats has stayed about the same. And since, across the country, cats are most at risk of being euthanized in shelters, that’s bad news for cats. Pet lovers everywhere must come together to help cats in need.

Cats make perfect pets — even for a “dog person”

Recent research conducted by the American Humane Association and funded by PetSmart Charities showed that 35% of those who don’t have a cat say it’s because they don’t like cats. Compare that to just 12% who said that about dogs.

Chart about pet homelessnessI used to call myself a dog person, but after parenting 3 cats over the years, I’ve learned that cats make amazing companions. Plus, compared to dogs, they’re quite low maintenance. Going away for the weekend and you don’t have a pet sitter? No problem! Cats do just fine for brief periods at home on their own (especially if they have another cat to keep them company).

With personalities ranging from elegant to clownish (nicely detailed in this nifty Feline-ality™ inventory from the ASPCA), everyone can find their perfect cat companion, even die-hard dog lovers like me. I guess what I’m saying is, give cats a chance.

Spaying/neutering is saving pets’ lives

Adoption, however, is only half of the solution. Spay/neuter is the other half. Spaying/neutering cats and dogs prevents unwanted litters and helps keep pets out of shelters.

Programs that promote spay/neuter for puppies and kittens younger than 6 months of age, such as PetSmart Charities “Did You Know?” campaign, are helping to reduce the number of accidental births. Combined with PetSmart Charities–funded efforts like Best Friends Animal Society’s Community Cats projects in Albuquerque and San Antonio, results show we are saving cats’ lives.

Pets for Life program reaches pets in underserved communities

And what about the pets who are not in shelters, but are still in need of veterinary care? In some areas, spay/neuter services and even vaccinations can be hard to come by.

That’s why, in collaboration with the Humane Society of the United States, PetSmart Charities is proud to help extend the circle of compassion to people and pets in underserved communities through the Pets for Life program, with mentorship grants to 10 community animal welfare groups and the free online Pets for Life Community Outreach Toolkit. Pets for Life delivers pet care, resources and information where they are needed most.

How you can help cats and dogs, today and every day

However, with an estimated 8 million pets entering shelters each year, and only about half making it out, we still have a lot of work to do! How can we, a nation of pet lovers, help change the game for homeless pets?

1. Adopt! Your next best friend may already be waiting for you at your local shelter or PetSmart Charities Adoption Center in your nearby PetSmart store — go out and get him (or her)! Or, use our online pet adoption locator to find a furry friend. In the meantime, take the pledge to adopt, not buy, your next pet, and encourage your friends to do the same.

2. Spay or neuter your pets! Spay/neuter every pet, every time, and well before they reach 6 months of age (barring any serious medical conditions, of course). Use our spay/neuter locator to find affordable, high-quality services in your area.

3. Donate! You can help right now. Every donation helps us improve the lives of homeless pets. Even $25 saves a pet’s life through adoption. Learn how to help.

As a community of proud pet parents, let’s commit to helping our nation’s cats and dogs find the safety and security they deserve. Have a happy July Fourth!

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