New Study: Most pet parents now choose to adopt, but more local action is needed to end pet homelessness

Thursday, October 9, 2014

(Phoenix) — More than two-thirds of Americans considering adding a pet to their families now say they would adopt a pet rather than buy one from a pet store or breeder, according to new research released today by PetSmart Charities®. The 2014 U.S. Shelter Pet Report also found that while a growing number of people say they care about pet homelessness, more than half — many of them pet lovers — still don’t provide any support for solving the issue.

“Unlike other causes, we are not hampered by a lack of a cure or technology,” said Jan Wilkins, PetSmart Charities’ executive director. “If all the pet lovers in the United States simply took action in their communities today, our grandchildren would not have to live in a world where thousands of healthy pets are euthanized daily.”

While adoption rates are rising, the study reveals that there is still work to be done to change how some people view pet adoption. For example, 24 percent of those considering getting a pet said they still prefer non-adoption sources, like breeders, over shelters or rescue groups. Dog owners were especially inclined to purchase, with 28 percent saying they bought their most recent pet. Cats, the pets most at risk for euthanasia in shelters, don’t stand a chance with some adopters: 27 percent of people considering a new pet said they would not choose a cat.

Other key findings include:

·         Pet homelessness is an important cause. 46 percent of people surveyed view the pet homelessness problem as very important. The number of people who say they donated their time or money to help pets increased by 11 percent since 2011.

·         Pet owners underestimate the problem. Most people (85 percent) underestimate the number of pets who are euthanized annually in the United States. An estimated 4 million pets every year — or 11,000 pets daily — are euthanized because there are not enough homes.   

·         Misperceptions about shelter pets still exist. The study found that among new pet owners, the main barrier to adoption was that people said shelters did not have the type of pet they wanted (36 percent). In addition, 34 percent wanted a purebred pet. These findings suggest that people are unaware of breed-specific rescue groups or online resources for shelters that allow filtering by breed or type. In fact, one in four pets available in U.S. shelters and rescue groups is a purebred.

·         Spay/neuter rates have increased. Survey responses suggest that 86 percent of pets have been fixed, compared to 79 percent in 2011 and 80 percent in 2009.

·         Cost is a barrier to spay/neuter. Fewer than half of pet parents knew that low-cost spay/neuter options were available. That’s a problem because 30 percent of people whose pets were unaltered said they chose not to spay/neuter because it was too expensive.

Everyone Can Be a Hero for Homeless Pets Today

We are a nation full of pet lovers — 81 percent of households today have pets -- but we need some guidance on how to help solve the homeless pet problem. PetSmart Charities has launched an interactive quiz to test people’s knowledge about pet overpopulation. “Which Hero for Homeless Pets Are You?” offers steps everyone can take right now to help save shelter pets in their communities.

The PetSmart Charities 2014 U.S. Shelter Pet Report is based on a survey of 2,800 adults with and without pets conducted in July with research firm Ipsos MarketQuest. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

To read the full survey results, click here.

About PetSmart Charities®

PetSmart Charities, Inc. is a nonprofit animal welfare organization that saves the lives of homeless pets. More than 400,000 dogs and cats find homes each year through our adoption program in all PetSmart® stores and our sponsored adoption events. PetSmart Charities grants more money to directly help pets in need than any other animal welfare group in North America, with a focus on funding spay/neuter services that help communities solve pet overpopulation. PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) organization, independent from PetSmart, Inc.


The surveys were conducted by Ipsos MarketQuest as self-administered online interviews in July 2014. More than 3,100 interviews were conducted among respondents who were equally split by gender and over 18 years of age. 

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