In the Doghouse
To the Editors of American Demographics:
I'm hoping you might be able to help me with some research for a
book I'm writing. I'm looking for a statistical portrait of dogs,
including information on the total number of dogs in the United
States, how people acquire their dogs, how many dogs are
euthanized, how many are in shelters and so on. I'm also interested
in any studies that might shed some light on the emotional
relationship between dogs and their owners. Thanks so much.
We'll begin by first assuring our readers that they're not experiencing dÃ©jÃ vu. Last year, in this section of the magazine, we disclosed the demographics of dog owners (â€œWho Let the Dogs Out,â€? February 2001.) This time, however, we'll be focusing strictly on our four-legged friends.
The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that in 1996 (the latest year for which data is available), there were an estimated 53 billion dogs in the U.S. â€” compared with 59 million cats, for those who demand equal time for felines â€” up about 1 percent over the number of dogs counted in 1987. As minute as this increase may seem, it is actually quite significant, since the number of American homes that these canines inhabit declined from 35 million in 1987 to 31 million in 1996. Pooches were able to keep their population high partly because between 1987 and 1996, the number of dogs per household increased from 1.5 to 1.7.
According to a survey of 1,000 pet owners by St. Louis-based Ralston Purina, 39 percent of dogs are obtained from family, friends or neighbors, another 25 percent come from a breeder and 15 percent from an animal shelter. Eight percent of Americans buy their pups from a pet store, 5 percent are picked up as strays and 2 percent come from a local rescue group.
But not all dogs find nice homes. According to research
conducted by Animal People newspaper, at any given time, an
estimated 5,000 dog pounds nationwide house roughly 87,000 dogs.
About one-third of dogs at shelters will be euthanized (1.5 million
hounds are put to sleep at shelters each year), another third will
be reclaimed by their original owners and the remaining third will
find homes with new families â€” families that we hope will not
dress them in clothes!
Top 10 reasons people give up their dogs:
Cost of pet maintenance
No time for pet
Too many pets at home
No homes for littermates
Source: National Council on Pet Population Study & Policy
Man's Best Friend
Dog owners' lives are intertwined with those of their pets.
|DO YOU/HAVE YOU EVERâ€¦||YES|
|Pet and hug your dog daily||95%|
|Play with your dog daily||92%|
|Taken your dog on vacation||45%|
|Celebrated your dog's birthday||43%|
|Taken your dog shopping or to a pet store||35%|
|Visited health care facilities or schools with your dog||28%|
|Taken your dog to work||19%|
|Taken your dog to a store/restaurant/bar||16%|
|Source: Ralston Purina|
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