A new poll shows that 54 percent of the American public says they plan to make their next pet a rescued animal. This may sound like music to the ears of animal advocates, but on further inspection the survey reveals that most pet owners won’t act on that promise.
The poll which was sponsored by the Associated Press-Petside.com found the overall trend to buy a kitten or puppy from a retail pet shop was down and adopting a homeless pet was up. A mere 8 percent of those polled thought their next pet would come from a pet store, but only 30 percent said they would go the extra step and adopt a cat or dog from a shelter.
This may sound confusing when 54 percent said they would adopt, but the majority of Americans are actually more likely to get a new puppy or kitten from a friend, relative or neighbor before making the trip to a local animal shelter or rescue group. The survey revealed that pet owners have good intentions, but it doesn’t translate into action.
Furthermore, 26 percent of the people polled said they plan to buy their next pet from a breeder.
The top reasons people cited for skipping on pet shop purchases had to do with worries about the temperament and health of the pet, rather than a desire to rescue an animal that may soon be euthanized in a shelter. People said they were concerned that pet shop puppies and kittens were sick, had hidden medical conditions and over bred. They also stated concerns that pet store owners were only in the business because of money.
The group polled did not have the same feelings about breeders. In fact they looked at breeders as a source of knowledge about animals and someone who would direct them to the best pet for their family and lifestyle.
When asked about the health of animals adopted from shelters, Bill Machut summed up the feelings many people had. He told the AP, “There is an assumption there is a good chance there is some sort of health issue (such as kennel cough or worms), especially being at a shelter.”
The new poll could be a useful learning tool for animal shelters and rescue groups to boost adoptions in the future. Apparently the public sympathizes with the plight of homeless animals, but it doesn’t completely trust shelter management when it comes to the health of pets or their role as animal experts.
The AP-Petside.com poll was conducted April 7-12, 2010. It involved telephone interviews with 1,112 pet owners nationwide.
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