One of our partners — PetSmart Charities® — recently released the latest data from its third U.S. Shelter Pet Report. It’s a treasure trove of valuable data on adoption trends and acts as a barometer as to how we’re doing as a movement. As I’ve pointed out on the blog before, we’re driven by saving lives at Best Friends and we use data to help us do that as effectively as possible. I love stuff like this and tend to geek out a bit, but stay with me.
For the good news, both adoptions and spay/neuter are up — or at least the number of survey respondents willing to do both is higher this year. In 2014, 66 percent of those surveyed say they’d adopt before going to a breeder. The last time they did this report, that number was 58 percent, so it’s a significant increase.
PetSmart Charities also asked respondents if their pets were fixed, an important question as we try to Save Them All. Eighty-six percent of those surveyed said their pets were spayed or neutered, versus 80 percent on the same question five years ago. It’s another statistically significant shift.
Another nugget from the survey that has me excited is the number of people who say that pet homelessness is important to them. The 2014 survey numbers show 46 percent of respondents say it’s important, up from 37 percent in 2009. It’s truly a testament to the work that Best Friends, PetSmart Charities and others have been doing over the last few years to stimulate the conversation about the daily tragedy that occurs in American shelters.
The news is not all good, unfortunately. Of those surveyed, 25 percent say they would look to sources other than adoption to acquire a pet, which means we need to continue fighting hard to promote adoption as the first choice. There was also some interesting information about the need to educate adopters. About 40 percent said they did nothing to prepare themselves and their home for their new pet. It was even higher for cat owners — 48 percent. As we work to keep pets in homes, making sure families are ready and armed with the right information and products is critical.
And finally, it remains sadly clear that Americans are still not educated about the rate of death in shelters. A total of 85 percent of the people surveyed underestimated the number of pets killed in shelters. The number is four million per year, and if Americans are underestimating the scale of this tragedy, then their level of urgency to act in support of change will not meet the needs of the animals.
These numbers are incredibly encouraging overall, though, and hopefully you feel the same way. But it also should serve as a reminder that there is plenty of work to do going forward.
Together, we can Save Them All™.
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Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
Best Friends Animal Society