Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sterilizing pets isn't a priority for new owners

By Sharon L. Peters, Special for USA TODAY

Despite campaigns encouraging sterilization to reduce pet overpopulation, and despite expanding options for low-cost spay/neuter surgeries, nearly half of people who have acquired unsterilized pets in the last year haven't fixed them.
Southerners and the under-35 set are the least likely to sterilize their pets.

PAW PRINT POST: Easy way to donate to dogs, cats

Those are among findings from a national survey of 3,000 adults, including 1,000 who have acquired a dog or cat in the past 12 months.

PetSmart Charities commissioned the survey by Ipsos Marketing, released today, in an effort to understand factors contributing to continued pet overpopulation, which results in an estimated 4 million to 6 million shelter animals being euthanized each year. Among findings:

•Of the unsterilized dogs and cats acquired in the past year, 48% still haven't been sterilized.

•38% of 18- to 34-year-olds haven't sterilized their pets, vs. 24% of 55-plus owners.

•13% of dog owners and 19% of cat owners have wound up with litters, more than half of them unintentional.

Overpopulation is underestimated

The survey is the first large-scale effort to quantify the actions and perceptions of pet owners and non-owners relating to spay/neuter, pet overpopulation and adoption of pets from shelters and rescue organizations.

Armed with these data, the animal welfare industry "will be able to be more effective" in accomplishing goals, says Susana Della Maddalena, executive director of PetSmart Charities.

Many pet owners are unaware of the scope of overpopulation: 62% of 18- to 34-year-olds and 47% of 55-plus respondents estimated shelters euthanize fewer than 1 million animals annually; 28% put the euthanasia number at 100,000 or less.

How young is too young?

And there's confusion relating to the age at which pets should be sterilized, owing partly, experts say, to lack of agreement among veterinarians.

Since pets can carry litters when they're just 6 months old, many vets recommend 4 or 5 months as the proper age. But a growing number, motivated by animal welfare advocates who want puppies and kittens sterilized before they go into adopters' homes, believe 2 months is safe.

Among survey respondents who had recently acquired a pet, 17% said they have no idea of the proper age to spay/neuter; 42% said 6 months; 14% said at least 9 months.

People earning $55,000 or more are more likely to adopt from shelters and rescue groups than those earning less; 42% of people who recently got a pet did no prior research, formal or informal.

1 comment:

angelscairns said...

"42% of people who recently got a pet did no prior research, formal or informal." - HORRIBLE!!! Too many people get a pet (especially a cute puppy) as an impulse purchase and never stop to think that they are now responsible for a living creature for the next 10-15 years. I bet more than 42% of people buying electronics do research before buying!!