This research isn't necessarily new -- but I hadn't seen the entire research study before and wanted to share.
Last year, PetSmart Charities did some research with Ipsos Marketing Research (they are a top marketing research firm) asking people why they choose to adopt vs buy -- and why they bought pets vs adopted.
The findings are interesting -- and reading the entire 52 page report is well worth your time (and thanks PetSmart Charities for making this available to the public).
Before I get into a few of the findings that I found interesting, let me note that there is always a bit of a caveat when it comes to this type of research. People don't always do what they say they will do, and often make very emotional decisions and then try to rationalize why they made the decisions they do. So take these numbers as guideance...not as some written-in-stone rules.
* People, in general, are fairly aware of the social issue of "overpopulation of dogs/cats" - with 29% noting familiarity with the issue (3rd on their list behind only global warming and teen pregnancy). However, people's level of concern for it was quite low (35%) vs the other social issues measured. However, there was a wide discrepency between pet owners (50%) and non-owners (21%) on caring about the issue.
* About 35% of pets have not been spayed or neutered. Of that group, 75% are considering altering their pet. 26% aquired their pet already altered. People who live in the South seem less likely to have altered their pet.
* 13% of dog owners and 19% of cat owners note that had ever had a litter of puppies or kittens. In 53/54% of the cases the litter was accidental.
* 25% of all people got their pet from a family member. 24% from an adoption organization or shelter. 19% picked up a stray (more common for cats than dogs) and 12% from a purebred breeder (much higher among dogs than cats). Only 8% of people say they got their pets from a pet store. Pet stores (and the commercial breeders that got the dogs there) are a much smaller share of the pets out there than I think most would expect.
* The vast majority of people wildly underestimate the number of animals euthanized in shelters annually -- with only 14% of people guessing more than 4 million and the rest guessing lower -- often by a wide margin.
* The reasons people don't adopt vary wildly - most say it's because they were looking for a purebred animal (13%) or a particular type that they couldn't find in the shelter (17%). 10% did not know much about pet adoption and 10% said the adoption process was too dificult. 7% said the shelter was too depressing and 6% said the hours weren't convenient for them. That's 23% of people who did not adopt a pet because of various, very fixable, problems with the adoption process.
* The most common reasons people got pets from purebred breeders were a desire for a specific breed and wanted the pet's health history to be known. People bought from pet stores because they could get everything they needed in one place (44%) and it was more convenient (31%).
* There are many key motivators for pet adoptions, including Saving a life (73%), can be some of the best companion animals (71%), millions of homeless pets euthanized every year (68%), euthanasia the #1 killer of healthy pets in the US (67%), etc.
* Overall, adoption organizations and shelters have very good reputations compared to other sources for pets. However, local animal controls have very negative perceptions on how the animals are cared for and the health of the animals. Puppy mills and pet stores are generallly seen negatively by the public.
* Adoption organizations and shelters are generally seen as positive places, however, 40% of people note that they have limited hours, 16% say they are depresing and 10% say animals are often unhealthy/sick. 98% of people who recently aquired a dog or cat from a shelter said they would recommend that shelter to a friend.
* The top 4 reasons people say they have not spayed/neuter their pets: Pet is too young (34%), Too expensive (31%), haven't gotten around to it (24%) and did not feel it was necessary because the pet is confined to the home (14%). Too expensive scored much lower in the west than in other geographies -- likely due to well-developed low-cost spay/neuter programs in those areas.
*89% of people said they would definitely/probably consider altering their future dog or cat. Only 3% said they probably would not consider it.
*Only 62% fo people are aware of low cost spay/neuter clinics in their area. This is highest in the west and South, and lowest in the Midwest. Overall, over half of the people surveyed have reservations about the safety, cleanliness and care animals would receive at low cost spay/neuter clinics.
* The top reasons people said they altered their dogs or cats include: It's the right thing to do (69%), To prevent unwanted pets (68%), to keep pet from reproducing (67%), reduce pet overpopulation (62%). These are rank way above health or behavioral benefits.
* Only 19% of the populatoin is aware of Petfinder - -seems like a huge mis-opportunity.
* 26% of those surveyed feel PETA as an organization is unnecessary. And only 16% of people say they see a lot of positive news stories about PETA. I think people are finally starting to catch on.
Tomorrow I'll note some thoughst and "next steps" for the animal welfare community based on this research.