For those of you that have been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I'm a numbers kind of guy. I like statistics, and using the statistical data to help better form my opinions on a variety of topics.
Late last year, a company called Mintel published a breakdown of Pet Ownership information. Mintel specializes in very detailed market information for marketers -- and Pets is just one of the many topics they cover. The pet ownership report is a whopping 136 pages of information and worth the price for any company that is dealing in pet products. I won't overwhelm you with all of the data, but I do think there were several key statistics that I think are important for rescues/shelters to know about pet ownership in the US -- and some things that I just found to be interesting.
All of the data here is from the Mintel report, but the commentary in the second sub-bullets is mine.
- Pet industry expenditures were an estimated $50.8 billion in 2011. 38% of this money will be spent on food, 22% on supplies and medicine, and 28% on veterinary care.
- Families with children are much more likely to have pets than families without children -- yet, the percentage of families without children is increasing in the US. However, pet ownership continues to grow, let in part by the number of young couples who are opting out of parenthood.
- 72.9 million US households report having at least one pet. 46.3 million own dogs, and 38.9 million own cats. This represents 78.2 million owned dogs and 86.4 million owned cats.
- People with lower education levels (High School or some college) are more likely to own pets (64%) than more highly educated people (post graduate) at 56%.
- 62% of dog owners own only 1 dog. 26% own 2. 7% own 3 and 5% own 4 or more.
- For cats, 49% own 1, 29% own 2, 11% own 3 and 11% own 4 or more.
- These two numbers are interesting as many cities in the US have pet limits that limit pet ownership to 2, 3 or 4 pets -- but there is an obvious demand for a significant percentage of pet owners to own more pets than that.
- 46% of US homes have a dog. The age group most likely to own a dog is 18-24 year olds at 58%. Pet ownership remains pretty average for 25-54 year olds (49% for 25-34, 51% for 35-44 and 46% for 45-54) but then drops off considerably in older age groups (41% for 55-64 and 32% for 65+). The numbers are similarly skewed for cats. I find all of this interesting because
- a) I feel like 18-24 year olds are more likely to be denied adoption by many rescue groups because of their age, the likelihood that they are renting, or the likelihood of something in their lives would make them seem less stable and thus more likely to return a pet -- and yet, they are more likely to ownn pets than any other age group.
- b) I think there are opportunities to increase pet ownership among older demographics who may be less likely to adopt because they no longer have kids or because the have concerns about who will care for a pet if something happens to them in their older age.
Where to people get their pets?
- 78% of dog owners own their own home. 18% rent. If we deny renters from adopting dogs we are essentially losing one-fifth of the total dog-owning market. For cats, 71% own and 26% rent.
- 30% of dog owners and 34% of cat owners got their pet from a shelter or rescue.
- 28% of dog owners, and 33% of cat owners got them from a friend or relative
- 15% of dog owners and 3% of cat owners go theier pet from a recognized breder
- 9% of dog owners and 4% of cat owners got them from a pet store
- Pet stores continue to make up a very small percentage of pet acquisition and shelters and rescues are the leading source of pet acquisition.
- 34% of people with incomes less than $25k acquired their pet from someone else. This number is closer to 20% for all other income groups up to $100K+, where it drops to 16%.
- I think this is extremely interesting. From talking with people who do urban core outreach in Kansas City, they say that most of the people they run across aquired their pet when a friend or relative could no longer take care of it, or they found it running loose in their neighborhood. These people tend to want to do best for the animal, and yet often, themselves, lack the resources to best care for them. It's just interesting that many people view poor people as poor pet owners, when many are simply trying to keep them from going to the shelter.
- Most cat owners don't really choose a cat by breed. But this is very different for dogs. 32% of dog owners said they knew in advance what breed of dog they wanted. 21% said they didn't choose because the dogwas given to them or chosen by somene else in the houeshold. 12% just browsed the selection and chose one they liked. 11% didn't know specifically what breed they wanted, but had an idea in mind and 10% didn't care about the breed, but knew the size of dog they wanted.
- I think this is very interesting as 43% of people have a specific breed or an idea of a breed in mind before choosing a pet. 10% more are choosing based on size and 21% are not choosing at all because they just ended up with the dog. This can often be a challenge for small rescue groups to maintain the selection of breeds for different potential adopters.
- Men, and people aged 25-34, are most likely to have a specific breed of dog in mind.
- 52% of dog owners own a dog less than 25 lbs. This number is highest for people 55+ who own small dogs 58% of the time.
- 29% own dogs 26-50 lbs and 24% own dogs 51-75 lbs and 11% own dogs 75 lbs or more. Older people and low income people are much less likely to own large dogs because of their size and the cost to feed these dogs. Larger dogs are more likely to be owned by 25-54s, as this age group is generally active enough to provide for the exercise needs of a larger dog.
As members of the family?
- 76% of Americans consider their pet to be part of the family
- 54% consider themselves "pet parents' instead of "pet owners"
- 65% of dogs have free run of the house
- 53% of dogs sleep in their owners bedroom
- 21% are crated at night or when owners are away
- Only 8% of dogs are kept outside only. However, this number is 16% in housholds that make less than $25k per year.
- For all of the talk that about low-income pet owners being bad pet owners, this isn't supported by these numbers -- with 84% of even the lowest-income pet owners keeping pets inside the home (55% of this group have dogs with free-run over the home). While it's true that they are more likely to have outside-only dogs, they do still overwhelmingly keep them inside the home.
The impact of race on pet ownership
- While 46% of all households own dogs, this number is 51% for whites, 53% for hispanics and 24% for blacks.
- The same is true for cats, where 31% of households have cats, 36% for whites, 34% for hispanics and 14% for blacks.
- Blacks seem to be less likely to own pets because they are more likely to live in densely populated urban areas with less room for pets.
- Whites are more likely to own larger dogs than the other groups.
- Hispanics are more likely to enjoy the fun part of pet ownership-- they buy more toys for their pets, take more photographs and take their pet with them more often than other ethnic groups.
I'll likely refer back to these numbers fairly regularly as I have some things planned for trying to help increase adoptions -- but I definitely think you can see some opportunities here from these numbers.