Later this month, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association is going to publish an article showing the survey results of why people don't intend to adopt a pet at this time.
The survey looked at why people won't get both cats and dogs, and both previous pet owners and those who have never owned a pet. The survey included 500 people in each category.
According to the survey, the following are the top reasons why people do not plan to adopt a pet:
Among Previous Owners -- Dogs
-- Veterinary Expenses -- 30%
-- General Expenses - 29%
-- No time - 27%
-- Still Grieving previous pet - 20%
Among Previous Owners - Cats
-- Travel too much - 28%
-- Cleaning up - 25%
-- Veterinary expenses - 25%
-- Still grieving - 17%
Of never-owners - Dogs
-- Lifestyle - 30%
-- Cleaning up - 30%
-- General expenses - 29%
Of never-owners - cats
-- Don't like - 35%
-- Litter box smell - 29%
-- Lifestyle - 22%
The survey also noted that 22% of previous dog owners and 18% of previous cat owners acquired their pet from a shelter or rescue organization and that most respondents over the age of 65 are no longer interested in owning a pet -- noting that "we're done".
The study highlights several key insights that I think are interesting. One is how large a barrier cost is to adoption. This is probably higher now, due to the poor economy, than it may have been several years ago, but the cost of pet ownership is still a very real barrier.
I also find the overall dislike of cats interesting -- as they often get a bad reputation but I think there is a lot of opportunity to educate people on the benefits of cat ownership and letting them realize that it is actually pretty easy to own a cat (although, I do dislike the whole litterbox thing mostly).
I also think it's sad that older people are not as interested in pets, as pets are great companions and often really help people in their later years.
And finally, I think the number who are still grieving over their lost pet is VERY interesting -- as it not only shows how strong the connection between people and their pets can be, but also that there may be some pretty big opportunities in grief counseling for pet owners.
This is part one of a study funded by PetSmart Charities. Future phases will examine the outcomes of pets adopted from shelters after 6 months of being adopted and a final phase will test strategies for owner retention.