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« The costly hysteria about community cat caregivers | Main | Pit Bull Perceptions »

November 12, 2012



I agree with your point that there are opportunities to increase pet ownership among older demographics. I would add that seniors are good potential fosters, because it is a shorter term commitment. Also, since retirees may be home more, they are great for dogs and/or cats who need more attention. As for ownership, No Kill shelters should reach out to seniors and assure them that don't have to worry about their pet if something happens because he/she will be safe at the No Kill shelter and adopted to another good home.

Christie Keith

Brent, do you have any trends on this data? Is segment of pets obtained from shelters changing over time according to Mintel's research?


Christie -- unfortunately the report I have doesn't have any trend data for that statistic. They did say in the notes that successful promotion of homeless pets has increased adoptions, and that encouraging people to not buy from pet stores has caused that to go down too -- but it has no numbers to compare.

These numbers are fairly conistent with information from a 2009 Petsmart/Ipsos study (which Christie, I imagine you've seen) in which 8% were bought at a pet store, 21% of dogs from a purebred breeder (2% for cats), 19% came into a home as a stray (8% for dogs, 30% for cats), 24% from adoption and 25% from a family member.

More from that one here (for those who have not seen it):


I take issue with the rescues who deny people based on the excuse that someone might return a pet. If someone takes a pet and returns it later, that is sort of like fostering a pet and people should be encouraged to do that. I know rescue people who deny seniors also based on the guess that they might die someday and or be in some way unable to take care of their pets in the near future. I say let them have the dogs and cats and let them love them til they die and then find them new homes. Stop allowing animals to die
because of what if's that are not here yet..

Ellena Linsky

Thank you. I actually found some of this information comforting.


Lori -- I agree completely. Planning on all the "what ifs" is just going to cause a lot of denied adoptions.


Is there any information broken down by region of the country? I live in the south and I see dogs chained out everywhere ALL the time, so I am sure the number of pets that are not allowed indoors is much higher here. Is it possible that this study did not include some groups due to them not participating in it?


"52% of dog owners own a dog less than 25 lbs."

Most of the dogs being killed in animal shelters are larger than 25 pounds. Is there enough people willing to adopt for all these larger dogs if 52% or more people want small dogs?


Liz -- there is very little info in the study broken down by region of the country. % pet ownership (where the south is higher than other regions) is about it. There is always a possibility of sample bias in any study, but Mintel is better than most about keeping it in check.

Joni -- I found that very interesting too, along with the reality that most people searching for dog have a breed, or size of dog, in mind before getting one.

It's no secret that large dogs are more likely to end up in shelters (in part because they're more likely to be outside dogs and escape, more able to jump fences, more likely to be relinquished because behavioral problems in small dogs are easier to manage, etc). I'm looking into some more data on shelter populations to see if I can come up with something concrete about % of animals in shelters by size. It may just SEEM that there are more large dogs in the shelter because small dogs are adopted more quickly, but there may be some truth to it also...more to come.


"According to the No Kill Advocacy Center, data shows that every year there are six times more people looking to acquire an animal than there are animals being killed in shelters."

I know that there are more and more shelters that have achieved the 90% or higher save rate and I hope many, many, more join them and fast.

But I am worried that many people that may consider the adoption option might just want small dogs, specially small female dogs. We receive more adoption apps on female dogs than on male dogs and I read that this is common.

Can more people be convinced into adopting the larger dogs, which seem to be the majority of dogs that are being killed in large numbers in many of our U.S. animal shelters?

And how many of these adoptions are sticking? Meaning how many of the shelter animals getting adopted find a home for life? What is the return rate? Is the return rate higher for larger dogs?

Yes, I know, too many questions. :(


Joni -- good thoughts on all and agree with you. No question that the number of dogs in shelters is much less than the number of people looking for dogs every year. However, not all dogs are interchangable with each other. I think most shelters pretty much could adopt "small fluffies" all day long every day of the week. We sometimes have waiting lists. But converting someone from a "small fluffy" to an 80 lbs dog is a tough challenge. There is a bit of a supply/demand issue disconnect.

The numbers probably still in the favor of the shelter, and many shelters are proving that to be the case, but I do think bigger dogs present a bigger challenge for shelters -- and these numbers do show why.

Laurie Ellis

Thank you very much for this information. I am gathering pet owner demographics in order to create a business plan for my art designs.

I specialize in animals. I have been to many sites and yours is the most thorough.

I was hoping to find information specifically in Oregon for a start off point, but have not been able to do so thus far.

As per my nature, I noticed several typos, but found your site very interesting and informative. Thank you again.


Thank you for your info...I found it very interesting. I do agree, it would be nice to see the breakdown by region. Thanks again! EV


Thanks -- excellent compilation of data!


We should be spending our time philosophizing about how to help children, not making pets in to children, and not humanizing the plight of the pet. Lion and Tigers and Bears (oh my) are not people. People are harder to interact with which is why so many take the easy way out and spend all their time worrying about FIDO.
Let's spend our time and resources worrying about kids here in the US. Let's spend our MONEY on outreach and placement for ORPHANS, let the older folks reach out and be reached not by Sarah Mclaughlin concerts but by people trying to save them, not a cat.
The world is about choices, anyone who chooses to spend 50 bucks a month on dog food when their kids don't have shoes is a fool,
they should be told they are foolish and should be treated as a fool. The hard choice is to not save the dog, because it will impact the family's food budget. This is a hard choice to make, but easy to conceive.
The problem is, poor people often have poor cognitive skills, they can't conceive the whole of such a hard choice as easy as it seems, so they often make choices that ensure the next generation will not have any better chances. Everyone....EVERYONE wants to push evolution, evolution, evolution, science, science, science.....then they want to ingore it and say that there is no difference in the cognitive abilities of the poor and the rest of society. Look at the Data, no matter how unpleasant it gape onto the real numbers. Cognitive ability more than anything determines the scope of a persons ability to sense the possible long range outcomes decisons...thats right, IQ. You can't change IQ, but you can, with training, support and socialization teach people to be more cautious about their decisions and the process they use to make decisions. Lets help KIDS have better nutrition and therefore develop better cognitively, Turn the rescue shelter into an after school program for kids. You all will shovel dog poop at the shelter and stay up all night saving a kitten, but would you pick up and hug a smelly kid with lice?


Mike, it seems feasible to me that as a society we should have compassion for all living beings. Being compassionate toward one species does not preclude you from being compassionate toward another and in fact, studies suggest that pet ownership helps with building compassion.


Thank you for the summary of the Mintel Report. It's very interesting. Do you know where I can get a copy of the report?


You would have to go to Mintel's website and purchase from them....and it's not a terribly cheap report.


I like it

Sam Goody

Where do you get your data from? I don't see any citations for the statistics you are quoting.


Sam -- the source is noted in the first sentence of the 2nd paragraph.


Brent, do you have any statistic showing the percentage of adopted pets were returned back to the shelter/rescue organization within a year?


I would love the demographics on the kind of people (education in particular)who spay/neuter. I think information would show higher levels of education mean higher percentages of population control for homeless dogs

Mindy Moody

Pet sitters can post their profiles, including a photograph, range of abilities, area and other helpful data, which would then be able to be seen by those searching for a pet sitters, feline sitters, pooch walkers and so on. Those trying to utilize somebody would then be able to contact the pet sitter straightforwardly through the email or contact shape.

Chet Nar

Hello, this is really useful information for a class project of mine. Do you have the citation to the Mintel study? Thanks!

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