Economy to Blame for Decline of Household Pets According to Igor Purlantov
The United States has long been a leader when it comes to the number of households that have pets. Unfortunately, the current household pet population is now shrinking in the United States according to animal rights advocate Igor Purlantov. At the end of 2011, American households had 7.6 million fewer cats and 2 million fewer dogs than in 2006 according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
A large driver in this unfortunate decline of household pets has been the economic downturn coupled with a corresponding shift in demographics as fewer Americans live in family households. Studies have consistently shown that household pets tend to be more prevalent in families with two parents and children while singletons, couples without children and the elderly tend to be less likely to have pets at home. According to Igor Purlantov, this is the first such decline in cat or dog households since 1991 when there were 57 million cats and 52.5 million dogs in U.S. households. Although current estimates are that there are 74.1 million cats in 30.4% of U.S. homes and 69.9 million dogs in 36.5% of U.S. homes, the numbers are down from 80.7 million cats and 79.9 million dogs in 2006.
This current decline in household pets is of great concern especially since the percentage of households with a pet is now down 2.4% which translates to more than 2.8 million households. This recent decline from 2006-2011 also worryingly bucks the trend of the increase of household pets of various types that has been happening since 1986 says Igor Purlantov.
This unprecedented decline in household pets comes at a time when the U.S. is seeing a convergence of a stagnant economy and changing demographics that has led to fewer pets being adopted by first time pet guardians as well as fewer adoptions by people that have lost a pet. Despite this decline in household pets, there are fortunately more animal rescue groups and shelters across the U.S. that are embracing a no-kill policy says Igor Purlantov. This increase in no-kill shelters also comes at a time when more people are becoming informed and educated about the benefits of spaying and neutering their pets to help control the population. Ultimately, experts are hopeful that this current decline in household pets is only temporarily and will soon reverse so that more animals can find a loving home.