How Do We Americans Feel About Pets?






The euthanizing of that wonderful race horse Barbaro and the out pouring of sympathy for the horse and his owners got me to wondering about how do we, as Americans feel about pets in general.

I know that there are those of us that are rather fanatical about our pets and their care.

Many areas of the country have devoted people that care for the feral cat population and the animal rights people are busy doing their job, but how does the average American feel in general?

That thought brought me to an article I found in last year’s summer issue of Best Friends Magazine where they did a nationwide poll on “How Kind is America.”

I would like to quote you a few opening paragraphs from that article regarding the pet situation here in the United States of America.

”Here in the United States, millions of unwanted pets still die in shelters every year.

And hundreds of millions of animals – from dogs and cats to chimps and mice – suffer and die for the supposed benefit of science and medicine.

The numbers soar into the billions when your include the hellish world of factory farming.

So how do we, as a nation, feel about this? Are we troubled by abuse of animals, when we see it or hear about it? And if so, are we willing to do anything to stop it?”

These words are a direct quote from the beginning of the article and they really hit a spot in my heart and got me to thinking.

We think of ourselves as a kind and loving people and we spend billions trying to show the world that we are, but how do we really feel about our companion pets?

The best thing that the poll found out was that at least 96 percent of the people polled agreed that animals should not be abused. I won’t even suggest what I would like to do to the other 4 percent.

On the other hand only 85 percent of the people polled said they would call the authorities, if they saw an animals being abused. That made me wonder, if we are afraid for our own well-being or is it because we don’t want to get involved?

I realize that “getting involved” means taking responsibility and that takes time.

Some other interesting facts from the poll are as follows:

  • Only 43% of us would adopt a pet from a shelter. I guess it is because most people believe that a pet in a shelter is there due to bad behavior.

    Many are there due to abandonment by their owners.

    The pets with behavior problems more than likely have had owners, that would not take the time to correct the behaviors or spend time with their pet.

  • Fewer than 40% have donated to any kind of a humane organization.

  • 65% of the people polled said they have pets at home and of those, more people had dogs than cats.

  • 63% said they would stop and take an injured pet to a veterinarian.

  • When it came to spaying or neutering, less than 50% of people under 30 would have it done, while 78% of seniors agreed it should be done.

    It is hard to believe in today’s society, people do not understand the importance of spaying and neutering in regard to pet health and over-population.

  • Approximately 89% agreed that people should not adopt a animal without knowing what is involved in caring for it.

  • This question in the poll I found most interesting, not just for the question itself, but how the pollsters divided the answers: “we have a moral obligation to protect pets in our care.” The yes answers were divided into the following groups:

  • Democratic men 85%
  • Democratic women 94%
  • Republican men 84%
  • Republican women 93%
  • Independent men 88%
  • Independent women 95%

  • when asked if a pet is a member of the family or should it be considered property, 69% considered their pets as members of the family.

    These are just a few of the key issues covered in the Best Friends poll that I thought might be of interest to my readers.

    A kindness index was created using a 10 point scale, with 10 being a strong agreement.

    The index was calculated by averaging responses to some key survey questions and the end result was a Kindness Index of 5.86.

    To quote Best Friends once again: “Our ideals – like our belief that animals should never be abused – drive the index higher. But our actions – like the fact that most people still prefer to buy their pets from stores and breeders than adopt them from shelters – tend to pull it back down.

    Bear in mind that the Kindness Index shows how we rate ourselves and not how anyone else is judging us.

    If we were to get a report card it might say: “Cares about this subject, and want to do the right thing, but is easily distracted. With some help, and if steered in the right direction by people who care, could make big improvements in the year ahead.”

    If you are interested in viewing the complete results of the poll or would just like to visit a great site, please log on to http://www.bestfriends.org/kindnessindex it is a wonderful place to visit and donate to.




    Drs. Foster and Smith Inc.