The majority of Americans agree that adopting pets from shelters is a virtuous endeavor, yet those same people are more content to let others adopt from shelters while they buy from breeders or pet stores.

According to a survey by Best Friends Animal Society, much of the disconnect comes from people's stereotypes and misperceptions about shelter animals.

The survey indicated that 86 percent of Americans are advocates of pet adoption, while only six out of 10 say they would personally first look to adopt instead of purchasing. This gap comes despite the majority of people surveyed acknowledging that adoption can hold benefits over purchasing including money savings and pre-adoption spaying and neutering.

Younger generation shows aversion to adoption

Best Friends Animal Society said the disconnect is especially evident in the younger generation, which is concerning for the estimated 4 million pets that are killed every year in shelters.

According to the survey, 46 percent of young adults (ages 18-34) would rather purchase a pet from a breeder or pet store compared to the 31 percent who prefer to adopt. The survey pointed to two possible reasons for this: Many young adults believe that shelter animals are not at serious risk of being killed in shelters before they adopted, and nearly half of the young adults surveyed said they find shelter animals less desirable than those obtained from breeders.

"We were sad to learn that to some extent animals in shelters are stereotyped by young adults as damaged goods," said Gregory Castle, CEO and co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society. "The fact is that every day in this country perfectly wonderful family pets land in shelters through no fault of their own, all of whom need and deserve a home of their own."

Education lacking regarding preventive care, spaying/neutering

The survey also re-emphasized what veterinarians have known for some time - that many pet owners still require education about the benefits of preventive care and spaying/neutering.

According to the study, 86 percent of Americans surveyed said showing pets affection is very important. Many of the same people didn't lend as much importance to pet health, though, as only 66 percent said they believe in regular veterinary checkups, and only 65 percent believed in getting their pets spayed or neutered.

In addition, the survey revealed that while four out of five people advocated spaying/neutering for all dogs and cats because it helps to reduce overpopulation, they were largely unaware of the other benefits of sterilization. Only 33 percent were aware of the potential pet behavior improvements from spaying/neutering, and only 28 percent knew the practice can benefit pet health.

Next steps for Best Friends Animal Society

Now that Best Friends Animal Society has numbers showing why some people avoid pet adoption, the organization plans on raising awareness - especially among the younger crowd - about the rewards of adopting pets and combating the pet homelessness problem.

"While young people have embraced social media as a way to express what cause they support and in general young people are socially active, the results of the survey were surprising in that so many younger adults, rather than help homeless pets, were likely to buy a pet at the same mall they bought their iPhone. This is something we hope to change," Castle said.

Read the entire Pet Adoption Survey

Comments (3) -

Adoption Advocate in Southern California
Adoption Advocate in Southern CaliforniaUnited States
5/2/2013 9:19:35 PM #

An emerging concept store is the retail adoption center, which provides a retail-style shopping experience for people to adopt shelter animals without having to visit a shelter.

Such "stores" partner with select shelters in order to bring shelter pets to the public in a shopper-friendly environment. These environments are better for the animals because they get more personal attention than at shelters, and the animals have the opportunity to be socialized with other animals and with people.

It's a total win-win: Consumers who choose to adopt from these "stores" get to save a shelter animal, which they feel good about, and the animals get placed in a loving, forever home--animals who may otherwise have been scheduled for euthanasia at a crowded shelter.

SusanUnited States
5/3/2013 8:04:33 AM #

I totally agree with "Adoption Advocate in South California". I love puppies and kitties like everyone else who love animals, but I do NOT want the added stress of vaccinating during their puppy/kitten stage, sterilizing, and training. Adopting an adult was an absolute must for our family. It was hard to get to shelters but I used the internet to "look" at animals and their personality traits. Once I had a few potentials, I grouped them by location. Many of the "shelter" animals were at area pet stores that partner with the state shelters. This allowed me store hours instead of shelter hours to meet these potential family friends. The pet store employees would take out the animals we wanted to meet an were able to interact with them for as long as we wanted. We found our perfect "Hollie". She was about 3 yrs old, wonderful with the kids and very social with strangers, very playful, and already spayed and litter box trained. After adopting her, we found out that these kitties are from all over the state. Each cat gets about a 3-4 week stay in one store then relocated to another area for a different group of people to check them out. I really hope they do this with dogs soon... we are ready for a new family member. FYI... this was a NATIONAL pet store chain that does this. The fee I paid went DIRECTLY to the animal shelter where Hollie was from. I'm sure there was a rental space for the animals, but I appreciated that I wrote my check to the shelter and not to the pet store...

9/25/2014 10:00:46 AM #

I was stopped in my tracks when I read 'retail-style shopping experience'. I hope this was just a poor choice of words but it REALLY sends the wrong message.

The Standard of Veterinary Excellence ®
American Animal Hospital Association | Copyright © 2019 | Privacy Statement | Contact Us