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Prior to 2020, pet ownership was steadily increasing in developing markets around the world; in more mature pet markets like the United States, it had stagnated somewhat. Then came the coronavirus pandemic, which, in a pleasant surprise, caused an increase in pet adoptions, at least in the U.S. Some experts have questioned whether this increase will last, especially since the economy was starting to turn around and the financial situation of many people was deteriorating. Another positive surprise: the increase in pet adoptions is, to date, sustainable.
Even national media like the Washington Post have noted the phenomenon. “What started in mid-March with a sudden surge in demand turned into a boom in sales by mid-July. Shelters, nonprofit rescues, private breeders, pet stores – all have reported more consumer demand than there were dogs and puppies to fill it, ”noted an Aug.12 post. , quoted by David Lummis, senior pet market analyst for Packaged Facts, in the October issue of Pet Product News.
“Americans kept trying to fill in the gaps with canine companions, either because they were stuck working from home with children who needed something to do or because they didn’t have a job. work and a lot of free time, or because they felt alone with no way to socialize, ”the article continues. .
And, as Lummis pointed out, Americans have added not only members of the canine family, but also cats, small mammals, birds, reptiles and fish – the whole menagerie, according to the Packaged Facts surveys.
New book: people need more pets
Of course, this is good news for everyone in the pet food and pet care industries: more mouths to feed, more animals needing toys, beds and pets. other pet supplies, plus veterinary care needed, all on an ongoing basis. It is also encouraging and heartwarming news in general, which we can all use more in these troubling times. Even in quieter times, pets provide immense comfort, utility to people, and many other benefits for human, physical and mental health and well-being – with more and more research providing evidence scientists of these benefits.
In light of this, a new book postulates that the United States should strive to own even more pets and develop government policies and other initiatives to further support pet ownership. “I think it’s safe to say that pets do a lot of good things for little money… Get ready: we need more people to have pets, and more people who already have pets. animals should own more, ”wrote Mark Cushing in Pet Nation: The Love Story That Changed America.
Cushing added to these thoughts in an interview with Marissa Heflin, also in the October issue of Pet Product News: “There is no medicine that is more powerful, available to everyone, and cheaper than having a pet. companionship … Pets help people under stress or just get through their daily lives. Pets are the most powerful force for building social capital, which means communities are stronger to allow more pets. So, I reduce that to basic math: if we have 185 million cats and dogs and 330 million people – growing every day – then let’s aim for 350 million pets. America is not ready today, but it could be in the next 10 years.
In addition to committing to working towards this goal himself, Cushing suggested other ways to achieve it, including providing pet-friendly apartments, especially for low-income people, expanded access to pets at workplaces, senior care facilities and college dorms, and more dog parks (even cat parks!). Indeed, some initiatives in this direction have been underway for several years, such as the Better Cities for Pets program of Mars Petcare.
The “grand prize,” Cushing told Heflin, would be for pet owners and veterinary care to match other welfare activities encouraged by the federal government, such as programs to encourage people. to quit smoking, to exercise regularly, to eat regular medical examinations.
Addressing the costs of pet ownership
All of this sounds good, but some may disagree with Cushing’s claim that pet ownership comes at a low cost. It may cost less than most traditional forms of health and medical care for people, but in a survey of 1,300 pet owners in the United States, LendingTree found that 62% said they were “Shocked” by the costs of owning an animal. Likewise, and probably a factor in this shock, 59% said they were caught off guard by an unforeseen veterinary expense.
So, to Cushing’s list of ways to support pet ownership, I would add the provision of resources to educate potential owners about all the responsibilities and costs involved in caring for a pet. the fur family (feathered or scaled).
People want pets even in times of economic downturn
A positive finding from the LendingTree survey, which could contribute to Cushing’s ambitious goal of dramatically increasing pet ownership in the United States, is that despite the expense, 34% of respondents said spend more on their pets since the start of the pandemic. Only 17% said they spent less.
Even more encouraging: In a related survey, LendingTree asked 2,000 Americans (current, non-pet owners) if they plan to buy a pet in the next six months. Almost half (46%) said yes; Interestingly, that number rose to 69% among those who reported being laid off or laid off during the pandemic. (Additionally, 8% of current pet owners said they obtained their pet between March and September 2020, which matches other surveys such as those by Packaged Facts.) These numbers help give credit to Cushing’s demand for increased pet ownership, as well as the concept that such an initiative must be accompanied by education on the costs of pet ownership.
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