A new national pet study by Money and Morning Consult examined the relationships between pet owners and their animal companions- and how COVID-19 has changed that.
The study took place in early March and polled over 2,000 Americans, including more than 1,300 pet owners. Participants were surveyed on various topics such as pet interactions, why new pet owners chose to add to their family, potential medical bill costs, trust in veterinarians, and knowledge of pet insurance.
Among the key findings, 22% of respondents said they’ve added a new pet to their family since March 2020. When asked why the new addition was made, 72% simply said they’ve always wanted a pet. This may go hand in hand with the 68% of respondents who said they were suddenly spending more time at home. Loneliness also played a factor, with more than half of respondents citing loneliness as a reason for owning a new pet.
Of those new pet owners, 37% brought home their companions from a shelter, followed by 20% of owners who got their pet from a breeder. The rest got their new pet as a gift (17%) or purchased from a store (16%).
With shelters being the most popular place participants brought home new pets, Money.com worked with Yelp to identify the top adoption shelters in each state. Yelp ranked locations according to various factors, including the enthusiasm and total volume of reviews for each shelter. According to Yelp, the top shelter in Washington is Everett’s Best Friend Rodent Rescue. Best Friend Rodent Rescue is dedicated to “rescuing, rehabilitating and finding homes for neglected and abandoned small animals, primarily domestic rats.”
Is More Time With Pets Good or Bad?
With many Americans spending more time at home now than ever, the opportunity to bond more with pets has increased. Perhaps that’s why 58% of those surveyed said they value their pet more now than before COVID-19. Similarly, half of respondents said they are more affectionate towards their pet now than before COVID-19.
Both cat and dog owners reported near-identical increases in the value and affection they had for their animal, as did mixed-breed and purebred pet owners.
The negatives to pet-ownership during COVID-19 were fairly low compared to the positives, with 11% of participants saying their pet annoys them more now than before COVID-19. Additionally, 17% of respondents reported trouble in keeping up with their pet’s needs, now that they couldn’t rely on help from others.
Pet spending stayed about the same during the pandemic, with only slight increases among the heaviest spenders- those putting aside more than $150 per month on food, toys, and non-medical expenses. For the most part, 71% of owners said they spent $100 or less per month on their pet now and also spent the same amount before March 2020.
With many Americans considering their pets as family, respondents showed they’re willing to spend big on their pet’s medical costs. More than two-thirds of those surveyed said they would take any measure to save their pet’s life, regardless of cost, and 80% said they’d take any measure they could afford.
However, some respondents disagreed, with 28% having said they wouldn’t take expensive measures to save their pet, regardless of its age.
Additionally, three-quarters of owners said they take their pet to the vet at least annually for vaccinations, checkups, and other routine care, which is the same frequency recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association. In contrast, about two-thirds of those who reported their financial situation as poor to fair reported, said they make annual visits to the vet, which is higher than 25% of overall pet owners who do so.
If you’re considering bringing home a new member of the family or companion, you have many local options.
“You’re saving an animal’s life by adopting it, and you’re also really not supporting the puppy mill or the poor breeder or the backyard breeder business that’s out there in the world,” Phil Morgan, President and CEO of the Auburn Valley Humane Society said.
From goldfish to a horse, it is extremely important to consider the commitment a pet requires. Please ensure you are able and ready to meet the financial and lifestyle needs pets require.
The Auburn Valley Humane Society is open seven days a week by appointment only for adoptions. According to their website over 10,000 animals have been adopted through the humane society since 2013.
The Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC) is currently holding adoptions via appointment.
The Humane Society of Tacoma and Pierce County is also open seven days a week and currently has a selection of dogs, cats, and birds according to its website.
The Seattle Animal Shelter is open six days a week and currently has a selection of dogs, cats, reptiles, rabbits, and small mammals.
The Seattle Humane shelter in Bellevue is open seven days a week and has a selection of dogs, cats, and critters.
The Everett Animal Shelter is open seven days a week and has a selection of dogs, cats, birds, and rabbits.
The Everett Best Friend Rodent Rescue is open on Sundays by appointment only and has a variety of small animals.
To write this article, the Auburn Examiner spoke with AVHS President Phil Morgan, and reviewed information from Money