A survey conducted by Best Friends Animal Society of Kanab, Utah, identified what the organization called a disconnect in how young Americans approach pet adoption.
The survey results, released Wednesday, found that 46 percent of people ages 18 to 34 were more likely to purchase a pet from a breeder or store rather than consider adoption. In addition, the same percentage believed that shelter animals were 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, the society’s CEO and co-founder. "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.”
Nearly 40 percent of the young adults surveyed thought homeless animals were not necessarily at risk and would remain in a shelter until adoption. About 4 million cats and dogs are euthanized each year in city shelters, Best Friends reported.
Out of the 1,000 adults of all ages surveyed by telephone in November 2012, 90 percent considered themselves pet lovers and 86 percent believed that showing affection to a pet was very important. When it came to an animal’s health, 66 percent believed in regular veterinary check-ups and 65 percent thought their pet should be spayed or neutered.
"The fact that people love pets, but one-third of those do not know the importance of vet checks and spaying/neutering indicates that we have more work to do in getting the word out there about the realities of adopting shelter pets,” Castle said.
Four out of five adults believed that all cats and dogs should be sterilized to reduce overpopulation, but only 33 percent were aware that spaying and neutering helps improve behavior and 28 percent knew the practice can improve pet health, Best Friends reported.
Best Friends is a no-kill organization that works with animal welfare groups nationwide.
"Our initiatives focus on animals that are at the highest risk of entering and dying in America’s shelter system,” Castle said. "Obviously, we are not there yet, but we’re making progress.”