If you’re an Alabamian and a canine lover, you’re not alone, according to a study by the American Veterinary Medical Association that ranks the state seventh in the nation for dog ownership, with 44 percent of households owning a dog.
The numbers for our feline friends aren’t as high. Alabama ranked in the bottom 10 for cat ownership in 2011.
The survey was taken in 2012 based on data from 2011. According to the report, U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, 27 percent of Alabama households owned cats.
Arkansas had greatest dog ownership at 48 percent. The District of Columbia had the lowest dog ownership at 22 percent and the lowest cat ownership at 11 percent.
The report also reveals other information about pets and their owners across the country said Dr. Douglas G. Aspros, the president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
“Unfortunately, the report reveals that fewer dogs and cats are seeing the veterinarian regularly,” he said. “Pet owners across the country need to remember to bring their pets in at least once a year to maintain optimal health.”
According to the report, between 2006-11 the national percentage of households that made no trips at all to the veterinarian increased by 8 percent for dog owners and 24 percent for cat owners.
Florence Animal Shelter Director Vinny Grosso said the majority of pets in the area aren’t vetted as they should be.
“Only about one-third of them have the proper vaccinations,” he said. “People try to treat their animals with home remedies, especially dogs, because they are more expensive to maintain.”
The Alabama data in the report reflects that in local areas, said Colbert County Animal Shelter Director Tommy Morson.
“Those numbers are probably about right for us, too,” he said. “Just about every household has at least one animal. We’re now adopting more animals than we’re putting to sleep. It’s turned around in the last two years.”
But statistics are starting to vary with cat ownership in the Shoals, he said.
“Lately we’re seeing more cat ownership, but we credit that to good volunteers and our lowcost spay and neuter programs,” he said. “About every household has at least one animal.”
As for dogs reigning supreme in Alabama, Morson said, there’s good reason and it’s strongly linked to Alabama being a largely rural state.
“We’re hunters, and we have dogs for various reasons, including hunting,” Morson said. “Dogs in the South aren’t just for the kids to play with.”
Grosso agreed the numbers in the report hold true for Lauderdale County.
“We adopt out 10 dogs for every one cat,” he said. “Dogs are more personal pets, while cats are loners.”
Ginger Cobb, a veterinary assistant at Colbert Animal Clinic, said the numbers aren’t surprising. She said while her clinic sees more cats now than it did 15 years ago, certain attitudes still exist.
“People are going for lower maintenance animals, like cats, but there’s also still that attitude that cats belong in the barn,” she said. “Over the past few years, with the recession, we’ve seen a lot of purebred dogs ditched at shelters because people are losing their homes or becoming apartment dwellers. Now, though, we’re seeing an increase in smaller dogs and cats as pets. The next survey they do may show much different data for Alabama.”
The group does the survey every five years.
Cobb said she wasn’t surprised to learn the District of Columbia reports such a low percentage of pet ownership.
“It’s a high transient area,” she said.
Other states with a high percentage of dog ownership are Arkansas, New Mexico, Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Oklahoma.
Lisa Singleton-Rickman can be reached at 256-740-5735 or lisa.singleton-rickman@TimesDaily.com.
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