VCA Animal Hospitals

Why don't more people own pets?

Published: Sep 21, 2012

Back to News

Most pet owners consider their cats and dogs members of the family and cannot imagine life without them. However, recent data released by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) revealed that fewer American households include pets.

The 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, which is released every five years, polled more than 50,000 Americans last year. It found that total pet ownership dropped 2.4 percent from 2006 to 2011. During that time, cat ownership decreased 6.2 percent, while dog ownership dropped 1.9 percent. Still, there are more than 74.1 million pet cats, and 69.9 million pet dogs in the United States.

A separate study conducted by the American Humane Society looked at the reasons why some people don't open their homes - and hearts - to a furry friend.

According to, 1,500 adults were polled for the study. Some had previously owned a cat or dog, while others never had a pet. The study, titled "Reasons For Not Owning A Dog Or Cat," revealed there are three main reasons people hesitate to get a pet - the costs associated with caring for an animal, lack of time and the grief over the loss of a previous pet.

The good news is that many of those interviewed for the study indicated that pet ownership isn't out of the question for them in the future. Nearly half (45 percent) of previous dog owners said they would consider getting another, while 34 percent of previous cat owners said they may bring another feline friend into their homes.  Many also indicated that they would choose an animal at a shelter for their next pet.

Among those who have never owned a pet, 25 percent said they were "probably" or "definitely' open to bringing a dog into their family, compared to 10 percent for cats. More than half (51 percent) said they would adopt or rescue a dog, while 42 percent said they would choose a cat from a shelter.

"By understanding the reasons why so many Americans do not own a pet, and learning what we can do to increase lifelong retention of those that do, we can take the necessary steps to change minds, change policies and change activities to help get more of these beautiful animals out of shelters and into the arms of loving families," Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association, told

Whether you purchase, adopt or rescue a cat or dog, pet health experts say owning a pet is a responsibility that requires time, effort and some expense. In addition to ensuring you provide your pet with proper nutrition, exercise and attention, regular visits to a veterinary hospital are essential to the long-term health and well-being of your animal.

Veterinarians also recommend pet owners have their animals spayed or neutered in order to control the animal population and ensure the health of their pets. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, spaying is the surgical removal of a female animal's reproductive organs. Neutering is the surgical removal of a male animal's testicles. Both operations are performed when your pet is under general anesthesia.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

Find a VCA General Care Animal Hospital near you:


See all VCA Animal Hospitals >


Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:


See all VCA Animal Hospitals >


Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.