Pets For Life – A New Community Understanding (2012)
The Humane Society of the United States carried out 16 community outreach events providing veterinary services (wellness exams, vaccines, spay/neuter, etc.) to 5,377 pets. In doing so they found that many people lack access to basic animal health care. The report notes that many hard-to-reach populations require easy access and “multiple touches” in order to follow through on using pet health services.
Following are summary points from the full document, which is available below as a PDF attachment.
- More than a third of respondents heard about the event from a promotional flyer, while 30% said word of mouth, 14% said online media, and 14% said broadcast media.
- The proportion of pets that were unaltered ranged from a low of 45% in Toledo to a high of 85% in Chicago.
- The percentage of spay/neuter appointments completed was only 30% in Chicago (so far), where follow-up contact was deemed inadequate, but the completion percentage was 80-83% in other areas where follow-up was more thorough.
- At most events, pit bulls and pit bull mixes made up a majority of the pets served, with “toy breed” dogs second most common.
- A small minority (13%) of respondents have contacted animal control or an animal shelter and over half (53%) report that their pet has never been to a veterinarian.
- Most people got their pets from a friend, family member, or neighbor, but a significant proportion also came from breeders, shelters, or were found as strays. This question differed significantly for animals who were already spayed/neutered compared with those who were not.
The HSUS report ends with a “call to action” including the following appeal to veterinary professionals, animal welfare organizations, and policymakers:
“We need to be proactive and work to prevent animal suffering and homelessness by taking a critical look at where the greatest needs in our communities exist, and doing what we can to make sure we are inclusive in our efforts. We must strive for diversity in every aspect of our work and adjust our approach to meet the needs of an ever-changing society. As a field we cannot ignore the story told with this data if we truly want to create more humane communities.”