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The American Humane Association’s Animal Welfare Research Institute recently released the results of the first phase of a three-part study to better understand pet ownership, pet retention, and how to discover the best strategies for ensuring animals find their forever homes.

Phase I of the “Keeping Pets (Dogs and Cats) in Homes Retention Study,” was funded by a PetSmart Charities grant to examine why many American households do not have a pet at home. In the report, it is shared that of the 117.5 million United States households, 46.3 million have a dog and 38.9 million own a cat. The study aims to prove why some people do not have pets in an effort to lower the numbers of homeless pets and euthanasia rates.

Susana Della Maddalena, executive director, PetSmart Charities, Inc., shared, “We’re proud to fund this critical research on pet ownership and retention. The information uncovered in this and future studies are sure to help us achieve our goal of finding a lifelong, loving home for every pet.”

A total of 1,500 previous pet owners and non-pet owners were interviewed by the American Humane Association for phase I of the study. The study found multiple major barriers about trends and challenges, including the perceived costs to care for an animal, dislike of companion animals, and the perceived lack of time to actually care for a pet. A total of 20 percent (or one in five) shared that grief over losing their previous pet is preventing some people from not getting another.

Despite public education campaigns in place to encourage people to adopt from shelters, respondents revealed that 22 percent of dog owners and 18 percent of cat owners obtained their pet from a rescue group or shelter.

The second phase of the study will research how many cats and dogs from a sampling of animal control agencies and shelters remain in their homes for six month following adoption and then what happened to the pets who are no longer in those homes. Phase III plans to test practical interventional strategies to help improve pet retention rates once a new animal is acquired.

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