The American Animal Hospital Association recently took a survey of more than 1,200 pet owners in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico and asked their response to 32 questions involving their human-pet bonds. Personally speaking, I had positive reactions to AAHA's findings. As a veterinarian, I was pleased to hear such enthusiasm for pet ownership and bonding. I was even comforted to find that as we begin 2003, I am not alone in my sometimes offbeat pet treatment habits. Anyway, consider that:
- 97 percent of pet owners say their pet makes them smile at least once a day.
- 76 percent of pet owners believe their pet eases their stress level.
- 65 percent believe their pet improves their own mental health.
- 85 percent believe that their pet shows concern when they are sick.
- 63 percent of respondents celebrate their pet's birthday, and 43 percent give their pet a wrapped gift.
- 64 percent hang a Christmas stocking for their pet.
- 73 percent have received a card signed by their pet.
- 43 percent of pet owners have taken their pet to work.
- 48 percent of pet owners have taken at least two days off because of their pet.
- 46 percent of pet owners say they plan all or most of their free time around their pet.
Almost half have more pictures of their pet than their spouse or significant other.
Do you find any of this information surprising? As one who has done what some would consider over-the edge activities like play-wrestling with pets and grilling or microwaving food for pets (comforting that I'm not alone on these) maybe it's not time to institutionalize me yet. Just for the record, 52 percent of respondents have indeed cooked for their pets.
-- Dr. Chris Duke is a veterinarian at Bienville Animal Medical Center in Ocean Springs, Miss.