More than three in five Americans (62%) have a pet, according to a May 2011 Harris Poll. Among pet owners, seven in 10 have a dog (69%), half have a cat (51%), one in 10 have a fish (11%), and less than one in 10 pet owners have a bird (7%) or some other type of pet (8%).
Examining pet ownership by various demographic categories, the poll finds women (69%) are much more likely to own a pet than men (55%). In addition, by generation, members of Gen X (age 35-46) are most likely to own a pet (70%), while Matures (age 66 and older) are least likely (46%).
Whites (66%) and Hispanics (65%) own pets at virtually the same rate, but African-Americans (32%) are only about half as likely to be pet owners. Pet ownership seems to drop with education, as 64% of those with a high school diploma or less or some college own pets, compared to 59% of college graduates and 56% of post-graduates.
Although education is often linked to a higher salary, Americans earning $100,000 or more annually are most likely to own pets (66%), with the percentage falling through each lower bracket and hitting a low of 57% among those earning $34,999 or less annually.
Regionally, Midwesterners (54%) and Easterners (61%) are less likely to own pets than Westerners (65%) or Southerners (66%).
Pets also get presents. One-third of pet owners (33%) frequently purchase holiday presents for their pet, while one-quarter (27%) occasionally do so. And these gifts are not just at holiday time as one in five pet owners (20%) frequently buy their pets birthday presents and while 17% do so occasionally.
Pets are probably happy that their owners don’t do two things: two-thirds of pet owners (66%) say they have never dressed their pet in some type of clothing and four in five (83%) say they have never taken their pet to work with them.
In April 2011, the national animal welfare organization Best Friends Animal Society was recognized by consumers as the 2011 Harris Poll EquiTrend Non-Profit Brand of the Year. Best Friends received an EquiTrend rating of 71.6, compared to the non-profit industry average of 60.2.
Besides Best Friends Animal Society, animal-focused non-profits Humane Society of the United States (66.2) and ASPCA (64.3) scored higher than the non-profit average.
About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the US between May 9 to 16, 2011 among 2,184 adults (aged 18 and older), of whom 1,328 have a pet. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.
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