Chris Kouwenhoven

Family pet or family member?

A national survey of 1,049 pet owners conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association indicates that the pet/human bond is stronger than most individuals would openly admit.Of the survey respondents:

* 75% of dog owners and 69% of cat owners spend at least 45 minutes to more than one hour each day engaged in activities with their pets.

* 69% of dog owners and 60% of cat owners said that they give their pets as much attention as they would to their children.

* 57% said feline family members sleep with them, while 59% said their canine family members either sleep on, under, or next to, the bed.

* 76% of pet owners surveyed said they feel guilty occasionally or frequently for not spending enough time with their pets.

* 54% of survey respondents said they felt an emotional dependence on their pets.* 55% and 46% of dog and cat owners, respectively, said they chose a human name for their pets.

According to Dr. Clayton Mackay, AAHA board member, "Companion animals... are like permanent children. They make a place for themselves in the family by the very nature of their codependence. The fact that really strengthens the pet/human bond is the animal never moves beyond their dependence--and they're never critical of us for anything we do."