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Home arrow Market Research Findings arrow Animals And Pets arrow Pets Really Are Members Of The Family
Pets Really Are Members Of The Family PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harris Interactive   
19 Jul 2011
Three in five Americans are pet owners

Americans have always had interesting relationships with their pets - whether that pet is a cat, dog, parakeet or something else. The pet industry is thriving and for good reason.

More than three in five Americans (62%) have a pet. Among pet owners, seven in ten have a dog (69%), half have a cat (51%), one in ten have a fish (11%), and less than one in ten pet owners have a bird (7%) or some other type of pet (8%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,184 adults surveyed online between May 9 and 16, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

Pets are family members
Over nine in ten pet owners (91%) say they consider their pet to be a member of their family -a sentiment that remains constant among dog-owners (92%) and cat-owners (91%). And pet owners do things to show their Cocker Spaniel, Calico or Cock-a-too that they care. Over half of pet owners (57%) say they frequently let their pet sleep in the bed with them while less than one-quarter (23%) say they never do this.

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. If the dog or cat goes to work, how will they spend the day lying around on the couch!

Pets are more than just members of the family
There have been a lot of discussions recently about how spending time with pets, particularly dogs, can have various health benefits including helping to relieve stress and anger. Some institutions actually keep dogs for people to play with and care for to help reduce stress and/or anger.

Majorities of Americans believe it's a good idea to have dogs at long-term care facilities (89%), hospitals (72%) and prisons (60%). However not all places may be appropriate pet places as majorities of U.S. adults believe it is a bad idea to have dogs at professional offices (52%) and university libraries (55%).

So What?
There is nothing like the unconditional love of a pet, whether it is a cat that snuggles up to you while watching TV or a dog who greets you so enthusiastically when you walk in the door, even if you just left to take out the garbage. It's no wonder that these animals are treated like family members. The pet industry understands this and capitalizes on it, creating a vast market of holiday gifts, gourmet dog and cat food and designer clothing and accessories all for our furry friends.









This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 9 to 16, 2011 among 2,184 adults (aged 18 and over), 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.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading.

All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.


Q805, 810, 815, 820, 825, 828

The Harris Poll ® #70, June 10, 2011

By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research, Harris Interactive
About Harris Interactive
For more information, please visit

New York - 10 June 2011

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