A survey was conducted in four Massachusetts communities to determine levels of pet ownership and the sterilization status of those pets, to analyze the impact of sterilization on pet overpopulation, to identify major reasons owners do or do not sterilize their animals, and to assess the impact of cost on an owner's decision to sterilize, among other factors. The survey was conducted by telephone using randomly generated telephone numbers. Interviews were conducted with 343 households of which 42% owned pets and 58% owned no pets. The percentages of households owning dogs (22%) and cats (21%) were lower than those reported in national surveys, as were the numbers of dogs (1.17) and cats (1.66) per owning household. Information was collected on 209 animals of which 42% were dogs and 52% were cats. Of the animals in the survey, 18.6% were intact and 81.3% were sterilized. Female dogs were sterilized at a significantly higher rate (87.8%) than were male dogs (45%). There was no difference in the sterilization rates for male and female cats. The rate of lifetime litter production by intact (0.4 litters per female) and sterilized females (0.31 litters per female) did not differ significantly. Owners obtaining their animals from pet stores and breeders were more likely to own intact animals than owners obtaining their pets from any other source. The most frequently cited reason for having a pet sterilized was to decrease the number of unwanted offspring. Owners of male animals were more likely to have their animals sterilized for behavior problems than owners of female animals. The major reasons for not sterilizing animals were: unnecessary because the animal was confined (31.6%), wanted to breed the animal (23.6%), animal was too young (18.4%), and it was inconvenient (10.5%). Less than 6 percent of owners cited cost as a factor in the decision to sterilize. A relationship also exists between owners' religious affiliation and ethnic background and sterilization status of their pets.
|Author Address||Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine, 200 Westboro Road, North Grafton, MA 01536, USA.|
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