Pet Ownership Statistics and Concerns in the Durham Region

Recently, many of us woke up to the disturbing news of a cat having been abandoned in Pickering along with its belongings. Like you, we were also shocked by this piece of news.

But since we run a pet blog, we wanted to do something about it. So we started with gathering pet ownership information in the Durham Region.

We surveyed 352 respondents about pet ownership, especially with the view that there was an explosion in people getting pets during the recent pandemic-related lockdown.

62% or almost two out of three people responded that they got a pet during the COVID enforced lockdown (March 2020 to March 2022).

Almost two out of three people surveyed reported getting a pet between March 2020 and March 2022

Most people preferred getting a dog. About seven out of ten people reported getting a dog. Just over one out of four people responded that they got a cat and five percent of the respondents (one in twenty) got another animal.

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Interestingly, 71% of the people who got a pet, already had one at home previously. Hence, we can draw an inference that a majority of the people knew what they were getting into by adding a pet to the household.

What they probably did not know at the start of the pandemic was how long it is going to last and what will the world look like on the other side.

More than 70% of the people who got a pet during the COVID lockdown already had one at home

With restrictions easing, there is more and more anecdotal evidence of people not being able to take care of their furry friends. We wanted to unearth the major concerns that people have around owning a pet.

We also wanted to find out people’s opinions on getting a rescue versus buying a pet. Many of the results were quite revealing.

There was a clear trend of people buying a pet instead of getting a rescue. Nearly two out of three people surveyed said that they bought a pet and only one out of three said that they rescued.

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Two out of three people bought a pet rather than rescue one during the pandemic

The reasons for this and people’s motivations can be debatable but the trend was crystal clear. And we also heard anecdotes of backyard breeders mushrooming and selling for twice what they would pre-pandemic.

The biggest revelation was that almost nine out of 10 pet owners who bought a pet said that they would have considered getting a rescue if they were more readily available.

85% of those who got a pet wanted a rescue but could not

Another interesting revelation was that more than half the respondents were worried about at least something in the next few months with regards to the change in COVID restrictions.

More than half of the respondents worried about something with regard to owning their pet, with the easing of COVID restrictions

We wanted to dig into what were the concerns of people with regard to their pets as COVID related restrictions are lifted. That threw up some interesting data.

The most commonly cited concern was not being able to spend enough time with their pets. Finances and ability to work were the least commonly cited concerns.

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Most common reported concerns around owning a pet with the lifting of COVID restrictions. Note, respondents could choose more than one response for this.

And finally, one of the most concerning statistic that came out of this survey was that one in eight pet owners would consider rehoming their pet if they could find a loving home.

In and of itself, 12 percent does not look big. But considering that there was an explosion in people taking in pets, in absolute terms, this number can be significant.

Especially if we consider that the families that can provide a pet with a loving home would have already, most likely, got a pet (or more) to take care for.

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Our take on the data gathered

For us, the biggest insight was that people were willing to rescue if there was something available that could work for them.

With the prices of puppies going through the roof, it also made financial sense to get a rescue.

While we did not collect data on the reasons why people could not find a rescue, we heard the following anecdotal stories.

“We were rejected for living in an apartment and for not having a backyard.”

“They thought it might not be the best idea to get a rescue with a young child.”

“When we were looking, there were no puppies available.”

We are not saying that these reasons represent why people bought a dog despite wanting to get a rescue. In fact, rescue organizations might have had very good reasons not to give out dogs in many cases.

Our entire point is that there is a definite demand and supply of rescues. We’d like to argue that the space is ripe for innovation and disruption.

In this day and age of ubiquitous technology and the sharing economy, it is easy to imagine a regional or national platform to list rescues.

We are sure entrepreneurs can build a business case around it and launch a solution. We suspect something like Airbnb or Uber may have had similar roots the presence of demand and supply and the emergence of a connector.