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MAX THE CATTLE DOG puppy was recently adopted by Photo Editor Krysten Kellum. Approximately 24,500 households in El Dorado County have at least one dog. Democrat photo by Krysten Kellum


‘Who let the dogs out’ and the cats in?

By From page A3 | February 01, 2013

The following bit of data from the “Who knew?” files is provided every five years by the American Veterinary Medical Association. According to its recent press announcement, the AVMA was established in 1863 and is one of the largest and oldest professional veterinary medical organizations in the world with more than 82,500 members worldwide.

Statistics for 2011 were collected last year and published in the U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook. The data show that California ranks No. 43 in the nation for companion pet ownership — that is, cats and dogs. Despite its near 40 million people, only 52.9 percent of the state’s households have Fidos or Fluffys or both. And although California also ranked in the bottom 10 for cat ownership in 2011, El Dorado County residents have many more cats than dogs, according to data from the county’s Animal Services division of the Public Health Department.

Nationwide, the top 10 pet-owning states range from a high of 70.8 percent in Vermont down to Wyoming with 61.8 percent. In between and rounded to the nearest percentage point are New Mexico, 68; South Dakota, 66; Oregon, 64; Maine, 63; Washington, 63; Arkansas, 62; West Virginia, 62 and Idaho, 62 percent.

The 10 states in 2011 with the lowest percentage of pet-owning households, again rounded off, are: Rhode Island, where 53 percent of households owned a pet; Minnesota and California also each with 53; Maryland and Illinois with 52; Nebraska, Utah, New Jersey and New York with 51 (give or take a few tenths); and Massachusetts with 50 percent. The District of Columbia had a far lower rate of pet ownership at 22 percent.

By the numbers, generally, most dogs live in the south or the southern midwest. Arkansas leads the pack where 47.9 percent of households owned a dog. New Mexico is next with 46 percent followed by Kentucky and Missouri with a whisker less at 45.9 percent. West Virginia is close with 45.8 percent. Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas and Oklahoma are two points different ranging between 45.2 and 43.2 respectively.

The bottom 10 states in 2011 for dog ownership are: Illinois where 32.4 percent of households owned a dog, as did the same percentage of  New Jersey households. Minnesota was No. 8 with almost 32 while Maryland showed about 31 percent.  New Hampshire, Utah, Rhode Island and New York averaged right around 30 percent. Connecticut had 28.3 percent, and Massachusetts showed 23.6 percent. The District of Columbia had far lower dog ownership than any state with 13.1 percent.

Cat lovers were most prevalent in Vermont in 2011. Rounded up to the nearest point, 50 percent of Vermont households were owned by cats. Maine was second with 46 percent. Oregon had 40, just ahead of South Dakota with a little over 39 percent, while Washington’s cats dominated 39 percent of households. West Virginia showed 38, Kentucky had 37 percent; Idaho, Indiana and New Hampshire all ranged in the mid-34s.

Conversely, the bottom 10 states with the lowest rate of cat-owning households in 2011 are: California where 28 percent of households believed they owned a cat. South Carolina rounds up to the same number as does Rhode Island. Alabama, Florida and Georgia share variations on a low 27 percent. Illinois and Louisiana compare at about 26 percent while New Jersey and Utah households share about the same number with 25 percent. The District of Columbia, once again, had by far the lowest rate of cat ownership with 11.6 percent.

“This report reveals a tremendous amount of information about pets and their owners across the country; what’s constant and what has changed. One of the most important parameters that we look at is how well pet owners are doing at keeping their pets healthy,” the announcement quotes Dr. Douglas G. Aspros, president of the AVMA.

The fact is, according to the AVMA’s data, pet owners are staying away from veterinarians at what the organization calls an alarming rate. Between 2006 and 2011, the report notes that visits to the vet dropped almost 2 percent for dogs to about 81 percent of  households in 2011. And cat owners had reduced visits by 24 percent during those years, and overall only 55 percent of cat owners took their pet to the vet in 2011.

For optimal pet health, the AVMA recommends at least one yearly visit to the doctor.

Pet ownership data for El Dorado County, including the cities of Placerville and South Lake Tahoe, currently show a total of 39,198 dogs. Approximately 24,500 households maintain those “best friends.”

On the other hand, 45,035 felines reside in 21,445 households throughout the county.

Local data became available on short notice from Maggie Williams, public information officer with the county Department of Health and Human Services and Henry Brzezinski, director of Animal Services.

The U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook offers a great deal of information on pet ownership, trends and veterinary care. It’s available for sale on the AVMA Website.  For more information about the AVMA or to obtain a copy of the U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, visit


Contact Chris Daley at 530-344-5063 or [email protected] Follow @CDaleyMtDemo. 

Chris Daley

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