Posts tagged with "American Pet Products Association"

Why pet owners will risk their own lives to save Rover’s

March 2, 2018

It’s a scenario that played out recently on the NBC-TV series, This Is Us: Having heroically saved his family from a fire that was quickly engulfing their home, Jack Pearson ran back into the blaze to save his daughter’s dog. He later died at the hospital from a cardiac arrest brought on by smoke inhalation.

In real life, this episode plays out fairly often, Yahoo Lifestyle reports: This past November, a 61-year-old Florida man was hit by an Amtrak train, after running onto the tracks to save his beloved dog, Astrid.

One month earlier, a California woman succumbed to a wildfire while trying to rescue her border collie from a car. And in September, after Hurricane Harvey, a 25-year-old Texan was electrocuted after trying to save his sister’s cat from her flooded home.

Why do people take these chances for their pets? A Harris poll has found that 95% of pet owners consider their animals to be family members.

In a New York Times opinion piece, Dogs Are People, Too, written in October 2013, Professor of Neuroeconomics at Emory University Gregory Burns explained that this may be truer than most of us think.

“For the past two years, my colleagues and I have been training dogs to go in an MRI scanner—completely awake and unrestrained. Our goal has been to determine how dogs’ brains work and, even more important, what they think of us humans,” Burns said. “Now, after training and scanning a dozen dogs, my one inescapable conclusion is this: Dogs are people too.”

Of course, Yahoo points out, Burns wasn’t suggesting that dogs are actual humans, but rather that the activity in one specific area of the brain where enjoyment is felt suggests that they are more emotionally intelligent than we give them credit for.

“The ability to experience positive emotions, like love and attachment, would mean that dogs have a level of sentience comparable to that of a human child,” Burns concludes.

This theory, as well as research into our co-evolution with dogs, might help explain why 40% of men who responded to a study by Georgia Regents University and Cape Fear Community College would save the life of their own dog over that of a foreign tourist. That number is higher for women, at about 45%, a story in the Huffington Post reported.

Dogs may not just feel like family; in an evolutionary sense, they truly are family. Yahoo reports that our close genetic ties to dogs also might explain why scientists find an increase in oxytocin (the love hormone) when owners gaze into their dogs’ eyes—the same hormone that increases when a mother looks at her baby.

Indeed, in a 2006 study conducted by the Fritz Institute, 44% of those who had chosen not to evacuate from a recent hurricane said it was because they didn’t want to leave their pets behind.

According to Yahoo, this finding served as a wake-up call for the federal government, which passed a law authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to include pets as a part of its rescue plan.

The law may save many households during upcoming natural disasters: According to the American Pet Products Association’s latest survey, 68% of U.S. households own a pet—a number that hovers around 85 million American homes nationwide.

Research contact: @abbyhaglage

Pets need food stamps, too!

February 5, 2018

Each year, over 40 million limited-income Americans rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help purchase food for themselves and their families. It is the most wide-reaching program in the domestic hunger safety net, helping to keep millions of families from starving. But what about their pets?

Now, a Mississippi man is petitioning the federal government to modify food stamp rules to make it easier for those with limited incomes to feed their dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, snakes, fish—or whatever type of animal is a member of the family.

According to a report in the Denver Post, Edward Johnston Jr. would rather give his dinner to his dog than watch the pooch go hungry. That is why the 59-year-old Mississippi resident is petitioning the Department of Agriculture to let him use food stamps on kibble and pet treats.

And he is not the only one: His food drive has attracted nearly 80,000 signatures on the popular petition site Care2, as well as a number of animal welfare organizations.

Indeed, the need is obvious, based on findings of the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey, commissioned by the American Pet Products Association, an industry group: Fully 14% of all pet-owning households make less than $25,000 per year—which, for a family of four, is roughly the federal poverty limit.

Food for  each dog and cat averages $235 per year, according to the Pet Products Association. According to the Denver Post, when families don’t have enough money to buy pet food, they frequently do what Johnston does: Share the people food. But it’s not the same, and it can harm pets.

Not only that, but food costs can prompt families trying to get by on limited incomes to surrender or re-home a pet. In a 2015 study by the ASPCA, 30% of low-income people who relinquished their pets said they would have kept them if they had a free or low-cost pet food option.

The problems are real, but food-stamp experts say it’s doubtful that changing SNAP could be part of the solution. SNAP has explicitly excluded pet food since its earliest authorization in 1964.

In lieu of government action, nonprofit organizations such as the ASPCA and Rescue Bank, a national emergency pet-food distributor, say they have stepped up their own efforts. Food pantries also have gotten in on the action.

However, ultimately, advocates say, such organizations cannot provide for all the low-income people struggling to feed dogs and cats. Until they can, people like Johnston face difficult choices.

“Being poor is hard enough,” the Post said he wrote in his petition, “without being expected to give up your companion.”

Research contact: apa2@apapets.org