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Study finds Mississippians love dogs; cats not so much

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recently released its U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, which revealed that Mississippi ranks sixth for dog ownership with 45.2 percent of households owning a dog.

In 2006, which was the last time the AVMA put together the sourcebook, Mississippi made the bottom 10 list of pet owners, ranking 42nd with 54.2 percent of households owning a pet. Mississippi also ranked in the bottom 10 for cat ownership in 2006, ranking 46th with 28.6 percent cat ownership.

The survey is conducted by the AVMA every five years and always includes a breakdown of pet ownership by state. The most recent survey, conducted in 2012 but based on Dec. 31, 2011 numbers, reveals that the top 10 pet-owning states are: Vermont (70.8 percent), New Mexico (67.6 percent), South Dakota (65.6 percent), Oregon (63.6 percent), Maine (62.9 percent), Washington (62.7 percent), Arkansas (62.4 percent), West Virginia (62.1 percent), Idaho (62 percent) and Wyoming (61.8 percent).

The 10 states in 2011 with the lowest percentage of pet-owning households are: Rhode Island (53 percent), Minnesota (53 percent), California (52.9 percent), Maryland (52.3 percent), Illinois (51.8 percent), Nebraska (51.3 percent), Utah (51.2 percent), New Jersey (50.7 percent), New York (50.6 percent) and Massachusetts (50.4 percent). The District of Columbia had a far lower rate of pet ownership at 21.9 percent.

The Sourcebook reveals that the states with the most dog owners in 2011 are: Arkansas (47.9 percent), New Mexico (46 percent), Kentucky (45.9 percent), Missouri (45.9 percent), West Virginia (45.8 percent), Mississippi (45.2 percent), Alabama (44.1 percent), Tennessee (44.1 percent), Texas (44 percent) and Oklahoma (43.2 percent).

The bottom 10 states in 2011 for dog ownership are: Illinois (32.4 percent), New Jersey (32.4 percent), Minnesota (31.9 percent), Maryland (30.8 percent), New Hampshire (30.3 percent), Utah (29.4 percent), Rhode Island (29.3 percent), New York (29 percent), Connecticut (28.3 percent) and Massachusetts (23.6 percent). The District of Columbia had far lower dog ownership than any state with 13.1 percent.

The 2011 top 10 states with the most cat-owning households are: Vermont (49.5 percent), Maine (46.4 percent), Oregon (40.2 percent), South Dakota (39.1 percent), Washington (39 percent), West Virginia (38.1 percent), Kentucky (36.8 percent), Idaho (34.6 percent), Indiana (34.4 percent) and New Hampshire (34.2 percent).

Conversely, the bottom 10 states with the lowest rate of cat-owning households in 2011 are: California (28.3 percent), South Carolina (27.8 percent), Rhode Island (27.6 percent), Alabama (27.4 percent), Florida (27.3 percent), Georgia (27.3 percent), Illinois (26.3 percent), Louisiana (25.9 percent), New Jersey (25.3 percent) and Utah (24.6 percent). The District of Columbia, once again, had by far the lowest rate of cat ownership with 11.6 percent.

The report indicates that, between 2006 and 2011, the percentage of households that made no trips at all to the veterinarian increased by 8 percent for dog owners and a staggering 24 percent for cat owners. Overall, about 81 percent of dog owning households made at least one visit to the veterinarian in 2011, down 1.7 percent from 2006. The decrease for cat owners was, once again, much higher, as only 55.1 percent of cat owners made at least one visit to the veterinarian in 2011, down 13.5 percent from 2006.

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