STATESIDE STORIES: Pets

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Adopt a stray cat and you’ll never have a cold lap again!

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By Mary Foran

Whether you are an animal lover or not, if you are going to talk about the American psyche and the American people you are going to have to talk about the phenomenon of pets. Americans love having pets, and they spend a tremendous amount of money on their care and feeding. Pet stores abound and many people would rather buy toys for their pets than their children, although that might be a slight exaggeration!

Doggie beauty implements (mimi-larouge.blogspot.com CC-3.0 Attribution)

Doggie beauty implements (mimi-larouge.blogspot.com CC-3.0 Attribution)

Vet bills can exceed human health care bills but many are willing to pay anything it takes to keep their dear animals well and happy. The reason? Their pets are considered part of the family, constant and reliable companions when human friends make themselves scarce.

PETS dog and girlStatistics from the ASPCA, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, say that about 37-47 percent of American households have a dog, and 30 to 37 percent have a cat (Source: APPA) About 29 percent of dogs and cats in the country are adopted from animal shelters and rescued. More than 35 percent of cats are acquired as strays. Still, there are an estimated 70 million stray cats in America.

Many households have multiple pets, including hamsters, mice, Guinea pigs, all sorts of birds and other creatures who fill the need people feel for loving and caring for an animal. It is estimated that some 70 to 80 million dogs are owned in the U.S. and some 74 to 98 million cats.

Growing up American, the dream was to have a relationship like Jeff and his collie dog Lassie on the old TV series which epitomized the loving partnership between a boy and his dog. And girls were given kittens to grow up with like our Persian cat Smokey, who lived to the ripe old age of 21.

We had many pets growing up, including an Afghan, a Kerry Blue Terrier, a Lhasa Apso, a long-haired Chiuaha, a miniature Poodle, a Weimerainer, and cats galore, including Ming and Sam, our Siamese cats, Smokey, Samantha and now Marilyn. I was especially lucky to have several Guinea pigs who I let eat the grass down in a pen in the yard. My mother loved birds and had several Canaries.PETS guinea_pigs

When I lived in Spain, cats and birds seemed to be the favorite pets, but that was because the city didn’t favor dogs. Now, back in the States, you see people walking their dogs in every neighborhood, getting their exercise and letting their animal relieve itself at the same time. Officials ask pet owners to pick up after their animals, but you have to watch your step anyway!

Pet ownership is quite a responsibility. It’s like having an extra child to take care of and tend. But the rewards are great. You know you have a faithful friend by your side, and the disabled even use their companion animals to help them when they are blind or deaf or incapacitated in some way.

Bullfight poster Public DomainAmericans are softies when it comes to animals, except if you live on a working farm or ranch on which animals are your bread and butter. Still, horsemen love their horses, and cattlemen respect their cattle, and the relationship between man and animal is a long-standing one which needs to be explored.

Bullfighting in Spain is an art form, and the Rodeo in America as well. But in these cases, the animals aren’t considered pets and never will be.

Maybe there is room in your life for a real pet. Adopt a stray cat, have it spayed, and you’ll never have a cold lap again!