Statistically, low-income pet owners are less able to provide a safe living environment for their pets. Yet, almost half of all households earning less than $13,000 own pets. Families who are poor love animals just as much as those with greater means. or lack thereof has little bearing on the desire for the companionship of a pet. Studies show that 47% of households with an income of $12,500 or less, own pets; 56% of households with an income of $12,500 to $24,999 own pets.
However, economically disadvantaged pet owners are faced with certain challenges. Those at or below poverty level are the very people who cannot afford basic medical care for their animals, let alone the cost of sterilization or a safe living environment. It’s estimated that 80% of pets being euthanized in shelters comes from as few as 3% of pet owners who can’t afford the cost of spay/neuter surgery. On Oahu in particular, as well as nationwide, a disproportionate amount of stray pets come from low-income areas. And in fact, 60 percent of all calls to the animal control contractor originate in west Oahu. In national surveys, the cost of spay/neuter surgery is consistently listed as the number one reason why people choose not to alter their pets. It’s therefore safe to assume that cost is the single reason why most families choose to chain their dogs instead of installing a fenced-in area. Keeping cats outdoors is not only more cost effective but convenient because pet owners don’t have to purchase litter or worry about flea/tick introduction to the home.