93% of Oregon pets are considered family, survey finds
PORTLAND, OR (PORTLAND GRANDSTAND) – Oregon pet owners agree: pets are the best at making you laugh.
A survey by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center found that 75% of Oregonians say their pets often make them laugh. Only 2% said their pet never made them laugh.
About two-thirds of Oregonians said their pets often reduce their stress levels or feelings of loneliness.
One in three Oregonians have adopted a pet in the past two years, roughly since the pandemic began, the survey found.
Almost all Oregonians consider their pets part of their family (93%). And, as family members, most pets sleep in their owners’ beds (71%).
Washington County resident Andrea Cox has a “fat, toothless little dog” named Luna who is a constant source of laughter. “She’s the nicest dog on the planet. She was just one of the unlucky ones who settled down with families that weren’t able to take care of her,” Cox said, which has resulted in dental problems that necessitated the extraction of his teeth.
Cox also has an unofficial “therapy cat,” 9-year-old KitTan.
“She’s my absolute baby. She’s gigantic too,” Cox said.
Linn County resident Susan Heath raised a puppy for Canine Companions, a nonprofit that trains service animals for people with disabilities. But just months after Gidget, the pup, received the vaccines that allow him to interact safely with other dogs and humans, the pandemic hit.
Gidget hasn’t been able to get the socialization that service dog training puppies need, Heath said. A few months after beginning the next stage of training, which is done with professional service dog trainers, Gidget was released and offered to Heath as a regular civilian dog.
“She’s just a really nice girl. She’s quiet and not particularly outgoing,” Heath said.
Heath’s sister, who she lives with, raised eighteen potential service dogs. Her sister’s current pup, a six-month-old yellow Labrador, “is a weirdo, and she brings out the clumsiness in my pup, even though my pup is older now,” Heath said.
Gidget “is a really good friend. She’s very intuitive,” Heath said. When Heath suffered a health issue this spring, Gidget “was a sweetheart.”
When asked about the top reasons for not having a pet, only 17% of Oregonians surveyed by OVBC said they just don’t want them or think pets are too much. dirty. Time commitment, impact on freedom to travel, cost and being barred from entering rental accommodation were common reasons people did not have pets.
The pandemic has added to some of these problems.
Cox had a second Schnauzer who died recently at age 18. Supply chain issues during the pandemic meant Cox and their mother had to change the dog’s food multiple times, causing digestive issues and vet visits.
Carol Dillon, a Washington County resident, said wait times at the walk-in vet office where she usually goes have increased during the pandemic, which has been particularly difficult in the past year of her cat’s life. This cat died during the pandemic at age 21.
Dillon’s remaining cat, Cooper, is 15 years old. “He’s not really grumpy, he’s just old and determined in his ways,” Dillon said.
At the start of the pandemic, Dillon and her husband sought to adopt a dog. “There was no one to feed. Everyone had caught them,” Dillon said. The two are considering adopting a dog, but have been selective, in part to ensure the dog and Cooper would get along.
“We really want them to meet before making decisions. And because of COVID, that just wasn’t possible until recently,” Dillon said.
The shortage of vet appointments is always a problem, Dillon said, especially since she’s been looking for a particular treatment that can cure hyperthyroidism in cats but isn’t widely available.
Pamela Blake slowly built up a crew of 15 cats. “I never expected to be 15, but here I am,” Blake said. Her most recent additions were from a woman on Nextdoor who was losing her home. Another cat, Sherman, was brought home by his son after being found abandoned in a skate park. Hazel was one of three littermates to come to Blake, but unlike the other two, she never warmed up enough with humans to be adopted.
“Financially, it’s a little tough, but we don’t mind that,” Blake said. She previously worked for a veterinary clinic and received free care, which made things easier.
“I can’t really imagine what it would be like not having pets. I’m sure it would be nice not having to figure out what to do with your dog when you want to go on vacation, but I can’t imagine having an empty house,” Cox said. The Portland metro area is full of pet sitters and dog hotels, they noted.
Portland is also a destination for many pets looking for forever homes. Cox previously fostered the Imagine Peace for Pups rescue, which primarily brings dogs from California to the Pacific Northwest.
In 2020, the Oregon Humane Society received 6,032 pets from all over Oregon and 1,778 pets from elsewhere.
Having a pet “definitely makes everyday life less lonely. There’s always something to laugh about or a good experience to have with a pet,” Cox said.
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