I don’t know if it’s the best idea to begin this with a confession, but here it is: I’m not a pet person.
Don’t get me wrong, I have pets. We have a dog and a cat, but we don’t exactly get a long.
Not that I hate them, or anything. We are just indifferent. I don’t love them. Sometimes I give them the side eye. Sometimes they give me the side eye.
But on the whole, I’m a good pet owner. Maybe even too good.
I walk the dog, and wash him, and get his special food because he’s developing a weight problem. I even subscribe to one of those monthly outfits that send him regular chew toys and treats. And the cat, well… he just kind of keeps to himself, spending time in the garage, and getting aggravated each time we give him flea medication.
I like the cat the most. The dog is kind of needy.
I bring this up is because I also have three children, and 90% of the reason we got pets was because they wanted them, which seems like a pretty normal reason, but after reading about the below survey, I’m starting to think that a lot of people see things differently.
Innovet Pet recently surveyed 3,800 pet owners to see the extents they would go for their pets, and it turns out, most are willing to go a lot further than I ever imagined.
Out of the owners surveyed, over one-fifth of participants said they’re prioritizing their pets over parenthood of actual humans. The highest number came from Louisiana where 56% would prefer to parent pets over kids.
So lets pause for a moment and recognize that more than half of the Louisiana sampling said they’d rather have pets than kids. Now let’s keep in mind that Innovet Pet is a company that sells pet products, so it is easy to assume that people who would take this survey are serious about their pets.
But over half? Seriously…?
I suppose I should admit, taking care of my children is a lot more complicated than taking care of my pets.
And I know at least one to a dozen pet lovers are going to send me some hate mail over this, but it’s true. Facts are fact, and if you don’t believe me, here are a few examples of things I can do with my pets, but if I did with my children, I’d be socially shamed, or worse, arrested.
Leave my children in the back yard for extended periods of time with a water dish and bowl of food.
Insist that they live in the garage.
Feed them the same bagged food for more than 90% of their meals making meal planning incredibly simple.
Bathe them once a week… or less.
Not send them to school.
Ask that they poop in the yard.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
Taking care of a pet is simpler, but at the same time, I do understand that a pet can give some people a very similar emotional connection to having children.
There are moments when our little brown dog looks up at me with those big watery eyes, and I feel the same tingle in my heart that I get when my children give me a similar look.
This survey does go a little further down the rabbit hole.
They found that when it came to taking care of their pet’s well-being, owners were willing to take on average of 4 unpaid days off work to care for a sick pet.
Arizonans were the most willing to sacrifice workdays for their pet, taking the most time, at six unpaid workdays to take care of their pets.
Now this, I’ll admit, I also never even considered.
Our dog got a cold once, or at least, I think it was a cold. We took him to the vet, and he said it was probably a virus of some kind. We kept him warm, gave him a blanket, that sort of thing. He was over it in a couple days. But I never considered taking unpaid time off from work.
However, I should probably admit, if I were allowed to use paid sick days to take care of a pet, I’d totally do it. But with my kids, paid or unpaid, I’ll be taking the day off.
KTAR News pulled out even more interesting tidbits from this survey, showing that men were more willing to take time off work than women at 3.8 days compared to 3.5 days, and when it comes to being part of the family, 38% of respondents said they’re closer with their pet than some of their own family members.
That last little bit I can get behind.
You know what they say, you pick your pets, but you don’t pick your family.
What I think this all boils down to is that pets do play a significant part in the lives of many people. Is a pet easier than a child? Yes, but I don’t know if that’s the point.
Pets fill a huge need in many people lives, children or no children, to the point that the majority of people involved in this survey felt the need to sacrifice quite a bit for the well being of their pet.
And many were happy to have a pet rather than children, and for me, as a non pet lover, this did give me a reflective moment. So the next time someone says, “we have a fur baby”
I won’t roll my eyes, but realize that their pet is, in fact, something pretty special.