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CFIA Report: Majority of Canadians Prefer Cats and Dogs as Pets, Over Half of the Population Owns a Pet

Most Canadians have a pet, according to the latest data obtained by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in the course of conducting surveys on animal diseases.

A recently released report, “Public Opinion Research with Canadians on Pet Trade 2022/2023,” found that 56 percent of Canadians surveyed owned a pet, with most owning either a dog (62 percent) or a cat (53 percent), as reported by Blacklock’s Reporter on Aug. 21.

About 28 percent of pet owners go to a Canadian breeder to find their new furry or scaly family member, while another 24 percent said they went to an animal welfare/rescue organization. Another 21 percent adopted a pet from a shelter or humane society.

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Forty-four percent of Canadians did not own a pet, the data indicates. That number may rise slightly, however, as respondents were asked if they planned to obtain a pet in the next year. One in four, or 23 percent, said yes, but two-thirds, or 64 percent, said no.

Most of those who were considering a pet in the next year, 74 percent, said they would select an animal born in Canada, while 22 percent were not sure.

A man walks a dog in a snow-covered park in Kingston, Ontario, on Jan. 30, 2019. (Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks a dog in a snow-covered park in Kingston, Ontario, on Jan. 30, 2019. (Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images)

Of the respondents, 63 percent of women and 50 percent of men said they owned some type of pet. Among specific age groups, 60 percent of pet owners were under the age of 35, and people with children were particularly likely, at 62 percent, to report owning a pet.

Pets were also popular among residents in Quebec, with 67 percent being pet owners; and among those aged 45 to 64, where 65 percent had a pet.

While most people (46 percent) own only one pet, one in four people, 27 percent, own two pets, and 27 percent own three or more.

Canadians were also asked what kind of pet they own. Besides dogs and cats, 8 percent, or one in 10, of Canadians have fish. Only 5 percent reported owning livestock, and 3 percent each owned either a rabbit or caged bird respectively.

Rodents were not high on the list for popularity, with only 2 percent of pet owners; and only 1 percent of respondents each reporting they owned either a turtle or another kind of reptile.

The report also said that many Canadians obtain a pet with “limited research,” with just under half, 49 percent, stating they researched the place they got their pet to a significant extent, and one in three stating they only researched a little bit.

The data also considered where Canadians obtained their pet, with 83 percent of pet owners stating they acquired their pet in Canada, while a “sizeable minority were born outside of Canada and then brought into the country by someone else (9%), or acquired directly from another country (6%).”

For those owners who imported their pet from another country, 57 percent relied on government websites to find information on the rules and regulations, while 20 percent relied on a web search engine. A smaller percentage, 18 percent each respectively, relied on phoning a government agency or asking an animal welfare/rescue organization.

Pet owners were also asked if they travelled with their pets outside of the country, with 83 percent stating they had not, and one in six, or 17 percent, said they had taken their pet abroad, with most (41 percent) reporting only one or two trips since owning their pet.

Twenty percent of pet owners reported travelling two to three times per year with their pet, often to the United States (89 percent), Mexico (5 percent), or the Bahamas (2 percent).

Pet owners overall were not very concerned about rabies, reported the CFIA, despite being provided with information.

“Despite being informed that globally dog rabies kills 59,000 people every year, and that it is prevalent in over 100 countries, fewer than half of Canadians (46%) are concerned about rabies entering the country, and 1 in 3 (32%) express little concern about this possibility,” said the report.

Few respondents knew that the Canadian government prohibits commercial dogs from countries considered at high risk for rabies from entering Canada, with only 20 percent stating they were aware of that. Nearly 8 in 10 Canadians did not know about the policy.

The CFIA paid over $98,000 for the study conducted by Ekos Research Associates, who prepared the data based on questionnaires with 2,076 Canadians nationwide and focus groups with breeders, veterinarians, and animal rights advocates.

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