Did you know that in the United States, 62 percent of households contain a pet?
In 2012, it is estimated that pet owners spent more than $52 billion on their pets. Decisions about vacation destinations and retirement living are based on pet amenities and the level of pet tolerance. I submit to you the fact that communities that embrace and encourage a pet-friendly disposition attract a segment of the population that generally are well-mannered, conscientious and possess a higher than average disposable income.
Caring for the needs of a pet has health benefits and a positive impact on ones longevity and quality of life.
This column is not about convincing a non-pet owner or a non-pet lover to go pro pet.
But instead, it will provide thought-provoking and educational content to both sides of the aisle. While in my part of the world, my pets allow me to sleep in their bed, I accept those people who are and I admit I sometimes desire to be, pet free.
I don't have the luxury of leaving the house or the car without a pet hair check, sticky roller in hand. An overnight stay means a pet sitter or cost associated with boarding. A visit from a repairman is an ordeal and a private moment is a luxury. This is my choice. However, even if you don't own a pet or even like animals, our lives are intertwined. This column will investigate and discuss topics associated with "Pets and People-A Community Connected".
If you are tempted to call me an "animal whacko" and move onto the next column, stop! I assure you, I am not "whacko". Let's examine the difference between "animal welfare" and "animal rights."
According to Wikipedia, the definition of animal rights is "the idea that some or all nonhuman animals are entitled to the possession of their own lives, and that their most basic interest such as an interest in not suffering should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings."
Animal welfare "is to prevent suffering and cruelty to animals and to provide care and good homes for pets in need."
In my role as the president and a volunteer of The Humane Society of Columbiana County (no relation to the Humane Society of the United States-HSUS), I take no position on the promotion of animal rights. Our mission is, among other things, to prevent suffering and cruelty to animals. Personally, my goal is to prevent suffering and cruelty to not only animals, but to people. I also aspire to improve our collective quality of life.
The fact is, as a society, if we address the issue of violence toward animals, we are addressing the evolution to violence toward humans and crime to property. Our quality of life, as a community, improves.
In the months ahead, together, we will explore the many facets of our combined existence which will illustrate the premise that pets and people are a community connected.
(Jenny Pike is president of the Humane Society of Columbiana County.)