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Califor­nians own fewer pets than just about anybody

A large number of renters  and a diverse population may explain why Californians don't own as many pets. (Dwhartwig/Flickr)
A large number of renters and a diverse population may explain why Californians don't own as many pets. (Dwhartwig/Flickr)

When it comes to Californians and their pets, the old adage holds true: We value quality over quantity.

Or that’s what we’re telling ourselves.

According to a new national survey, the Golden State doesn’t even receive honorable mention for the number of pets we own. In fact, California comes in 43rd in the nation for percentage of households that have pets.

For the remedial math students, that means only seven states rank lower.

The American Veterinary Medical Association conducted the survey through 50,347 email questionnaires, and found that barely 53 percent of California households owned a pet as of Dec. 31, 2011.

This includes 15 species of animals, including iguanas, birds and horses.

Overall, Vermont came out on top with a whopping 70.8 percent of households reporting to own a pet. Arkansas led the pack for canine lovers with 47.9 percent with at least one dog. Meanwhile, nearly half of all Vermont homes owned a mewing feline friend.

In both categories, California came in at a dismal 40th.

Along with organizations like the the Animal Legal Defense Fund, SFBay is surprised at the numbers as well. But there may be a very plausible two-fold explanation: It is very hard for apartment renters to own a pet, and most of us are “non-whites.”

According to the survey, two-thirds of  pet owners owned their own homes. California, though, is third in the nation for renters. The survey also found 83-percent of pet owners are Caucasian, while our state is known for its multi-ethnic population.

Sonoma Humane Society Executive Director Kiska Icard told the Press-Democrat:

“I can see where California would not rank favorably. … We have a very diverse makeup of citizens and a high population that rents.”

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© 2011-13 SFBay Media Associates LLC