Today's Veterinary Business

FEB 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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Page 47 of 67

46 Today's Veterinary Business Community What got The Washington Post so interested? Data. Not commer- cials or social media. Just data pointing to a troubling state of affairs for Americans who value the human-animal bond and the goal of making pet ownership possible for any family. Shelters do a great job, and euthanasia rates are dropping at a brisk pace. But shelters cannot come close to meeting annual demand for healthy dogs, and we need to do something about it. Here's the data, step by step: We start with the total number of dogs in the United States. The 2015 Moore In- formation survey of 1,500 house- holds established that 44 percent of U.S. households have at least one dog and that the average number of dogs per household is 1.6. Using the most recent Census Bureau data of the number of U.S. households, this established the dog population at approximately 88 million. Next, we need to determine the annual need across the United States. The best way to do this is by working with the annual replacement factor, which is the The looming dog shortage The United States will need millions of additional dogs a year to keep pace with the growing number of households. number of dogs passing away and which assumes the dogs are replaced. This measure does not factor in any growth in the percent- age of Americans wanting a dog, so the best way to think about this is a combination of replacement at less than 100 percent and some growth. This equals 9 percent of the current number of dogs annually based upon veterinarians' best estimate of an average canine lifespan in this country of 11 years. In other words, we need approx- imately 8.1 million dogs a year to meet current demand. Of course, as the U.S. popu- lation grows, per Census Bureau It is an extraordinary day when The Washington Post places a story about pets, in this case the shortage of dogs, on its front page. Well, it happened a year ago with the headline "Does America Have Enough Dogs for All the People Who Want One?" I can already hear readers guffawing: "No way The Washington Post covers that story. I thought shelters had enough dogs for every American family, and then some." Community POLITICS & POLICY By Mark Cushing, JD 1 2

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