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WV ranks No. 5 in dog ownership

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West Virginia has gone to the dogs.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association's U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, West Virginia ranks fifth in the nation for dog ownership, with 45.8 percent of households owning a dog.

West Virginia previously ranked No. 5 in 2006, the last time the AVMA put together its sourcebook. Then, 49.1 percent of households owned a dog. The state also ranked in the top 10 for pet and cat ownership in 2011.

The survey is conducted by the AVMA every five years and always includes a breakdown of pet ownership by state. The most recent survey, conducted in 2012 but based on December 31, 2011 numbers, reveals that the top 10 pet-owning states are: Vermont where 70.8 percent of households owned a pet, New Mexico with 67.6 percent, South Dakota with 65.6 percent, Oregon with 63.6 percent, Maine with 62.9 percent, Washington with 62.7 percent, Arkansas with 62.4 percent, West Virginia with 62.1 percent, Idaho with 62 percent, and Wyoming with 61.8 percent.

The 10 states in 2011 with the lowest percentage of pet-owning households are: Rhode Island where 53 percent of households owned a pet, Minnesota with 53 percent, California with 52.9 percent, Maryland with 52.3 percent, Illinois with 51.8 percent, Nebraska with 51.3 percent, Utah with 51.2 percent, New Jersey with 50.7 percent, New York with 50.6 percent, and Massachusetts with 50.4 percent.  The District of Columbia had a far lower rate of pet ownership at 21.9 percent.

Top/Bottom Dog-Owning States

The Sourcebook reveals that the states with the most dog owners in 2011 are: Arkansas where 47.9 percent of households owned a dog, New Mexico with 46 percent, Kentucky with 45.9 percent, Missouri with 45.9 percent, West Virginia with 45.8 percent, Mississippi with 45.2 percent, Alabama with 44.1 percent, Tennessee with 44.1 percent, Texas with 44 percent, and Oklahoma with 43.2 percent.

The bottom 10 states in 2011 for dog ownership are: Illinois where 32.4 percent of households owned a dog, New Jersey with 32.4 percent, Minnesota with 31.9 percent, Maryland with 30.8 percent, New Hampshire with 30.3 percent, Utah with 29.4 percent, Rhode Island with 29.3 percent, New York with 29 percent, Connecticut with 28.3 percent, and Massachusetts with 23.6 percent. The District of Columbia had far lower dog ownership than any state with 13.1 percent.

 "This report reveals a tremendous amount of information about pets and their owners across the country; what's constant and what has changed. One of the most important parameters that we look at is how well pet owners are doing at keeping their pets healthy," said Dr. Douglas G. Aspros, president of the AVMA.  "Unfortunately, the report reveals that fewer dogs and cats are seeing the veterinarian regularly, and that's something that the AVMA and every companion animal veterinarian are concerned about. Pet owners across the country need to remember to bring their pets into the veterinarian – at least once a year – to maintain optimal health."

The report indicates that between 2006 and 2011, the percentage of households that made no trips at all to the veterinarian increased by 8 percent for dog owners and a staggering 24 percent for cat owners.  Overall, about 81 percent of dog owning households made at least one visit to the veterinarian in 2011, down 1.7 percent from 2006. The decrease for cat owners was, once again, much higher, as only 55.1 percent of cat owners made at least one visit to the veterinarian in 2011, down 13.5 percent from 2006.

For information about the AVMA or to obtain a copy of the U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, visit www.avma.org.