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Comparison of strength of the human-animal bond between Hispanic and non-Hispanic owners of pet dogs and cats

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  • 1 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

Abstract

Objective—To assess differences in strength of the human-animal bond between Hispanic and non-Hispanic owners and determine whether these variations were associated with differences in medical care for pets.

Design—Survey.

Sample Population—419 pet owners presenting a dog or cat for veterinary services at private veterinary clinics in Aurora, Colo; Chula Vista, Calif; and Mexico City.

Procedures—Owner and pet demographic information was obtained via open-ended interview questions. The human-animal bond was assessed through the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale. Pet health data were obtained from medical records for the specific visit observed, and a body condition score was assigned.

Results—Hispanics were more likely to own sexually intact dogs and cats as pets than were individuals of other race-ethnicity groups. Overall, owners were most likely to classify their pets as providing companionship. When data for the 2 US locations were examined separately, no significant difference existed between how non-Hispanic White and Hispanic owners viewed their pets, and scores for the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale did not differ significantly among race-ethnicity groups.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—There was a strong human-animal bond among Hispanic respondents, and Hispanic pet owners in the United States and Mexico verbalized this attachment in similar ways to non-Hispanic White owners. There was no observed association between owner race-ethnicity and strength of the human-animal bond for Hispanic and non-Hispanic White pet owners in the United States. Thus, other factors must be considered to explain the observed difference in percentages of neutered animals between groups.

Abstract

Objective—To assess differences in strength of the human-animal bond between Hispanic and non-Hispanic owners and determine whether these variations were associated with differences in medical care for pets.

Design—Survey.

Sample Population—419 pet owners presenting a dog or cat for veterinary services at private veterinary clinics in Aurora, Colo; Chula Vista, Calif; and Mexico City.

Procedures—Owner and pet demographic information was obtained via open-ended interview questions. The human-animal bond was assessed through the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale. Pet health data were obtained from medical records for the specific visit observed, and a body condition score was assigned.

Results—Hispanics were more likely to own sexually intact dogs and cats as pets than were individuals of other race-ethnicity groups. Overall, owners were most likely to classify their pets as providing companionship. When data for the 2 US locations were examined separately, no significant difference existed between how non-Hispanic White and Hispanic owners viewed their pets, and scores for the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale did not differ significantly among race-ethnicity groups.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—There was a strong human-animal bond among Hispanic respondents, and Hispanic pet owners in the United States and Mexico verbalized this attachment in similar ways to non-Hispanic White owners. There was no observed association between owner race-ethnicity and strength of the human-animal bond for Hispanic and non-Hispanic White pet owners in the United States. Thus, other factors must be considered to explain the observed difference in percentages of neutered animals between groups.

Contributor Notes

Supported by a grant from the Banfield Charitable Trust.

The authors thank Drs. Josie Traub-Dargatz and David Dargatz for assistance with study design and Drs. Sangeeta Rao and Paul Morley for assistance with statistical analyses.

Address correspondence to Dr. Schoenfeld-Tacher (Regina.Schoenfeld@colostate.edu).