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America counts its pets, too

©Associated Press
February 11, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Here's the truth about cats and dogs: Canines rule in American households, though just barely.

About 36 percent of homes with pets have a dog, while 32 percent of such homes have cats. Feline fanatics can take heart with this statistic: Your pet sees the vet less often.

Those are just two examples from hundreds of pages of facts and figures about America found in the new Statistical Abstract of the United States, being released today by the Census Bureau.

The nearly 1,000 pages in the 122nd edition are light on words but heavy on numbers detailing life for Americans.

"We got all kinds of tidbits in here," said Glenn King, director of the staff that assembles the abstract. "It's America in numbers."

Here are some of them:

-- The average cell phone call in 2001 lasted just under three minutes, and the average monthly bill ran $47.37.

-- In 2000, 44 percent of adults did volunteer work, contributing an average of 15 hours per month.

-- U.S. residents spent more than $38-billion on lottery tickets in 2001, with about $2 of every $5 going toward instant scratchoff games.

-- Households that made at least $55,000 a year were more likely to have a dog, cat or horse, while homes that made less than $20,000 were more likely to have a bird.

-- The larger the family, the more likely it was to own a pet, no matter what the animal.

The government puts together the fat fact book each year, compiling statistics collected by the Census Bureau as well as from private sources. For instance, the American Veterinary Medical Association supplied the data on pets.

It's not all fun and games. This year's compendium includes a summary of recently released data from the 2000 census, covering income, education and poverty.

One section covers solely crime and law enforcement statistics. Another covers politics and voting data. Page 238 shows that Republican George Bush received about 1,000 more votes for president than Democrat Al Gore in Florida in the 2000 election, according to statistics rounded off to the nearest thousand. (The final, certified tally showed Bush won by 537 votes.)

New information is added, too, to keep up with America's changing preferences. For instance, statistics on snowboarding were first added two years ago (more than 4.3-million people like to "get air" down the slopes).

Tables added this year include one on alternative work schedules -- about 29 percent of full-time workers 16 and older who were not self-employed in 2001 said they had flexible hours -- and home schooling: 2 percent of kids age 5 to 17 with an educational level equivalent to between kindergarten and 12th grade were taught at home in 1999.

The statistical abstract is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office ($51 for a hard-bound version, $41 for paperback) by calling (202) 512-1800.

It is also available from the National Technical Information Service ($47 for hardcover, $39 for paperback) by calling toll-free 1-800-553-6847.

Who owns what

Percent of pet-owning households that owned a:

DOG: 36.1 percent

CAT: 31.6 percent

BIRD: 4.6 percent

HORSE: 1.7 percent

Average number of pets owned, by type of pet:

DOG: 1.6

CAT: 2.1

BIRD: 2.1

HORSE: 3

Percent of households seeking veterinary care, by pet owned:

DOG: 85 percent

CAT: 66.8 percent

BIRD: 12.9 percent

HORSE: 56.7 percent

Average visits to veterinarian, per household per year, by pet owned:

DOG: 2.8

CAT: 1.9

BIRD: 0.3

HORSE: 2.2

-- Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, American Veterinary Medical Association

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