Dog and Cat Survey

Pet Population, Spay/Neuter Practices, Stray Animals, and Awareness of Animal-Related Services

San Miguel County; NM

Spring, 1997

by Asenath La Rue, Ph.D

for Pecos People for Animal Welfare Society, Inc. (“PAWS”)

PO Box 704, Pecos, NM 87552

NM Nonprofit Corp. #1604347 Federal EID #85-0408482

through the financial support of the

Edith J. Goode Residuary Trust for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

*This survey is reprinted as a public service by ISAR with the permission of Dr. Asenath La Rue. Form 9

 

Contents

Survey Aims

The Context

Geographical and Demographic Features

Animal Services and Welfare

Survey Procedures

Sampling Technique

The Sample

Statistical Analysis

Results

Pet Population

Spaying and Neutering

Offspring of Unspayed Females

Stray Animals

Use of Animal Control

Awareness of Spay/Neuter Programs

Ways to Improve Animal Welfare

Comments

Summary

Cautions and Qualifications

Looking Ahead

Acknowledgements

For More Information

Appendix

Map of Survey

Areas Questionnaire

Survey Aims

The aims of our survey were four-fold: (1) to estimate the current population of dogs and cats in the Pecos River Valley of northern New Mexico; (2) to ascertain how many of these animals were spayed or neutered and to identify obstacles to spaying or neutering; (3) to estimate the frequency of stray dogs or cats in the area and to identify common responses to these homeless animals; (4) and to determine awareness and use of animal-related services, including animal control and spay/neuter programs.

The Context

Geographical and Demographic Features

The survey focused on several small villages and rural areas of San Miguel County, NM, that border the Pecos River, and immediately adjacent areas of Santa Fe County, NM (see Figure in the Appendix). This has been the primary service area of our organization, Pecos People for Animal Welfare, Inc. (locally nicknamed “PAWS”), which was founded in 1993 to reduce pet overpopulation and improve the well-being of rural companion animals.

The area is sparsely populated, economically poor, and culturally diverse. For San Miguel County as a whole, there were an estimated 27,486 residents in 1994 (U.S. Census Bureau), with 56% residing in the county seat of Las Vegas, NM, and the remaining 44% scattered throughout the 4,709 square miles of the county. The area covered in this survey corresponds roughly to the Pecos and Villanueva census districts, which jointly encompass approximately 900 square miles. There were 5,136 individuals in the combined districts in 1990 and an estimated 5,675 in 1997, assuming an annual growth rate of 1.5%. There is only one incorporated village in the survey area, Pecos, NM, with an estimated population of 1,135 in 1996. The state of New Mexico has the second lowest median per capita income in the United States. In the Pecos census district, the median per capita income in 1990 was $11,137, but it was much lower in the smaller villages and rural homes in our survey area ($5,479 for the Villanueva census district). A majority of area residents are of Hispanic cultural background, “with many descending from Spanish colonists who entered the area beginning in the 16th century. In the past few decades, the region has become a popular destination for emigration from other states, and there is now a sizable minority of “Anglos” (generally of Northern European heritage) who have made their homes in this area. According to 1996 census data, 80% of San Miguel County residents were of Hispanic origin, just over 18% of non-Hispanic white origin, and the remainder of other ethnic background, including approximately 1% Native American.

Animal Services and Welfare

Until recently, the entire county was served by a single animal control officer, whose time was largely consumed in non-animal related activities. There is an animal shelter in Las Vegas, NM, that will accept animals brought in by private individuals, but in recent

years, 11 to 12 dogs and cats have been euthanized for each one adopted or reclaimed from this facility. When our program began, there were significant problems with pet overpopulation in small villages and surrounding rural areas. Overpopulation led to problems for people (dog bites, predation of stock), to chronic suffering of unwanted or poorly tended animals (many had no consistent source of food or shelter), and to numerous incidents of shooting and poisoning of animals. We are now in the fifth year of offering low-cost spay/neuter services, including a mobile outreach program (the “PAWSMobile”) that makes scheduled stops in small communities, picking up dogs and cats, transporting them to veterinary clinics for spay/neuter surgery, and returning them the next day. Spays and neuters have increased dramatically since 1993, and on December 12, 1997, the 1,000th animal was neutered through the PAWS program. The present Survey offered an opportunity to systematically examine the current pet population and to learn what might be done to further animal welfare in our area.

Survey Procedures

Sampling Technique

Several survey techniques were considered but rejected. Door-to-door interviews were impractical because of the large distances to be covered and possible risk to interviewers. Sending surveys by mail was rejected because of anticipated low return rates. The technique selected was telephone interview, which offered the opportunity for direct, but relatively non-invasive, contact with, respondents.

A brief survey instrument was constructed to address the main areas of inquiry (see copy in the Appendix). Interviewers asked each question and then categorized responses into one of the specified response options, or wrote in replies that were difficult to categorize. We estimated that it would take an average of 20 minutes to complete each survey, but actual interview time was closer to 10 to 15 minutes in most cases.

Announcements about the pending survey (see Appendix) were placed in local newspapers to familiarize people with the possibility that they might be getting a call and to explain the survey aims. Calls were made within the two local telephone exchanges that served the identified area (see Figure, Appendix). Interviewers were instructed to call every fifth residential listing. If there was no answer, they were instructed to try a second time, and if this was unsuccessful, to call the next adjacent number. If a respondent declined to participate, an adjacent number was selected. Respondents were informed that participation was voluntary and that any information they provided would remain confidential. Questions about demographic Characteristics were reserved for the end of the survey, and respondents were again reminded that their answering of such questions was voluntary and confidential.

Three local residents, all women, were trained to conduct the calls. Two were long-term residents of the area, of Hispanic origin and bilingual in English and northern New Mexico Spanish dialects. The third was Anglo, English-speaking, and resident in the area for three years. Training consisted of an initial two-hour group training session, followed by periodic follow-up telephone contacts with the trainer. Training was conducted by a group member with a doctoral degree in psychology, who is experienced in biomedical survey research.

The goal was to obtain 200 surveys with complete, or nearly complete, data. We had anticipated a participation rate of 50% or less. However, the actual participation rate was much higher (262 persons contacted to obtain 200 useable surveys, or 76% participation). Approximately 13% of persons contacted declined to answer the questions, about 8% asked to be called later, but were not home on the second attempt, and in a few cases (about 3%) the respondent had problems comprehending the questions or did not speak the same language as the interviewer.

The Sample

Ages were obtained for 148 of the 200 participants. The youngest respondent was 13 years old and the oldest was 84, with a median age of 48 years. The majority of participants (n=132, or 66%) were women. Ninety-three respondents (46.5%) identified themselves as Hispanic and 96 (48.0%) as Anglo; 6 (3.0%) had other ethnic backgrounds, including 3 Native Americans, and 5 (2.5%) declined to specify their ethnic background. Sixty-eight of the responses (34%) were obtained from residents of the village of Pecos and nearby areas and the remaining 132 (66%) were from residents of outlying rural areas (El Valle, or Villasueva, district).

Compared to census data, this sample contains a higher proportion of women and persons of Anglo heritage than would be expected from a random sampling. The predominance of female respondents stems at least in part from greater willingness of women to answer the questions of this type (i.e., interviewers reported that when men answered the phone, they often called wives or other female household members to the telephone to complete the survey). The nearly equal proportions of Hispanic and Anglo respondents probably resulted from several factors. A tally of residential listings in the Pecos telephone directory, letters A through G, indicates that 65% of listings have Anglo surnames vs. 35% with Hispanic surnames. This suggests that fewer Hispanic families have telephones or have listed telephone numbers. In addition, Hispanics were more likely to decline to participate in the survey than Anglos (73% vs. 37% of cases in which the ethnicity of the decliner was recorded). We cannot be certain that results are equally representative for Hispanic and Anglo families in our area, but the sample size in each group is large enough to permit potentially valid estimations. Missing data on age of participants stems primarily from one interviewer, who felt uncomfortable asking about age.

Statistical Analyses

Descriptive statistical analyses were conducted using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS version 6.1.1 for the Macintosh). Most analyses consist of simple frequency tallies (e.g., numbers of pets, responses to strays). When group differences were examined (e.g., in relation to locality or ethnic background), means were compared with the F statistic and categorical differences were assessed by Pearson chi-square. The level of probability for inferring statistically significant differences was set at p < .05 (5 chances in 100 of incorrectly identifying an outcome as significant).

Results

Pet Population

The total number of companion animals (defined as dogs and cats, combined) per household ranged from zero to 25, with a median of two animals (see Table 1).

Table 1

Number of Pets Frequency Percent Cumulative Percent
0 23 11.5 11.5
1 37 18.5 30.0
2 45 22.5 52.5
3 26 13.0 65.5
4 23 11.5 77.0
5 15 7.5 84.5
6 10 5.0 89.5
7 9 4.5 94.0
8 1 .5 94.5
9 1 .5 95.0
11 2 1.0 96.0
12 2 1.0 97.0
14 2 1.0 98.0
16 1 .5 98.5
18 1 .5 99.0
24 1 .5 99.5
25 1 .5 100.0
TOTAL 200 100.0  

 

Most respondents (88.5%) had at least one companion animal, and 23% had five or more. Dogs and cats were equally represented (mean of 1.9 dogs and 1.5 cats per household). The number of animals reported was significantly higher in the rural regions of the survey area (average of 3.8 vs. 2.7 animals per household, p=0.48) than in the village of Pecos (the one incorporated town); this was due to a greater number of dogs owned by rural residents (mean of 2.2 vs. 1.3 per household, p=.0003). There were no statistically significant differences in the total number of pets, cats, or dogs for Hispanic and Anglo families.

Spaying and Neutering

Terms for describing sterilization procedures vary from one region to the next. We used the term “spay” to denote surgical sterilization of female animals and “neuter” to refer to sterilization of male animals. Interviewers explained these terms if respondents were not familiar with this usage.

Of 146 households with at least one female dog or cat, 94 (64%) responded that all were spayed. Of 130 households with at least one male dog or cat, 63 (48.5%) reported that all were neutered. Hispanic respondents were less likely than Anglo respondents to report that all of their female animals were spayed (29/61 or 47.5% vs. 76.6%; p <.00l) or that all of their male animals were neutered (19/61, or 31% vs. 38/59, or 64%; p <.00l). Differences were also noted by residential area. Pecos residents were more likely than those in outlying areas to have all of their female pets spayed (39/47, or 83% vs. 55/99, or 56%; p <.01) or all of their male pets neutered (21/31, or 68% vs. 42/96, or 44%; p = .02). There were no differences related to gender or age (59 years and younger vs. 60 years and older) in the likelihood of having all pets spayed or neutered, although among Hispanics younger adults were somewhat more likely (p = .06) than older individuals to have all male animals neutered.

A diverse set of reasons were offered for not spaying or neutering companion animals (see Table 2), with no single response predominating. The most common explanation for not spaying or neutering was that the owner felt the animal was either too young or too old (endorsed by 20% of respondents for female animals, 21% for male animals). Another fairly common reason for not spaying was that the owner wanted to breed the animal to sell the offspring (15% of respondents). For male animals, a significant proportion of respondents (nearly 19%) said they saw no need to neuter their pet, either because he didn’t roam (14-5%) or because he didn’t cause problems (e.g., “good dog,” 5.3%). The belief that sterilization might harm an animal’s health or personality was occasionally expressed, but was not a common response (about 8% of the respondents for both spaying and neutering), and very few respondents (about 1 %) stated they didn’t believe in spaying and neutering. The cost of the sterilization procedures was also infrequently mentioned (5% of respondents for spaying, and 8% for neutering). Some persons noted that their animals were too wild to catch, some said they didn’t bother because the offspring always got eaten, and some reported that they simply hadn’t given it any thought or hadn’t gotten around to doing it.

Table 2

  Unspayed Females   Unneutered Males  
Reason Frequency Percent Frequency Percent
Pet too young or old 12 20.3 16 21.1
Wants to breed to sell 9 15.2 6 7.9
Likes pups/kittens around 6 10.2 6 7.9
No-need: Confined/doesn’t roam 6 10.2 11 14.5
Ruins health/personality 5 8.5 6 7.9
Too wild to catch 4 6.8 7 9.2
Too expensive/no money 3 5.1 6 7.9
Already pregnant 3 5.1 0 0
Wanted one litter 2 3.4 0 0
Haven’t thought about it 2 3.4 2 2.6
Haven’t had time/plan to 1 1.7 4 5.3
No Need: “Good dog”/other 1 1.7 4 5.3
No Need: Offspring get eaten 1 1.7 1 1.3
Doesn’t believe in spay/neuter 1 1.7 1 1.3
Doesn’t know how to do 0 0 2 2.6
Transportation/scheduling 0 0 1 1.3
Other 3 5.1 3 3.9
         
TOTAL 59 100.0 76 100.0

 

Responses in Table 2 can be grouped into categories suggesting greater or lesser opposition to the spay/neuter concept. The combined percentages of persons who want to breed their animals, like to have puppies or kittens around, think that spaying or neutering ruins personality or health, or who are opposed to sterilization surgery, include about 36% of responses for female animals and 25% for male animals. These individuals may represent the greatest challenge in terms of education about pet overpopulation. A few respondents (about 2% for female animals, 5% for male animals) are on the opposite end of the continuum; that is, they plan to spay or neuter but hadn’t done it by the time we called. Others fall in between and might be interested in spaying or neutering if certain logistical problems were solved or- if they obtained more information about the benefits of these procedures. An occasional person expressed the belief that female animals need to have one litter, and a substantial number felt that their pet was either too young or too old for surgery. The latter may be true in some cases, but it also suggests opportunities for education on the issues of surgery and age.

Offspring of Unspayed Females

Data were available on the offspring of unspayed females in 32 cases. For 19%, no prior litters were repotted; the remaining 81% had produced 1 to 4 litters. Data on litter size were available in 21 cases, and ranged from 2 to 10 offspring, with a median of 4 offspring. If each of the 32 unspayed females produced a litter of four offspring (two female and two male), and the female offspring then produced their own litters, and so on, these animals alone could produce an estimated 10,368 offspring in five years. These calculations are based on some of the more conservative published estimates of cumulative birth rates.

Twenty-seven persons provided information on how they dispensed with these offspring, and some listed two or more responses. The most frequent course of action was to give the pups or kittens away to relatives or friends (39% of respondents). Sixteen percent reported that the offspring died or disappeared. Other fairly common responses (each endorsed by 13% of respondents) were to keep all of the offspring, sell them, or place them through ads or with the assistance of an animal welfare program (PAWS offers an adoption matching service). Only a few respondents (6%) reported taking the offspring to a shelter.

Stray Animals

Over one-half of the sample (54%) reported seeing stray animals on or near their property several times a year or more. Encounters with stray animals were equally likely in the rural regions of the survey area as in the Pecos village area, but very frequent sightings (once a month or more) were reported by more residents of Pecos than in outlying areas (51% vs. 32%). When asked how they responded to strays, people sometimes gave more than one response, so a total of 203 responses were obtained from the 176 respondents who answered this question (see Table 3). The most common pattern of response, endorsed by 48% of respondents, was avoidance; this included 26% who reported that they try to ignore these animals in the hope that they will go away, and another 22% who repotted trying to drive them away by shouting, throwing rocks, etc. Another common category of response, endorsed by 37% of respondents, was more active and supportive; this included caring for such animals, trying to locate their owners, or finding them a new home (34%), or by adopting the strays themselves (4%). A few (6%) reported strays to animal welfare programs or took them to shelters, and a few (5%) called animal control to deal with such cases. Shooting or poisoning strays was reported by 3% of respondents.

Table 3

Response Frequency Percent
Feed/locate owner/find home 69 34.0
Ignore/Hope goes away 53 26.1
Drive away (e.g., shout, throw rocks) 44 21.7
Report to welfare group/take to shelter 12 5.9
Call animal control 10 4.9
Adopt 7 3.4
Shoot or poison 6 3.0
Other 2 1.0
     
TOTAL 203 100.0

 

Because few animals in our area have identification tags or collars, and fenced yards are relatively rare, it can be hard to distinguish stray animals from roaming neighbors’ pets. Fifty-eight percent of respondents reported visits from neighbor animals several times a year or more. As was the case with strays. The most common reaction was to try to make these animals go away, either passively, by ignoring them (16% for visiting dogs, 21 % for visiting cats), or by shouting, throwing rocks, etc. (32% for dogs, 20% for cats). A relatively large group of respondents (33% for dogs, 34% for cats) stated that they didn’t mind such visits and did nothing to discourage them, and others (14% for dogs, 10% for cats) reported that they notified the owner or took the animal home.

Use of Animal Control

Sixteen percent of respondents (n=32) reported that they had contacted County Animal Control at some point in the past. Thirty four percent of these respondents found Animal Control to be helpful, 19% somewhat helpful, and 41% unhelpful, with 6% no response.

Awareness of Spay/Neuter Programs

Just over one-half (n=101, or 50.5%) of respondents stated that they knew about a local low-cost spay/neuter program. Awareness of spay/neuter programs did not differ significantly for respondents in rural areas and those in the village of Pecos, but Hispanic respondents were less likely than Anglo respondents to report awareness of such programs (34/93, 37% vs. 60/92, or 63%; p <.001). Men and women did not differ in program awareness, but respondents aged 60 years or older were much less likely than younger persons to know about spay/neuter programs (6/33, or 18% vs. 69/115, or 60%, p <.001). Most (89%) named the PAWS spay/neuter program as the only one with which they were familiar, but a, few described programs in nearby communities (e.g., Santa Fe) or named a local veterinarian; There was a trend for persons who’ knew about a low-cost spay/neuter program to be more likely than those unaware of such programs to have all of their female animals spayed (69% vs. 58%), but this was not statistically significant. A larger difference was observed with regard to having all male animals neutered: 57% of those who were aware of a low-cost program had all of their male pets neutered as compared to 40% of other respondents (p =.06).

 
Ways to Improve Animal Welfare

When asked what they would like to see done to reduce animal-related problems or to improve the welfare of animals in the area, respondents often gave multiple answers. The most frequently endorsed need was to reduce pet overpopulation (54% of respondents), followed closely by the need to enforce local ordinances against cruelty and neglect (51% of respondents). Many (44.5%) also indicated the need for enforcing ordinances against roaming pets. There were both ethnic and locality differences in the suggestions made for addressing animal-related issues. Hispanics were less likely than Anglos to mention specific directions for change. This was most noticeable with regard to reducing pet overpopulation which was mentioned as an important goal by 42% of Hispanics as compared to 65% of Anglos (p =.002). Forty-four percent of Hispanics and 58% of Anglos stressed enforcement of laws against cruelty (p =.05), and 38% of Hispanics as compared to 50% of Anglos mentioned the need for enforcing laws against free-roaming pets ( p=.09). The need for reducing pet population was mentioned more often by residents of Pecos than by those living in outlying rural areas (71 % vs. 45%; p<.001), as was the need to enforce laws against cruelty (72% vs. 40%, p <.001) and roaming (71 % vs. 45%, p <.00l). When the village vs. rural distinction was examined separately for each ethnic group, the same trends were still apparent: village residents were more likely to voice the need for improvement in animal welfare and control than those living in more isolated areas.

Men and women did not differ in their suggestions for improving animal welfare, but older persons were less likely than younger adults to mention the need for enforcing laws against animal cruelty and neglect (27% vs. 50%, p<.05).

 
Comments

At the end of the interview, respondents were asked if there were any other comments they would like to make about animal-related issues. Most (n=142, or 71%) made some reply, and the responses were diverse. Some stated that they saw no problems in our area involving animals, and others noted that they had seen positive changes because of local animal welfare efforts. Others reported continuing problems, as shown in the following examples.

  • [“We have]… more dogs than people … we have noticed that people are dumping pets …”
  • “too many dogs and cats killed on the road … too many litters…I am concerned about an individual who rides his horse and beats it with a baseball bat … extremely cruel… “
  • [“There are)…so many dogs that it is unbelievable ……………barking dogs all night long … no limits on how many pets … annoying ….. cruel…
  • [“many] can’t afford pets … they are starving ..”.
  • “Neighbor owns about 10 dogs …… someone poisoned them with antifreeze … starving, neglected pets …….. many strays at village dump and wild packs … “
  • “I coach track at the public high school and dogs bark at the runners and me. I am leery to go out my backyard without protection (a gun).”
  • “A dog killed our toy poodle in our yard… [I am] concerned about children … [neighborhood] Chows chase children …”
  • “I feel that the state of animals is poor in this poverty area…the status of humans reflects on animals … third-world misconceptions…help people [and that will] trickle down to pets.

Summary

Results of the survey suggest that most residents of our area have companion animals in their homes, and that nearly one quarter own five or more pets.

In roughly three out of every five households with female animals, all are spayed, and in about one-half of the households with male animals, all are neutered. We believe that the prevalence of spaying and neutering is much higher now than it would have been had the survey been conducted five years ago, but no past data are available.

For animals that have not been sterilized, there is no single reason that predominates. Financial and logistic difficulties are mentioned only rarely, as are beliefs that sterilization may harm the animal or ruin its personality. Although the amount of information we obtained about past litters may be too small to permit firm generalizations, our results are consistent with other findings suggesting that even a few unspayed female pets’ can produce many offspring.

Stray animals are still quite common in the area, with over one-half of respondents reporting encounters with strays several times a year or more. Some of these “strays” may be visiting neighbor pets, since pet ID tags and fenced yards are unusual in our area. Most people try to ignore strays or make them move on, but there are also many people who go out of their way to help such animals.

About one-half of respondents were aware of a low-cost spay/neuter program in the area, and generally this was the PAWS program. Few residents had called animal control, and among those who had, ratings of effectiveness were mixed.

Respondents see much room for improvement related to animals in our area. They see a need for continued efforts to reduce the pet population, and they would like to see laws against cruelty and neglect more effectively enforced. They would also like to see more effective enforcement of ordinances to curb free roaming pets, especially in more crowded areas.

 
Cautions and Qualifications

In thinking about these results, it is important to keep in mind some of the limitations of our survey. By restricting out-contact to families with telephones, we may have excluded important segments of the population (e.g., the role of financial and transportation problems in reducing spay/neuter participation).

Second, by leaving responses to some questions open-ended, we may have obtained less information about specific issues than if we had asked more directed questions: For example, if we had asked directly if people had heard about PAWS, we might have obtained somewhat different results than we did by asking only if they were aware of any spay/neuter programs in the area. Third, caution is needed in interpreting the absence of differences for male and female respondents, as men were under-represented in the sample. Caution is also needed in interpreting outcomes related to ethnicity. This is in part because Hispanics were under-represented in the survey relative to the area population. Also, any differences obtained may have more to do with rural vs. urban traditions than they do with racial or cultural effects, as most Hispanic participants have been long-term rural residents, whereas a majority of the Anglos are recent emigrants, and many have come from cities.

 
Looking Ahead

It will take time to review and reflect on current findings. However, some possible directions or new animal welfare efforts are suggested by first review. First, it is clear that more publicity is needed about spay/neuter programs. Because our area relies so heavily on informal communication, this would be most effectively accomplished by increasing the number of active participants in animal welfare efforts. More Hispanic volunteers are especially needed, and more older individuals. In the interim, direct marketing strategies, such as sending fliers to all box-holders in particular postal areas, might increase awareness. Some form of a focus-group approach might also be useful. This could include hosting meetings at local community or senior centers, providing information about spay/neuter procedures, and asking for thoughts and suggestions on animal-related issues in general. Educational efforts for adults should stress not only the benefits of spay/neuter for animals, but also the benefits to humans (less expensive to feed fewer dogs, avoiding the hassle of having females in heat, fewer conflicts with neighbors over barking and roaming pets, etc). A practical, people-oriented approach may help to defuse beliefs that spaying and neutering is primarily an “urban/outsider” concern. Current efforts at educating children should be continued, and perhaps expanded, so that when younger generations reach an age to make decisions about pets, the concept of spaying and neutering; and other aspects of humane care, will not sound new and different.

Second, for the sake of animals and neighbors, it is important to encourage families to provide safe and contained environments for pets. Although some area residents are tolerant of the “free-range” nature of dog and cat care that has predominated in our area, many others are upset by frequent unwanted visitations from neighbor pets, placing a strain on relationships and purring the offending animals at risk. Educational programs conveying a message about this (some variant of “Parents, do you know where your children are??”) would be important, and the possibility of a cost-sharing program for fencing could be considered for low-income families with pets. There is increasing pressure for a more authoritarian response on this issue (confiscation of roaming pets by animal control), which would often end in the death of the animal.

Education, and providing alternatives, may also be helpful in curbing some of the more routine forms of animal cruelty noted in our area (e.g., dogs chained for their entire lives, others without adequate shelter or consistent food). Some egregious cases of cruelty exist in the region, but many more animals suffer because of lack of knowledge, resources, or effort on the part of owners.

Acknowledgments

We extend our thanks to several individuals who took the time to review and comment on drafts of the questionnaire and this report, including Michael Calahan, DVM; Henry Holzer, of the International Society for Animal Rights; Terry Jantzen, DVM, Kate Rindy, Director of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society; and members of the Board of Directors of our organization. The hard work of Sophie Ortiz, Anita Tash, and Ursula Velasquez for telephone interviewing, and of Sophie and Angela Ortiz for assistance· in data entry is also gratefully acknowledged. Finally, we thank the Goode Residuary Trust for their encouragement and financial support, without which this type of systematic gathering of information would not have been possible.

 
For More Information

For more information about the survey procedures or findings, contact Asenath La Rue, PO Box 459, Pecos NM 87552, (505) 471-3708 phone and FAX, alarue@aol.com (email).

Appendix

pecos_river_copy

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DOG AND CAT SURVEY

SanMiguel County

March, 1997

INTRODUCE THE SURVEY BY SAYING: “Mr./Mrs…I am calling on behalf of PAWS, the Pecos Animal Welfare Society. We are doing a survey to find out how many dogs and cats live in our area and to ask about any problems you may have noticed related to animals. Would you be willing to answer a few questions to help us out? It will only take 5 or 10 minutes. Whatever you say will be confidential.”

1. How many dogs do you own?

How many cats? _____

2. How many of your female animals are spayed?___dogs___cats

3a. For unspayed females, ask reasons for not spaying (check all that are mentioned):

___ Not applicable (don’t have female animals or all are spayed)

___ Too expensive/don’t have the money right now

___ Don’t know what’s involved or how to get it done

___ Transportation/scheduling problems

___ May ruin the animal’s personality or health

___ Like to have puppies or kittens around

___ Want to breed her to sell offspring

___ Other ________________________________________________________

3b. For unspayed females, ask about past litters

___How many litters has she had?

___How many pups (or kittens) in last litter?

___What did you do with the pups (or kittens)?

___Nothing (still have them)

___Nothing (they disappeared or died)

___Sold them

___Gave away to friends or relatives

___Turned them into a shelter

___Placed through ads or through help of an animal welfare program

***Note to interviewers: May want to ask questions 4 and 5 closer to the end.***

4. How many of your male animals are neutered?___dogs___cats

5. For unneutered males, ask reasons for not neutering (check all that are mentioned):

___Not applicable (don’t have male animals or all are neutered)

___Too expensive/don’t have the money right now

___Don’t know what’s involved or how to get it done

___Transportation/scheduling problems

___May ruin the animal’s personality or health

___Like to have puppies or kittens around

6. How often do stray dogs or cats come to your home?

___At least once a month

___Several times a year

___Rarely or never

7. How do you usually respond to stray animals?

___Feed them/try to locate their owner or find them a new home

___Report to local animal welfare group/take to shelter

___Try to ignore/hope they go away

___Try to drive away (shouting at them, throwing rocks, etc.)

___Shoot or poison

___Call Animal Control

___Other ________________________________________________________

8. How often do neighbors’ dogs or cats come to your home?

___At least once a month

___Several times a year

___Rarely or never

9a. How do you usually respond when a neighbor’s dog comes by?

___Nothing – don’t mind them visiting

___Call owner/take them home

___Try to ignore/hope they go away

___Try to drive away (shouting at them, throwing rocks, etc.)

___Shoot or poison

___Call Animal Control

___Other________________________________________________________

9b. How do you usually respond when a neighbor’s cat comes by?

___Nothing – don’t mind them visiting

___Call owner/take them away

___Try to ignore/hope they go away

___Try to drive away (shouting at them, throwing rocks, etc.)

___Shoot or poison

___Call Animal Control

___Other________________________________________________________

10. Do you know of any programs in area that provide reduced cost spaying and neutering?

___Yes (specify:____________________________)

___No

11. Have you ever called Animal Control? __ Yes __ No

If yes, how would you rate the response?

___Helpful – took care of the problem promptly

___Somewhat helpful- made suggestions/explained options, etc.

___Not helpful – did not return call/did not provide help or suggestions

12. What would you like to see done to improve animal welfare in our area or help people with animal-related problems?

___Reduce pet overpopulation

___Enforce current ordinances about roaming pets

___Enforce current ordinances against animal cruelty and neglect

___Other________________________________________________________

13. Is there anything else you would like to say about animal welfare or animal problems in our area?

 

NOTE TO INTERVIEWERS:

If people will answer the following questions, we can compare our sample with census data to determine how representative it is of people living in our area.

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Location of residence:_______________________________________________________

(Village name if small; street or region in larger community. Do not write in address.) (E.g., ask, “In what general area do you live?”)

Person answering questions” is:

___years old (E.g, ask, “Would you mind telling me how old you are?”)

___female___male

___Hispanic___Anglo___Native American___Other
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