Pets and Urban Life

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The social and the emotional roles played by pets in the urban setting are examined. Data obtained from a random telephone survey of 320 pet owners and 116 non-pet-owners in Providence, Rhode Island, are presented. Responses to the survey indicate that pets are viewed as important family members by people who live in the city. Further, pet owners stress the positive roles played by pets in the household rather than the negative consequences of pet ownership. Pet-human interaction in the urban household is primarily positive. However, the emotional dimensions of pet-human relationships vary over a number of significant social variables. Pet attachment is highest among single, divorced, widowed, and remarried people as well as among childless couples, newlyweds, and empty-nesters. Urbanites are more attached to dogs than to cats and other types of pets. Pet anthropomorphism is high among single, divorced, and remarried people, dog owners, and childless couples. Data on the sociodemographic differences between pet owners and non-pet-owners in the city are also presented.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 1987

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