53 percent of Minnesotans own a pet, putting us in the bottom ten nationally

What are you waiting for, Minnesota?
What are you waiting for, Minnesota?
Bree Bailey via Flickr

All those dogs running around Lake Calhoun in the warmer months are deceiving: Relative to the rest of the country, not that many Minnesotans own a pet.

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Every five years, the American Veterinary Medical Association ranks the pet lovers (or at least owners) of America by state. And this time around, we landed in the bottom ten. Just 53 percent of Minnesota households own a pet, the survey shows, putting us in 42nd place.

For some context, that's nearly 30 percent behind pet-crazy Vermont, where 70.8 percent of households shelter a non-human animal. New Mexico, South Dakota, Oregon, Maine, Washington, Arkansas, West Virginia, Idaho and Wyoming round out the top ten.

Then we get to our place in the union, with all the fur-and-fun-free states. That list goes: Rhode Island, Minnesota, California, Maryland, Illinois, Nebraska, Utah, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts, all with pet ownership hovering just over half of households. For further proof that Washington, D.C. really is the cesspool of the country, look no further than our capital's 21.9 percent pet ownership rate, by far the lowest around.

We don't do much better when you break down "pet" ownership into canine and feline categories: we come in ninth-lowest in dog ownership (31.9 percent, versus leader Arkansas's 47.9 percent). Our cat ownership, meanwhile, is more middling: we break neither the top nor bottom ten. Does this mean we're the cat-friend of states?

Anyway, the report tells us other things too, besides that we have some serious catching up to do and all of you should totally bring home that puppy/kitten/parakeet/iguana you've been thinking about. Like: Veterinary care isn't recession-proof.

Between 2006 and 2011, the percentage of owners who stopped taking their pet to the vet increased 8 percent for dogs and 24 percent for cats. (Another way of looking at those numbers: 81 percent of dog owners went to the vet in 2011, and just 55 percent of cat owners).

Check out more pet statistics (sample: in 2011, six of ten pet owners considered their pets to be family members) at the AVMA website.

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