Are Vermonters taking good care of their pets? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Are Vermonters taking good care of their pets?

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Stop outside any pet store in Vermont and you'll quickly find out this is a state that loves its pets-- of all personalities.

"They're both different. Holly would be a diva and Milo would be a clown," said Arlene Sorgen of Williston.

In a new survey from the American Veterinary Medical Association, between 2006 and 2011 Vermont ranked first in the nation for pet ownership, with 70 percent of households saying they had a four-legged member of the family. But are they cat people or dog people?

"My cat's personality-- she's, I would say, blissfully unaware," said Rachel Wallace-Brodeur of Grand Isle.

"They're great companions. Very loyal, never let you down, great support system," said Mardi Trendle of Essex Junction.

As it turns out, the Green Mountains are purr-fect for cat-lovers. Vermont ranks first in the nation for cat ownership. Nearly half of households are occupied by a feline friend, compared with the 37 percent of households that have a canine companion. And dog ownership has declined nearly 14 percent over five years.

But while pet ownership is still high, medical care for pets is dropping. Nationwide, vet visits are down, leaving many veterinarians concerned.

"About the last year I've been seeing reduced veterinary visits and reduced number of people who want to follow through on the recommendations that I make," said Dr. John Eustis of Orchard Veterinary Hospital.

But more pet owners aren't going to the vet at all. Visits by dog owners are down 8 percent and a whopping 24 percent by cat owners. And veterinarians say the costs of pet care the main culprit.

"A lot of them tend to do everything they can and some of them-- everything they can is not everything they should," Eustis said.

The drop hurts vets' bottom lines, but they say it also creates problems for treating animals later.

"Prevention is always less expensive than trying to take care of a big problem when it happens," Eustis said.

Vets say it's important to make sure a state that ranks first in pet ownership also ranks first in pet care.

In that same survey, about 57 percent of New Hampshire households said they owned pets. So did half of the households in New York.

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Vermont tops in pet ownership

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