By SUE MANNING, Associated Press

     LOS ANGELES (AP) — Where do people get their pets? A new AP-Petside.com poll found that the most common way people acquire a pet is as a gift, followed by taking in a stray.

     About four in 10 pet owners say at least one of their current pets was given to them by friends or family, while a third say they have a pet that showed up on their doorstep as a stray.

     Shelters and breeders are next on the list as sources for pets. Thirty percent of those polled say they adopted through a shelter, 31 percent got a pet from a breeder and 14 percent bought an animal at a pet store.

     Karen Hulsey, 63, adopted a cat from a Texas shelter. Greyson is about a year old now and “he’s cuddly and clean,” she says.

     She calls her shelter experience very upbeat because the cat “has turned into a wonderful pet with a good attitude and I felt like I was doing something positive.”

     Another quarter obtained a pet in some other way, including 3 percent who say they went to an animal rescue group and 2 percent who purchased them using an online or print classified ad.

     More than half of the pet owners polled say they’ve taken in a shelter animal at some point, and two-thirds of them say their experiences have been extremely positive.

     Jackie Schulze, 77, of Williamsport, Pa., got Sassafras, a white cat with periwinkle eyes, from Lycoming Animal Protection Society Inc., a no-kill cat rescue that operates a local shelter. The cat, which was rescued from a meth lab in Scranton, is very attached to Schulze, following her around and sitting in her lap.

     ”Sassy chose me,” Schulze said.

     Among those who had the most positive shelter experiences, 44 percent cite positive interactions with shelter staff. Just 3 percent say they’d had a moderately or very negative shelter experience.

     Edward Acosta, 46, of Thomasville, N.C., said if he were getting a new pet today, he would probably go to a pet store or breeder, not because he doesn’t like shelters but “because I like thoroughbreds.” He and his wife Vicki bred Pomeranians for years and still have three descended from their original pair. They also own five chickens — Rhode Island Reds bought at a feed store — whom they consider to be pets.

     Cat owners are more likely than dog owners to have adopted a stray or shelter animal. Forty-three percent of cat owners polled say one of their pets came from a shelter, compared with 29 percent of dog owners. More than half of cat owners (52 percent) say one of their current pets was a stray, compared with 30 percent of dog owners.

     Fifty-eight percent of shelter adopters say being socially responsible was extremely or very important in their decision to use a shelter. It is usually cheaper to adopt than to buy from a breeder or pet store, but 60 percent of those who adopted shelter pets say the cost made no difference.

     Thirty-six percent of shelter users say they had more confidence in the staff at pet shelters than they did in the staff at pet stores or breeders. Thirty-six percent of those who obtained animals from shelters also say they believe shelter animals were more likely to have had recent veterinary care than animals from pet stores or breeders.

     And more than two-thirds of those who have adopted from a shelter — 68 percent — say they would do so again.

     Not all pet owners see shelter adoptions as a positive. Thirty-six percent of those polled say that if they were to adopt an animal from a shelter, they would be extremely or very concerned that the pet might have hidden medical problems; 29 percent express concern about psychological problems and 33 percent say they would worry the animal wouldn’t fit in with their families.

     Ojala Reino, 31, of Fairmount, Ga., who got his boxer bulldog, Bruster, from a friend, said he was one of those who would worry about the physical and mental health of a shelter dog.

     ”I watch of lot of those shows on TV where the animals come in and have been abused,” he said.

     Fifty-two percent of pet owners say they have gotten a pet from a shelter or rescue at some time, but only 23 percent have taken an animal to a shelter. Of those who turned in animals, 59 percent say the animal belonged to someone else.

     If shelters started charging a $25 fee to accept unwanted or stray animals, about a third of those polled (34 percent) say they would be dissuaded from leaving animals and 52 percent say it would make no difference.

     By region, adopting a stray is most common in the West, where 39 percent got a pet that way compared with 34 percent in the South, 30 percent in the Northeast and 29 percent in the Midwest. Forty-one percent of rural-dwelling pet owners say their pet was a stray, compared with 28 percent of suburbanites and 34 percent of urbanites. And suburbanites were most likely to have adopted from a shelter: 36 percent compared with 30 percent in urban areas and 22 percent in rural parts of the country.

     The AP-Petside.com Poll was conducted Oct. 13-17, 2011, by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,118 pet owners. Results among pet owners have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

     ___

     AP Polling Director Trevor Tompson, Deputy Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta and News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

     ___

     Online:

     http://www.petside.com/rescueanimals

 

 

How the poll was conducted

 

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    The Associated Press-Petside.com Poll of pet owners on shelter adoption was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications from Oct. 13-17. It is based on landline and cellphone telephone interviews with a nationally representative random sample of 1,118 pet owners.

     Digits in the phone numbers dialed were generated randomly to reach households with unlisted and listed landline and cellphone numbers.

     Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish.

     As is done routinely in surveys, results were weighted, or adjusted, to ensure that responses accurately reflect the population’s makeup by factors such as age, sex, education and race. In addition, the weighting took into account patterns of phone use — landline only, cell only and both types — by region.

     No more than one time in 20 should chance variations in the sample cause the results to vary by more than plus or minus 3.6 percentage points from the answers that would be obtained if all pet owners in the U.S. were polled.

     There are other sources of potential error in polls, including the wording and order of questions.

    Topline results are available at http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com/ and http://surveys.ap.org.

AP-GfK: Poll shows divide over increasing money for transit

WASHINGTON (AP) — A slight majority of Americans prefer living in a single-family house in the suburbs or a rural area with more land, even if it means driving long distances to get to work or run errands, according to a poll by The Associated Press-GfK.

However, a significant minority, 44 percent, would choose an apartment or smaller house in an urban area that comes with a short drive to work or the opportunity to use public transportation, bike or walk. The split also has a political aspect: Sixty-seven percent of Republicans and 53 percent of independents prefer suburban or rural living, while 55 percent of Democrats prefer urban areas.

The share of Americans who prefer suburban or rural living — 53 percent — is identical to the share who say the government should increase spending to build and improve roads, bridges and interstate highways. About 1 in 3 think current spending levels are about right, while just over 1 in 10 would like to see less money spent on roads.

Many states are struggling just to maintain current spending levels, and Congress has been unable to come up with a long-term plan to pay for highway aid that closes the gap between current spending and federal gas tax revenue.

Americans are more divided over building and improving public transportation such as rail and bus systems. Four in 10 say spending on public transportation should be increased, but just as many say current spending is about right. Only 18 percent say transit spending should be cut.

Contrary to the widely held notion that the millennial generation is flocking to cities and giving up their cars, younger people are not significantly more or less likely than older people to prefer urban living with a shorter commute and access to public transit, the poll found.

Matthew Wild, 33, an airline pilot living in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, said he favors increasing spending on both public transit and highways. The region’s freeways “take a real beating” from the traffic and need to be maintained, he said, but no new lanes should be added.

“We definitely don’t need to be expanding freeways anymore,” Wild said. “We’ve maxed out.”

He cited a highway near his home that was recently widened and now is as full as ever. He does, however, strongly support building more light rail transit locally and high-speed rail between California cities.

Wild said he’d much rather take a convenient local train than fight traffic in his car. He currently takes trains only a few times a year because there are no direct routes from where he lives to the places he wants to go, and indirect routes take too long, he said.

“The big problem with L.A. is that, given the lack of public transportation, sitting in traffic in your own car is still faster than taking public transit,” Wild said.

Jane McEntire, 62, who lives in Cartersville, Georgia, on the northwest fringe of the Atlanta metropolitan area, says traffic is horrible and getting worse.

Even so, she’d rather keep spending on roads and cut spending on public transportation. She says she’s lost confidence in the ability of state and local transportation officials to make improvements and not fritter money away on wasteful projects.

She is particularly incensed that officials used federal transit aid to build a slow-moving streetcar line in downtown Atlanta that is used primarily by tourists.

“I think they look really cute, but as far as usefulness — no,” she said. “When you have federal dollars that are coming into a state that are available and you spend it on these cars in Atlanta that go six or eight blocks back and forth … Why didn’t they take that money and spend it on something to help commuters?”

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,077 adults was conducted online from April 23 to 27 using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

___

Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

___

Follow Joan Lowy on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy


AP-GfK Poll: Many approve Iran deal; Most don’t trust Tehran
WASHINGTON (AP) — Many Americans like the idea of the preliminary deal that would limit Iran’s nuclear program but very few people really believe Tehran will follow through with the agreement.

An Associated Press-GfK poll finds that just 3 percent said they were very confident that Iran would allow inspections of its nuclear facilities, remove plutonium from the country and shut down close to half of its uranium-enriching centrifuges as the preliminary deal says would be required. Nearly seven in 10 people said they were not confident, while 25 percent said they were only moderately confident.

The U.S., Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China are aiming to finalize a deal with Iran by June 30 that puts limits on Iranian programs that could be used to make nuclear arms. In exchange, economic sanctions on Iran would be lifted over time. Tehran denies any interest in such weapons but is negotiating in hopes of relief from billions of dollars in economic sanctions.

The next round of nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers will start Tuesday in Vienna.

Although more than half of Americans polled say they approve of making the deal, few people — 16 percent — are actually paying close attention to the complex Iran negotiations that have angered Israel and unnerved Gulf nations who are concerned about Tehran’s rising influence and aggressive behavior in the region.

The Senate last week passed legislation that would give Congress time to vote to reject any deal before sanctions are lifted. President Barack Obama would retain the right to veto lawmakers’ disapproval.

Israel’s strong objections to the deal could make a difference to many Americans. If forced to choose, a majority say it’s more important to maintain the U.S. relationship with Israel than to strike a deal with Iran. But respondents are divided along party lines, with nearly six in 10 Democrats saying the Iran deal is more important while seven in 10 Republicans believe ties with Israel are more critical.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been one of the harshest critics of the deal with Iran. Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran an existential threat, citing hostile Iranian rhetoric toward the Jewish state, Iran’s missile capabilities and its support for violent militant groups.

More broadly, the poll found that Americans are increasingly interested in the U.S. role in world affairs, with 60 percent saying it’s an extremely important issue, up from 52 percent less than five months ago. Slightly more people also approve of Obama’s handling of the issue, increasing from 38 percent in December to 42 percent in the latest poll. Fifty-seven percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of the issue.

But overall, Americans are more likely to trust Republicans than Democrats to handle protecting the country.

___

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,077 adults was conducted online April 23-27, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

___

Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com