Millions of Americans own a pet or two or more, and millions more have contact with someone else’s pets. Dogs and cats are most popular, but many owners prize birds, rabbits, Guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, mice, snakes, lizards, tropical fish and just about any other creature found on the planet. You don’t have to look far to find a small  and equally passionate segment of pet owners who prefer captive-bred exotics such as tigers, lions, and other wild cats or bears, wolves, monkeys, chimpanzees, and other non-traditional pets, even though ownership may be complicated by  laws that  restrict or ban possession of animals categorized as dangerous.

Pets are often the only contact most Americans have with animals, and pet owners spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually on food, supplies, vet care, toys, boarding, grooming services and more for their charges. Pets provide psychological and medical benefits, and most pet owners consider their dogs, cats, birds and other animals as family members and treat them with care, respect, and love.

Some pet owners become more involved with their animals. Dog owners in particular have a world of opportunities at their doorsteps: they can participate in general events such as obedience and agility trials or all-breed conformation shows and breed-specific events that test the dog’s instinct to hunt game or vermin or herd livestock. They can join clubs of like-minded dog owners; get involved in pet therapy work; or join a group that trains dogs for search and rescue.

The vast majority of NAIA members and supporters own pets and work to preserve the joys, benefits, and rights of pet ownership.  We see that pet owners are often targets of propaganda from organizations pushing laws and regulations against breeding and selling animals, a growing list of agricultural practices, hunting, animal-based research, and a host of other efforts to fracture the complex human relationship with animals. These groups rely on the emotional connection between pets and owners to sway opinions and votes in their favor.

NAIA urges pet owners to recognize agendas that may lie behind these campaigns, an agenda that separates humans and animals and denies our choice of diet, pets, entertainment, leisure activity and medical progress. We stand with responsible pet owners and the groups and clubs that serve them by acknowledging the positive aspects of pet ownership and opposing arbitrary laws that limit pet numbers, restrict or ban certain breeds, stigmatize pet breeding with high fees and permit requirements, replace the rights of ownership with government-controlled “guardianship,” and place blanket prohibitions of ownership of exotic pets regardless of the facilities provided or the expertise of the owner.