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Pet Ownership Declines: Is the Economy to Blame?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The number of American pet owners declined last year – and researchers believe the economy could be to blame.

A new survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association shows the dog population declined by about two million, to 70 million nationwide, while the cat population fell by about eight million, down to 74 million. It's the first time dog or cat ownership has declined since 1991.

“[Pets] are expensive and so we can only speculate that part of this is due to the economy,” said Ron DeHaven of the AVMA.

Pets are also more common in family households, the number of which has also declined.

DeHaven also suggested that the high costs associated with pet ownership may have kept some from replacing older pets that passed away.

The survey is published in the 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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