Back in 2002, the primary demographic for a person acquiring a pet was a 46-year-old woman, according to the American Pet Products Association.

Today, their ad campaign known as the Pets Add Life as well as the APPA’s National Pet Owner’s Survey shows a lot of change.

The biggest change of all is that pet ownership across all sectors continues to increase.

The Generation Z population, born between 1996-2010 and currently in its teens and early 20s, identified stress relief (66 percent) as well as reduced levels of anxiety and depression (61 percent) as the specific health benefits received from pet ownership. Gen Z pointed this out in greater numbers than any other sector.

An additional survey of 1,000 people age 11 to 17 shows 80 percent live with an animal. About 84 percent of those without an animal say they want to acquire one.

The worldwide health services company CIGNA recently surveyed and discovered Gen Z is the “loneliest generation.” The youth in this group feel the most detached from real and strong relationships.

The APPA has capitalized on this with the Pets Add Life campaign showing a pet as the one who is always there for you no matter how poorly one’s day went. You can see one such ad here: It features a young girl coming home to an empty house with only her dog greeting her. A doe-eyed Weimaraner is the canine star.

The young woman comes in the door and sinks to the floor in an overflow of emotion about the lack of inclusiveness at her school, trying to maintain an online presence, self-image, news of school shootings and more. All the while, her pet dog is there with locked eye contact trying to understand what is wrong. Eventually, the young woman interacts with the Weim and the world seems to clear a little.

In a word, one has to judge the ad as effective. Any parent dealing with the angst of a young person maturing right before their eyes will feel what is portrayed here. Any youngster seeing it will want a dog, or perhaps some other pet.

“A Pet Sees You,” has already garnered more than 1 million views across social media platforms,” says Steve King, CEO of the APPA, writing for December’s issue of Pet Business magazine.

“Perhaps the most powerful aspect of the campaign we’ve received has been the comments received from viewers after they’ve watched the video, King wrote. “Comments like, ‘my dog helps me get out of the bed in the morning’ and ‘my pet prevented me from committing suicide’ have made ‘A Pet Sees You’ so much more than a campaign promoting pet ownership.”

Hand it to King and the APPA. They are looking at the consumer and what they can, do and will derive from having a pet.

With a bit of gallows humor, I frequently remark that my parents’ generation just wanted a black dog, not necessarily “that” black dog, pointing to an imaginary pooch. King notes that, “baby boomers love their pets, Gen Xers view them as family, millennials view their pets as practice for kids, and Gen Zers view their pets as emotional support.”

Readers can view the entire Pets Add Life campaign at More importantly, I recommend all veterinarians and attorneys interested in animal law view this campaign and look a little into the demographic research that backs it up.

Things are indeed changing.

Charlie Powell is the public information officer for the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, which provides this column as a community service. For questions or concerns about animals you’d like to read about, email

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