Animals have existed in American culture for hundreds of years. The development of pets as companions reflects changes that have occurred over time in this country. With the transition from an agriculturally oriented community to a consumer society, the need for working animals has decreased. In addition, the rise of a culture that values kindness to animals has promoted these creatures to status symbols, objects of beauty and hobbies, as well as companions.

Americans tend to think of pets as part of the family. They provide them with food, shelter, exercise, attention and medical care. They take pets very seriously. People have made businesses out of pets by creating such enterprises as pet cemeteries, pet grooming services, dog parks, entire stores devoted to pet supplies, “pet-sitting” services to care for people’s pets while they travel or work and even “dog walking” services for those who can’t find the time or energy to exercise their canines.

Most businesses do not allow pets inside unless they have specific duties, like assisting the blind. Hotels and motels generally specify their rules about whether or not they allow pets in their rooms; the higher class the hotel, the less likely they allow them. Occasionally however, you will find a store or establishment that welcomes pets because the owners favor them or because they offer pet supplies.

For those who walk their dogs in the park or along the streets of their neighborhood, the law requires that the owners collect any waste they discharge along the way and dispose of it properly.

When visiting someone’s home, it is okay to tell them if you are afraid of animals. It is also acceptable (and appreciated) for you to tell them if you are allergic to animals. While Americans thinks of their pets as “family,” they want their guests to be comfortable. Please let them know and they will be happy to move the pets to another room. If you find yourself in this situation, its okay to be direct - ask politely if the animals can be moved. Again, they want you to be comfortable!

Americans really do care about animals. It is not acceptable to be cruel to animals. Animal cruelty is not tolerated.

Humane societies across the country house and feed stray animals found within the city limits, offering them for adoption to the community at large. Many people obtain their pets from these shelters to help them avoid extermination and support the city in its efforts to keep the streets free of homeless animals.