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How America’s love for its cats and dogs built the pet industrial complex

Basia Flores for Quartz
  • Oliver Staley
By Oliver Staley

Business & culture editor


In 1950, when cartoonist Charles Schultz created the comic strip Peanuts, Snoopy, the pet beagle of lead character Charlie Brown, lived in a dog house, was rarely seen indoors, and was fed bowl after bowl of unappetizing slop.

If Snoopy was around today, he’d more likely sleep in Charlie Brown’s bed, and dine on organic, cage-free duck stew, served with an herbal supplement to calm his nerves and anxieties.

Our relationship with our pets has changed dramatically since Snoopy’s days of fighting the Red Baron. Pets are in our homes and lives 24 hours a day, and 85% of dog owners consider their pets members of their family (it’s 76% for cat owners). In 22 US cities, the term “pet owner” has been replaced with “guardian” in municipal codes, and pet supply companies routinely use the term “pet parents” in their marketing. Today’s pets receive birthday presents, see pet shrinks, and take yoga.

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