Publication in: Fall 2022 Issue

Pet Ownership, Health Outcomes and Poverty
Chelsea Bartlett
Faculty Mentor(s):
Kathleen Lawlor
Abstract / Summary:
Buncombe county is home to 271,534 residents14. Of these residents approximately six percent are Black and seven percent are Hispanic. These marginalized communities make up much lower percentages of residents than white communities, however, they disproportionately face higher levels of economic inequality, more precipitous poverty, and worse health outcomes. These disparities could be reduced through key social safety nets, and perhaps particularly well by ones that reduce the costs of pet ownership. This type of social safety net would be useful to consider as an option when looking at the many ways health and poverty could be improved. Pet-related social safety nets have the capability of working particularly well in reducing the effects of poverty and poorer health outcomes due to the many positive effects they generate including improved mental and physical health, increased physical activity, and better academic outcomes for children. Asheville Humane Societies Community Solutions Department has been providing key pet-related social safety nets to the communities within Buncombe county since 2016. I propose that these pet care safety nets are vital in efficiently improving health and socioeconomic outcomes for marginalized communities in Buncombe County. Further, targeted investment in pet-related social safety nets to specific areas in Buncombe county may be a starting place for promoting better racial equity.
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