As a professional "telepathic animal counselor," Mary Borie can sense when things seem off.
Walking her dog at Spring Lake in Santa Rosa, Borie found it "odd" that the American Veterinary Medical Association ranked California 43rd in the nation for the percentage of households that have pets.
"This state is pro-animal," Borie protested.
That's especially true in Sonoma County, where animals can chill at their own resorts, receive acupuncture for stress and shop local boutiques for clothes, food and accents for their abodes.
Two national pet store chains have opened stores in Santa Rosa since September. At Unleashed by Petco, which debuted a month ago next door to Whole Foods on Yulupa Avenue, people can buy organic and holistic foods for their pets and scrub them squeaky clean at a self-serve wash.
All that may simply mean Californians shower their pets with love and affection. Because when it comes to the rate of pet ownership, the state apparently is in the doghouse.
Just shy of 53 percent of California households had a pet on Dec. 31, 2011, when the American Veterinary Medical Association conducted its national survey. Only seven other states had lower rates of pet ownership.
Vermont was tops, with 70.8 percent of households reporting owning a pet.
The data reflects 15 species of animals, everything from an iguana to a Chihuahua.
California ranked 40th overall for dog ownership, with 32.8 percent of households reportedly having a canine. Arkansas led the category, with 47.9 percent of homes having a dog.