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REUTERS NEXT Pet adoption, spending get a boost from pandemic -Zoetis CEO

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A dog runs with a stick in a forest in Gaasbeek, near Brussels, Belgium November 20, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

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Jan 13 (Reuters) - The COVID-19 pandemic has given a boost to pet adoptions and prompted people to spend more on pet care, said Kristin Peck, chief executive of Zoetis Inc (ZTS.N), the world’s largest animal health company, in an interview at the Reuters Next conference.

Adoption rates at animal shelters have jumped about 15% as people try to cope with the isolation from lockdown orders to avoid the spread of the new coronavirus.

Over 63 million American households owned dogs and nearly 43 million homes had cats as pets, according to a 2019 national survey by the American Pet Products Association.

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Zoetis has also seen an increase to e-commerce revenues as veterinarians provide care and send prescriptions over the internet, with online sales rising by about 70% during the pandemic, Peck said.

The company is putting a halt to its political donations in light of last week's assault on the United States Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump, Peck added.

"Similar to all companies we feel it's best to put a halt to all donations" and make sure Zoetis's political donations continue to align with its public policy goals, Peck said.

Zoetis expects to see continued gains in its livestock business as a burgeoning global middle class continues to increase its consumption of protein, she added.

The company continues to assess potential acquisitions but its unlikely to pursue any large deals as its existing scale in the animal health market could raise antitrust complications, Peck said.

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Reporting by Carl O'Donnell Editing by Nick Zieminski

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