Decline in birth rates breeds future worry, author says

Forget worrying about the “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”

Demography suggests Earth is far more likely to become the “Orb of the Dogs,” as human fertility rates plummet for a slew of reasons, including canines substituting for kids in many households.

It’s not just Americans turning pets into “fuzzy, low-maintenance replacements for children,” says writer Jonathan Last. It’s happening in Italy, Japan and elsewhere.

American pets outnumbered children for the first time in 2006, said Last, a father who’s not kidding when he says people with only pets are happier and less stressed than parents of humans. That’s what surveys and studies find, he said in a telephone interview Thursday.