Counting on Cats and Dogs

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We Aussies love our pets. We have one of the highest incidences of pet ownership in the world but surprisingly there is a lack of reliable data on pet ownership. To address the information gap, AWLA is supporting a proposal that the next national census in 2016 be used to obtain data on pet ownership.

A national committee, (Companion Animal Working Group) has proposed two questions to accurately identify how many households have cats and dogs and whether those cats and dogs are de-sexed. This kind of information would assist us to plan for the welfare of companion animals across Australia.

For pet owners, census data could potentially see the creation of  more dog-friendly parks and beaches or services such as after hours vets. Urban planners, councils developing local by-laws to manage cats and dogs and those delivering community education programs on socially responsible pet ownership could all benefit from having access to data on cats and dogs.

With pets proven to provide significant social, physical and mental health benefits to individuals and communities, there is likely to be a continuing and growing need for reliable statistics on pet ownership. We await the Government’s decision on including pet ownership in the next census with interest.

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