Where have Australia's pets gone?

February 18th, 2017

Owning a dog is one of life’s greatest joys, but is there too much red tape involved? Lauren McKellar speaks to Dr Chris Brown to find out more.

A life without pets is barely a life at all. Whether you own a fabulous feline, a supercool canine, or something in between, we love our companion animals and consider them to be very much a part of our everyday life. They come inside with us, often leave the house with us and occasionally even annoy us (just as human family members do, too!). But we wouldn’t be without them and the love we have for them is unconditional.

In fact, owning a pet has a whole host of benefits. As well as the mutual affection between owner and dog, it has been proven that having a pet can reduce your levels of stress, increase your physical fitness (you might not feel like a “walk” today, but one look into Fido’s eyes and you just can’t say no!) and help you to meet new people. There really are a lot of reasons why pet ownership is good for the soul. “Sometimes as hard-working people, we focus too much on work and money, but pets are pretty easily pleased. A walk and a bit of love each day and they feel content. We could learn a lot from,” Dr Chris Brown says.

With this in mind, it seems absolutely confusing as to why Australia’s pet ownership is in decline. “I think as a general thing, pet ownership isn’t as easy and is probably not as carefree as it used to be,” Dr Chris says. “For example, there are entire suburbs that simply ban cat ownership. My worry is that without someone speaking up, we might just regulate them out of our lives.” As a spokesperson for the Keep Australia Pet-Friendly movement, Dr Chris has taken a personal interest in this study that shows we’re just not as welcoming of furry companions into our lives as we once were. “A lot of people have decided it’s too much work and we need to work out why that is and see that pet ownership is put back as a pleasant, responsible and enjoyable thing to do.”

Dr Chris lists one of the main reasons for a decline in pet ownership as being the red tape that now comes with having a pet, for example the challenges of living in the city with a pet, suburbs that place restrictions on cat ownership, and areas where dogs are and are not allowed to go when out in public. Even many rental property owners still won’t permit their tenants to bring a pet in, which is frustrating when, as Dr Chris says, pets tend to be no more destructive than most people. He adds that introducing a pet bond into the landlord/tenant relationship could be one solution to increase a feeling of confidence and try to get more hounds into rental homes.

What can we do to help?
It’s time to share the joy of pet ownership and get involved. We don’t want to be a nation of declining dog lovers — let’s get the word out and make sure everybody knows just how great owning a furry companion really is.

“We need to start the discussion. Share the hashtag (#keepauspetfriendly), get talking about why we need to be more pet-friendly and address the fact that it’s the first time our ownership has declined in a long time, so let’s work out why,” Dr Chris says. After all, if more and more people express a desire for more pet-friendly rental properties, cafés and restaurants, we will hopefully be the change. Join us on the DOGSLIfe Facebook page to talk about it more. Let’s all try to make a real difference.

For more information on the campaign, visit petpositives.com.au

Make sure your furry friend is always looked after at our DOGSLife Directory

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One Response to Where have Australia’s pets gone?

  1. When I used to have a car, my dog Ceba – 6year old Tibetan Terrier – and I used to go out all the time. We went to the beach, on dog friendly hikes and off leash Park all over Melbourne. Last year however, my car died and I am in no position to replace it so now I need to bus, train and tram it everywhere. No big deal when it comes to work and shopping, BUT a complete different story when it comes to going out with Ceba.
    I did some research and after many hours looking through the PTV website I found that I CAN take him, as long as I have an appropriate, fully inclosed pet carrier. So, on to ebay I went and bought a pet pram – Ceba weighs 10kg and suffering from chronic bursitis and osteoarthritis, a pet carry bag is out of the question.
    So, now I take Ceba wherever I have access to, BUT have to argue 50% of the times with bus drivers. Once, they even drove straight past me at the bus stop! Last Monday, the driver wouldn’t open the doors for me! So, on one side, PTV allows pets, but on the other end, drivers aren’t educated.
    On a daily basis I have to put up with the bad language and public behaviour of teenagers, but my well behaved dog and I are being rejected. Infuriating!!
    Any education and lobbying for changes are much appreciated.