Sept 23 is Dogs in Politics Day!

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Sunday 23rd September is Dogs in Politics Day. With a tradition stretching back to 1952, we think it’s a great way of celebrating the furry companions who support our political leaders and sometimes find themselves sharing (or stealing!) the limelight. The United States has a long pedigree of political pets in the White House, the most recent being President Obama’s furry companion Bo the Portuguese Water Dog. Australia has some way to go in catching up with the United States in the high-profile position held by these political pooches and pussycats, but for now we look back on some of our much loved animal friends.

Former prime ministers who had pets include Kevin Rudd’s golden retriever named Abby (who reportedly had psychic powers… all the better to predict mealtime with!) and Jasper the cat (who had his own children’s book written about him). Tony Abbott had a cream spoodle named Maisie, Julia Gillard had her cavoodle Reuben and Malcolm Turnbull had several dogs and, famously, a dog blog where he wrote in the voices of JoJo the silky terrier cross and Dusty the Kelpie.

Pets are part of our families, and that means our politicians’ families as well. Do you know if your local member has a pet? Find your local member here and give them a shout for Dogs in Politics Day with the #DogsInPoliticsDay and #KeepAusPetFriendly hashtags: https://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Members

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Photography tips to fast track pets into furever homes!

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With thousands of pets available for adoption on PetRescue.com.au (Australia’s most visited charity website) a perfect snap can catch a new owner’s eye and encourage an adoption. This International Pet Homelessness Day, Mars Petcare is calling attention to the simple steps we can take to help reduce the number of pets living in foster care, to Keep Australia Pet-Friendly.

With thousands of pets available for adoption on PetRescue.com.au (Australia’s most visited charity website) a perfect snap can catch a new owner’s eye and encourage an adoption. This International Pet Homelessness Day, Mars Petcare is calling attention to the simple steps we can take to help reduce the number of pets living in foster care, to Keep Australia Pet-Friendly.

While we all know that it’s whats on the inside that counts, using a few expert photography tips to capture an animal's personality can help make them jump out from the screen and into someone’s lap. 

Australia’s favourite vet Dr Chris Brown has photographed animals around the world, from Bondi beach to the African savannah – here he reveals the secrets behind what makes the perfect shot, and a few of his personal favourite portraits!

So whether you’re one of Australia’s incredible foster pet carers, or you just want to know how to boost the likes on your pet’s insta, read on!

DR CHRIS BROWN'S PHOTOGRAPHY DO'S AND DONT'S

When it comes to capturing pics of your pet, do you only get blur when you were really aiming for blue-steel?

Here are the top tips for capturing a homeless pet’s softer side. 

CHOOSE YOUR SPOT. Keep it simple. Often the busier the background, the more it distracts away from the true star here; your little mate. An empty park, beach or even a plain brick wall allow your pet to shine.

LIGHT IT UP. Really manage the light where you’re shooting. You’re aiming for a soft light that you often find early in the morning or late in the afternoon. That’ll add some warmth and emotion to your image straight away but it’s also really important for those eyes as well.

THE EYES HAVE IT. The eyes let you into that personality of theirs so try focusing upon them.  Plus having enough light so they don’t just look like black holes will help you (and a potential owner) to get inside that delicate soul that needs a home.

GO LOW. In order to appreciate their personality, you have to be on their level and look into their eyes. So, despite how it may look, get down onto their level by sitting or lying on the ground.

NO FLASHING. Our pets have a reflective membrane in the back of their eyes (often a blue, green or orange colour) that will bounce that flashlight right back at you. It’s like ‘red eye’ on steroids. And it’s obviously hugely distracting.

BE PATIENT. You’re only after one look or even one lick. Go in with an open mind about what you’re after and I guarantee they’ll flash you a glance when you least expect it…so be ready.

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Sample Pet Policy for Pet-Friendly Businesses

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A successful pet-friendly workplace program brings many benefits. However, there are essential requirements that need to be met by the pet owner before their pet can be brought into the office. It is essential that these requirements are met to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. Below is an example policy that outlines specific requirements and responsibilities that should be examined and implemented into companies that are considering opening their doors to pets.

A successful pet-friendly workplace program brings many benefits. However, there are essential requirements that need to be met by the pet owner before their pet can be brought into the office. It is essential that these requirements are met to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. Below is an example policy that outlines specific requirements and responsibilities that should be examined and implemented into companies that are considering opening their doors to pets.

Your actual pet policy should reflect your organisation’s decisions about bringing pets to work, such as which types of pets are allowed and what the requirements are for participants. Don’t forget to consider any building-specific rules that could affect your policy.

 

WORKPLACE PET POLICY

 

Pets make our lives better in so many ways. At work, they create a fun, happy environment, encourage interactions among people, and get us up for regular exercise breaks.

Pets are also a responsibility, and the opportunity to have them at our workplace is a privilege all participants must respect. To take part in our pets-at-work program, employees must agree to honour this workplace pet policy.

 

Scope

  • This workplace pet policy applies to employees only. Because it would be too difficult to track requirements and participation, we do not allow visitors to bring pets to our workplace.
  • This policy applies to [XYZ] location, and participating pets are allowed any time their owner is at work.
  • The focus of our policy is dogs and cats. Other pets are not included at this time. Please contact HR if you would like to explore adding other pet types to the workplace pet policy.

 

Pet Requirements

 

To participate, pets must be:

  • At least 3 months old.
  • Up to date on vaccinations required by state law.
  • Free of any communicable infections or any parasites such as fleas.
  • Clean and well groomed.
  • House-trained.
  • Obedient, well-socialised and with no history of biting, excessive barking, chasing or aggressive behavior.
  • Microchipped, to help locate and return them in case they would run away while visiting.

 

Pet Owner Responsibilities

 

To comply with our workplace pet policy, pet owners who want to bring their pets to work must agree to:

  • Be 100% responsible for their pet’s behavior, well-being, hygiene and happiness the entire time he or she is visiting.
  • Be respectful of other employees, and their pets, to ensure everyone can be as successful and productive as possible at work.
  • Manage their workspace to ensure it is “pet-proofed” and safe for their visiting pet.
  • Keep their pet with them and controlled throughout the day. Or, make arrangements with a colleague to do so if they need to step away.
  • Ensure that their pet’s behavior does not interfere with other employees’ comfort or ability to do their work.
  • Provide their own pet items to ensure pet safety, such as leashes, crates or gates to keep the pet securely in the employee’s work area.
  • Provide their own pet wellness items, such as waste bags, toys, food and water bowls. Do not bring squeaky or noisy toys that cause distraction.
  • Provide adequate bathroom breaks, access to water and food, and exercise throughout the day.
  • Clean up after their pet immediately if any accidents occur.
  • Be legally and financially responsible for any damage caused by their pet.
  • Provide annual proof of vaccination and health for their visiting pets.
  • Keep pets out of pet-free areas.
  • Use alternate pet care away from work on days when the employee would be unable to fully manage the pet at work (e.g. an all-day meeting) or the pet is ill.
  • Take their pet home at any time if the pet’s behavior or health makes it a distraction, nuisance or danger to anyone else, or if asked to so by their manager.

 

Managing Issues

 

Concerns related to visiting pets or the workplace pet policy should be handled in the following way:

  • Talk with the pet owner and work to resolve issues mutually.
  • Escalate the issue to the pet owner’s supervisor.
  • Escalate the issue to Human Resources.
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Best Park Practice

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Adult dog with family in park

Giving dogs a place to run and play not only keeps them healthy, social and stimulated, it’s a great excuse to get yourself moving too.

Not all of us have a backyard to play with our dog in, but many of us are lucky enough to have access to a number of parks and open spaces within our communities, where we’re able to take our four-legged friends.

Like any public space, there are some unwritten rules that are great to know so that everyone, including you and your dog, can continue to enjoy these pet-friendly spaces to the fullest.

Training

Before taking your dog to the park for the first time, it’s important that they’ve had obedience training and can respond well to basic commands like “sit” and “stay”. They can easily get over-excited when meeting new friends at the park, so make sure you’re confident that they’ll respond to you, particularly when they’re off their leash. Knowing that your dog is trained will also put other park guests at ease.

Training also plays a big part in how your dog interacts with its peers. Like humans, all dogs have different personalities, which means that they’ll have different styles of play. Some love to chase, play tug-o-war and wrestle, whilst others might prefer to interact at a level that is less gregarious.  Talking to the other pet parents at the park is really important – flagging up front if your dog does or doesn’t play well with others can help prevent some awkward interactions!

Ensure Your Dog is Healthy

With so many different dogs going to and from parks, it is crucial that your pet is up-to-date with their vaccinations. This not only prevents the spread of illness and disease, but ensures they live a long, healthy life. Puppies can be particularly susceptible to illness so you’ll want to make sure that they’re not only vaccinated, but old enough to be at the park (at least 12-16 weeks old). By keeping up with regular vet checks and vaccinations, you’re safeguarding your animal against any nasty bugs they may catch from some of their new found playmates.

dog

Keep a Close Eye on Your Dog

We know that dogs can get up to all sorts of mischief when they are off their leash, so no matter how exciting that text message or other pet owner might be, make sure you have tabs on what your dog is doing, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those around you.

It’s a great strength as a pet-owner to recognise body language from your dog and acknowledge the differences between it being alert, happy and friendly, versus dominant, aggressive and fearful of other dogs. After a bit of play, your four-legged friend might even be telling you it’s time to go home. If they shows any of the following, it may be time to go:

  • Tucked tail
  • Yawning
  • Panting / drooling
  • Shaking
  • Body freezing

Make sure you recognise the signs and act appropriately.

Respect Public Areas

Don’t forget that parks are there for everyone to enjoy, so play your part and keep them clean. In the interest of public health, clean up after your dog with tidy bags when nature calls. Don’t stress if you forget or run out, as most local councils will have them on-hand at dog-friendly parks and spaces.

Always look for signs! Some councils implement rules about where pets can play so it’s important that you’re aware of any restrictions that may be in place, particularly in areas where young children are present.  If you’re not certain on the restrictions, it’s always best to get in touch with your local council to find out more. 

Bring the Necessities

As well as tidy bags, bring along water, toys and treats for your dog. Some parks provide water buckets or bowls, but they are not always guaranteed, so it’s best to pack your own just in case. Most pet shops will stock compact water bowls and bottles that can easily be attached to leashes and make it easy to keep your dog properly hydrated at the park. It’s always a great idea to bring a ball or similar toy along so that you can play and bond with your pet while at the park. Particularly during the initial stages of introducing your dog to the park, don’t forget to bring along some treats as well to reward them for good behaviour.

 

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Understanding the legislation changes in Victoria

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Beagle

Late last year the Victorian Government announced a number of changes to tenancy laws, with one of the most notable granting tenants in the state the right to have a pet in their rental property. The new reforms reflect the understanding that living with a pet can be part of what truly makes a house a home. If the Victorian Government passes the legislation in Parliament before the 2018 state election, the changes will come into effect in 2019.

Currently, landlords often write ‘no pet clauses’ into rental agreements. Under the updated laws, such clauses would be prohibited with few exceptions. According to RSPCA Victoria, the banning of pets from rental properties results in a large number of renters giving up their animals, particularly in the last two financial years.

The reforms to tenancy laws would make it easier for Victorian tenants and landlords to understand their obligations and rights when it comes to renting and leasing. Tenants would need to obtain their landlord’s written consent to keep a pet at the property, however landlords will not be able to unreasonably refuse a request. Some instances where landlords may still be able to refuse pet ownership could include when a renter wanted to keep an animal that has been banned by the local council or body corporate.

Tenants who have an animal living with them at a rental property would be required to undertake cleaning and fumigation if there is pet-related damage to the property at the end of their tenancy. In some circumstances, managers of heritage listed dwellings may refuse permission for tenants to keep pets if the costs of cleaning or maintenance would be excessively high.

These legislative changes are a response to Australia’s changing society, where more people are renting long term and changes are needed to make sure Australia remains pet-friendly. Pet owners can often make great tenants, looking for longer lease terms and displaying great care for their rental properties. The Victorian Government has sent a clear signal that tenants should be able to keep pets just like anyone else, helping Australia to be a more pet-friendly place.

 

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Tips and tricks for keeping your house pet friendly

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House friendly

Bringing a new furry friend into the home (whether you’re a first-time owner or have had pets for years!) is always an exciting time. Pets are great family members who provide companionship and unconditional love. But before they arrive, you should make sure you create a pet-friendly environment that keeps them safe and spikes their curiosity!  Here are our top tips:

Give them their own space

Make your new pet feel welcome by setting up an area in your home that is just theirs. Add all the necessities including a comfy bed, food and water bowls, as well as some toys to get them entertained and keep them away from things they shouldn’t chew. For cats, keep litter boxes away from feeding areas.

Baby gates can be your best friend

Baby gates don’t just keep little humans away from steps, they can also keep your new puppy or kitten away from stairs or areas in the house you don’t want them in. Using the gates to separate rooms and block off stairs ensures that your new furry friend won’t injure themselves going somewhere they shouldn’t.

Keep the bench clear and bins away

Some foods, medications, and cleaning products can present a potential danger to pets. Make sure you keep items that are not meant for pets away from benches, and make sure they are placed high and out of reach – they’ll do anything to get their paws on these! Make sure you keep bins behind closed doors if possible and secure them properly.

Keep your shoes and socks away!

There’s nothing more enticing to curious pets (especially puppies) than a pair of shoes or socks to chew on. Not only will they ruin these items, pieces of material can get stuck inside their intestines. Make sure you keep your shoes and socks in cupboards and away from teething puppies and curious cats.

Keep your backyard pet friendly

Pets love to play outdoors so it is important to make sure that areas are kept hazard free and safe as possible for them. Make sure that any tools and machinery are locked away in sheds, along with pesticides and other harmful products. If you are keeping your dog outside, make sure that the kennel is placed in an obstruction free zone, in an area where they won’t be affected by the weather.

Fencing is also very important -  it may be high, but that doesn’t mean it is secure. Make sure there aren’t any holes or gaps that your pet could get through. Pool fences can be particularly dangerous for puppies or small dogs to slip through the gaps. Some plastic mesh secured to the bottom of the fence with zip ties is an easy fix.

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The Most Suitable Pet for Your Space

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most suitable pet dog

It’s a well-known fact that pets can bring a lot of joy to our lives by improving our cardiovascular health, increasing our levels of exercise and providing us with companionship. Pets in Australian households are fairly common; however, it is important that you consider what type of pet is best suited to your place prior to committing to one.

Dogs

Dogs are great additions to the family; however, your home environment will have an impact on which dog breed is most suited to you. While some dogs are happy to live in an apartment, others require open spaces to keep them happy. Backyard space is another important factor to consider before to choosing a dog as some dogs need access to a garden for more freedom. But don’t be fooled into thinking that the size of your home has to match the size of your dog! What it really comes down to is a dog’s energy requirements. A Great Dane is secretly a perfect apartment dog, because once they’ve had their walk they are completely docile.  Greyhounds also fall into this category – they love their naps even more than you do! Take the quiz here to match your lifestyle to the perfect breed! https://www.petpositives.com.au/dog-breeds/

Cats

Moggies make up the vast majority of cats in Australia, so a lot of the time it can come down to the individual personality of the cat – do they like kids, or their own quiet time?  But if you’re after someone really specific, you could look at the characteristics of the different cat breeds in Australia. There are a range of factors to consider before to choosing the perfect cat breed for your lifestyle. Cats love making use of vertical space such as furniture and window sills, so smaller apartments are great for those who don’t have a big backyard. Some cats are very social and really enjoy human companionship, so are more suited to an indoor environment. Other factors to consider include how vocal some breeds could be, and if they shed hair. As a fairly independent species, they can be great for people who work long hours or sometimes travel for work. Take the quiz here to learn more about the different cat breeds:  https://www.petpositives.com.au/breeds/

Fish

It is common for new fish owners to think that smaller bowls or fish tanks mean less responsibility and maintenance. With frequent water changes and cleaning, fish bowls can make suitable habitats for pet fish, but it does require a lot of work. For those who invest in a well-filtered tank, less time is required with only weekly cleanings needed rather than a daily clean for smaller unfiltered fish bowls. Fish are tranquil and calming, can help lower blood pressure and stress in adults, are quiet, and make wonderful pets for those who don’t have time or physical space to devote to a high maintenance companion. Breeds such as Betta fish or Goldfish are ideal for new fish owners as they can thrive in a bowl and with frequent water changes, can make the perfect addition to your home and family.

Fish

Birds

The location of a birdcage is an integral part of your bird’s environment and daily life. The ideal placement of a birdcage, is in a corner where it provides them with a sense of security and partial view of a window. Placing your birdcage directly in front of a window may scare them as dogs, storms or commotion may frighten them. Contrary to popular belief, birds are incredibly social creatures and need a lot of mental stimulation. This may pose as a problem if they don’t have another bird to keep them company, or if their owner is out for the majority of the day. While birds may be good for small spaces, they may require attention and socialisation in captivity or they may exhibit frustration by screaming, picking their feathers or developing compulsive behaviours. If you live in close proximity to neighbours, then you may want to consider a quieter breed such as a canary, parakeet or cockatiel.

Rabbits

Rabbits are great indoor pets. They are brimming with personality, docile and easy to train to use a litter tray. They don’t need a huge amount of space and can be kept indoors or outdoors, depending on your living environment. If you choose to keep your rabbit outdoors, they will need a proper enclosure and extra care during season changes. Rabbits are very curious, so they enjoy digging, chewing and exploring. If you choose to keep your rabbit indoors, you will need to bunny-proof your home by concealing cords and providing it with lots of toys and safe chewables. Consideration should be given to space, protection from predators, different temperatures and sufficient ventilation.

Pets are a great addition to every home, but before you consider taking on the responsibility of having one, ensure that you do your research and consider factors such as space, ownership permissions, time available to spend with your pet, your activity levels, fencing and financial resources. By considering all factors, both your life and theirs will be happy and healthy.

 

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Pet Ownership Responsibilities

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Pet Ownership Responsibilities - Affordabilty

Owning a pet can be joyful and exciting, but it also comes with its share of obligations. Here are a few things to consider before you look at welcoming a furry member to the family.

Affordability

Despite the priceless amount of love and happiness that owning a pet can provide, there are very real costs that come along with bringing one home. After the initial price of adopting or buying your pet, you should consider future and potential costs, such as vaccinations, de-sexing, vet checks and treatments, grooming, pet insurance, training costs, toys and food. It’s a good idea to map out a budget of approximately how much you would be spending a week on owning a pet to be prepared.

Lifestyle

Pets, especially most dogs, love interaction with their owners so it’s important that you give them the time that they need. Walking, training, cleaning up, grooming and playing are all essential parts of owning a pet, which all take up time in your day. If your work and social life keep you out of the house and away from your pet, consider animals that are more independent, like cats, rabbits or birds. Your life stage will also impact what animal is suited to your lifestyle - breed characteristics will help you understand the general profile of a pet; for instance, a cat or older dog generally works well with an older couple, while a great family dog like a Golden Retriever or King Charles Cavalier might be perfect for a young family.  However, pet adoption websites like www.petrescue.com.au can tell you exactly which individual pet will match your family, with individual profiles to tell you who’s a shy cat, and who is a boisterous pup!

Pet Ownership Responsibilities

Space

The final frontier. Whether you live in a tiny apartment or a on a big farm, there is a pet for you. If you are living in a smaller space and looking for a dog, bulldogs, which are content with just a short walk, or pugs, which are generally known for their quietness and small size, can be great choices. Larger breeds generally need a fenced area or park to stretch their legs and relax their mind. This is not to say you can’t have a big dog if you live in a small place, some large breeds, like a Mastiff or Great Dane mellow as they get older and are happy lazing on the couch. Cats can fit well in most spaces and are generally fairly independent, so can be a great addition to large and small places alike. Finally, if you already have a pet in the home, think about how they may react to a new member in their space. Some cats and dogs get along like best friends, but others may be territorial.

Clearly, owning a pet is not without responsibility, but if you put the thought in beforehand, you are increasing the likelihood of a great life for you and your new animal.  If you tick yes to all the items on the checklist below then it’s the right time to welcome a pet into your life.

  • Can I afford this pet?
    • Price of adopting
    • Vaccinations
    • Food
    • De-sexing
    • Vet checks and treatments
    • Grooming
    • Pet insurance
    • Training costs
    • Toys
  • Does my current lifestyle accommodate for a pet?
  • Does my space work with the animal I want?
  • Will a new animal fit in with any other pets in my home?
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Should pet owners be given a tax credit for saving the health system $$?

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New data released this week shows that pet owners deliver a massive $2 billion in public healthcare savings across Australia. The Healthcare Economics of Pets report determined that every pet owner saves the health system $700 per year. On the back of this research, Keep Australia Pet Friendly ambassador Dr Chris Brown is prescribing pets to Federal and State governments to help relieve the pain of ballooning healthcare budgets.

New data released this week shows that pet owners deliver a massive $2 billion in public healthcare savings across Australia. While the individual health benefits of owning a pet are widely known, The Healthcare Economics of Pets report determined that every pet owner saves the health system $700 per year in reducing the number of doctor visits and associated health costs, such as fewer specialist appointments and hospital visits.

 

On the back of this research, Keep Australia Pet Friendly ambassador Dr Chris Brown is prescribing pets to Federal and State governments to help relieve the pain of ballooning healthcare budgets.

 

He is encouraging policymakers to consider tax rebates or offsets that encourage pet ownership to stimulate further savings.

 

Fast facts:

-Pet owners create $2 billion in healthcare budgets savings every year

-By visiting the doctor 11% less annually, each pet owner saves the health system $700 per year

-Pets encourage better physical health through walk and play, and promote mental health by providing companionship and facilitating community connection

-The Keep Australia Pet Friendly campaign encourages pet owners, governments and businesses to work together to integrate pets into Australian life

 

 

The calculations are based on previous studies by academics at the University of Melbourne that showed pet owners visit the doctors 11% less than non-pet owners.

 

The economic projections indicate that if pet populations increased by 10% a year the public health system could stand to save a whopping $200 million annually.

 

John Bishop, Co-Founder and Joint CEO of national animal welfare charity PetRescue, has voiced his support for the proposal.

 

“We really need policies like this to encourage more Australians to discover the benefits, and the joy, of pet adoption. The fact that pet ownership also has such a huge positive impact on our economy, it makes me wonder why this hasn’t been implemented sooner. It's a win-win for both humans and the many thousands of pets looking for a new home,” said Mr Bishop. 

 

This report shows that keeping Australia pet friendly is an issue of national importance. If our governments can recognise pet owners for making smart choices for their health through incentives like a tax rebate or offset, the return on investment could be huge.

 

So, what do you think?

 

 

 

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Pets - A Neighborhood's Best Friend

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New Australian research suggests pets are a valuable and positive feature of community and neighbourhood life. The University of Western Australia study was sponsored by the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition and was led by Dr Lisa Wood, School of Population and Global Health.

 

Fast Facts

The latest study1 by the University of Western Australia found:

  • Over 60% of dog owners reported they got to know their neighbour through their pet
  • For owners of pets other than dogs almost a third said they got to know neighbours through their pet
  • Pets facilitated first meeting and conversations between neighbours
  • Dog walkers were more likely to have a higher social capital score than dog owners who did not walk their dog

The release of the research coincided with a speech from high profile veterinarian Dr Chris Brown who urged local councils to be more pet-friendly in a major speech at the National General Assembly of Local Government.

 

 

New Australian research suggests pets are a valuable and positive feature of community and neighbourhood life. The University of Western Australia study was sponsored by the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition and was led by Dr Lisa Wood, School of Population and Global Health.

Fast Facts

The latest study1 by the University of Western Australia found:

  •          Over 60% of dog owners reported they got to know their neighbour through their pet
  •          For owners of pets other than dogs almost a third said they got to know neighbours through their pet
  •          Pets facilitated first meeting and conversations between neighbours
  •          Dog walkers were more likely to have a higher social capital score than dog owners who did not walk their dog

Drawing from a sample of more than 2,500 pet and non-pet owners across three U.S. cities (San Diego, Portland and Nashville) and one Australian city (Perth) the research reveals owning a pet, irrespective of the type of animal it is, is linked to increased perceptions of trust in the community and increased social capital (formation of strong networks and positive relationships between people).

 UWA lead researcher Dr Lisa Wood said the notion that pets can help to facilitate the ‘glue’ that holds communities together went far beyond the role of pets as a conversation starter or icebreaker.

 “What we are interested in is the extent to which pets contribute to the social fabric of a community by forging connections and trust between people,” Dr Wood said.

 “In our increasingly busy and technology dominated lives, people can often feel disconnected from their local community, and this can impact negatively on mental health.  But pets are a natural antidote to this, and can help strengthen the social fabric of our neighbourhoods.”  

 In the study, the researchers measured differences in the level of social capital between pet and non-pet owners. Social capital was measured with questions about trust in others, whether people are willing to help one another or exchange favours, community involvement, and whether or not they had gotten to know people in their community.    

 “We found people who owned a pet had higher social capital than non-pet owners in all the cities studied, and this was not just limited to people who owned a dog, or who walked their dog in the neighbourhood,” Dr Wood.

 Dr Wood said overall, 60 per cent of those surveyed who owned a dog got to know their neighbours better and 25 per cent of those who owned another type of pet  got to know their neighbours better.  “Our findings suggest that even incidental social interactions can contribute to enhanced social capital, as people are then less likely to feel that they live amongst total strangers,” Dr Wood said.

 The importance of pet ownership in bringing communities together and increasing perceptions of trust has important implications for town planners, local government and housing bodies.

 “In Australia, pets have traditionally been more likely owned by people living in detached housing with backyards, with many apartments and retirement villages still defaulting to a ‘no pets’policy,” Dr Wood said.

 “By contrast, in cities in Europe and the U.S. with a longer history of higher density apartment style living pets are more readily accepted in residences of this type.”

The release of the research coincided with a speech from high profile veterinarian Dr Chris Brown who urged local councils to be more pet-friendly in a major speech at the National General Assembly of Local Government.

 

 

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