New campaign to stop pet neglect

La Trobe University research has revealed pet owners are unaware of many essential aspects of animal welfare.

Lead researcher Dr Tiffani Howell said the team had surveyed 2,362 Victorians, measuring how well pet owners understood their animals' needs. 

"Victoria has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. We wanted to know how people kept and cared for a range of pets, from dogs, cats, rabbits and birds through to less common animals such as reptiles, rodents, frogs and ferrets." 

 Findings included:  

  • 63 per cent of dogs were not walked daily and up to 40 per cent of cats could be overweight without their owners realising it
  • many pets are left alone for long periods during the day
  • In some cases, almost a third of those surveyed had not vaccinated their pet against common diseases.

"Cats and dogs can live for over 10 years, so it's important that we understand the responsibilities we have for our pets over their entire life span," said Dr Howell.

"Owning pets can be a lot of fun, and pets can provide us with company, stress relief and unconditional love. Pet ownership also teaches children responsibility and helps them develop their social and nurturing skills."

The research has formed the basis of the Victorian Government's new Making Victoria better for pets campaign, which informs pet owners about how they can help pets lead healthier and happier lives. 

The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resource's Dr Mariko Lauber says that understanding the needs and the behaviours of companion animals is the responsibility of every pet owner in Victoria.

"Regardless of the type of pet or breed, it is easy and free to learn more about their behaviour."

Click here for more information about caring for pets, and the Making Victoria better for pets campaign.

Media enquiries: Tom O'Callaghan, Media and Communications, T 03 5444 7415, M 0408 900 469

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