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Pet Ownership Stable Despite Increase in Dog Ownership (USA)

According to results from the 2022 AVMA Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, the size of the U.S pet population has been stable despite the increase in dog ownership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AVMA states that “The sourcebook shows the percentage of U.S. households that own at least one dog increased from 38% to 45% between 2016 and 2020 but had leveled off by 2022…”

During the two-day AVMA Veterinary Economic and Business Forum, Rosemary Radich (former principal data scientist for the AVMA Veterinary Economics Division) said that “the increase in the number of households with dogs looks large, but it occurred over a six-year period, which is actually pretty conservative growth”.

Radich went on to explain that these findings indicate that “Dog populations are essentially being influenced by the overall economy”, which was backed up by the findings showing that “dog-owning households grew from 38% in 2016 to roughly 45% in 2020-22, [and] a similar pattern emerged in home ownership, which increased from 63.5% in the first quarter of 2016 to 65.3% in the first quarter of 2020 and then increased slightly to 65.4% in the first quarter of 2022. The pattern was the same for median real household income, in 2021 dollars, which went from $66,700 in 2016 to $71,200 in 2020 and $70,800 in 2021”. 

Why Should You Care?

There are two reasons to pay attention to a story like this. Firstly, the notion that dog populations increase when economic growth is increasing should come as a surprise to no one. But the anticipated and imminent arrival of a recession (triggered by the cost of living crisis) is likely to slow demand for vet services significantly.

The other thing to note here is the huge discrepancy between yet more of the AVMAs numbers and the experience on the ground of virtually every veterinary professional across the country. This news is sure to raise some eyebrows and makes one wonder exactly where the data is being gathered and whether it is reliable/useful.

Click here to read the full article.

The Kept Animals Bill: How You Can Help Tackle Animal Cruelty (UK)

BVA President Malcolm Morley has urged MPs and Peers to put pressure on the government to deliver on its commitments regarding the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill. Malcolm Morley discussed the impact it would have on the most “crucial” welfare issues.

Commenting on the bill at a Westminster event, he said “This vital Bill will address some of the most pressing animal health and welfare issues of our times, and we are urging the Government to deliver on its commitment to animal health and welfare by ensuring its continuation through Parliament.

“BVA has campaigned for many years on some of the issues included in this Bill, and it is essential, as it continues through Parliament, that it retains vital measures, such as those designed to tackle puppy smuggling, prohibit the import of dogs with cropped ears, review zoo standards, impose a ban on keeping primates as pets and introduce mandatory, reliable pre-import testing for dogs with unknown health statuses.”

If attendees of the event wanted to show support for the Kept Animals Bill, the BVA president encouraged them to take photos with the BVA’s “I support the Kept Animals Bill” board, as well as sharing those photos on social media. 

Anyone who wants to ensure this legislation is put into law is encouraged to write to Thérèse Coffey (Defra Secretary of State) to urge her to put this at the top of her priorities.

Why Should You Care?

We need to stand together to ensure that legislation that positively affects animal welfare is scrutinized and, when good, supported. Making sure we have our say and use our professional voice to shape better welfare laws is an essential part of the role we have as animal advocates. Hopefully, in this instance, it will mean that barbaric practices such as ear cropping and puppy smuggling are stopped for good in the UK. 

To read the full article, click here.

The Cost of Living Crisis: How the Nation’s Pets Will Struggle (UK)

A new Dogs Trust poll has shown that 13% of dog owners are in debt due to caring for their animals, with research by the RSPCA showing that soaring household bills are the main risk concerning animal welfare.

The RSPCA’s Animal Kindness Index Survey reported that 32% of cat owners are worried about providing proper care for their pets, while 28% of pet owners as a whole face the same worries. 19% of owners are worried about giving their pets food. This grim situation can be put into context through how the Dogs Trust has reported that requests for pet rehoming from owners have increased by 26.5% (from 11,168 inquiries last Autumn to 14,128 this year).

“Losing a pet due to the cost of living crisis will not only have a significant and negative impact on the emotional and mental health of millions of families across Britain, but it will also negatively affect those working in the charity and veterinary sectors.” 

Owen Sharp, chief executive of Dogs Trust, said: “We already have 1,000 dogs on the waiting list to come into our rehoming centers.

“However, we have real concerns that, despite our best efforts, we will get to a point where we’ll be forced to start turning dogs away. If this happens, dog welfare will become a true emergency.”

“We meet regularly with animal welfare stakeholders and sector groups to monitor the situation and identify where more support may be needed. We welcome the support these groups are providing for their members during these difficult times.”

To read the full article, click here.

Why Should You Care?

This shows the profound impact of an economic crisis on the welfare of pets and their owners. We need to make sure that we have plans in place to combat the issues caused by economic turmoil, as well as ensure that we help the owners through these tough times. 

The truly galling thing is that caring compassionate clinical staff are going to be the ones tasked with the humane destruction of unwanted animals should they not be able to be rehomed. 

The University of Melbourne’s Proposed Vet Hospital Closure (Aus)

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Duncan Maskell, announced on Tuesday a proposition to close its U-Vet Animal Hospital in Werribee. This proposition has faced criticism from the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), with David Gonzalez, the branch secretary of the University of Melbourne, having this to say: “The Werribee Animal Hospital had already been subject to $10 million in cuts by the University of Melbourne in 2021 which resulted in the closure of pet emergency services and dozens of staff redundancies. Those cuts saw an outpouring of community support for the hospital and staff with over 4,000 people signing a petition to try and stop them

“It’s especially devastating for our members and colleagues to learn about the proposed sale of the U-Vet hospital. Western suburbs residents have relied on the hospital’s services for their beloved pets and animals for many years and may now be abandoned by the University of Melbourne.”

If this decision were to go ahead, around 80 members of staff could lose their jobs, with the decision also affecting the pet owners in Melbourne who rely on the services of the hospital. The University has claimed this decision was proposed due to staff shortages and restricted opening hours, but the staff has claimed that the University is the cause of these issues.

Commenting on the matter, a University of Melbourne spokeswoman said that “If after consultation the U-Vet proposal goes ahead, there will be a number of job losses. (Approximately 80 roles) …

“This is a source of great regret and we will take all possible steps to support our staff during this difficult period.”

Click here to read the full story.

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