The campaign aims to ensure that future generations do not miss out on the benefits of pet ownership.
In an exclusive interview with The Carousel, Dr Chris explained to us that the pet population in Australia is declining due to pet ownership being more difficult.
“Regulations are getting tighter and the places we live have become less tolerant of pets,” he says.
“Speaking to people around the country… its just so hard to find rental accommodation if you own a pet and difficult to transport them if you don’t own a car.”
He specifically found that for dogs, a major issue is the lack of safe public outdoor spaces. Fenced, off-leash areas are hugely important to encouraging better behaved and more loving pets.
“A well exercised, socialised dog is a happier, healthier pet and even reduces behavioural issues like barking.”
Compare this to other places like the UK, US and Europe where pets are welcomed freely into businesses, workplaces, apartments, and on public transport, you can start to see where the foundation of the problem lies.
Dr Chris told The Carousel that pet populations have been tracked in Australia for over 15 years, with the most recent data showing that cat numbers have declined by 200,000 and dog numbers by 100,000 over a 12 month period.
“These numbers are not likely to improve. A third of cat owners and dog owners currently look after a senior animal aged eight or more years old. The average life span for a dog is between 8-11 years [dependent on breed] and the average for a cat is between 12-15 years. And people are not seeking new pets like they use to mostly due to the increasing regulations surrounding pet ownership.”
So why does it matter if Australia has a high pet population? Why is this campaign so important to us as a society?
“Quite simply, pets make us happy,” says Dr Chris. “They wash away our worries while showing us how life should be lived. And pets are proven to also make us healthier. There are decades of scientific research showing that pets offer humans a range of health benefits (physical, mental, emotional and psychological) from childhood well into old age.
“Research shows that having a pet in your home means children are less likely to catch colds, need antibiotics or develop asthma. And throughout life having a furry family member leads to more exercise, lower blood pressure, fewer visits to the doctor and better cardiovascular health. Pets have also been proven to help ease loneliness, particularly in senior citizens.”
Dr. Chris hopes that raising awareness will result of Australians become more accommodating of pets, both regionally and in our cities.
“More specifically we need more pet-friendly rental properties, transport, cafes and outdoor spaces. I’ve already seen some great examples of local community members working with their sportsground and council to effectively share their outdoor public spaces, but we need to be doing more.”
“I am encouraging people across the country to join me and the Keep Australia Pet Friendly campaign to tackle these issues.”
You can follow the campaign on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/keepauspetfriendly/?fref=ts or on social media @PetPositives and using #keepauspetfriendly.