It is often commented that other countries like the UK, and the Netherlands have done a far better job of companion animal welfare than we have. The UK has a population of around 63 million, and around 60,000 cats and dogs are killed in their pounds and shelters. We have a population of only 21 million and we manage to kill over 250,000. Four times as many killed, with a third of their population. Figure that one out
What has worked well in the UK, and we know as we lived there and have good contacts with the UK Dogs Trust, is that the animal welfare groups have done a brilliant job of educating the public that buying your pet from a pet shop or back yard breeder is just wrong, and that desexing is a must. Also the UK has stricter breeder legislation, managed by their Councils. In the UK anyone breeding has to have a licence, with strict controls on breeding practices, and that licence is renewable annually. Desexing is far more accepted in the UK than here – it’s just what you do when you get a pet.
And the peak animal welfare bodies like the Dogs Trust, the RSPCA etc have worked hard over the last 20 years to get these messages out, and to influence the public that a homeless pet from a rehoming centre is the ‘right choice’. They work really well with Council Pounds in rehoming animals from state of the art rehoming centres that are a pleasure to visit, always accessible to the public, and staffed by customer friendly people
See http://www.dogstrust.org.uk to see what we mean.
Of course pet shops try every now and then to sell puppies and kittens, even the famous Harrods tries it on. The difference is that the weight of public opinion is so strong, that the practice soon stops.
In other words, the rehoming groups for unwanted cats and dogs have done a very credible job of disenfranchising pets shops and back yard breeders selling puppies and kittens.
We need to get to this situation here in Australia.
It is said that there are 4 groups of people:
Group 1: Those who are already active in the solution – either rescue work or activism: rescue workers, shelter volunteers, foster carers, fund raisers, charity shelters, some Government and Council management, advocacy groups etc
Group 2: Those who know there is a problem, are happy to sign a petition or two, and would do the right thing. Strategy: motivate to join group 1 ie become more active in the solution
Group 3: Those who don’t know there is a problem, or what causes it, and could be elevated to Group 2. Strategy: motivate to join Group 2 or 1
Group 4: Those who don’t know there is a problem, and would never care if they did know. Strategy: ignore them
We need to reach Group 3 – we have to believe that if you give people the right information, they will generally do the right thing. The right thing of course: don’t buy a pet from a pet shop (unless it is a genuine Rescued animal), or from back yard breeders. Get your pet from a rehoming group or pound or shelter. Stop people giving animals as gifts. Find alternatives to surrendering their pets. Desex their animals.
Actions you can take:
For this reason, we really like the new website “Give Pets A Chance”.
It’s full of relevant and useful information about the problem and its solutions. It gives the public the information required in order to make better choices. Above all, the site will reach out to more and more people as the PR clicks in. Please visit the site, please forward the address to as many people as you can, and please give generously so that the group can place important advertisements in the national and local media that reach out to the public.
Finally, Please contact us with your ideas as to how we can PROGRESSIVELY and ASSERTIVELY reach out to the general public and give them the information they need to:
- Understand what goes on in the pet industry (support http://www.givepetsachance.org.au; http://www.wheredopuppiescomefrom.com.au)
- Give a homeless animal in a shelter or pound a loving home – make homeless pets a first choice if they want a pet
- Never to buy a puppy or kitten from a Pet Shop or Backyard Breeder
- Stop people buying pets as gifts
- Desex all household pets