Pets and companion animals provide the most common contact people have with animals. Australia has one of the largest pet and companion animal owning countries in the world.
Over 63 per cent of the population own some type of pet - usually a dog or cat - and more than 83 per cent have had a pet at some time in their lives. Pets and companion animals compose a large industry, and are important in people’s lives.
The Companion Animals Working Group actively fostered understanding of the welfare responsibilities of the Australian community as a whole. To build on existing animal welfare arrangements, the working group initiated projects to simultaneously address key challenges within the pets and companion animal sector.
The challenges to improving the welfare of pets and companion animals include:
- The need to overturn the widespread perception that animal welfare equates with prevention of cruelty. All Australian states and territories have prevention of cruelty to animals legislation in place, yet prevention of cruelty actually sits within the broader application of animal welfare.
- The need for the whole community to realise that pets and companion animals are neither luxuries to be bought on a whim, nor commodities with a use-by date. Such attitudes can result in neglected, unwanted and abandoned animals which in turn can have adverse impacts on other animals or place financial and physical burdens on the community.
- The need for more effective ways to communicate, educate and raise awareness of animal welfare responsibilities across the whole community given there are diverse types of animals owned by a range of people with differing cultural backgrounds, religions and social customs.