THE WHIS­PERER

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - PETS - Anne Box­hall Email abox­hall@big­pond.com

WE Aussies love our pets. The Aus­tralian Com­pan­ion An­i­mal Coun­cil es­ti­mates eight mil­lion house­holds across the coun­try share their homes with pets.

Al­though Aus­tralia has one of the high­est rates of pet own­er­ship in the world, there is a sur­pris­ing lack of re­li­able data.

This gap in in­for­ma­tion makes life harder for those whose job it is to plan for the man­age­ment and wel­fare of com­pan­ion an­i­mals in this coun­try.

Effi cient plan­ning to max­imise the ben­e­fits, min­imise the risks and achieve bet­ter out­comes for an­i­mals re­lies on ac­cess to the best pos­si­ble in­for­ma­tion.

To ad­dress the in­for­ma­tion gap, the Com­pan­ion An­i­mal Work­ing Group ( CAWG) – a national com­mit­tee work­ing as part of the Fed­eral Govern­ment’s Aus­tralian An­i­mal Wel­fare Strat­egy – is propos­ing the national cen­sus be used to ob­tain data on pet own­er­ship.

CAWG is lob­by­ing to have ques­tions about com­pan­ion an­i­mals in­cluded in the next cen­sus, in 2016, to ac­cu­rately iden­tify how many house­holds have cats and dogs and whether those cats and dogs are de­sexed.

The data would help ur­ban plan­ners and coun­cils de­vel­op­ing lo­cal by- laws man­age cats and dogs and those de­liv­er­ing com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams on so­cially re­spon­si­ble pet own­er­ship.

The data col­lec­tion would also pro­vide base­line in­for­ma­tion for de­vel­op­ing national com­pan­ion an­i­mal leg­is­la­tion, aimed at im­proved out­comes around the breed­ing, sale and keep­ing of an­i­mals.

With pets proven to pro­vide sig­nifi cant so­cial, phys­i­cal and men­tal health ben­e­fits to in­di­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties, there is likely to be a con­tin­u­ing and grow­ing need for data on this topic.

The pub­lic is en­cour­aged to sup­port CAWG’s bid for the cen­sus ques­tions by con­tact­ing their lo­cal mem­ber or the fed­eral min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for the Aus­tralian Bureau of Statis­tics, Bernie Ripoll, be­fore May 31.

Mr Ripoll can be emailed at bernie.ripoll.mp@aph.gov.au

Writ­ten let­ters of sup­port can be mailed to PO Box 6022, House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Par­lia­ment House, Can­berra, ACT 2600.

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