By Aimee-Lili Peters
Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. And also one of highest rates of pound animals.
No longer just pound dogs. Lemit and Budget and their new ‘dad’ Tony. Photograph by Mary Lou used under Creative Commons licence
Each year over 250,000 dogs and cats in Australian pounds are killed, that’s a number over three times the capacity of Sydney Olympic Stadium. If the animal is not adopted within a certain period of time, it is ‘put down’ by lethal injection or gunshot, then wrapped in a black garage bag to become landfill.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 63 per cent of Australian households own a pet. Dogs are the most common, making up 39 per cent. But why are so many of them left unwanted and abandoned?
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or the RSPCA, is one of Australia’s most trusted private animal shelters. Kelly Walton from the RSPCA says, “The most common reasons we, and pounds, have dogs surrendered to us are mostly the owner having too many animals and are no longer able to care for the animal, or they can’t afford vet treatment for the animal.”
In fact, the total cost of owning a dog in the first year alone can be between $1245 and $3010 and ongoing costs for things like food, vaccinations, vet checks, grooming and toys can mean an additional $650 per year.
Justin Watson, 25, professional dog trainer and owner of Loyal Guardian K9 Rescue Shelter, says “We have more of a problem with our unwanted pet dogs more than anywhere else in the world. Families do not understand the sort of responsibility of having a dog; it’s like adopting another child.”
This was a responsibility learnt that saved Justin’s life. “I won’t go into details but I was in a bad crowd, into some bad shit.” But when Justin brought his first dog home, a Bull Mastiff by the name of Bruno, he was finally given a sense of direction. More…