MSPCA survey claims less people are taking in cats and dogs as pets

Greater microchipping compliance and reduction in observations of strays continues encouraging NGOs to persevere with this issue

An annual survey on public attitudes towards cat and dog ownership has indicated a decline in both cat and dog ownership.

The survey carried out in November 2017 by Prof. Mario Vassallo for the Malta SPCA found a decline in observed strays and increased dog microchipping compliance.

The survey also found a change in the public’s perceived responsibility of strays which has shifted away (42.4%) from Animal Welfare Department (AWD) in previous years (84.4% in 2016; 2015: 77.2%; 2014: 77.6%).

Perceived responsibility has taken a more social orientation ​to individuals, NGOs and local councils. This change was also replicated in who should be responsible for stray animals.

“The MSPCA greets the results of the neutering campaigns for dogs by the MSPCA and cats by other NGOs which are encouraging, but are concerned that lifestyle and residential changes may be behind the decline in cat and dog ownership. While the MSPCA does not advocate irresponsible ownership of pets, a decline in people that want to adopt a pet may place animal shelters under more pressure than before as fewer homes are available for animals for adoption,” the association said.

While it has been common practice for Maltese NGOs to send dogs abroad for adoption, a practice the MSPCA believes to be unsustainable, a new phenomenon in recent years has emerged with people in Malta adopting animals from foreign NGOs.

In this first-time measure of the extent of this phenomenon, 12.5% of respondents that had adopted a dog, said they had adopted it from abroad. This, coupled with measured interest in doing so by other respondents, indicates this figure may increase in the future.

The MSPCA said an EU-wide strategy to control and reduce stray animals humanely in all its member states would eliminate the necessity of international rehoming, and would eventually protect vulnerable animals from undergoing the unnecessary stresses of border crossing.

The MSPCA will present its findings and proposals to Maltese MEPs in the coming weeks and look forward to a serious discussion about future action.


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