Sharp decrease in micro-chipping of pets

MSPCA survey estimates over 56,000 dogs are kept as pets in Malta and that almost all household dogs and cats in Malta are neutered

There are just over 56,000 dogs kept as pets in Malta, as of 2017
There are just over 56,000 dogs kept as pets in Malta, as of 2017

There are slightly over 56,000 dogs kept as pets in Malta, as of 2017, around 5,000 less than in 2008, when the figure was closer to 61,000.

This emerged from a survey the Malta Society for the Protection and Care of Animals conducted last year, which collected information concerning subjects such as the extent of dog ownership in Malta, care for dogs, including micro-chipping, the attitude of Maltese towards canines, and the issue of strays.

Cat ownership was also featured, though to a lesser extent.

The survey based its finding on a representative sample of 500 Maltese aged 14 and over.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents didn’t own any pets, 17% owned dogs, 12.6% cats, and 11.4% owned both animals.

Total dog ownership was computed on the basis of households, with each respondent out of the 500 representing around 279 households.

The majority of dog owners were in the C1(professional jobs) and C2(skilled manual occupations) socio-economic groups. However, interestingly, the highest number of dogs owned in 2017 were by households in the DE(semi-skilled, unskilled manual jobs & unemployed) group. This contrasted with the 2016 survey, when AB(higher, intermediate professional jobs) was the largest dog-owning group.

The vast majority of pet dogs in Malta are neutered, the survey showed, with only 2.8% of saying their dogs hadn’t undergone the procedure. This contrasted significantly with previous years, with the percentage of canine-owning respondents in 2014 saying none of their dogs were neutered being almost 25%, with an additional 5% saying not all their dogs were neutered.

Moreover, in 2017, all those (100%) who said their dogs hadn’t been neutered said that they would not even consider going for the procedure, contrasting sharply with 2013, when 60% of respondents would not think of putting their dog under the knife.

Close to half of dog-owning respondents, 45%, said they had bought their dog, with getting the dog from friends or picking it up as a stray being the second and third most popular ways of dog ownership, respectively. Only 5.6% found their dogs in a pets’ home.

Similar to the situation with dogs, the survey found that the DE socio-economic group owned the biggest number of dogs in 2017, closely followed by the C2 group.

Most cat-owning households had only one cat, while 4.2% of respondents had not neutered all their felines, and 1.7% had not neutered any of the cats they owned. Half of those who would not consider neutering their cat said breeding was behind their decision.

A mere 5.8% got their cat from a home, closely mirroring the dog statistic, while most bought their cat.

A curious statistic which emerged from the survey is that, while in 2013, 2015 and 2016, around 82%, 90% and 92% of dog-owning respondents respectively said all their dogs were micro-chipped, only 33% could say the same in 2017, with 58% saying none of their dogs had been chipped, and 8% saying only some of the canines they own had.

A vast majority of respondents, 98%, said they had noticed a decline in stray dogs and cats in Malta.

The greatest percentage of those surveyed said the government’s Animal Welfare Department should be financially and physically responsible to not allow stray dogs in Malta.

Only around 8% said they had problems with their dog, the commonest issue being too much pulling of the lead.

A very large percentage, 77% of dog owners had never tried ‘clicker training’, with 6.3% saying they didn’t need it because their canine friends never caused any problems.