Last updated: 20 Oct, 2023
Published on: 17 Jul, 2023
Let’s get pets included in the Australian Census!
PetRescue is in full support of including companion animals and pets in the next Census survey and has joined 19 other organisations in a submission to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The Australian national statistical agency completes the Census every four years. The data captured provides Australians with real information about the economy, its people and more by giving meaning to the statistical numbers. It is the official source of independent and reliable information.
Read more here.
Why is it important that pets are included in the Census?
Pets are very much a part of our families. In fact, 60% of dog and cat owners refer to their pet as a member of the family*. The Census captures lots of information about what’s going on in the family household - but doesn’t currently recognise pets as part of this unit!
The use of accurate pet population and demographic data from the Census, alongside pet adoption data, will expand the existing research about how people and pets live together in Australia.
Ideally, in addition to pet population data (species and numbers of companion animals cared for by Australian households), PetRescue wrote a letter of support for this submission and requested additional information about the country’s pets, including:
Animal age, sex, and desexing status
The nature of pet caring roles (e.g., where pets are in temporary or semi-permanent care, such as with foster carers)
Cat carers or people who care for urban stray cats in their community
Method of pet acquisition and source of the pet (e.g., locality of acquisition will help to understand companion animal movements within Australia)
A positive impact for pets and people
It's important that pets are included in this snapshot of the country for a variety of reasons and benefits, outlined below.
The ABS describes the census like this:
The Census is the most comprehensive snapshot of the country and tells the story of how we are changing. Census data tells us about the economic, social and cultural makeup of the country.
Knowing how many and what types of animals are living with people in each suburb helps local emergency services include them in evacuation plans and other emergency responses.
This information will help identify and address ‘resource deserts’ so that all people and pets have access to the services they need.
Services can include pet groomers, vet clinics, and other pet care services
Pet and owner support organisations need to understand their communities’ needs in order to fund and provide services properly
There are lots of ways people who may need support interact with pets, e.g. cat carers
Including pets in the Census means that pet support organisations have the same quality data that human support services have. After all, pets are family.
Dog parks and other council services
Local councils budget for and provide pet-related services, like off-lead dog parks, according to the number of pets living in an area
Not all indoor pets, community cats, and pets other than dogs and cats are registered
More accurate information about pet populations means better services for everyone.
Having a clearer picture of how Australians live with our pets and how these pets live within our communities will enable better support and service provision for pets and people and could also help more pets find homes by knowing what areas have low pet populations and why.