Findings from the largest ever study into pet homelessness found that 35 per cent of cats and dogs worldwide do not have a permanent home.
The State of Pet Homelessness Project, which was conducted by a global coalition of animal welfare experts in partnership with Mars, set out to understand the scale of pet homelessness and the factors that contribute to pets being on the streets or in shelters.
In Australia, the figure is much lower than the global average, with only three per cent of dogs and cats being homeless, a total of 328,300 homeless pets, the lowest pet homelessness of any of the countries surveyed.
A high number of cats and dogs in Australia are sterilised (75 per cent of dogs and 87 per cent of cats), which is higher than the global average of 49 per cent and 63 per cent.
Jeffrey Flocken, President, Humane Society International, said that dog and cat homelessness is a hugely complex issue.
“This new data will help animal welfare organizations, policymakers, pet professionals, academics and researchers to better understand the scale and factors influencing the issue, which can in turn support the most impactful interventions.”
The data was compiled from over 900 global and local sources, along with nearly 30,000 public surveys and 200 expert interviews across Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, The Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, Thailand, the USA, and the UK.
While each country has its own set of challenges, there were several common themes across the nations, including pet-friendly housing limitations in which nearly one in five people are considering giving up their dog or cat because they are moving and cannot take them with them.
Globally, around 15 per cent of pet owners are considering giving up their pet in the next 12 months, with the number one reason being personal health challenges in being able to care for their pet and the second being housing factors.
Loïc Moutault, Global President of Mars Petcare, said they know that pets bring enormous benefit to people’s lives, and they want to help ensure all pets get the care they need.
“For every two dogs or cats that are part of a family or community in the countries surveyed, there is another that is not so fortunate. That is not the world we want for pets, and we hope this data will help drive targeted interventions to give more pets the life they deserve.
“Big and small actions can make a difference, from considering adopting a pet, to changes that mean more rental accommodation allows pets helping to keep pets and pet owners together. We are setting out to support 30 million vulnerable pets over the next five years and hope this data will allow us – and others – to make interventions that make a big difference.”