With the support from Dogs Trust Worldwide, the separately registered international charity linked to the Dogs Trust in the UK, previously in the form of Dogs Trust Malta, we have been collecting data on pet ownership and attitudes towards animals every year since 2009. It is hard to believe that it has been eight years since we embarked on this mission with a vision to reduce the number of stray dogs in Malta and Gozo and to increase awareness through neutering, education and rehoming.
Throughout these years we have seen trends fluctuate sometimes and this year was no different. Some may be good changes, others may be not so good from the stabdpoint of rescue organisations such as our own.
An encouraging result is that neutering has become a widespread elective practice with 97.2% of owned dogs and 94.2% of owned cats. This is a positive result for the MSPCA and all other organisation that promote neutering as a safe and definitive method to avoid unplanned litters and keep healthier pets. An encouraging outcome is also that dog microchipping compliance has once again increased now at 94.4% of owners stating that all their dogs had been chipped. When we started in neutering of dogs stood at 15.1% of dogs and microchipping was only at 6.3%in 2010. In the 2017 study, of those who refuse to neuter their pets said they wouldn't because they want to breed from them (50%), they think it is cruel (37.5%), it is not normal (12.5%) and fear their pet wuld get damaged (12.5%).
As to actual ownership the 2017 survey showed a new decline since 2016, as 27.4% now stated they own a dog (32% in 2016) and 24% owned a cat (26.6% in 2016). The preference for buying one's pet noticed in previous surveys (52.8% in 2016) has reversed and is now 45.1%. The number of respondents who picked their dog from the street is 17.6% (increased), adoption is 5.6% (decrease) and 23.9% were donated by friends. Interestingly males were less likely to pick up a stray dog than females were. 2.1% of respondents only declared they intended to breed from their dogs. A new phenomenon measured for the first time this year is the incidence of adoption from overseas which turned out to be 12.5% of adopted dogs, all quoting a wider choice as their motivation, alongside 2.8% of non-dog owners indicating they are interested in adopting a dog from overseas.
Respondents this year assigned the perceived and factual responsability to look after strays more on individuals, local councils and NGOs, while the Animal Welfare Department seems to have lost the perceived and factual responsibility for stray animals. Respondents noticed a decline in both stray cats and dogs over the years, and this year was no exception either.
Over all there are some very positive outcomes and some lessons to be learnt. There is so much more in the survey and we use this tool yearly to tweak our campaigns and assess the success of our work. The MSPCA appreciates all the hard work done by its volunteers and those in other animal welfare NGOs, as well as all those who have been part of this success in the years this programme has been ongoing. We are sharing the information so all other NGOs may benefit from these findings so here is a summary of all the data collected. We hope you may find this helpful.
MSPCA Animal Survey 2017 power point