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10 Disheartening Australia Animal Homelessness Statistics to Know in 2023

Bynewsmagzines

Feb 5, 2023
Dogs in shelter

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Dogs in shelter

Like most countries, Australia has a serious problem with animal homelessness. Many parts of the country have far more pets than people can reasonably take care of. Furthermore, with the cost of living rising, many owners have had to give up their pets to make ends meet. According to many statistics, the Australian animal homeless crisis is getting worse—not better.

Several statistics about Australia’s pet homeless crisis may surprise you. Let’s take a look at some of the more surprising ones.

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The 10 Australia Animal Home Statistics

  1. The RSPCA received 94,828 animals in the 2021–2022 fiscal year.
  2. Most of these animals are cats, though the “other” category is the highest.
  3. Municipal councils receive the largest intake of stray and surrendered animals (54%), with the RSPCA as the second largest organization (35%).
  4. Out of those received by the municipal courts, almost half are reclaimed. However, that statistic is much lower with the RSPCA.
  5. Australia investigated 53,680 animal cruelty cases in the 2021–2022 fiscal year. However, there were only 318 prosecutions.
  6. Far more dogs are successfully rehomed than cats.
  7. About 12.9% of dogs are euthanized.
  8. On the other hand, about 18.3% of cats are euthanized.
  9. The number of pets euthanized is steadily dropping, by most statistics. (PubMed)
  10. Dogs were most likely to be euthanized for behavioral problems, while cats were more likely to be euthanized for medical reasons.
homeless dogs of different breeds in animal shelter
Image Credit: Evgeny Bakhchev, Shutterstock

divider-multiprintNational Statistics

1. The RSPCA received 94,828 animals in the 2021–2022 fiscal year.

(RSPCA National Statistics)

These animals include a large number of cats and dogs, as you would guess. However, wild animals are often presented to the RSPCA due to being injured or orphaned. Some of their facilities can treat wildlife animals and rehabilitate them. Many of these animals are released live.

Several animals that are received are reclaimed or rehomed. Far more dogs are reclaimed than animals belonging to other categories. Cats are the least likely to be reclaimed after becoming lost.


2. Most of these animals are cats, though the “other” category is the highest.

(RSPCA National Statistics)

About twice as many cats are received than dogs. However, the “other” category is the highest, at least for the RSPCA. Other animals include small animals, horses, livestock, and wildlife. Most of these usually require treatment and rehabilitation. Therefore, while the RSPCA is often seen as a pet rescue organization, the truth is that they rescue a wide variety of animals.

four kittens in a cage in an animal shelter
Image Credit: Tom Feist, Shutterstock

3. Municipal councils receive the largest intake of stray and surrendered animals (54%), with the RSPCA as the second largest organization (35%).

(PubMed)

While the RSPCA is the most prolific, municipal councils receive far more stray and surrendered animals. Many of these animals are reclaimed—more so than those received by the RSPCA. However, this is likely due to the types of animals received. Local councils are far more likely to receive stray animals, while the RSPCA may be more likely to receive surrendered animals.

Still, municipal councils deal with most homeless animals in Australia.

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Outcome Statistics

4. Out of those received by the municipal courts, almost half are reclaimed. However, that statistic is much lower with the RSPCA.

(PubMed)

As we’ve stated, the animals received by the municipal courts are much more likely to be reclaimed than in other facilities. Most of the animals they receive are lost, and their owners are likely looking for them. However, the RSPCA handles a lot of wildlife and surrendered animals.

Both organizations are essential for homeless animals in Australia, and they handle the majority of these animals together.


5. Australia investigated 53,680 animal cruelty cases in the 2021-2022 fiscal year. However, there were only 318 prosecutions.

(RSPCA National Statistics)

There are many cases of animal cruelty investigated each year in Australia. However, the vast majority of these do not involve charges. Likely, this is because many owners can change their ways before they are prosecuted. Most cases of animal cruelty involve neglect, which can sometimes be corrected through education.

However, there are a few hundred prosecutions each year. The animals involved in these cases are often taken from their owners.


6. Far more dogs are successfully rehomed than cats.

(RSPCA Report on Outcomes)

Reuniting the animal with its owner or rehoming the animal tends to be the biggest goal in handling animal homelessness. However, far more dogs are successfully rehomed than cats. Furthermore, dogs are far more likely to be reclaimed after coming in as strays.

This leaves many cats with uncertain futures. Usually, cats stay in shelters much longer and may move through multiple agencies because they are rehomed. Plus, cats are more likely to live on the street as strays longer. Therefore, the period of a cat’s life where the animal is homeless tends to be much longer than for dogs.

At any one point, there are over twice as many homeless cats as dogs.

homeless cat eating outside
Image Credit: Smeilov Sergey, Shutterstock

divider-multiprintEuthanasia Statistics

7. About 12.9% of dogs are euthanized.

(RSPCA Report on Outcomes)

Sadly, about 12.9% of all dogs received are euthanized each year. There are quite a few reasons why this may occur. Luckily, many more dogs are reclaimed or rehomed than those euthanized. Most dogs entering the system get rehomed or find a new home, but there is a large percentage of them that do not.


8. On the other hand, about 18.3% of cats are euthanized.

(RSPCA Report on Outcomes)

Only slightly more cats get euthanized than dogs. This is quite surprising, considering how many more cats end up homeless than dogs. Furthermore, a lower percentage of cats find homes, whether that is via rehoming or getting reclaimed. Fewer cats get reclaimed than dogs when they end up as strays, though the reason for this isn’t exactly known.

The vast majority (60%) of cats get rehomed. Only 6% get returned to their previous owner, either after a seizure or due to the cat becoming lost. There are far more cats needing a home than dogs. More cats end up in the system, and very few get returned to their owners.


9. The number of pets euthanized is steadily dropping, by most statistics.

(PubMed)

Luckily, practically every statistic shows far fewer euthanized animals as the years go on. It doesn’t matter whether you look at nationwide statistics, those released by the RSPCA, or species-specific statistics. Euthanizing rates are decreasing in all categories.

However, rates in dogs have remained pretty steady over the last few years. This is likely because many dogs are euthanized for unpreventable reasons, like behavioral problems. A small percentage of dogs will have behavioral issues, and there isn’t much you can do to fix that.

On the other hand, feline euthanizations have decreased substantially. In 2002, over half of all cats taken in by the RSPCA were euthanized. Today, that number is closer to 18%. For the most part, this is due to increased adoptions.


10. Dogs were most likely to be euthanized for behavioral problems, while cats were more likely to be euthanized for medical reasons.

(RSPCA Report on Outcomes)

Most dogs are euthanized for behavioral reasons. Often, this involves aggression or severe anxiety. The RSPCA may try and treat problems with behavioral therapy. However, dogs that don’t show improvement are euthanized. These dogs are considered unsafe to rehome, as they are likely to cause injury to their new owners.

On the other hand, cats are more likely to be euthanized for health reasons. Feline leukemia is a common health problem that cats are euthanized for. This chronic, uncurable disease kills cats within 2 to 3 years. Many cats do not show symptoms until later, but they remain contagious. Therefore, many seemingly healthy cats are brought in, test positive for feline leukemia, and then must be euthanized.

Cats are also euthanized for behavioral problems. Usually, this relates to anxiety. However, cats are less likely to be euthanized for behavioral issues than dogs, as they are less likely to be dangerously aggressive. After all, cats are relatively small.

two women at an animal shelter
Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

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Frequently Asked Questions About Australian Animal Homelessness

Why Are More Australians Giving Up Their Pets?

There has recently been an increase in pet surrenders in Australia. Part of this is due to the reduction in Covid restrictions. Now that people are returning to work, they may no longer have the time to take care of the pets they adopted in 2020.

Furthermore, all pets have a “teen” stage, where they are more likely to exhibit pet problems. This fact isn’t well-known, so many people believe that their well-behaved kitten has suddenly become not so well-behaved. Pets adopted during Covid are reaching this threshold, leading to more surrenders.

However, financial pressures play another role. The economy is currently in poor shape, leaving many people in desperate situations.

Is Australia a Pet-Friendly Country?

There are many pet-friendly spaces in Australia. However, Australia has more regulations and laws revolving around personal life, and pet regulations are particularly strict. For instance, the vaccination schedule is much more stringent in Australia, and many areas have bans on specific breeds. The country also has stricter biosecurity regulations, controlling which pets can be brought into the country. The country has even planned to kill 2 million cats through “toxic grooming devices,” shooting, poisoning, and similar means.

Why Are Pets Not Allowed in Australia?

Many types of pets are banned in Australia. For instance, several dog breeds are not allowed, often due to safety concerns. However, no study has yet to find that “aggressive” breeds are more aggressive, and Australia has similar dog bite statistics as other countries.

Furthermore, all pets from “approved” breeds must meet specific licensing and vaccination regulations. It is much harder to own pets in Australia than in other countries.

dog in shelter
Image Credit: jwvein, Pixabay

Why Aren’t Hamsters Allowed in Australia?

Hamsters, gerbils, and similar animals are illegal in Australia. That is due to their potential risk to the environment. You cannot import these hamsters; owning them is restricted chiefly to scientific research. Research shows these animals can set up colonies around urban areas and potentially become pests.

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Conclusion

Australia has a homeless pet problem, just like every other country. Despite their strict regulations on pet breeding and sterilization surgeries, there are tons of pets looking for homes. In fact, these policies have yet to affect the number of pets looking for a home.

The cat population in Australia is particularly troubled. More cats are euthanized than any other animal, and many more felines are looking for homes. With that said, there are several dogs euthanized, as well. Luckily, most euthanizations these days are due to behavioral or medical problems that make the pet unable to be adopted.


Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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