Cat and dog euthanasia in Australia

Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with over 60.0% of Australian households owning a pet (just less than 40.0% of Australian households own a dog and 29.0% own a cat). Source: IbisWorld.

Cat and dog euthanasia in Australia

Bella and Fluffy. Photo: Christie Jarrett

Pets are considered part of the family and yet many cats and dogs are surrendered to pounds around Australia everyday.  The cat and dog euthanasia in Australia remains unacceptable.

In 2013/14 approximately 180,000 dogs entered Australian pounds and 110,000 dogs remained unclaimed at the pound. 25% were euthanased at the pound, which is a decrease from 40% in 2011/12. Source: PetRescue

In 2013/14 approximately 125,000 cats entered Australian pounds and 120,000 remained unclaimed.  56% in that year were euthanased at the pound, which is a decrease from 80% in 2011/12. Source: PetRescue

Cats entering pounds have a less favourable outcome than dogs entering pounds. According to Dr Jacquie Rand, Professor of Companion Animal Health, University of Queensland, approximately 90% of cats arriving at Australian shelters are sociable, and most are treatable and re-homable.  Only 4 – 7% of cats in shelters are reclaimed compared to approximately 30  – 35% of dogs, resulting in a euthanasia rate of approximately 54%, which is more than double that for dogs.

Data from VetCompass UK shows the main killers of dogs under three years of age both relate to behavioural problems – being abandoned or euthanised because they display unwelcome behaviour and being involved in car accidents.

Reasons for cat and dog euthanasia in Australia

  • Mismatch between owner and pet in terms of life style and activity level
  • Child bitten by family dog
  • Pet behavioural problems
  •  Unrealistic expectations of the pet and its role in the family
  •  The everyday needs of a pet is too much for a busy young family
  • Costs too much
  •  Change in the household circumstances such as moving, new baby, divorce and death
  •  Rental, strata and aged care accommodation restrictions on pets
  • pet is lost or stolen and can’t be reunited with its family because the microchipping and registration details are incorrect
  • Unable to cope with the aging pet’s medical and behavioural issues
  • Unwanted litters – many cats are bred by accident, because owners don’t get around to desexing them.  40,000 undesexed animals could produce 5 offspring a year for 12 years, equalling 2.4 million unwanted dogs and cats left looking for homes according to the RSPCA
  • Over breeding of greyhounds intended for racing

cat and dog euthanasia in AustraliaGetting to Zero

A holistic approach is needed to address the social issue of cat and dog euthanasia in Australia.  Pets4Life is a member of the Getting to Zero program, which aims to increase responsibility for companion animals so that every community and municipality can achieve zero euthanasia of all healthy and treatable cats and dogs.