WA Premier Mark McGowan regurgitates the usual animal welfare bunkum

August 1, 2017

More than a third of WA dog owners (37 per cent) have not had their canine companions desexed, a result that has prompted the McGowan Government to reaffirm its promise to introduce compulsory dog sterilisation.... In contrast, WA has the best cat sterilisation rate in the country at 93 per cent, after the Liberal government made it compulsory in 2013....
WA behind other States in canine sterilisation, Perth Now - 31 July 2017

Oh, wow. Geez. Where to begin.

First, let's say I love it when we use statistics and data to build companion animal policy. However, I love it less when those creating the policy are are being, erm.... creative? with their assertions about what those actual statistics are actually saying.

So let's just break down this media report, shall we?

WA has the worst rate of dog sterilisation in Australia, according to a national pet ownership survey.

The national pet ownership survey they're referring to is this one: Pet ownership in Australia 2016 - How do we keep our pets? (Saving Pets review)

And it says about dogs in WA that;

"Dog desexing is at 63% in WA.
The nationwide average is 78%
73% of dogs in WA are microchipped. 
33% of WA households have dog/s"

That is all the specific data we have on WA dog owners according to this report.

More than a third of WA dog owners (37 per cent) have not had their canine companions desexed, a result that has prompted the McGowan Government to reaffirm its promise to introduce compulsory dog sterilisation.
...
“Over-breeding results in hundreds of dogs being surrendered to pounds, shelters or roaming the streets,” Local Government Minister David Templeman has said.

The previously released version of this report (2013), showed the number of households with a dog was slightly higher (39%) for a total of 333,000 dogs.

In Western Australia, today, there are 442 dogs looking for homes on PetRescue. Or about 1% of the dog population.

If we could see how many dogs needed homes annually, we could find out what percentage of dogs were surrendered annually. But it is unlikely to top more than 3 or 4%. There is no evidence of "overbreeding" being the cause of dogs entering the pound in Western Australia, according to this report.

In contrast, WA has the best cat sterilisation rate in the country at 93 per cent, after the Liberal government made it compulsory in 2013.

Okay - so that 93% statistic wasn't in this report at all.

The only reference to cats and desexing was that...
"... rates of desexing have remained stable for both dogs and cats since 2013"

and that rates of desexing are
"... consistent across all states for cats"

and that
"... around nine in ten have been desexed (89%)"

So WA (with compulsory desexing) is just smidge higher than other states without these same laws - if we believe the 93% percent (given without an actual source!).

What we do have to reference is the decision paper from 2011 presented by the WA government before passing the laws;

Studies indicate that there are already high levels of sterilisation of owned cats at around 90%. Research undertaken for the WA Cats Advisory Committee indicated 88% of domestic cats were sterilised.

Did we really spend literally tens of millions of dollars to implement the WA Cat Act to move the desexing rate a few unsubstantiated percentage points? And are we really using this "success" to roll out the same laws for dogs?

Maybe it's all worth it, I hear you say, if we saved the... "...over-breeding that results in hundreds of cats being surrendered to pounds, shelters or roaming the streets"

There are 851 cats looking for homes on PetRescue. Or nearly twice as many cats as dogs.

Again, compulsory desexing is not a magic bullet solution to keeping animals out of pounds. 

For a start, very few animals are even going to pounds - less than 5% annually. And they go there for a whole host of reasons, none of which are remedied by laws which increase council's powers to seize and destroy non-compliant animals.

We need to stop following the sound-bite, popular policy solutions of a government lead by animal groups who make their money off impounding animals, and instead look at what the data is telling us. That is, to keep pets out of pounds, you need to help owners with services, not punish them with laws.

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