Animals have been a part of human lives for centuries. They serve as companions, protectors, helpers, and even sources of food and clothing. In recent times, however, pets have become more popular than ever.
There are currently an estimated 28.7 million pets in Australia and we have one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world . Approximately 69% of households in Australia own pets. Dogs being the most popular, with almost half of Australian households having at least one dog (48%, up from 40% in 2019). Cats continued to be Australia’s second most popular pet, with a third of all households housing at least one feline friend (33%, up from 27% in 2019) .
Pets provide many benefits to their owners, including emotional support, improved physical health, and social connection. But as much as we enjoy the company of our pets, we must remember that they are not just toys we can throw away when we tire of them.
One of the most significant reasons why animals should be considered as more than just toys is their lifespan. Many pets, especially cats and dogs, can live for over a decade. This means that when we adopt a pet, we are committing to providing them with care, love, and a home for the rest of their lives. This should not be taken lightly, as it is a serious responsibility that requires time, effort, and financial resources.
When we adopt a pet, aside from the initial purchase cost, registration and microchipping, we must be prepared to meet their needs, which includes food, shelter, exercise, and veterinary care. According to the AMAU “Pets in Australia: A national survey of pets and people” report, in 2022, the average yearly all-inclusive cost of owning a dog was $2024, and for a cat $1595
[1 p.32]. We must also be willing to invest time in training and socialising them to ensure they are well-behaved and happy members of our households. In return, our pets provide us with unconditional love and affection, and can even improve our physical and mental health.
Pets have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression in their owners. They can also lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and even help with pain management. Furthermore, pets can provide a sense of purpose and meaning in life, especially for those who live alone or have limited social connections.
However, despite the many benefits of owning a pet, some people still view animals as disposable commodities. They may purchase a pet on a whim, without considering the long-term commitment required, or abandon their pet when they become inconvenient or unwanted. This is not only cruel to the animal, but it also perpetuates a cycle of neglect and abuse that can have far-reaching consequences.
Animal shelters and rescue organizations are overflowing with pets that have been abandoned or surrendered by their owners. Many of these animals have behavioral or health issues that make them less desirable to adopt, and they may spend years in a shelter before finding a permanent home. This is a heartbreaking reality that highlights the importance of responsible pet ownership.
Please remember and carefully consider the decision to purchase an animal. They are not just toys we can throw away when we tire of them. They are living, breathing beings that deserve love, care, and respect. When we adopt a pet, we are committing to providing them with a forever home, and we must be willing to meet their needs for the rest of their lives. By treating our pets with the love and care they deserve, we can enjoy all the benefits of pet ownership while also contributing to a more compassionate society.
 Animal Medicines Australia (2022) Pets in Australia: A national survey of pets and people AMAU008-Pet-Ownership22-Report_v1.6_WEB.pdf (animalmedicinesaustralia.org.au)