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NZ Survey Reveals A Nation Of Pet Owners And Animal Lovers

Aug 15, 2011

A groundbreaking survey, released this week, places the New Zealand companion animal population at approximately 5 million, compared to a mere 4.4 million for humans.

The survey, published by the New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC) of which WSPA NZ is a part of, shows 68% of New Zealand households own at least one pet, a higher percentage than in any comparable country.

The survey also carries a clear message for NZ politicians and lawmakers, by pointing out that 43% of our pet-loving nation thinks animal welfare and protection should receive more attention.

New Zealanders are also revealed as the world’s biggest cat owners, with a feline population of 1.419 million. 

According to the survey 28% of New Zealand households own a cat and a further 20% of households own two or more. These figures contrast with Australia’s, where a total of only 23% of households are cat-owning.

Conversely, New Zealand’s 29% of dog-owning homes compares to 36% in Australia. Even so, our canine population stands at an impressive 700,000.

But dogs and cats are not the only companion animals to have found their way into Kiwi homes and hearts. In addition to 88,000 rabbits and 527,000 birds, we’ve made houseroom for 1.678 million fish, making them our most populous companion species. 

The NZCAC survey was conducted online with a representative sample of 1,570 adults from across New Zealand between 7th and 11th April 2011.  The survey also draws on data from a range of sources, including the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.    
Bridget Vercoe, Country Manager at WSPA New Zealand explains the significance of this survey:
 “This survey is highly significant for WSPA NZ, as it gives us a factual understanding of just how important companion animals are to New Zealanders. It not only shows why we acquire companion animals, but also how important it is to have them in our lives and homes.

“By also comparing our co-existence with companion animals, to similar countries around the world, this survey undoubtedly helps WSPA NZ understand the level of local importance Kiwis place on animal welfare. Thus assisting us in our global vision of a world where animal welfare matters, and animal cruelty ends”.

According to the survey, New Zealanders spend $1,583.8 million a year on their companion animals, with food expenditure of $766 million representing the largest cost item, followed by $358 million for veterinary services and $166 million on healthcare products.

Cats turn out to be less expensive to keep than dogs, with 48% of all companion animal expenditure going on the nation’s canines and only 43% on its far more numerous felines.   

The New Zealand Companion Animal Council is an organisation that links welfare bodies, veterinarians, academic researchers, animal control agencies, breeder organisations and others involved with companion animals.

A key NZCAC focus is on understanding, promoting and celebrating the human-animal bond and the benefits of companion animal ownership. The survey is expected to provide a benchmark for further research and a reference source for policy makers and others involved with animals.

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A dog at WSPA member society KACPAW's clinic, Sri Lanka