Sunday, August 28, 2016

Musings of Dr Liz - The 2016 Australian Australian Census vs Our Pets

Put your hand up if you own a pet - dog, cat, mouse, rabbit, rat, bird, horse, cow, pig, snake, lizard, frog, and to all other animals that we, as humans, have as faithful companions and friends.

I am not going to argue the ethics or terminology of the word "pet", as for many of us, it is really the adoption of a family member that is not human.  On the day that Tegan, Paige and I went around to shelters looking for one that knew it belonged with us, it was not to get "a pet" but, as I said, to complete our family.
The moment we met Piper!

Now, as many of us have completed the Australian Census, which is supposed to help our government know more about our lives and what services we may need, how many of you were surprised that there was not one question about pets - not even to ask if we had a pet or not?

Whilst there are movements and Facebook pages dedicated to keeping Australia pet friendly, the reality is, we should be demanding that we are made more pet friendly.  Most Council and Government actions are moving towards making it a community where it is harder to have a pet.

Our previous dog, Teddy, didn't have the charmed life that our current dog Piper has.   He used to sleep outside with Sugar (on the deck), he ate normal dog food, and his only problem was that he was "ball obsessed", and liked to bark at 4 in the morning (when the neighbour left for work).
Teddy as a puppy

Teddy at his finest - always happy!

Piper, well, she sleeps indoors (and on our bed),  goes to Doggy Daycare, has sleep overs with family members, eats gourmet pet food (thanks to her allergies), and spends lots of time at dog parks and dog beaches.

I wasn't asked one question about my animal friends 

But if the Census doesn't ask the question on what pets I do have, how are they to know how to incorporate animal friendly facilities in our community? 

So now that I had asked that question, I can probably answer it - we are in such a digital age, that perhaps that kind of information is accessible through other means, meaning the census is technically traditional, rather than necessary. Or perhaps, the real truth is that our governments are heading into such a "nanny state" mode, that they really don't want animals as part of our society. 

After all, they say not to work with animals and kids - for very good reasons - as they are unpredictable, messy, and.... fun! 

Many years ago, Dirk and I were census collectors, when we went door to door dropping off the forms, and then facing many idiots afterwards in picking them up.  Many people were paranoid that I would actually be interested in reading through their personal information.  I had to tell people that I honestly did not have the time nor inclination to go through their personal stuff.

 Now that it is online, I would be more afraid (rather than less) of the information would be more easily assessible by those who actually might be interested in the income of the person who lives at Number 123 of ABC street in the local suburb near you.

I am Dr Liz, the vet from Russell Vale Animal Clinic in Bellambi Lane.

What is the solution to the problem? 

 We, as pet owners, need to write to our local council and councillors telling them of what we actually need or want as pet owners, in terms of facilities and services.

I think writing to council with suggestions on how to improve our "animal friendliness) is a GREAT idea,  as all councils seem to get is complaints, so they spend their time putting out fires (or creating fires so they can put them out).

I know what I will be doing this week!  What about you?