Thursday, April 16, 2009

Banff Regional Summit for Urban Animal Strategies - today was Halifax

So today me and I think about 22 or 23 other people attended the Atlantic Region Summit for Urban Animal Strategies here in Halifax. It was pretty interesting.

Basically it was a person from the company Ipsos Reid going through a survey that they sent to 7,000 of their 221,000 members about dog topics - 1/2 of the surveys going to pet owners and 1/2 of the surveys going to non pet owners. They wanted to get a census of how many dogs and cats there were in Canada, what pet owners spent their money on, who they got their advice on about pet issues, and what they thought about things like off leash parks and animal control services.

So we spent the morning going over that survey - and then we spent the afternoon going over what the survey that next year's survey's questions should focus on - and the survey overall is going to focus on cat issues - and "moving towards having feline friendly communities" - and I have to say that as a dog person - that was a bit of a tough slog - but it was still interesting.

From a political point of view it was also interesting because it was sponsored by what one would think would be diametrically opposed groups - PIJAC, Halifax Regional Animal Services, Pet Secure - a company that sells Pet Insurance, and a company called "Pet Lynx" that sells permanent pet identification and also sells shelter software to manage disposition of animals.

Some of the things the survey told Ipsos Reid was that there are 6,070,783 dogs in Canada and 8,510,021 OWNED cats - there's no way to know how many actual cats there are - there could be a kajillion of them.

Another finding that I hadn't put much thought into was where people get their pets from - and the #1 place they get them from at 35% is from a breeder - #2 is from friends and relatives. Unfortunately though they didn't breakdown "breeder" at all - so "breeder" could have been Gail Benoit, (who isn't even a breeder - but she is a registered company at the Joint Registry of Joint Stocks and Deeds) or it could have been Cathy Prothro.

One statistic blew me away - the fact that 45% of people use veterinarians as their source of information when looking for advice on pet issues. Websites are #2 at 40% - so that also shows the power of the internet and websites like my Charlie loves Halifax site.

But it also shows the power that veterinarians have - and we really have no idea that they have - and that we in the humane community - and also people in the dog fancy community - have to start talking to vets to tell them the power they have over the normal and the nascent pet owner to influence them about responsible pet ownerswhip.

And we also have to start giving them good information about responsible pet ownership - because a lot of times when I talk to them myself - the garbage that comes out of their mouth is unbelievable - and the fact that they then go to a first time pet owner and say that - it makes sense that so many animals are rehomed or killed.

So anyway, I had a good time today - and the food was great, and I got to meet some great new people that I've heard about - so it was a good day all around for me. I'm glad I went.

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