MSPCA survey reveals a decline in both cat and dog ownership

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MSPCA survey reveals a decline in both cat and dog ownershipThe MSPCA yearly survey carried out with the support of Dogs Trust, has revealed greater microchipping compliance and a reduction in observations of strays, which the MSPCA said, “continues encouraging NGOs to persevere with this issue.”

The Society in a statement said that although the study gives a lot more information, some keys findings indicate a decline in both cat and dog ownership.

The MSPCA said that it welcomes the results of the neutering campaigns for dogs by the MSPCA and cats by other NGOs which are encouraging, but added that they “are concerned that lifestyle and residential changes may be behind the decline in cat and dog ownership.”

While the MSPCA does not advocate irresponsible ownership of pets, a decline in people that want to adopt a pet may place animal shelters under more pressure than before as fewer homes are available for animals for adoption.

This year’s survey was carried out in November last year on a scientifically representative sample of the Maltese population, by Prof. Mario Vassallo for MSPCA and covers public attitudes towards cat and dog ownership, legal compliance, perceptions about stray animals and their care, as well as adoptions.

Also noted in the survey was a decline in observed strays, increased dog microchipping compliance and the public’s change in the perceived responsibility of strays which has shifted away (42.4%) from Animal Welfare Department (AWD) in previous years (84.4% in 2016; 2015: 77.2%; 2014: 77.6%).

The Society said that according to the survey, perceived responsibility has taken a more social orientation to individuals, NGOs and Local Councils. This change was also replicated in who should be responsible for stray animals.

The MSPCA continued by saying that this year’s study has for the first time attempted to measure local trends in international rehoming. While it has been common practice for Maltese NGOs to send dogs abroad for adoption, a practice the MSPCA said it believes to be unsustainable, a new phenomenon in recent years has emerged with people in Malta adopting animals from foreign NGOs.

“In this first time measure of the extent of this phenomenon, 12.5% of respondents that had adopted a dog, had adopted it from abroad. This coupled with measured interest in doing so by other respondents, indicates this figure may increase in the future,” said the MSPCA.

The Society remarked that, “these last findings highlight the stark reality that stray population management cannot be discussed simply and solely on a local level but needs to be on the agenda of the European level authority.”

The MSPCA added that it believes that “an EU wide strategy to control and reduce stray animals humanely in all its member states would eliminate the necessity of international rehoming, and would eventually protect vulnerable animals from undergoing the unnecessary stresses of border crossing.”

The Society said that it will present its findings and proposals to Maltese MEPs in the coming weeks and look forward to a serious discussion about future action.

The full report on this year’s findings and previous years may be obtained from the MSPCA upon request by email to

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