Irresponsible pet owners contribute to surge in strays, finds survey

Azlan Othman

Over 80 per cent of the public believe that irresponsible pet owners contribute to the increased number of stray cats and dogs.

This was revealed in a recent survey by a team of officers undertaking the 30th Executive Development Programme for Middle Management Officers (EDPMMO) 2020 aimed to understand the public’s perception on responsible pet ownership.

The definition of pet ownership in the survey, specifically on cats and dogs ownership, is described as any person found in possession of a cat and/or dog, or the occupier of the premises frequented by the cat and/or dog. This is with reference to the definition of dog ownership under the Dogs Act, Chapter 60, Section 7.

In addition to enjoying companionship from cats and/or dogs, the survey found that over 50 per cent of pet owners unintentionally adopted strays. However, about 66 per cent of non-pet owners would not consider adopting stray cats or dogs as pets, which can be attributed to the lack of understanding towards taking care of stray animals.

In recent years, there has been a rise in stray dog attacks reported within the community, threatening public safety and security.

Stray dogs and cats are also seen as a public nuisance and can bring risks of rabies infection.

The stray animal concern was raised during 2018’s Legislative Council Meeting where three agencies were identified as having relevant scope over the issue – Royal Brunei Police Force, Municipal Department and District Offices.

The increasing prevalence of stray population calls for greater collaboration between the agencies and the public to work together to address and combat the surge.

The survey results provided some key areas of opportunities that can be explored by identified stakeholders, particularly in relation to the adoption of strays, support for animal welfare groups, as well as awareness on proper pet care. Studies found that Asia has a 10.9 human per dog ratio, estimating the number of strays in Brunei Darussalam to be 40,000.

A female stray cat or dog can reproduce three times a year, with an average of four kittens or puppies with every litter. If 50 per cent of those 40,000 strays are female, Brunei Darussalam will have an increase of 240,000 kittens and puppies in one year.