Owned dog and cat populations in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory: a retrospective study

Owned dog and cat populations in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory: a retrospective study Journal Article

Australian Veterinary Journal

  • Author(s): Burleigh, A, McMahon, S, Kiely, S
  • Published: 2015
  • Volume: 93
  • ISBN: 0005-0423

Abstract: Objective To determine the population of owned dogs and cats in Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory (NT), and compare the data with those for the average Australian household. Methods Results of 20 Indigenous community animal health programs were analysed for species present and dog and cat numbers. The female breeding and puppy populations were also identified. Results The average dog population density was significantly higher than the average Australian household, with an average of 24.4 dogs per 10 households, but the average cat population density was similar (3.3 cats per 10 households). Numbers of other species were not determined. The average percentage of puppies in these communities was 17.6% of the treated canine population, the average percentage of breeding canine females was 18.6% of the treated canine population, and the average percentage of breeding feline females was 19.7% of the total feline population. Conclusions Dog populations in NT Indigenous communities were at least 6.3-fold higher per household compared with data for the rest of Australia. Cat populations per household were similar to the overall population. Factors contributing to the relatively high dog populations in remote Indigenous communities include a lack of veterinary presence, community remoteness, poor socioeconomic factors, poor house and yard designs, cultural reasons, communal beliefs, lack of community animal management and a lack of funding. We believe that animal health programs are an important way of addressing a number of these issues. Other elements that should be addressed include improving house and yard design, increasing education regarding animal health, care and welfare, and increasing the training and presence of health and animal professionals.

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Suggested Citation
Burleigh, A, McMahon, S, Kiely, S, 2015, Owned dog and cat populations in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory: a retrospective study, Volume:93, Journal Article, viewed 13 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=16424.

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