APWF is funding some of the crucial research projects to help stop this heartbreaking fate for loving cats and dogs.  A reason for dogs to be surrendered is unwanted behaviours such as digging, barking, destroying furniture, or having toilet accidents in the house. So APWF is funding research which looks at “trait anxiety” in dogs. The goal is to be able to identify anxious dogs, rehabilitate them in terms of their behaviours and help shelters to match dogs with the right owners to reduce the number of dogs who are surrendered, and consequently euthanased.

However, when it comes to cats, the numbers are truly horrifying. On average in Australia more than half the cats and kittens that enter our shelters and pounds, end up being put down. A very few hae achieved or nearly achieved live release of 90%. However, many pounds kill 80-95% of cats. There are many factors which lead to why the numbers euthanased are so high. One is that cats are not being de-sexed early enough which is referred to as “spey delay”. Unwanted kittens make up 50% of cats entering shelters, meaning kittens are born simply to die. Animal lovers don’t want to see it and the people who are doing the euthanasing don’t want to do it.  Which is why so many shelter workers end up with post-traumatic stress.

It is incredibly vital to raise awareness about the importance of owners of new kittens early age desexing and ensure all veterinarians are trained to perform this procedure on younger kittens. Kittens who are desexed are…

  • not going to have a litter of unwanted kittens
  • are less likely to get cancer or other diseases of the reproductive organs (cystic ovaries, ovarian tumors, acute uterine infections and breast cancer in females,
  • They are less prone to wander and get in fights and therefore are less likely to get lost or injured
  • They have reduced territorial behaviour like spraying indoors
  • And they become more affectionate and become better companions, living longer and healthier lives in general

……AND younger kittens are actually in less pain and recover quicker if they are de-sexed earlier – contrary to popular belief.

This is why the APWF is now working on ways to increase the number of vets who de-sex kittens earlier (with the most up to date techniques) as well as encouraging all Veterinary schools in Universities to provide training on how to perform this surgery on younger cats. It’s really quite a simple solution but will be extremely effective in saving thousands of lives.

In conjunction with these initiatives the APWF will also be funding studies on the characteristics of cats who do get adopted and the demographics of those who adopt them, as well as the personality traits of cats who are surrendered and who surrenders them. Once this information is known, the APWF will be able to educate all shelters and pounds, allowing them to create successful re-homing programs and look at strategies to assist owners before they are forced to surrender their pet.

There is almost no funding available for research into pet welfare in Australia. No research means no new ways to help these animals. And without research, we will continue to see thousands of healthy and adoptable animals killed.

It is education and research like these studies that will save the lives of Australia’s beloved pets. We understand that the pet welfare situation is complicated and that’s why we need the most up to date and accurate knowledge to be able to implement effective solutions. The APWFs goal is to “teach someone to fish” rather than “give them a fish for a day”- so instead of saving one cat or dog we want to rescue them on a grand scale by ensuring all shelters and pounds are implementing strategies to get to zero euthanasia of adoptable and treatable dog and cats.