Should governments encourage more pet ownership?

Pet owners save the taxpayer billions, prompting calls for compensation.

Celebrity vet Dr Chris Brown

Pet owners save the public healthcare system an estimated $2 billion annually, according to new data released yesterday.

The findings have prompted a call for state and federal governments to offer tax credits for pet ownership in a bid to encourage further benefits.

Celebrity vet Dr Chris Brown, star of the popular Bondi Vet TV series, is one of the leading protagonists encouraging policymakers to consider tax rebates or offsets that encourage pet ownership to stimulate further healthcare savings.

The Healthcare Economics of Pets report found that on average, every pet owner saves the health system $700 per year. Those saving figures are based on previous studies by academics at the University of Melbourne that found pet owners visit the doctor 11 per cent less than non-pet owners on average.

Pets encourage better physical health through walk and play, and promote mental health by providing companionship and facilitating community connections.

“This research is a wakeup call for policy makers to acknowledge the broader benefits of pet ownership, which even extends to the public purse,” Dr Brown said.

“If our governments can recognise pet owners for making smart choices for their health through incentives like a tax rebate or offset, the return on investment could be huge.”

Economic projections in the report suggest that if the pet population in Australia increased by 10 per cent a year, the public health system could save over $200 million annually.

“This report shows that keeping Australia pet friendly is an issue of national importance. I hope the government can see the value in spending a little, to save a lot,” said Dr Brown.

John Bishop, co-founder and joint CEO of national animal welfare charity PetRescue, also voiced his support for the pet ownership tax offset proposal.

“We really need policies like this to encourage more Australians to discover the benefits, and the joy, of pet adoption,” Mr Bishop said.

“The fact that pet ownership also has such a huge positive impact on our economy, it makes me wonder why this hasn’t been implemented sooner. It's a win-win for both humans and the many thousands of pets looking for a new home.”

The report was commissioned by Mars Petcare as part of the Keep Australia Pet Friendly campaign.

What do you think? Should pet ownership be subsidised? Should the offer only be available to rescue pets to help promote further cost savings?

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    COMMENTS

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    Old Geezer
    1st Aug 2017
    10:32am
    Nothing more annoying than fur babies!

    What can expect from an industry that relies on pets for their income?
    Patriot
    1st Aug 2017
    12:20pm
    For most of us "Connecting" is far more important that "Lousy, Flithy Mula"!
    jackie
    1st Aug 2017
    1:11pm
    Old Geezer....The government loves the pet industry too because it rakes in the taxes from them.

    Fur babies are better than grumpy old men any old day.
    P$cript
    1st Aug 2017
    1:52pm
    Thank you for confirming what I expected your comment to be when I read the heading.
    This is confirmation of the reason for your distorted view on the world.
    What I'm saying is you don't appear to be a very nice person, always grumpy and negative.

    Go and get , as you say, a fur baby, then you will not be sitting all day at your device waiting to make another dumb comment and also will make you aware that their is something other than yourself to consider.
    Old Geezer
    1st Aug 2017
    2:39pm
    Not too sure how my pet maggie that sits on my shoulder while I write comments will take to a fur baby. He just comes and goes but is a little busy at present tending his new chicks.
    Old Geezer
    1st Aug 2017
    2:42pm
    I forgot I have a pet rock somewhere too.
    niemakawa
    1st Aug 2017
    3:50pm
    OG have you looked in your head, seems ther may be a few hidden away there. Get an scan to determine the number. Pay out of your own pocket though.
    Old Geezer
    1st Aug 2017
    4:09pm
    No need I've already had a scan to check and they couldn't find any. Medicare doesn't pay for those scans either as Medicare doesn't pay for any thing that actually helps doctors diagnose the real problem.
    Triss
    1st Aug 2017
    5:04pm
    I don't know whether I'm agreeing with you or not, OG, but surely if it's true that pets are a boost to health then no-one needs a tax incentive as well.
    Rosret
    1st Aug 2017
    7:14pm
    P$cript - Old Geezer enjoys spiking up the conversation. I don't think he is grumpy at all. I think he is having fun. True OG?
    Merlot
    1st Aug 2017
    11:16am
    Old Geezer, perhaps you should get a pet and see how wonderful they are. I'm NOT after a tax break but wouldn't be without my furkids - they bring me joy, happiness, security and boundless amounts of love among other things. These things alone have got to help your health - a happy person is far less likely to get sick - proven fact.
    Old Geezer
    1st Aug 2017
    2:41pm
    Nope I've had pets and they are just a dam nuisance unless they look after themselves like maggie does.
    niemakawa
    1st Aug 2017
    2:42pm
    OG a pet Pirhana?
    Old Geezer
    1st Aug 2017
    2:52pm
    NO just a pet magpie. Can't you hear the noise him and his mates are currently making?
    Anonymous
    6th Aug 2017
    7:13am
    Pity it wouldn't peck you to death.
    4065
    1st Aug 2017
    11:45am
    I can't believe this. A tax credit for owning a pet is one of the dumbest proposals/issues ever. The cost of implementing such a scheme and the cost to the federal budget would far out weigh any health savings. Is it just companion animals? What about reptiles, fish, birds etc?
    MITZY
    1st Aug 2017
    11:59am
    I've had a dog all my lifetime. During that lifetime I have hardly ever visited a doctor. My second-last dog (poodle) cost me an absolute fortune due to her having Addison's disease at 3.1/2 years to 7.1/2 years when she left this earth.
    My current miniature poodle (my first small dog) is a rescue and she will be 6 years in November. She has cost me only for her food and grooming and annual check-up. She is a pleasure and a joy to have and brings me a lot of fun and laughter with her doggie mates at the beach each morning.
    My husband passed away five years ago and it was 18 months afterwards I got this little rescue. At approx. the same time I started to get things wrong with my health, and although I can't associate my health issues with my dog arriving, she certainly isn't doing anything to alleviate my problems.
    KSS
    1st Aug 2017
    12:46pm
    I have NOT had a dog all my lifetime and I too have hardly ever visited a doctor!

    I still don't have a dog (or any other pet) and I still don't need to see a doctor. Your point being, Mitzy?
    Old Geezer
    1st Aug 2017
    3:07pm
    I think if I got a fur baby I would have to see a doctor. I just can't see why anyone would want one myself. Nothing but smelly farts and hair everywhere. No thanks.

    Just been for a dental check up and got congratulated on the condition of my teeth.
    Anonymous
    2nd Aug 2017
    11:49am
    No fur baby would remain your pet for five minutes, OG. Dogs and cats are excellent judges of character. And they are loyal, caring creatures that appreciate good, kind people. They would smell you a mile away and give you a wide berth OG.
    MITZY
    2nd Aug 2017
    12:58pm
    OG: Poodles are wool, not fur, and don't drop their coats, they have to be groomed. They are also hypoallergenic. The only time they smell is if their coats get wet walking in the rain etc. If you have a woollen garment and it gets wet, it smells, just like sheep.
    MITZY
    2nd Aug 2017
    1:07pm
    I thought my point was obvious KSS! The article says pets promote better physical and mental health and I was not agreeing with this statement. Mitzy is a joy but she has no impact on what ails me.
    Old Geezer
    2nd Aug 2017
    2:04pm
    I wish others people's pets would give me a wide berth as quite frankly I'd like to give them a good kick to get rid of the smelly licky things. I also feel like taping their months shut to stop them barking when their owners go away and leave them alone.
    Anonymous
    3rd Aug 2017
    2:51pm
    I wish other people's pets would eat you. They would be doing the world a big favour. But it won't happen, because you would not only smell and taste revolting, but you would be totally indigestible.
    Rosret
    1st Aug 2017
    12:34pm
    I think the vet is the biggest winner with the C21st pet. Vaccinations, tick treatment, heartworm, cancer treatments, hip replacements, teeth cleaning and desexing. Just a checkup and you can say goodbye to nearly $100.
    Then when you realise the petfood isn't actually food and you need to buy real meat the cost,, my friends far exceeds any medical bills. So off we go on a walk and the lead, the covers, the sunblock, the training, the grooming kar-ching kar-ching. I don't think any tax incentive could match the cost of a new age dog.
    A pet is actually very limiting. I love my dog however there is no ability to get from A to B on public transport. Then if I want to take him to off leash beach areas its never the safe locations where you can take children as well.
    I didn't realise how difficult having a dog would be until I thought it would be wonderful company. It has actually clipped my wings not broadened my horizons.
    I also have concerns about the more elderly having pets. If the owner dies is there some alert system so that the pet doesn't die of starvation. I wonder what those stats are.
    I also notice that the very elderly are not aware of their dogs distress and the care they would normally receive from younger owners isn't necessarily happening.
    So no - I don't recommend tax incentives. A pet is a big decision and the owner needs to well aware of the cost and obligation.
    jackie
    1st Aug 2017
    1:14pm
    You would be surprised how many pet owners leave everything to animal charities so their pet can be looked after when they go.
    Troubadour
    1st Aug 2017
    6:43pm
    Yes we love our pets and they bring lots of love, joy and
    amusement, had one of our pets for 22 years and the current one is 12. However, as we have got older and become pensioners the cost of vet. bills is far too much.,

    1st Aug 2017
    1:17pm
    Garbage
    You want a pet - you bloody well pay for it
    niemakawa
    1st Aug 2017
    1:57pm
    Penthouse pets are better.
    KSS
    1st Aug 2017
    2:42pm
    Either way YOU pay!
    niemakawa
    1st Aug 2017
    2:58pm
    KSS but the enjoyment factor of the PP is far reaching. I say lap it up.
    niemakawa
    1st Aug 2017
    1:23pm
    Certainly not.
    Polly Esther
    1st Aug 2017
    1:23pm
    and a further by the way
    A very happy birthday to all the gorgeous horses out there.
    niemakawa
    1st Aug 2017
    1:41pm
    Nay.
    niemakawa
    1st Aug 2017
    2:41pm
    Giddy up.
    KSS
    1st Aug 2017
    2:41pm
    I say NO to a tax rebate for a pet. Unless there is also a tax rebate for all exercise and fitness programs whether that be gyms, golf club fees, swimming pools, bowls clubs, dance classes, 'Masters' sports teams, walking groups, gentle exercise groups, and a million more health and exercise situations that also have a major impact on reducing health costs.
    Gammer
    1st Aug 2017
    6:15pm
    I take my 'fur baby' to an aged care facility every week... the joy on the faces of these people (many of whom have dementia) has to be seen to be believed, Old Geezer!!! It has been proven that petting an animal is beneficial to one's health and my girl certainly enables me to sleep more soundly at night (again, a major health benefit). Have you ever loved a family pet, I wonder???
    niemakawa
    1st Aug 2017
    6:18pm
    That's all well and good but the taxpayer should not susbsidise pet owners. Owning a pet is a personal choice.
    Gammer
    1st Aug 2017
    6:20pm
    My local vet offers a 10% discount for pensioners... they're not all in it just for the money!!!
    Old Geezer
    1st Aug 2017
    7:25pm
    They just charge everyone else extra to make up that 10% plus some.
    Reeper
    1st Aug 2017
    6:53pm
    Wouldn't be without my dog but I wouldn't want pets to become an 'incentive' This article is multi-faceted; from the 'rescue' point of view a crack-down on breeding would go a long way to help that.
    As to health enhancements - can't argue, but the moment you provide pet incentives, you wipe out half the efforts to crack-down on breeding - can you imagine the a**seholes would suddenly become breeder, dog/cat-nappers......

    1st Aug 2017
    7:46pm
    For goodness sake how much more are the taxpayers of this country expected to fund...bloody hell!!!

    What every happened to "standing on your own feet" and paying YOUR way!!
    Gammer
    1st Aug 2017
    7:52pm
    Does that go for the numbskulls who smoke, drink to excess, and indulge in other health destroying 'social' activities - are not those of us who work to stay healthy subsidising their overuse of public
    medical assistance?
    niemakawa
    1st Aug 2017
    8:14pm
    Radish I agree

    Gammer, I do not care if people smoke, take drugs, drink excessively. There is so much information, again funded by the taxpayer, warning people about the harmful effects, they must take full responsibility for their actions. I do not believe that the taxpayer should fund their health needs, including rehabilitation because of their own self -destruction. These people are selfish IMO. No sob stories please.
    Anonymous
    2nd Aug 2017
    9:08am
    niemakawa, I'll agree up to a point, but I think we have to be careful of branding all addicts and alcoholics with the same branding iron. People need to understand that there are underlying genetic factors involved and that often life traumas - traumas that society should bear responsibility for in a fair world - have driven people to take up habits that lead to addiction. A case in point: a man was a chronic alcoholic. Having been conscripted into the army at 19 and sent straight to war, where he was immediately captured and imprisoned for 3 years, returning with tuberculosis and shrapnel buried in his infected legs, and a lot of psychological problems. He turned to drink. His children were snatched away from their family before turning 8 and put in orphanages, denied all contact with family, and abused and deprived, then forced into the army at age 15 where their older peers urged them to drink daily. Any wonder they too became alcoholics? I know one tried for years to give it up, and his psychologist ended up telling him to keep drinking because it was less harmful than either taking mind-altering drugs or suffering such night terrors that he never slept. At least when he drank he was able to keep working and living a reasonably normal life, and in retirement he is peaceful and lives a clean life.

    The army finally confirmed in writing that they took full responsibility for his alcoholism which was caused by peer pressure and suffering abuse in his early military years... but, guess what? Under the law, alcoholism caused by military service is not a compensatable condition unless it occurred after - I think from memory - 1980.

    Another case - a boy abandoned at birth by a mentally ill mother was raised in an orphanage where the abuse was so horrific that at age 9 he led a starvation protest. He went from orphanage to juvenile detention and finally to jail for a trivial offence and came out so damaged the only solace he can find in life is in drink. But he's a good man and he hurts nobody with his drinking. It just helps him cope with the pain of remembering all the agonies and injustice he suffered, and the knowledge that nobody ever gave a hoot what happened to him. He too worked most of this life - at unskilled jobs for lousy pay - but eventually was granted the DSP at age 58.

    A little compassion is in order. Not all who resort to drugs or drink can be blamed for their problems. I'm sure the same is true of some other health-destroying habits.

    I don't like that people drain the public purse to feed their bad habits, but it's really hard to know where to draw the line to avoid cruelty and gross unfairness to victims of grave injustice and hideous social wrongs.
    Anonymous
    2nd Aug 2017
    9:12am
    Back to topic - pets are great. I had dogs for years but now I find they would restrict my lifestyle too much. But please let's not create yet another drain on the taxpayer and another incentive for irresponsible people to get a pet that will suffer abuse or neglect. Nor should we encourage pet ownership that will prove very expensive for many who simply can't afford the costs.

    I am sure pets aid health in some instances. They also hinder at times. If not kept clean, they can spread disease. If neglected, they can start neighbourhood disputes and present major problems for councils that have to clean up ''dog shit alleys'' and filthy beaches. Sadly, many who might cash in on a tax benefit would be careless, neglectful or irresponsible. The pounds are already filled with rejected pets. Let's not add more!
    Old Geezer
    2nd Aug 2017
    10:36am
    Rainey what have self inflicted alcoholics got to do with pets? All these vices are self inflicted as no one shoves them down their throat. Humans all suffer but it is how you deal with that suffering that is important. Turning to drug and alcohol is just the easy way out.
    Anonymous
    2nd Aug 2017
    11:46am
    That's precisely what I'd expect from an egomaniacal privileged scum like you OG. You don't know what suffering is. And actually many do have alcohol and drugs shoved down their throats - at tender ages when they are very vulnerable and have nobody to turn to for support. And mostly it's shoved down their throat by filthy rich profiteering scum who make their living out of selling fixed to addicts or grog to alcoholics. But you applaud those scumbags for getting rich and dodging taxes while condemning their victims. You really are disgusting!
    Old Geezer
    2nd Aug 2017
    11:53am
    Just excuses Rainey nothing more. I'm seen it all myself Rainey and It is self inflicted nothing more. I think it is disgusting that anyone can think such behaviour is OK when it is actually very selfish behaviour instead.
    Anonymous
    3rd Aug 2017
    1:04pm
    You have NOT seen it, OG. Nobody who has genuinely seen it is judgmental and cruel like you are. It's NOT self-inflicted, but privileged pigs who don't appreciate their good fortune will never get it. You have to have walked the walk and talked the talk to appreciate the challenges these people face. It's NOT selfish behaviour at all. YOUR behaviour is selfish, condemning good people and wishing them hurt.

    What's selfish and NOT OK is the behaviour of the profit-seekers who drag vulnerable people into their nets, but you applaud them because they are wealthy!
    ex PS
    2nd Aug 2017
    9:54am
    If you want a pet buy one and look after it yourself. Having a pet and looking after it is very expensive, but they are worth much more than it costs to provide for them in the sense of well being and unconditional loyalty most display.
    I would hate to see pets subsidized as it would devalue them and lead to thousands of neglected animals abandoned when they get ill or injured or when families want to go on holidays. I love all animals and do not want to see pet ownership reduced to something that is easily accomplished on a whim just because it is seen as something for nothing from the government.
    I got Mac the Westi-X for Christmas two months after I retired, I would have liked a pet much sooner but as my wife and I both worked, we decided it was not fair to leave an animal home alone all day. He is part of the family now and has replaced our natural children as the main beneficiary in our will ( Or that is what we have told them).
    But we did not know before we got him just how much it takes to feed, train and look after the health needs of a puppy or dog, it is not something an aged person should take on without a lot of thought.
    Would I do the same thing again YES, will I replace Mac when he goes? Probably not.
    Anonymous
    2nd Aug 2017
    8:32pm
    My sister in law (now on a full single pension) with little assets has a 15 year old maltese, is almost blind, has dementia is on special tablets for arthritis and it is costing her a fortune The dog is not happy; he has never got over the loss of my sis in law's husband last year and is pining away.

    Sis in law cannot go out of the dog's sight and as for putting it in day care...it whines and whines and can only be there for 2 hours. She is unable to go on holidays or do anything. She is 77 years of age...sometimes you have to make the hard decision and I believe the Vet should say something but of course while there is money to be made maybe the almighty dollar takes precedence.

    Honestly the best thing would be for the poor little thing to be put to sleep.
    ex PS
    3rd Aug 2017
    9:34am
    It would be such a tough decision to make, I had to make this decision for the family cat not so long ago, it came down to what is in the best interest of the animal. In the end the Vet said to us, "This old girl has no quality of life, it time to put her to rest". Even with that advice, I must admit to having tears in my eyes as I held her and watched her pass.
    Anonymous
    3rd Aug 2017
    7:07pm
    I have also had to make hard decisions and it is so heart breaking I know; as you said the well being of the dog has to come first.
    Suze
    3rd Aug 2017
    12:15pm
    The taxpayer these days has to subsidize kids so why not pets

    What happened to the parents looking after the kids ?

    However an individual should have a license to either have kids or pets.
    Anonymous
    3rd Aug 2017
    1:00pm
    Kids are a little different, Suze, because to sustain a civilization we need to maintain a given reproduction rate. People age and die. If we don't reproduce, our civilization will disappear. Today, our culture is under major threat because we are not reproducing fast enough to counter the high reproduction rates by Muslims. That's not a racist statement. It's just a fact. Unless we want to see the total demise of white European-extract Australians, we need to do something to increase birth rates. And that means subsidizing kids.

    I'd love to see a licensing system that required people to undergo training to have kids, and certainly to have pets. But sadly policing the license once granted would be a challenge because it certainly wouldn't be advisable to run a system under which failure or offences led to having kids taken away. We take them now as a last resort, but it really needs to be a very last resort. Take it from one who has first hand knowledge of the awful consequences of removing children from their families. Kids generally suffer far less growing up with poor parents than being taken from them. And monetary penalties for poor parenting only drive worse parenting because of the stress and deprivation that results. There are no simple answers!

    3rd Aug 2017
    5:11pm
    I love my pussy and am happy to pay for her myself
    She earns her keep
    Blossom
    8th Aug 2017
    3:30pm
    If the Govt. wants us to have pets maybe they should do something about the price of vaccinations and medications for pets. It is not subsidised in any way. Even if medication for us isn't on pbs the same medication costs a lot more for a pet (the same drug). Yes, some vets give a discount on the consult fee. Fees vary a lot between vets. zi know somebody who approached 2 different veterinary surgeries re desexing of a dog. The difference in the two quotes was enormous.....another thing, if you want to go away for a holiday, who is going to look after your pets...properly? Do you have somebody you can trust? Some commercial kennels are only in it for the money and don't even feed them properly or encourage them at all if they are fretting. Also, Good Bye toilet training, and having to start again, not only that but with other habits too. You need to have somebody on standby in case you are sick enough to not be able to care for them, especially if you have to go to hospital.
    Blossom
    8th Aug 2017
    3:32pm
    Also, some pets will not accept other peoples pets which can cause plenty of stress - both for the pet owners and the pets involved.


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