Tue 5 May 2015 10:27PM

Add pet ownership into family, household stats

VD Viv Dostine Public Seen by 369

I'd really like to see the stats on households include a question on pet ownership, including horses.


  1. Pet ownership is deeply interrelated with housing, and emergency management. People who are renting, and older people needing care are both affected by pet ownership, and the availability of housing that will allow pet ownership. This also applies during emergencies...people will not leave pets behind, so we need to include them in emergency plans. 2 It may allow us to make links between the types of animal injury incidents, and employment e.g. ACC costs for dog bites, and long work hours (lack of socialisation of dogs),.
  2. We need more stats on predators/pets vs conservation...are areas of high pet ownership actually a hindrance to conservation, or is that just anecdotal?
  3. Would like to see horses included in this. NZ has no good data on horse ownership, and they are often not 'farm animals' anymore. Stats Nz agri stats are 50% of Agribase, so there is no good data on equine sector value outside of gaming (racing). We used to keep horse numbers in census info, so would be interesting to return every once in a while.

I'm sure there would be many more applications of this data (without even thinking about household spending) that would be very revealing if we started keeping this info.


Vivienne (Facilitator) Wed 6 May 2015 1:01AM

Thanks and welcome, @vivdostine.

You raise very good points related to pet ownership, but it may be a better fit in the Other discussion forum, as this one focuses on the relationships between people in a household. The issues you raised also cover a wide range of topics such as housing, health, and the environment, and the discussion forum on Other would be able to go across those topics.

While Statistics NZ do not currently collect data on pets and pet ownership, we are interested in hearing the potential information need, so I do encourage you to also make a formal submission. The submissions process kicks off on 18 May.


Frances Horton Wed 20 May 2015 11:26PM

I'd like to agree and endorse Viv Dostine's post. I'd click the LIKE button if there was one ! Also of concern are extremely high urban Vet's fees and the over-medication of domestic animals. Re # 4 Horses. Agree with all suggested. An issue that has not been addressed is: the question - are the new cycle-ways and walking tracks both built and proposed throughout NZ, accessible to horse-riders? There was a petition circulating Auckland some years ago regarding tracks and bridle-ways for urban and semi-rural horse riding, but the petition was claimed to be a hoax. Off-road access to the City for cyclists and pedestrians ought to include horse-riders, in my opinion. The "Horse" definition should include all equinines. Similar requirements to remove droppings as for dogs.
I would be happy to work with Viv D to formulate a Submission if that would help.


Greg Stephens Wed 20 May 2015 11:56PM

Better dog information could be useful for territorial authorities to make sure all dogs are legally registered.


Andrea(facilitator) Thu 21 May 2015 10:21PM

Hi everyone, my name is Andrea Lawson and I am facilitating the topics under 'other'. Thanks for the comments so far. Does anyone have any further thoughts on the need for information on pets ownership? @franceshorton that is a good idea to combine ideas in the submission process with @vivdostine . I'll get back to you on how this might work.


Frances Horton Fri 22 May 2015 12:19PM

Thanks Andrea.
Re: submission process. Email me at my usual email address if appropriate - I only have one - and it's the one I've provided to loomio. Glad to help if needed.
Regarding Census information on pet ownership;
My further thoughts on information about pet ownership -
just wondering how people with small lifestyle blocks would or could respond?
Lifestylers might keep: Donkeys, Llamas, Alpacas, Minature horses, rare breeds of sheep, cattle, pigs, and chickens etc which they are often emotionally attached to and proud of. Are these animals pets? Or farm animals? Or a separate category in between? Such animals are not quite "pets" and certainly not farm animals raised for sale or slaughter.
There are also 'animal rescue' individuals who take in injured birds, cats, dogs, reptiles, turtles, and sometimes marine fauna. How would they respond?
Plus those who give their time to rearing NZ Native Birds of Prey [falcons] wild birds that are home reared, then released when ready to be independant. They are private citizens, not organisations. How would they respond?
Seems to me that limiting the concept of "pet animal" to the "ownership" concept doesn't capture all the facts, or the richness of the various relationship between humans and animals.
If Census is asking, it should allow for all answers?


Frances Horton Fri 22 May 2015 12:30PM

Re Greg Stephens post - "Better dog information could be useful for territorial authorities to make sure all dogs are legally registered" sorry, but in a different thread [Introductions] I have been assured that ALL Census information is confidential, and I've been told that Statistics NZ must ensure individual's names and responses are not available to data users.
Is that true?
Or is it true that Territorial Authorities can ensure that all dogs are legally registered by cross-referencing dogs with dog owners?
Wouldn't that be an abuse of the Census purpose and it's confidentiality?

It's not a compliance tool?


Greg Stephens Sun 24 May 2015 8:56PM

My point was that TAs don't know how many dogs there are that are unregistered. Having a census figure would give an idea as to what proportion of dogs are or are not registered. Of course it couldn't be used to track further dogs down. That was not what I was suggesting. I would see any data only being released at TA/AU level, not even at meshblock level.


Andrea(facilitator) Sun 24 May 2015 9:52PM

Yes @franceshorton you're right that all Census information is confidential, and individual's names and responses are not available to data users. And I can see what you are suggesting @gregstephens that a group figure would give TA's something to work with. @franceshorton raises an interesting point that it is something more than "pet" and "ownership" that would be wanted. Any further thoughts on what the needs are for this information?


Frances Horton Mon 25 May 2015 2:02PM

Thank you Greg Stephens for the clarification of your intention re: TAs and unregistered dogs. Yes a census figure would give TA's an idea of dog numbers and registered dog numbers, as you suggest.
My reaction to that is that "unregistered dogs" as a group are a constantly moving target; difficult to quantify. There must be feral populations, semi-feral rural dogs, newly-born pups and "registration-resistant" owners occuring all the time. Illegal fighting dogs, illegal dogs per se [stolen?] and lost dogs in TA pounds must all exist but wouldn't be captured by "pet ownership by family household" type questions. A rural pig-hunter might not consider his dogs as 'pets' of any household. They're working dogs. They're not necessarily farm dogs either.
My preference would be questions that enquired about involvement of the household with animals of all kinds, specify the animal[s] and the involvement[s].
Might be extremely informative for many data users.


Viv Dostine Tue 26 May 2015 9:37PM

Hi All, this topic certainly gathered a little momentum :)

France Horton > a petition of 15000 was presented to Parliament last year. Although IMHO it wasn't worded particularly well, and I was even consulted to find out what tangible actions could be offered.

Generally horses are not permitted on all those cycleways - even when they are old roads like the Old Ghost Trail formerly used by horses taking gold miners to the West Coast, NZ Tourism advice actually tries to dissuade trail makers from including horses, even though the original template 'Otago Rail Trail' includes horses .

Actually tourism would be another reason to include horses in the stats. NZ Tourism doesn't even have a clue that equestrian tourism includes anything other than people using trekking organisations. This therefore excludes both local tourism (people on their own horses), and an international tourism market (independent horse people who want to travel, rather than ride in a commercial trekking environment).

Thank you to those who thought about vets - animal welfare law updates would be enhanced by knowing actually how many (pets) are in various regions served by Veterinary services. Is there a mismatch between how many pets live in an area, and how many are on the local vets books? A classic would be the breaches in animal welfare laws on the East Coast, where horses are gelded without anesthetic (against the law). Surely that sort of thing would be better addressed if we had a clear picture of the stats as a starting point.

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