Knowledge and perception of UK Dog Laws – Survey

If you live in the United Kingdom you are invited to take part in a survey being conducted by Anthony Raynor, currently based at Newcastle University. The aim of the study is to assess and evaluate knowledge and perception of UK dog related laws.

The survey consists of 12-20 questions and takes between 8 – 10 minutes to complete (dependent upon responses).

Your responses are completely anonymous and any information gathered will be used solely for the purpose of this research topic in accordance with the Data Protection act 1998.

If you would like any information about the survey or a summary of the results please contact the author at the following e-mail address: a.raynor@newcastle.ac.uk

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Modelling the UK Dog Population – #OR56 conference presentation

Alessandro Arbib (DECC) made this presentation (see Slideshare below) to the Operational Research Society’s 2014 conference OR56.  Abstract:

2014-09-09 14.46.17-1 (Custom)The breeding, ownership and welfare of dogs in the UK is a complex social area. Although there has been research into the size of the dog population, nobody has pulled all this together into a single model that everyone can use to help focus priority issues. A consensus understanding of the population and how it is stratified is crucial to allow proposing meaningful welfare improvement policies. From November 2013 to May 2014 a group of 3 OR analysts and an engineer from DECC worked with the RSPCA (the UK’s leading animal welfare charity) and Dog-ED (a Social Enterprise applying Systems Thinking to canine welfare) to provide analytical evidences about the number of dogs currently present in UK and how they move through the system. The project involved a significant literature review to collect the data necessary to produce a snapshot of the UK dog population; designing and building a “stocks and flows” model to investigate the flows of dogs from the different categories; and developing recommendations for possible uses and future development of the model. Lack of consensus amongst the data sources, and considerable variation in data quality and definitions used made it difficult to provide accurate answers to the customer’s problem. We will describe our main outputs including estimated upper and lower bounds for the dog population, a “stocks and flows” model developed in Excel, and a list of the main data gaps and issues we met in our work. Last but not least, we will focus on the valuable experience of working for the Third Sector, summarising the main lessons learnt and the value that OR was able to add in this area.

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Modelling the UK Dog Population – summary report

The breeding, ownership and welfare of dogs in the UK is a complex social area. Although there has been research into the size of the dog population, nobody has pulled all this together into a single model that everyone can use to help focus priority issues.  As a consequence, different stakeholders have varying, and sometimes conflicting, views of how many dogs there are and their needs.  Without a consensus understanding of the population and how it is stratified, it is difficult to propose meaningful welfare improvement policies.

Earlier this year the RSPCA and Dog-ED worked with a group of Operational Research analysts from the Department for Environment and Climate Change (DECC) to review the literature and establish a baseline of data on the UK dog population.  The DECC team did this for us as a pro bono project coordinated by the Operational Research Society, of which Ian Seath is a member.
The project case study (download pdf) summarises the results of the literature survey and the challenges the DECC team faced when trying to build a population stocks and flows model (example below).  The DECC team will be presenting a paper at this year’s OR Conference, based on this work.
Stocks and Flows

Conclusions:

  1. Top-down and bottom-up calculations of the UK dog population do not agree, resulting in a significant range (8.5 – 11+ million)
  2. There is insufficient data from publicly available sources to quantify the origins and populations of non-KC registered pure-bred dogs (e.g. “hobby breeder”, “commercial” or “puppy farm”)
  3. There is insufficient data to understand the reasons why dogs are relinquished and go into welfare, or to identify the extent to which dogs in welfare may be moving in and out of “revolving doors”
  4. The lack of data makes it too difficult to identify additional areas (over currently known points) where interventions could occur to improve the welfare of dogs
  5. Forecasts of the potential impacts of different interventions are dependent on external factors (economic and societal) which are themselves difficult to predict
  6. The DECC OR team has brought a rigorous and disciplined approach to this project and highlighted the data and evidence challenges that exist in this complex social policy area

 

Download: Understanding the UK Dog Population

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A discussion document in response to Bellumori et al (2013) and O’Neill et al (2014)

Review_paperThis is a review, by Philippa Robinson, of three welfare reports, revisiting the questions they posed, the questions they did not ask and a dissection of the assumptions made. Consideration is also given to the potential value of wider thinking i.e. that taken from disciplines other than veterinary science, to see what implications that has for the ongoing lines of inquiry.

The aim here is to reflect on whether access to a growing body of research data, together with an injection of new thinking might ensure the questions being asked about dog health and welfare are the most appropriate and will yield maximum leverage in securing better behaviours, attitudes and choices around dog ownership. Leverage that results in reduced animal suffering.

Download the paper (pdf) If we are going to make good decisions

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What can cohort studies in the dog tell us?

Cohort studies have already yielded results in the field of canine health. With the advent of large databases and internet technology the costs of such studies are being reduced to the point whereby large-scale studies are possible in canine populations. The potential to identify risk factors and inform an evidenced-based medicine approach to preventative health measures in dogs mean that cohort studies can have a great impact on dog health and welfare. Given how long it takes to achieve results from prospective studies, the time to start is now.

Read the full article in the Journal of Canine Genetics and Epidemiology.

The state of our Pet Nation – PDSA PAW Report 2013

The PDSA’s 2013 Animal Wellbeing report collected data from over 17,000 owners, vets and children – and discovered that awareness of how to care for our nation’s pets is still worryingly low.

The summary for dogs is below:

PDSA_PAW_2013

Some of the highlight statistics are shown below:

  • Only 17% of pet owners look at body shape and weight before deciding how much to feed.
  • 85% of vets and vet nurses believe that the majority of owners have no understanding of what a healthy body shape looks like for their pet.
  • 2% of dogs showed aggression towards people.
  • 5% of dogs showed aggression towards other pets.
  • The proportion of dog owners who leave their pet alone in the house for five hours or more during a weekday has increased significantly from 18% in 2011 to 25% now.

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    There is an increase in the proportion of dog owners who have not registered their pet with a vet, believing they don’t feel there is a need to since they can ‘just turn up’ (48%, up from 35% in 2011).

  • 38% of owners are familiar with the Animal Welfare Act and the five welfare needs contained within it, a decrease from 45% in 2011.
  • Over a quarter (26%) of owners do no research at all before taking on a pet, an increase from 24% in 2011.

You can download the full report here (pdf).

PDSA’s Big Pet Check

Rate your skills as an owner, find out more about your furry friend’s health and happiness and discover how we can all make a better life for pets.

Visit the Big Pet Check microsite

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