15 November 2022

Probing the polls: Celebrating Halloween and licensing pet owners

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Pets

Would animal welfare improve if we considered pet ownership a privilege and not a right? Photo: File.

Halloween has found a home in Canberra over the past decade or so as most locals agree that it’s a bit of harmless fun rather than an American imposition.

As cobwebs, skeletons and grinning pumpkins appeared across the city, we wondered how you felt about the imported festivities that brought convoys of small children and their parents onto suburban streets.

Interestingly our Region Riverina site ran a similar poll question with an almost exact reversal in the results.

We asked, ‘Do you celebrate Halloween?’ and 1288 readers participated in the poll. Your choices to vote on included ‘No, enough with the American nonsense’. This received 33 per cent of the total, or 424 votes. Alternatively, you could have chosen to vote ‘Yes, it’s all a bit of harmless fun’. This received 67 per cent of the total, or 864 votes.

This week, we’re wondering whether you agree with Zoya Patel that owning a pet should require a licence?

READ ALSO Instead of harsher penalties for animal cruelty, do we need eligibility requirements for pet ownership?

The RSPCA’s staff have been managing a truly awful spate of animal rescues involving severely malnourished pets, including a German Shepherd that starved to death as a consequence of its owner’s significant mental health problems.

After the charity dealt with five emaciated animals during one week in October, CEO Michelle Robertson called for harsher penalties.

While there’s often a connection with cost-of-living pressures and mental health, Ms Robertson said “it’s not good enough that the pet pays the price”.

So should we institute a licensing system for pet ownership? Would requiring assessments on an individual’s capacity for pet ownership with regards to housing, resourcing and any prior convictions of animal abuse before an animal could be released into that person’s care be one way to solve the problem?

Readers were divided. Many, horrified at animal cruelty, agreed that it should be more difficult to own an animal. Others, however, pointed out that pet ownership can be a stabilising lifeline for many of the most vulnerable in the community who may well not meet licensing requirements.

Lynn Stape wrote, “I have known some very poor people who have put their pets before themselves, because those pets are the only thing between themselves and loneliness. We need to be careful before putting ‘eligibility requirements’ in place because it can go very badly, very quickly”.

And Elisa Boughton wrote, “Perhaps we need stronger community resources to help people with their mental health and ensure they are not getting isolated. The starving German Shepherd was absolutely shocking. To get that way, the dog and owner must not have seen anyone else, because surely everyone would have intervened much earlier had they known”.

Our question this week is:

Do pet owners need a licence?

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No. No. No.

The existing laws are sufficient without introducing yet **another** layer of unnecessary govt intrusion into peoples lives.

Humans are way more important than animals, before you look at animals, start by licencing humans for having kids…….oh …hang on…best not give them ideas…..

*sigh*

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