Socioeconomic Influences on Reports of Canine Welfare Concerns to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in Queensland, Australia
Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, University of Queensland, White House Building (8134), Gatton Campus, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4076, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 June 2019 / Revised: 30 August 2019 / Accepted: 18 September 2019 / Published: 23 September 2019
The role of the socioeconomic status of dog owners in canine welfare concerns is not fully understood. We conducted a retrospective study of 107,597 canine welfare complaints attended by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Queensland from 2008 to 2018. We explored the relationship between the owner’s socioeconomic status and reported (rather than confirmed) complaints about welfare of dogs. The socioeconomic status of the owner was estimated from the postcode of where the alleged welfare issue occurred, using government statistics for Socio-Economic Indexes of different regions of Australia. Reported complaints were correlated with socioeconomic scores. There was a lower median socioeconomic score in our study group compared to the entire Queensland state, indicating that alleged canine welfare concerns were more likely to be reported in areas with inhabitants of low socioeconomic status. The status was also low if the complaint was about a crossbred rather than a purebred dog. Among the purebred dogs, complaints involving working dogs, terriers, and utility breeds were associated with the lowest socioeconomic scores. The following complaints were associated with low socioeconomic status: cruelty, insufficient food and/or water, a dog not being exercised, a dog being confined/tethered, failure to provide shelter or treatment, overcrowding, a dog being in poor condition or living in poor conditions. Increased status was observed in alleged cases of a dog being left in a hot car unattended.