A Retrospective Analysis of Complaints to RSPCA Queensland, Australia, about Dog Welfare
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: 29 April 2019 / Revised: 17 May 2019 / Accepted: 22 May 2019 / Published: 27 May 2019
Animal neglect and cruelty are important welfare and social issues, and dogs are one of the most commonly reported species to have experienced both. Most previous studies related to canine cruelty and welfare focused on animal abuse and dog fighting. However, literature dealing with the milder but more common forms of animal welfare concerns is limited. Therefore, this retrospective study aimed to understand the epidemiology of different types of canine welfare complaints in Queensland in the past decade and also to identify risk factors and their roles in different types of welfare complaints. The number of complaints received each year increased by 6.2% annually. The majority of complaints were neglect-related rather than related to deliberate cruelty, with the most common complaints being that dogs had poor body conformation, insufficient food and/or water, and receiving inadequate exercise. Poor living conditions and leaving dogs in a hot vehicle unattended were more commonly reported in recent years, potentially due to higher public awareness. Adult dogs that were reported were more likely to be alleged to have been poisoned, left unattended in a hot car, abandoned, and to have had inadequate exercise and shelter, compared with puppies. Puppies that were reported were more likely to be alleged to have experienced cruelty, lack of veterinary support, overcrowding, poor living and health conditions, and inappropriate surgery. Recognising which dogs are at most risk of cruelty will inform strategies to address this serious welfare problem.