What is the impact of domestic animals to our everyday environments?
Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world at 63% of Australian households.
There are estimated more than 25 million pets in Australia. The most common pet owned by 39% of households is a dog, which equates to about 1 dog per 5 people.
Fencing contractors alone must love these statistics.
We protect our dogs from the weather and provide space for them to sleep, eat and play. We also wash them and control waste, parasites, noise and aggression. We contain them on our properties and/or regulate their spaces with screens, gates and pet flaps in doors.
My artist friend Tony Coles has even painted quite a few dogs for the owners after they have gone to doggy heaven and presumably these pictures adorn human space. If a dog requires a minimum run of about 5 x 2 metres then this amounts to about 42 million m2 of residential space across the country.
Our general society also helps by providing dog off leash areas, regulating ownership and movement of animals, services such as vets and animal rescue, all manner of products from pet barns, and managing the overflow with kennels and pounds.
Apart from our built environment modifications, which are often one-off costs, Australians continue to spend approximately B$12 per year on pets (The Australian 2014).
So domestic animals do affect many of our spaces, but the available spaces might also dictate the animals. It seems that as more people live in smaller residential areas the size of dogs is diminishing and therefore the favoured species of dogs is changing.
I don’t know of any Great Danes, German Shepherds or Saint Bernards living in one bedroom apartments, but I am sure there are a few Terriers and even more goldfish.
Tony Coles is a Coolum artist and art teacher. Adrian Charles Just is a Coolum architect.