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New Standards Good for Older Pet Owners

Animal Welfare League Australia (AWLA) has welcomed the consumer focus of the Commonwealth’s new Aged Care Quality Standards and is urging the sector to embrace pet-friendly services that allow the elderly to remain with their own animals for as long as possible. 

The 2017 AWLA Pets in Aged Care Study revealed that only 18% of Australia’s residential aged care facilities allow pets to reside with their owners and just 9% of in-home care providers say they offer pet-friendly services.

AWLA President Richard Mussell said the draft standards provided the perfect opportunity for the sector to implement a broader range of pet-friendly services throughout the community. “Australia’s pet ownership rate (63%) is the third-highest in the world, just behind the United States (65%) and New Zealand (64%), and the proportion of Australians aged over 65 is continuing to grow.

Therefore, the aged care sector must respond to the increasing demand for services that keep owners and their pets together,’’ Mr Mussell said. “Maintaining the human-animal bond has proven health benefits for the owner and their pet. It also reduces animal surrender rates to the rehoming, shelter and care services of AWLA’s six member organisations across the nation.’’

The Pets in Aged Care Study also revealed that up to 10,000 animals may have been surrendered because of elderly-related reasons throughout Australia in 2016. Reasons included owner health, unsuitable pet accommodation at home, inability or unwillingness of family members to care for the pet, and a lack of financial means.

Factors stopping aged care service providers implementing initiatives that keep owners together with their own pets included an inability to fund programs, shortage of employees and volunteers who are able or willing to deliver support, and OH&S, financial or legal concerns.

Tasmania (35%) had the highest percentage of residential aged care facilities that consider allowing residents to keep their pets. Victoria and NSW had the lowest rate (14%).

For advice and information about pet-friendly aged care, visit the Positive Ageing in the Company of Animals website at or visit the AWLA website at

About Animal Welfare League Australia (AWLA)

The Animal Welfare Leagues of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland formed AWLA in 2007. Dogs’ Homes of Tasmania joined AWLA in 2010 and Saving Animals From Euthanasia (SAFE) in Western Australia joined in 2014. These organisations provide rescue, shelter, rehoming, health care and enrichment programs for more than 55,000 companion animals every year. Our mission is to create, uphold and encourage the highest standards of care, health and welfare for pets in the community.

MEDIA RELEASE 08/02/2018

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