The rise in the number of pets being abandoned due to the UK’s financial crisis brings me to raise the following question to Pooch and Mutt’s blog readers:
Should the government recognise and help dog owners financially by offering them with a pet owner’s benefit?
Last year the animal welfare charity dealt with 11,586 dumped animals, an average of more than 30 every day. And that figure represents just the pets illegally dumped, not those voluntarily taken to the RSPCA. This week RSPCA said there had been a 40 per cent increase in the number of animals left to fend for themselves across the South East. Other areas of the UK have equally felt the crunch coming down on them and their cherished pets.
Owning a dog is a lifetime commitment so it’s saddening to watch as more and more dogs are given the boot everyday because their owners cannot afford to dedicate time or money to look after them. I know that Milo would most certainly be the last thing on my list of cut backs if I were struggling financially.
I am of the opinion that becoming a dog owner is a lot like becoming a parent. You are responsible for that dog just as you are a child, its wellbeing and everything that comes with it depends on you. Like becoming a mum or a dad you pay for a dog’s food, check ups and entertainment. But we would never consider abandoning a child would we?
To stop so many dogs being abandoned the government could introduce a means-tested 'pet benefit' in the same way as they have Child Benefits, to enable people that have recently lost their jobs or are suffering to keep their pets. On the face of it this could be a frivolous way to spend tax payers money, but there are some real-world benefits. Below are 5 points for and against.
- Dogs make us happy, happy people work harder and therefore are more productive at work, earn more and eventually spend more, therefore boosting the economy, which will help the government raise more taxes to pay for the benefit.
- Dogs make us healthier (both mentally and physically), so there could be a cut in NHS costs to treat ill patients. Studies have also shown that pet owners have measurable lower levels of cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Studies have proven that children are less likely to play truant from school if they have a pet in their home. This leads to further savings for the state, such saving on policing costs and improve the education of young people, leading to better jobs and a more productive future
- Children who live with a dog in their first years of life have a lower incidence of asthma and hay fever and are less likely to develop animal-related allergies. Their immune systems are more stable than those of children from non-dog owning families - the result being that making dog-owning children are better able to fend off illness.
- Dogs can also aid recovery from illness costing the NHS less money. Research indicates that owning a cat or dog can improve a person's chances of survival after a life-threatening illness such as a heart attack.
- If people can't afford to look after pets properly they shouldn't be allowed them.
- Owning a dog is an expensive luxury and can cost time and money.
- Cash is not an incentive for owning a pet, a person should want to own a dog for love not for money so this could encourage more irresponsible dog owners to buy a puppies.
- Having a dog is a lifestyle choice and does not benefit society, whereas it's part of the human cycle to have children and make sure they are well fed and clothed.
- If the government pays out a benefit for owning a dog more people will be encouraged to own one and thus create more unwanted dogs which need to be re-homed and cost animal shelters thousands of pounds every year.
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