A University of Sydney study of Sydney dog owners has found that an overwhelming 95 per cent of people are in favour of dogs on public transport, with more than half indicating they would do more activities with their hound if they were allowed.
The findings of the 2016 survey of more than 1250 Sydney dog owners found a high level of dog-related car trips in a city where dog ownership is among the highest in the world.
With almost 39 per cent of Sydney households owning a dog, Dr Jennifer Kent and Professor Corinne Mulley wanted to find out how people get around with dogs in a city that restricts them from riding on public transport.
“There is compelling evidence of the links between companion animals and human health. So, we wanted to know how much human-dog time is reliant on a car, and what role public transport could play to encourage this bond and activity,” Dr Kent said.
The survey examined the popular activities that owners do with their dog, such as go for a walk, or visit the park, and how often these rely on a car.
“Based on our research sample of dog owners, we estimate that there are approximately 2.4 million dog-related trips in a private car carried out in Sydney each week,” Dr Kent said.
The survey also found that, on average, people visit the vet more than three times a year and 86 per cent of these trips are made by car. Almost 14 per cent of people said that a lack of transport had prevented them from taking their dog to the vet.
When dog owners were asked if their pooches should be allowed on public transport (without being confined in a box, basket or other container as currently required), 95 per cent responded in the affirmative. More than 55 per cent indicated this would allow them to do even more with their dog, and 20 per cent said they would consider ditching their car altogether.
“If dogs weren’t restricted from riding on public transport, this high number of car trips for dogs could be reduced. The benefits would extend far beyond fewer cars on the road, by potentially getting people moving more with their dogs and socially connected,” Dr Kent said.