The constant growth of the pet population is transforming society in various areas. These are the challenges of responsible pet ownership and the appropriate legislation to guarantee a harmonious coexistence between humans and animals.
In recent decades, the world has witnessed a remarkable increase in the presence of pets. From charming domestic companions to fearless guardians, animals have found a special place in the hearts of millions of people around the world.
The pandemic caused pet adoptions to increase in the world. Likewise, with the demographic change, more and more couples are choosing not to have children, but to adopt animals. Brazil is the Latin American country where there are more pets in quantity. According to data from Statista, it is estimated that in the country there are about 150 million pets. On the other hand, it is estimated that in Colombia around 40% of families have pets, that in Mexico there are around 20 million dogs and that in Argentina around 80% of households have a pet.
Likewise, the function of these within homes has completely changed. In cities, they are increasingly appearing as a member of the family and a company, rather than as a work animal, as was the case a few decades ago.
However, this growth in the pet population does not come without its challenges. As the numbers continue to rise, it is essential to recognize and address the complex challenges that come with this trend. Animals are not simple objects, but living beings over which humans have responsibilities. In this sense, their presence is modifying societies and generating change!
One of the biggest challenges facing pets today is determining if they are part of the family, with all the legal implications that this entails. That is, if a couple separates, who should keep custody of the dog or pet after a divorce? Should there be an alimony payment after divorce? These are still unresolved questions. However, some countries or court rulings have already been given in this regard.
On the other hand, should the mourning permit be extended for the death of the pet? Should there be time off work to go to the vet, like when a child gets sick? Although it may sound exaggerated, these are situations that companies and congresses of the countries will have to address.
Animal welfare and laws
This is one of the issues in which more and more ways to go in Latin America. However, it is most likely that the world will begin to take steps to have greater regulations regarding the adoption of animals. For example, that to adopt a dog there are requirements and fines are imposed on those who leave it alone or mistreat it. Also, that all pets must carry a recognition chip and that owners have the option of attending courses on animal care.
This year, Spain published a Law that goes a long way in animal welfare, which includes a time limit for an animal to be left without supervision. In this case, it is 3 days for cats and 24 hours for dogs.
Life insurance for animals and other services
The presence of pets has already made life insurance for them popular. In fact, they are becoming mandatory for dogs considered a “dangerous breed” in some countries or for all dogs to cover possible civil liability damages in case they bite others. Also, some countries, such as Poland, have considered putting limits on the presence of cats in the wild, as they threaten wildlife.
On the other hand, there are places where it is very difficult to find an apartment for rent if you have a pet. In addition, there are places where there are no parks or spaces where you can play with dogs. In this regard, it is necessary that urban planning and regulations take into account the increase in pets and spaces are designed that are also suitable for them.
That there are so many pets is also a matter of public health. On the one hand, it is necessary that there are guarantees and regulations that make the owners of the animals keep them healthy. In addition, it is necessary that there is a good management of their excrement in the cities and the control of their diseases and vaccination.
While pets can provide companionship and mental health benefits, they can also transmit zoonotic diseases, trigger allergies and asthma, and cause injuries and bites. In addition, their presence can increase the proliferation of pests such as fleas and ticks. It is essential to promote education on proper animal care, vaccination, and parasite control to mitigate these risks. Collaboration between public health authorities and animal welfare organizations is key to ensuring a safe and healthy coexistence between humans and pets.
If proper hygiene and vaccination measures are not maintained, the increase in pets could increase the risk of diseases transmitted between animals and humans, such as rabies or toxoplasmosis.
Environment and climate change
Just like humans, climate change is also affecting animals. In this regard, climate change mitigation and resilience measures should also consider pets. In addition, it is necessary that regulations against the wildlife trade be more effective, since not all animals can be domestic.