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Aussie pets fetch $2 billion in public healthcare savings

Dr Chris Brown calls for pet owner tax credit to stimulate further benefits

To help relieve the pain of ballooning healthcare budgets, well known veterinarian Dr Chris Brown is prescribing pets to Federal and State governments.

On the back of new data1 released today showing that pet owners deliver a massive $2 billion in public healthcare savings across Australia, Dr Chris Brown is encouraging policymakers to consider tax rebates or offsets that encourage pet ownership to stimulate further savings.

While the individual health benefits of owning a pet are widely known, The Healthcare Economics of Pets1 report determined that every pet owner saves the health system $700 per year1 in reducing the number of doctor visits and associated health costs, such as fewer specialist appointments and hospital visits.

“This research is a wakeup call for policy makers to acknowledge the broader benefits of pet ownership, which even extend to the public purse. If our governments can recognise pet owners for making smart choices for their health through incentives like a tax rebate or offset, the return on investment could be huge,” said Dr Chris Brown.

The calculations are based on previous studies by academics at the University of Melbourne that showed pet owners visit the doctors 11% less than non-pet owners2.

The economic projections indicate that if pet populations increased by 10% a year the public health system could stand to save over $200 million annually.

“This report shows that keeping Australia pet friendly is an issue of national importance.  I hope the government can see the value in spending a little, to save a lot,” said Dr Chris Brown.

The Healthcare Economics of Pets was commissioned by Mars Petcare as part of the Keep Australia Pet Friendly campaign which Ambassador Dr Chris Brown has been championing since 2015. Dr Chris Brown has been working to highlight the many benefits of pet ownership with stakeholders, pet owners and policy makers to stress the need to build a more pet friendly nation into the future, focusing on accommodation, open spaces and transport as priorities.

John Bishop, Co-Founder and Joint CEO of national animal welfare charity PetRescue, has voiced his support for the proposal.

“We really need policies like this to encourage more Australians to discover the benefits, and the joy, of pet adoption. The fact that pet ownership also has such a huge positive impact on our economy, it makes me wonder why this hasn’t been implemented sooner. It’s a win-win for both humans and the many thousands of pets looking for a new home,” said Mr Bishop.

Supporters can follow Keep Australia Pet Friendly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #KeepAusPetFriendly. To find out more visit www.petpositives.com.au.