How Many Dogs Are in a Particular Place or Region?

How Many Dogs Are in a Particular Place or Region?

July 10, 2019

by Andrew N. Rowan, DPhil

The 2019 conference of the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) was held in Orlando at the beginning of July.  One of the talks on dog demographics, prepared by Drs. Harold Herzog and Andrew Rowan, was given by Dr. Harold Herzog and produced a lot of reaction (tweets ranged from “thought provoking” to “remarkable differences in rates of dog ownership”) and questions.  (The charts are taken from the slides Dr. Herzog used for his talk,“Geography, Demography, and Patterns of Pet-Keeping: The Case of Dogs.”)
Over the years, it has always been something of a surprise that so little attention has been given to a better understanding of dog (and cat) demographics in human society. As the Herzog talk illustrates, there is a large variation in the results from different surveys with the reported percentage of households with dogs ranging from 49% to 68%. Typically, whenever a survey publishes its results, people simply quote the numbers uncritically without any understanding of or apparent interest in determining the accurate number of dogs and cats or why the survey results differ so much.
Over the years, it has always been something of a surprise that so little attention has been given to a better understanding of dog (and cat) demographics in human society. As the Herzog talk illustrates, there is a large variation in the results from different surveys with the reported percentage of households with dogs ranging from 49% to 68%. Typically, whenever a survey publishes its results, people simply quote the numbers uncritically without any understanding of or apparent interest in determining the accurate number of dogs and cats or why the survey results differ so much.
According to Euromonitor (a large market research company), the number of pet dogs in forty different countries averages around 110 dogs per 1,000 people but the actual values range from over 200 dogs per 1,000 in the USA, Mexico, Hungary and the Czech Republic to under 25 per 1,000 in Singapore, China, Turkey, Malaysia, Egypt and India. But the number of pet dogs does not include the additional community/street dogs in some parts of the world. In Latin America and Pacific Island countries (not Japan or Taiwan), the proportion of the total dog population that lives on the streets is around 50%. In India, Indonesia and Africa that proportion is closer to 70% or higher.
The differences detailed above are not simply academic. Undertaking a street dog program in Latin America or the Philippines will, other factors being equal, cost a lot more than a similar project in India simply because there are a lot more dogs in Latin America or the Philippines. Also, it is surprising that there has been so little academic research into the reasons for the differences in dog ownership around the world. It is easy to explain why predominantly Muslim countries have fewer dogs than non-Muslim countries, but why does India have so many fewer dogs than the Philippines? Why does the rate of dog ownership (reported as dogs per 1,000 people) in Europe differ by a factor of almost three from one country to another?
There are indications that academic interest in dog (and cat) demographics is increasing. A review of the scientific literature on pet population dynamics (Kay et al, 2017, Prev. Vet. Med. 144:40) reported that there were 61 relevant papers published before 2000 (between 1975 and 2000), 76 published between 2000 and 2009, and 98 from 2010 through 2015. This represents a 4- to 5-fold increase in the rate of publication on pet populations over 40 years. In addition, there is a growing concern over the issue of pet homelessness both to improve pet health but also to reduce the negative impact of pet dogs and cats on wildlife.

Well-Being for People, Animals and Environment – Andrew Rowan Feb 2019 – Pres. Ltr.


Letter From The President, February 2019
WellBeing International’s vision is focused on promoting the well-being of People, Animals, and the Environment (PAE Triad) and achieving optimal outcomes for all.  The challenges involved in developing an appropriate measure of well-being for all three elements in the PAE Triad cannot be overstated and our goal to develop a working understanding of well-being will not be simple.
The definitions/conceptual elements of well-being are different for humans (multiple measures have been developed this century), animals (animal welfare has mostly focused on ensuring the absence of harms and suffering), and the environment (well-being is not a term commonly associated with environmental advocacy – instead people speak of biodiversity, sustainability, and health). By collaborating and working with our partners and other stakeholders around the globe, we are confident a practical, relatively simple concept of well-being can be developed. Furthermore, this concept will lead to solutions to meet our goals for each part of the PAE Triad – people, animals, and the environment.
The following paragraphs discuss the complexities and differences in conceptualizing and defining well-being in more detail and show, using an nGram chart, how a focus on and interest in human well-being, animal welfare, and environmental health has grown dramatically in the last forty to fifty years.
Human Well-Being
Determining what constitutes human happiness, well-being, and fulfillment has occupied the minds of many a great thinker and philosopher over the past millennia (and this issue of the newsletter features a book review – Aristotle’s Way by Edith Hall that examines what Aristotle has to offer humans who seek a fulfilling life). However, defining and measuring well-being (beyond the relatively narrow measure of material wealth) has only become a focus of public policy in the 21st Century.  Amartya Sen’scapabilities approach (influenced by Aristotle’s ideas about a fulfilling life) has been very influential in what has become a serious goal of political institutions in the last decade or so.  There are now multiple measures of happiness (launched by Bhutan’s King, who promoted Gross National Happiness – GNH – in the 1970s) and well-being.  For example, Gallup’s 2014 Global Well-Beingsurvey reported that Panama, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, and Belize had the top five scores in their survey of the well-being of 145 countries (the USA was 23, the UK was 44, and Bhutan was 144!).  By contrast, the 2018 World Happiness Reportidentified Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland as the five happiest countries (the US was 18, the UK was 19, Panama was 27, Costa Rica was 13, and Bhutan was at 97 out of 156 countries).  These differences in ranking illustrate the difficulty in designing a measure that captures human well-being or happiness reproducibly. There are other (more sophisticated?) measures that have been developed. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has been working with the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI) to produce an index that measures progress on well-being and on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.  Canada and a number of other countries are developing their own measures of well-being.  Clearly, human well-being measures are diverse.
Animal Well-Being
Animal protection is a relatively new movement (started in the 19th Century); however, it has developed sustained political influence in the last twenty-five to fifty years.  Over that time, the well-being of animals has typically been talked about or assessed in terms of the absence of harms and animal suffering.  However, there are now efforts to include requirements for animals not just to be free of suffering but to have positive experiences as well.  Professor David Mellor, a New Zealand academic, has promoted the need for animals to have positive experiences (and not just to be free of negative states) through his “five domains” model of animal welfare.   Nevertheless, typical animal well-being measures are not as diverse or extensive as those developed to measure human well-being.  But, animal well-being, or at least a broad agreement on how to assess it, is as hard to define and measure as human well-being.
Environmental Health and Well-Being
As noted in the latest WellBeing International blog by Drs. Hadidian and Lynn, environmental ethics is built around two fundamentally competing ideas of conservation (protection for human use) and preservation (protection from human use).  The divisions stemming from these different viewpoints continue to influence and inform public policy differences to this day.  Typically, modern measures of the health (namely well-being) of the environment usually include measures of biodiversity and/or the sustainability of current conditions both in and outside human-modified landscapes.  Unfortunately, the measures currently available indicate that the global environment is under enormous stress.  Climate change, over-consumption of wild fish stocks, pollution of the atmosphere and the land, and the large declines in the numbers and biomass of not just larger species but also invertebrates are all huge challenges.   These are occasioned by growing human populations and their growing material demands.  It is projected that the number of humans on the earth will increase by a further 33-50% by 2100 and consumption will probably increase by an even larger amount.
Promoting sustainability and arguing for improved environmental health in the face of such pressures will be a formidable challenge.  But there is hope – see the growing attention being paid to improving human well-being, animal welfare and environmental health indicated in the nGram chart below.
As the chart indicates, interest in and/or concern for all three aspects of the PAE Triad has increased substantially and at virtually the same rate since 1960 (environment) and since 1980 (people and animals).
This letter documents the complexity of defining and measuring well-being both within and across the PAE triad. While we need to have a grasp of these deeper challenges, WellBeing International believes that through creative collaboration we can develop a practical understanding of “well-being” for each element as well as across the PAE Triad that has clarity and simplicity and that can be employed in developing solutions that will help us meet the challenges of a more populated world.
Andrew N. Rowan, President, WellBeing International

A Quiet Revolution Replacing the Use of Animals in Research

A Quiet Revolution Replacing the Use of Animals in Research
May 31, 2019
Andrew Rowan, DPhil.
On 16 May (2019), the Sanger Institute outside Cambridge in the UK announced it would be closing its laboratory animal facility in the next few years. It came to this decision “following a rigorous review” of its scientific strategy and after consulting with the Wellcome Trust, one of the major funders of biomedical research in the world today and a very generous supporter of programs at the Sanger Institute. This is a momentous decision, but it is not particularly surprising (except for the timing – earlier than expected) to those of us who have been following the animal research issue over the past thirty years.
As the chart above shows, the use of laboratory animals in Great Britain peaked in 1975/1976 at around 5.5 million experiments a year (one experiment/procedure is approximately equal to one animal used). The use of animals in experiments/procedures declined rapidly from 1975 to around 2000 and then levelled off at around 2 million procedures (“animals”) a year (see blue line above).
In 1987, the authorities in Britain switched from counting “experiments” to counting “procedures.” The main difference was that “procedures” now included breeding of animals for experimentation and the number of laboratory animals reported annually jumped by about 20%. However, in the mid-1990s, new genetic techniques allowed researchers to create “designer” mice with specific genetic properties and the creation of genetically modified mice took off. But the last year or two has seen a significant decline in the production of these “designer” mice, in part because of the development of new non-animal technologies and also in part because the “designer” mouse revolution has mostly not produced the breakthrough new therapies that were predicted. In fact, the last two Directors of the National Institutes of Health have both noted the lack of success of the new mouse models developed using genetic engineering techniques and have called for the development of new approaches based mainly on the culture of human cells and organs (made possible in part by the development of new techniques in human stem cell culture).
The Sanger Institute (a key player in the sequencing of the Human Genome at the end of the 20th Century) is now positioning itself to continue to be a leader in biomedical research by embracing the very promising new non-animal technologies (such as stem cell techniques, human organs on a chip, minibrain techniques and, in toxicology, new high through-put cell culture approaches). We are beginning to see the prediction by Nobel Prize Winner Sir Peter Medawar come to fruition. In 1969 (fifty years ago), he stated that, “… research on animals will provide us with the knowledge that will make it possible for us, one day, to dispense with the use of them [in the laboratory] altogether.” (The Hope of Progress, 1972, Methuen.) While people may argue that the Sanger Institute is jumping the gun on Medawar’s prediction, I argue that they have the timing just right!
In 2017, we see the first tentative sign in the numbers reported by the UK Home Office that animal use in experiments is starting to go down again. I expect this trend to continue and, perhaps by 2050, most of laboratory animal use will have been replaced by non-animal technologies affirming Medawar’s prediction.

Human-Dog Interactions & Municipal Policy-Andrew Rowan-May 2019-Pres. Ltr.

Human-Dog Interactions and Municipal Policy

In 2009, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Bosnia performed a nationwide survey asking people about the threats in their local communities. Unexpectedly, the results highlighted concerns about roaming dogs (rather than mine fields, crime or some other social ill). More specifically, the complaints mentioned dog attacks on people and domestic livestock. As a result, the UNDP teamed up with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to launch the Humane Community Development project in seven municipalities in Bosnia in 2013. The project has been very successful, and the UNDP is now (in 2019) expanding it to an additional four municipalities. The first seven have reported not only a significant reduction in roaming dogs and related problems but also some unexpected benefits. The municipalities and their citizens have been engaging more with one another and this engagement has led to improved civic cooperation both within and between the communities.
The experience in Bosnia is not unfamiliar to organizations that are engaged in some level of human-dog interaction. In the early 1970s, when the US was confronted with a series of press reports and articles about the overpopulation of dogs and cats, dog issues were allegedly amongst the top complaints to municipal authorities. A few years later, cultural anthropologist Constance Perin produced a book, Belonging in America (1988), that included a chapter on the role of dogs as builders or disruptors of civic engagement and trust. Today, roaming street dogs are a relatively rare sight in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. But, in developing countries, street dogs are still a common sight and viewed periodically as a problem that needs to be removed. For example, the authorities responsible for putting on the Winter Olympics in Sochi decided that the street dogs had to be removed because they did not fit with the image the authorities wanted to present. In addition, municipal authorities frequently respond to cases where dogs have severely injured or killed someone by launching culls of the street dogs.
The indication is that the growth of a “pet dog” culture where dogs are fed commercial pet food (rather than table scraps), are more closely controlled, and are increasingly viewed as valued members of a family is spreading to many developing countries across the globe. In China, there are a reported 20 million pet dogs out of an estimated total of 120 million dogs. In South Korea, the “pet” market has been growing while dog meat businesses have been declining and pets are now a bigger business than dog meat.
Human-dog interactions are changing, sometimes very quickly, across the globe. This change is being matched by increasing support for dog well-being in terms of veterinary care, the growth of pet markets and contributions to animal protection groups. For example, the dozen or so major international animal protection organizations spent approximately $100 million on global animal welfare at the turn of this century. Today, 19 years later, that total has grown to more than $300 million. At the same time, we are seeing an expansion of animal protection groups within countries where, prior to 2000, animal protection advocacy was virtually absent. China has gone from a handful of animal protection groups to thousands in just a decade. Veterinary markets are changing rapidly. Malaysia went from a single small animal hospital in 1980 to more than 300 in 2015. In Costa Rica, the number of veterinary practices has exploded in just the past fifteen years. The shift in in veterinary practice away from a focus on food animals to the treatment of pets is a clear sign of a change in the way pet dogs and cats are viewed and maintained.
The above provides one reason why WellBeing International has decided to launch a Global Dog Campaign as one of our major initiatives. Improving dog welfare and human-dog interactions is a great example of “solutions for people, animals, and environment.”

Role of Zoos & Aquaria in the 21st Century-Andrew Rowan-Apr2019-Pres.Ltr.

The Role of Zoos and Aquaria in the 21st Century
In 1995, I was a coauthor with Bob Hoage (then a Public Affairs Officer for the National Zoo in Washington) on the changing animal protection movement and on the evolution and role of zoos and aquaria. Bob contributed the section on zoo evolution and he identified three periods in the development from 1865-1900 (zoos as expressions of colonial reach and power); 1900-1950 (zoos as expressions of civic pride and “stamp” collections of species) and 1950-1995 (zoos as conservation centers with a focus on captive breeding of endangered species and appropriate husbandry). We are now in the fourth phase of the evolution of zoos and aquaria that includes a strong emphasis on conservation education as well as a focus on animal well-being (really starting around 2005). Many more institutions are now also engaged in situ conservation projects (but such projects amount to only around 3% of overall budgets except for the Wildlife Conservation Society and a handful of others) and a few are now beginning to move beyond education programs and engage in active public advocacy and outreach. Detroit Zoo and Zoos Victoria in Melbourne, Australia are early adopters of this trend.
According to a survey sponsored by the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria, over 700 million people visited zoos across the world in 2008 (this was around 10% of the global population at the time). The survey also estimated that the members of the twelve zoo associations participating together spent around $350 million annually on wildlife conservation. In other words, the 400 members of WAZA around the world have tremendous opportunities to engage the public in conservation outreach and advocacy.
Two zoos, in particular, stand out for me as examples of not just providing active education programs but as conservation and welfare advocates. The first is Detroit Zoo under the leadership of Ron Kagan for the past 25-plus years. In 2005, the zoo sent its two elephants off to a private sanctuary in California arguing that the cold, wet winter climates in Detroit kept the elephants indoors for many months and that captive outdoor spaces were inadequate (despite several exhibit expansions) for elephants. This decision changed the discussion about keeping elephants and several other zoos have followed their example. Then, in 2009, the zoo established the Center for Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare and Ethics. In 2014, the zooadvanced initiatives ending/preventing wolf hunting in the state of Michigan and continue to be a leader in engaging the public on conservation and welfare issues. The other institution is Zoos Victoria in Melbourne where Jenny Gray, who took over the CEO slot in 2008, has been leading an organization delivering not just conservation education but conservation campaigns. The 2017/2018 annual report lists the following campaigns (in addition to more traditional projects breeding threatened species) that the 2 million visitors a year are asked to support.
  • The Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife campaign in concert with RSPCA Victoria.
  • When Balloons Fly, Seabirds Die (120,000 people made the commitment to blow bubbles not balloons) and
  • Seal the Loop (a campaign encouraging anglers to dispose responsibly of fishing lines and other waste).
Hundreds of millions of people love animals as the 700 million-plus visitors to zoos around the world indicate.  Imagine what might be possible if the major zoos and aquaria teamed up in constructive, focused campaigns with environmental and animal protection NGOs to back specific projects.  Recently, the problem of ocean plastic has become a huge concern.  Perhaps we could all combine forces to stop the flow of plastic into the oceans in the next five years.  Zoos and aquaria have already started down this road.  At the October 2018 meeting of the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria in Thailand, a decision was made to move plastics to the forefront of public campaigns.

Wildlife Declines and Mammalian Biomass-Andrew Rowan Mar 2019-Pres.Ltr.

Wildlife Declines and Mammalian Biomass


In the last few months, a number of scientific papers have appeared that report declines—including some dramatic declines—in the number of wild animals sharing our planet. Most people familiar with this issue know about the finding that only 4 percent of mammalian terrestrial biomass consists of wild mammals that appeared in a 2018 report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The remaining 96% consists of humans (36%) and domestic mammals (60%) with bovids, pigs and equids accounting for most of the domestic mammal biomass. The lead author of that report, Professor Ron Milo of the Weizmann Institute in Israel, commented that he was “shocked to find there wasn’t already a comprehensive, holistic estimate of all the different components of biomass.”
Another measure of wildlife trends, The Living Planet Index (LPI), was developed by the WWF and a division of the UN Environmental Program and first published in 1998. The 2018 LPI reports on 16,704 populations of 4,005 species of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fish found that those populations had declined by 60% between 1970 and 2014. While there are critics of the LPI, its broad conclusions have been confirmed by other reports detailing dramatic declines in species and populations.
Ongoing human population growth and increasing consumption means continued pressure on wild animals. Projections for human population growth predict a global increase to around 11 billion as well as a doubling in the demand for animal food products. We must remember, however, that projections are not inevitabilities. It is possible, with concerted action, that the human population could peak at around nine billion and that dietary changes coupled with new technology could substantially reduce the demands on the planet to produce sufficient food for these nine billion humans.
WellBeing International (WBI), in keeping with our intent to foster co-operation and collaboration among civil society organizations has signed up to be part of the Population and Sustainability Network which currently consists of 22 partner organizations. We also announced a campaign at the recent Conservation Geopolitics conference that calls for halting the default killing of mammals and terrestrial vertebrates. WBI recognizes that this may be a far-fetched goal and that there will be instances where human needs will need to be accommodated as exceptions. Nevertheless, we believe that we need to establish a comprehensible and simple call to action if such a global political campaign is to have any chance of success. Humans must switch their focus and emphasis from consumption of wildlife to stewardship and establish a global culture where human beings make routine, non-lethal choices in their interactions with wildlife for all our sakes.
At the Conservation Geopolitics conference, some presentations argued that trade in wildlife plays an important role in ensuring the survival of some species. It was also mentioned that sport and trophy hunting plays a role in protecting wild spaces and wildlife populations. While sport hunting in Europe and North America has supported the protection of national parks and wild places to some extent, this occurred at a time when the human footprint was one-tenth of what it is today. If we set aside land for lions, elephants and other wildlife for wealthy elites to shoot a few wild animals and pay handsomely for the privilege, how can we then tell the rest of the population that they must not kill and consume wildlife?
Modern humans have hunted and consumed wild animals for 300,000 years. It will not be easy to change those habits, but we have to try to end consumption and to establish a sufficient number of permanently protected areas where wildlife can survive relatively undisturbed.

Foundation of WellBeing International – Andrew Rowan Jan 2019 – Pres. Ltr



WellBeing International (WBI) was founded on the basis that improving the long-term well-being of people should, with suitable foresight and wisdom, also involve improving the well-being of animals and the environment, and vice-versa. We believe there are ways to improve the well-being of all three elements of the PAE (people, animals, and the environment) triad by paying more attention to all three elements and focusing on the intersections when looking at strategies to achieve well-being goals. Typically, most well-being (happiness) projects focus mainly on anthropocentric outcomes and impacts. However, we will include animals and the environment as equal partners in order to maximize the well-being of all life both locally and globally. The old aphorism that all politics is local applies to well-being as well: developing appropriate solutions for local communities will provide examples and models that can be taken to scale to affect global well-being. READ MORE
We are particularly interested in seeking out projects and potential partners that enhance the well-being of at least two of the three elements of the people-animals-environment (PAE) triad. For example, consider the following:
• There is a growing body of literature pointing to the importance of the presence of “nature” in the environment to maintain and improve the health of people.
• Establishing marine “parks” has been shown to benefit marine ecosystems AND improve fisheries in the ocean areas bordering these parks.
• Surveys indicate that a majority of people across the globe want animals who are raised for food to be treated humanely and to be given more space than modern intensive animal production systems currently provide.
• More than three-quarters of the antibiotics produced every year are fed to animals to promote their growth and to reduce their incidence of infectious diseases with frightening implications for the future effectiveness of these antibiotics to fight human disease.
• Only 4% of global mammalian terrestrial biomass today belongs to wild mammals. The rest consists of humans (31%) and domestic animals, mainly livestock (65%). Is it any surprise that populations of charismatic megafauna like tigers, lions, elephants, rhinos and giraffes are declining rapidly?
We are excited by the opportunities provided by developing partnerships with other organizations across the world. The number of local civil society organizations is exploding globally, and they bring tremendous resources (especially local knowledge and energy) to their work. But there is often a lack of collaboration and communication that hampers the delivery of greater ‘impact on investment.’ For instance, our colleague, Dr. Gary Tabor of the Center for Large Landscape Conservation notes in his 2018 President’s Report that, “in general, landscape conservation efforts have one thing in common – they do not talk to each other.” Even when organizations in the same NGO sector talk to each other, they mostly do not integrate their programs and projects to maximize efficiency and impact.
WBI plans to launch its own hands-on projects but also will emphasize communication and partnership development to address the challenge of effective partnering. WBI also plans to emphasize the need for data collection and analysis to demonstrate the impact of its own and its partners’ projects. We invite you to join us on what should prove to be an exciting and rewarding journey! Please sign up for this newsletter on our website.

Andrew N. Rowan, President, WellBeing International