Over half (56%) of people believe that companies that have a pet-friendly policy are more attractive places to work, according to a new study published today by the ISPCA and Mars Petcare.
The study also found that more than one in four (27%) claim that a pet-friendly policy would influence their choice of where to work, while respondents also claimed that having a pet in the office would bring multiple benefits to their work-life including stress relief, better mental health support and to help create a more relaxed and fun atmosphere.
The research conducted by Mars Ireland explored attitudes to pet ownership in Ireland, including pet-friendly establishments, workplaces and facilities for pets in local areas.
The research is part of the Better Cities For Pets programme which helps cities become more pet-friendly so more people can enjoy the benefits of a life with pets. Created by Mars Petcare, the Better Cities For Pets programme includes a guide for cities to introduce pet-friendly infrastructure, an assessment tool, and a city certification programme which celebrates communities that recognise the importance of pets and are making progress toward being more pet-friendly. Over 40 cities worldwide are now certified under the programme.
Dr Cyril Sullivan, CEO of the ISPCA, said: “The insights from this research are fascinating and shed light on social, economic and health impacts of pet ownership in Ireland. The ISPCA is constantly looking for loving homes to adopt or foster pets that are rescued and rehabilitated by the ISPCA for rehoming, and what this research highlights are the benefits of pet ownership not only to the welfare of the rescued pet but also to the health and well-being of the family. This is particularly timely and important in a post-COVID return-to-the-office environment where there may be doubts about adopting a pet.”
Desire for pet-friendly establishments
While pets may be a frequent feature in restaurants in the UK and across Europe, over half (53%) of respondents felt that there were not enough pet-friendly hospitality locations or businesses in their local area, across Ireland. Dublin fared better with pet owners reporting greater satisfaction (53%) with the selection of pet-friendly amenities on their doorstep. 43% of respondents said that establishments with dog-friendly policies would increase the likelihood of them going out to eat, while 28% of people surveyed, confirmed that they check if a hotel has a dog-friendly policy in place before booking.
Seven in ten agreed that there are pet-friendly parks in their vicinity, rising to 85% in Dublin, while almost two-thirds felt that transport in their area was not pet-friendly.
Nicola Forde, Corporate Affairs Manager at Mars Ireland, said: “This first-of-its-kind survey, looks closely at all areas of pet ownership in Ireland, and the results show us that pets are becoming increasingly popular and playing a bigger part of daily life in Ireland - and are proving to be an important consideration for people when choosing where to live and work.
“Pet ownership is at an all-time high, yet our integration and provision of pet-friendly spaces and places remain low. We are proud at Mars to promote pet-friendly living through our Better Cities For Pets programme which strives to support and guide local areas, workplaces and businesses to adopt pet-friendly policies and infrastructure to allow the happy co-existence of pets and people in everyday life. Doing so, it can benefit our physical and mental health, our productivity and our overall well-being.”
The survey also revealed a number of health benefits associated with dog ownership, from increasing exercise to improving mental health and sociability.
The vast majority of respondents agreed that having a dog increased the amount of exercise they did, with 84% walking their dog at least once a day, and 80% agreeing that they did more exercise because they had a dog. People also found that their dog served as a conversation starter with strangers (79%).
Meanwhile, 91% of respondents agreed that having a dog had a positive effect on their mood, with just 2% disagreeing.
Irish people’s love for their pets
Dogs continue to be the most popular pet type in Ireland, with almost twice as many respondents owning dogs than cats – 52% compared to 28%. Households with children were also more likely to own dogs, at 58%. Attitudes towards pet owners were overwhelmingly positive, with the most popular adjectives used to describe pet owners being ‘responsible’, ‘caring’ and ‘more family oriented.
77% of people agreed that dogs were a part of the family – additional findings that showed 78% of people bought their dog a Christmas present, 65% celebrated their dog’s birthday, and 55% of people would take their dog’s needs into consideration when planning home renovations.
The average spend on dog products, excluding food and Vet bills, is €332 per household, with Dublin pet owners spending somewhat more than the national average, at €400 per year.
Despite the massive increase in pet profiles on Instagram, less than 20% of pet owners said they would set up a profile for their pet.
Over 1,000 adults participated in the research in June which was conducted by Kantar on behalf of the ISPCA and Mars.
About the research
The study was conducted by Kantar among a nationally representative sample of adults aged 18-64 in the Republic of Ireland, with quotas set on age, gender and region. The sample size was 1,047, and the margin of Error at its highest point is +/-3.0%.
About Better Cities For Pets
The Better Cities For Pets programme helps cities be pet-friendly so more people can enjoy the benefits of a life with pets. Created by Mars Petcare, the programme includes a guide for cities, an assessment tool, a city certification programme, and a free online resource at https://www.bettercitiesforpets.com/
Over 40 cities worldwide are now certified under the programme. The city certification programme celebrates communities that recognise the importance of pets and are making progress toward being more pet-friendly. The programme has developed a model for pet-friendly cities which identifies focus areas under four pillars: