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The latest figures from the Australian Companion Animal Council show that Australian dogs are living up to their reputation for hard work.

There were over 83,000 working dogs in Australia according to the 2006 report from the Australian Companion Animal Council, the vast majority of these work with farmers as highly trained sheep and cattle dogs. However, there are also dogs working with police and customs, in security roles and in physical support roles.

The State that recorded the greatest number of working dogs was New South Wales with 30,808 dogs but all States and Territories have some dogs working in the service of man. Officer in Charge of the Canine Squad for the Western Australian Police Force Bryon McLaughlin said he works with dogs who train just as hard as humans do to get where they are and these dogs are also working 40 hour weeks.

"We've got German Shepherds and Rottweilers who are out patrolling and trying to find criminals who have fled crime scenes and assaults," he said.

"There are dogs conducting searches of vehicles, vessels and buildings for drugs and explosive detection dogs that are sniffing venues for bombs."

"These dogs attend an 18-week training course where they learn agility and searching of
yards and buildings along with many other skills. They're trained to protect their handler oif confronted by a weapon."

"The dogs work so hard and long and if it wasn't for them many crimes committed in our
State would be unsolved."

Dr Kersti Seksel from the Australian Companion Animal Council also said the role of the
working dog on a farm can not be underestimated.

"There are two breeds of dog that have been bred specifically for Australian conditions. These are the Australian Kelpie and the Australian Cattle Dog and it is often said that a highly trained Kelpie can do the work of six men on a farm," she said.

"The role of dogs in supporting people who are visually impaired is well known but there
are actually more dogs that work with people with hearing impairments. In total, there were 389 guide dogs and seeing-eye dogs in Australia in 2005 and 405 dogs working with people with hearing difficulties.

"There are also a range of organizations that bring companion animals into hospitals, day care and nursing homes where their visits to sick children and adults are well recognized in supporting the physical rehabilitation and mental health of patients," says Dr Seksel.

And for anyone considering adding a working dog to their family, Dr Seksel says it is important to consider how well the dog will adapt to your living environment.

"Some working dogs can make the transition to family life but it is important to remember
that not all working breeds are suited to suburban living, even if they have never done a day's work in their life. It is well worth getting the advice of a professional if you are thinking of having a working dog as a pet.

"For example, extremely active dogs, such as cattle dogs, need a great deal of exercise and mental stimulation and can easily become bored without the challenges of a working life. On the other hand, a retired greyhound, that isn't officially classified as a working dog but which loved its working life, will adapt extremely well to a life on the couch," says Dr Seksel



 Guide Dogs 210e 148 71 43 35 26 - 5 328
 Seeing eye Dogs 21 20 20 - - - - - 61
 Delta Society 125 125 100 75 - 75 - - 500
 Lions Hearing Dogs 91 109 80 107 6 4 6 2 405
 Police Dogs 59 40 80 15 15 - - 2 211
 Federal Police Dogs - - - - - - 10 - 10
 Prison Dogs 37 30 69 9 13 - - 15 173
 Customs Sniffer Dogs 16e 13e 9e 2e 7e 2e n/a 1e 50e
 Quarantine Dogs         
 - passive response 15 9 13 2 11 - - 1 51
 - active response 20 6 3-3 - -  32
 Cattle/Sheepdogs 30,214 19,414 4,93212,468 12,954 1,419  * # 81,418
 Total 30,808 19,914 5,38612,739 13,0441,525 16 26 83,440

* = NSW figure inclusive of ACT
# = SA figure inclusive of NT
e = estimate
Source: Contribution of the Pet Care Industry to the Australian Economy, 2006

Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia

Last Update: 13/05/08 11:58 Views: 5484

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