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Taking Care of Pets: Institutional Policies, Perceptions and Practices Regarding Domestic Animal Welfare in Newfoundland and Labrador

Lead Researcher and Department
Dr. Mark C.J. Stoddart, Department of Sociology, Memorial University

Collaborators and Students
Dr. Liam Swiss, Department of Sociology, Memorial University
Dr. Nicole Power, Department of Sociology, Memorial University
Dr. Lawrence F. Felt, Department of Sociology, Memorial University

This is a survey research project on institutional policies, perceptions and practices with regards to domestic animals in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The telephone survey targeted four main groups: local service districts, municipal districts, animal shelters and veterinary clinics. Questions were oriented around three broad areas related to domestic animal welfare and stray animals: perceptions of problems, institutional responses, and governance processes.

Most local service districts and many municipalities are not well engaged with animal welfare or stray animal issues. Instead, these issues are more often dealt with by animal shelters, which are non-governmental organizations that typically operate on limited budgets and rely heavily on volunteer labour. A key outcome is that we see a gap in perceptions about domestic animal welfare and stray animal issues. While the federal and provincial governments are responsible for legislating domestic animal welfare, our findings indicate that the practical implementation of animal welfare has been largely the responsibility of non-governmental organizations and volunteerism.

Our findings suggest two possible directions for future provincial policy-making. First, policy-making can be oriented towards shifting weight for animal welfare away from civil society and onto government. Second, provincial and local governments can recognize that the bulk of animal welfare work is being done by civil society. With this recognition, policy-making should aim to either increase the financial and non-financial resources available to non-governmental organizations to increase their existing capacity to deal with these issues or to sharply increase the resources and responsibilities of local governments to step up their animal welfare efforts in areas where active non-governmental organizations are absent. The provincial government should also work to facilitate the level and quality of communication between animal shelters and local service districts and municipalities.

The final report on this project is available from:


Animals and society, Animal shelters, Animal welfare

Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
St. John's
Avalon Peninsula

Industry Sectors
Local, municipal and regional public administration (Public administration)

Thematic Categories
Animals (Environment and Conservation — Wildlife)

Sociology, Faculty of Arts (STJ)