Dr. Chris Brown:

SPEAKER: So today,Dr.

Chris Brown– I think, as you all know, he'sone of Australia's best-known veterinarians.

You have seen him, possibly,as a co-host on the project, or perhaps co-hostingon "The Living Room," or "I'm a Celebrity.

Get Me Out of Here!" as well asthe recent show he was part of, which is good fun.

And "Bondi Vet," Ithink, is the one that we all know him mostly for.

And today, he'sgonna be chatting about some work he's beendoing across Australia, as part of a Keep AustraliaPet Friendly campaign.

It's an important topicfor us here at Google.

Just last week, we had our ownBring Your Dog to Work Day.

And we had somethingabout 40 or 50 dogs in the office,which was good fun.

And a nice class photo–bit of a selfie as well, with one of the dogs,which was good fun.

But actually, whatpeople might not know is that in Google'scode of conduct, we actually list Googleas a dog company.

It actually says,Google's affection for our canine friendsis an integral facet of our corporate culture.

We like cats, butwe're a dog company.

So as a general rule, we feelcats visiting our offices will be fairly stressed out.

So yes.

Unfortunately, no catsin the office just yet.

Dogs, we're working on.

But Dr.

Chris Brownis here to share a bit of what he's been doingto try to make Australia a place where pets can roamfree and be part of what we're doing, and the benefits of,you know, why having pets is so great, and how thegovernment, workplaces, and all of us can help makeAustralia more pet-friendly.

There's some Q&A at the end, sofeel free to raise your hand.

We'll bring a microphone around.

There's a [INAUDIBLE]as well, which people have submitted questions to.

Without further ado, we'll playa quick video to introduce him.

And then, please welcome tothe stage Dr.

Chris Brown.

[APPLAUSE] [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [MUSIC PLAYING] -All researchsuggests that our pets are good to both our physicaland also our emotional health.

So the news that our petpopulations are declining is obviously a concern.

The big surprise here is thatdespite our human population in Australia really increasingover the last few decades, our pets have done the opposite.

See, it's 2001.

Our cat numbers havedeclined by 15.

5%, whereas dog numberspeaked in 2009, and since then,have also dropped.

So I'm here in Bonditoday to release the result of the petpositive score, which is all about getting asnapshot into our pet society, seeing exactly howpeople perceive our pet ownershipin the country, and how friendly our cities are.

So the score as to howpet-friendly a city is, is worked out through anumber of different ways.

We've surveyed over 3,000people to see their attitudes towards the city they live in.

And we're really looking at howinclusive the society they live in is, actually, towards pets–so how many pet-friendly parks there are, pet-friendlybeaches, and, I guess, how easy it is to own a petin an apartment, and also, looking at theregulations around pets from the local council.

[LAUGHTER] -Lulu is everything.

Lulu is my life.

She is the best thing to comehome to, because she's always happy to see us.

I think everyoneshould have a dog.

-So there are, at least,two to three decades or more of accumulatedresearch and evidence to show us that pets providea whole host of benefits, whether they're physical,social, mental, or other types.

For example, we knowthat physical activity is one way that pets contribute.

Taking the dog fora walk each day is such a greatway to get active.

-And when you'rewalking around, you meet people that younormally would walk past, because we all stop and talkto each other– of all ages and walks of life.

-At Mars, we're committedto making a better world for pets, because we know theymake our lives so much better.

And that's why we'rehere, launching this pet-positive school,which looks at the nine different attributes forcities that will make them pet-friendly–things like access to outdoor exercise areas,pet-friendly legislation, and accommodation availability.

And we've done alot of research, and that research hasidentified those attributes, but it's also rankedAustralian cities in terms of their pet-friendliness.

-There's somesurprising news in here, and for a Sydneysiderlike me, there's also some rather confronting news.

Because Sydneyhasn't done so well.

It comes in at 15 out of 16.

So Melbourne scoredtop, at number one, then we have Canberra,and also the Gold Coast.

So over all, Sydney has alittle bit of thinking to do.

So if there's one wish, it'sthat as Australians, we all work together tomake sure we stay– and hopefully, becomeeven more– pet-friendly.

[END PLAYBACK] CHRIS BROWN: Allright, well, thank you very much forhaving me in here today.

I should, straightaway, apologize for missing out last week.

I, like a good Labrador, wentdown with an ear infection, and, like a goodvet, decided to treat myself, which was mildlysuccessful for, about, two or three days, until Irealized that the bugs that affect people don't actuallyaffect animals, and vice versa.

So I had to go toa human doctor, reluctantly, andbe treated by him.

He was very good, but each timehe put anything near my ear, I compulsorily kicked myleg out wherever I could, just to let himknow how it feels.

But look, I'm hereto talk about how we keep Australia pet-friendly.

And obviously, inthat video, there were some interestingstatistics around where we're at the moment, andprobably a few surprises.

It's something I'mvery passionate about, and I'm passionate aboutit for quite a few reasons, as you're about to hear now.

But before we go on, I want youto go back just a few hours, to when you firstwoke up this morning.

And just think aboutwhen you first work up.

Probably, like 60% or70% of the population, you probably rolled overand checked your phone, and had a lookthrough social media.

You saw what wasmaking news, saw whose birthday it was today.

You, sort of, caughtup on the world.

And when you didthat– probably, while you didthat– you probably scrolled past updatesaround pets' birthdays, and probably, in thecase of a few of you, scrolled past social mediaprofiles for animals.

Some of them have a lotmore followers than I do, which I'm a little bitresentful of, and a lot more followers than, to be honest,a lot of people in Australia.

So I think there's a– Jiffpom? Do you guys know Jiffpom? Very popular– alittle Pomeranian, looks like a teddy bear, 2.

9million Instagram followers.

There's Tuna– Tuna theDog, whose greatest talent– not that I'm bitter– isnothing apart from an overbite.

1.

9 million followersfor that underbite.

But it's an interestingobservation.

And then, I'm sure, once yougot up and you got out of bed and headed off to work onyour bus or on the train, you're probably bombardedwith ads that featured dogs selling everythingfrom toilet paper to laundry cleanerand laundry detergent.

And then, you made yourway into work here, and you come into apet-friendly workplace, where you see dogsin the office.

And you hope thosedogs are the hairiest and the smelliest membersof the workforce in Google, but you're not entirely sure.

And over the courseof those few hours, you're probablyentitled to think that perhaps, our worldis dominated by pets, and pets have a reallyimportant place.

And there's a lot of love forpets out there in Australia.

But as you're about tohear, dogs like Jiffpom, dogs like Tuna, are about tolearn a very important lesson, that sometimes, thenumber of Instagram followers you have doesn'trelate to the number of friends you have, in real life.

Because unfortunately,our policies as a nation don't really show a lot oflove and a lot of friendship towards our pets.

And there's a bitof a disconnect there, because we simply loveanimals, but our policies, our governments, and theway we legislate them don't show a lot of love in return.

So I guess that's thewhole crux of what I'm keen to talk about today.

The whole idea ofpet-friendliness is something youhear about a lot.

What we're referring to istouched on in the video.

We're talking, about howinclusive is our world? And how inclusive are ourcommunities of animals? So if you have apet, how easy is it to go down to the local dogpark, take them off the leash, and let them run aroundin an enclosed space and burn off that extra energy? How easy is it, if you own a dogor a cat, to rent an apartment? How easy is it to take yourdog or cat to the local cafe? Or if you don'thave a car and need to go to the vet, how easy isit to hop onto a bus or a train or get a taxi and go to bed? And for a lot ofthose questions, the answer is, not very.

And certainly, in Australia,when you compare it to the rest of the world,especially when you look at North Americaand Europe, there are some quitestark differences.

I don't know if many of youhave traveled recently and been to, say, North Americaor to France, to Germany, or to the UK.

It's amazing how often yousee pets in everyday life.

I was in Italy, three weeksago, and sat next to a pug on a plane.

[LAUGHTER] And he snored, buthe didn't smell.

And he was actually–to be honest, he was quieter than 99% ofthe other passengers on board.

So it's only whenyou stop and think, and you go, hang on, whydoes that happen over there, and why don't we have thathere, that you start to think, what's going on? And I guess theconsequence of it being, maybe, notas easy to give pets the life that we want them tolead and that we think they deserve by being includedin our everyday life– [LAUGHTER] I don't know whatthat sound was, but I'll be cleaningit up later.

I'm sure.

The consequence of us not beingable to give them the love and, I guess, the life we thinkthey deserve is the fact that– or perhaps, our pet populationsare decreasing for that reason.

And they're quitestartling numbers– the fact that our cat numbershave decreased by 15%, and our dog numbers arestarting to fall as well.

So for a nation that pridesitself on being pet lovers– and we easily refer to ourpets as being our best mates– it's quite a stunning discovery,I think, to actually hear that.

So I think I'm verykeen to look at why, and try to reverse thistrend now, before it is too late to turn it around.

So probably, youmight have been told to ask here, whyis it such an issue if we're not pet-friendly? Why is it such anissue if we don't have as many pets inour everyday lives as we have in the past? Well, I guess, theway I look at it is that our pets are, kindof, like the furry friends with benefits.

And they do make our livesbetter across so many different areas, whether it'sjust our happiness– they tend to have this unique ability toshow us how we should approach life and how we should just letthe worries of the world wash over us.

If you could live yourdays like a dog does, with the exception oflicking certain parts, it would be a happy day.

You know, their attitudeand their easygoing style are something that, I think, weshould all take a leaf out of.

But also, our petsare continually proven to make us healthier.

And this isn't just wishy-washystuff that, you know, I feel better whenI'm around a dog.

It's actually hard,scientific fact that pets have apositive influence in our health at all ages.

So for kids, as youngas one year of age, having a pet in the houseresults in a reduced risk ear infections, reducedreliance on antibiotics, reduced level of asthma, andalso, reduced level of colds as well.

So that's an amazingstatistic, when you look at it, and it's backed up by anumber of different studies.

When you go intoadults, our pets have a very dramatic effecton our cardiovascular health.

So we're generally fitter andhealthier if we own animals.

They've actually beenproven in some studies to– despite notwearing activewear, they're actually the mosteffective personal trainers out there.

And I'll get to whythat is, in a second.

But for theelderly– personally, I think the factsaround the elderly are probably the most dramatic.

Because the elderly– people,say, over the age of 65, visit the doctor less.

They make fewer hospital visits,they take less medication, and they experience lessloneliness, if they have a pet.

And when you considerour aging population, and you consider what ourhealth budgets look like, and you realize justhow much money has to be put into supportingour elderly, you think, wow, for the price of a bowlof dog food each day, you could actually have thatpositive health benefit.

I just think, to me,it's an amazing trade-off to be able to offer that.

There's a lot of science aroundwhy those benefits exist.

You can probably condenseit down to two things, in terms of the health benefits.

It's really theconstant exposure to non-threatening bugs.

So if you're arounda dog, you're getting bombarded withnon-threatening bugs that really struggle to infect you.

So your immune systembecomes hard and fast at recognizingbacteria and viruses, and dodging it, weavingit, working out how to deal with it, and moving on.

So constant exposure tonon-threatening bugs– and in terms of thehealth benefits, it's constant exposure tonon-threatening bugging from them wanting a walk.

It's very hard tosay, no, to a dog that is sitting in front of you,begging you to go for a walk.

And as a result, we give in.

But it's a compromise that hasreally significant benefits for each of us.

One of the– I'm exposed tohundreds of different studies every year, and the one Ilove– it actually came out a couple of years ago.

And it was from KyotoUniversity in Japan.

Now, I love the Japanese.

They can come up with somereally interesting research, but this researchcentered around– they wanted to workout whether how we love our pets, whetherit's just us saying it– is it just something we talk about? Do we just love our pets becausethey're there, they're cute, and they give usextra Instagram likes? Or is it somethingmore tangible? And they actually putowners into a room, and they monitored.

They actually took samplesfrom them– samples of saliva– and measured theirhormonal levels.

What they found is, when theybrought their pets in and put their pets in front of themand let them pat their pets, they released ahormone, consistently.

And that hormone is oxytocin.

And oxytocin, if youknow what that is, is actually the hormonethat we, as humans, release when wesee our loved ones and when we see our children.

So it's a chemical thing.

It's real.

The love for a pet is very real.

The flip side ofthat, which I love, is the fact that theythen did the opposite, and actually measured thelevels in dogs and in pets.

And guess what? It goes both ways.

They actually releasethe hormone as well– [LAUGHTER] –which is, kind of,reassuring in a way.

They're not cheating on you.

So it's a very specialthing, but it's also a very tangible thing.

And so you're getting apicture, I guess, of the fact that there are benefitsacross the line, in terms of the physicalhealth benefits.

But I think a reallypowerful benefit out there in the community, which is oftenundervalued but is becoming more researchedand more recognized is the benefit on mental health.

And you'll see a lotof dogs out there that are in the role of beingassistance dogs or therapy dogs.

And the work they're doingcurrently with kids with autism is quite remarkable.

We're still not exactly clearwhy pets and animals– dogs, horses, all sorts ofdifferent animals– have a positive effecton kids with autism.

But the belief is thatit changes the brain wave activity and results in a morecontrolled brain wave activity.

I've had the pleasure of havinga client at work who suffers from extreme schizophrenia.

And he has been in therapy,he's been institutionalized, and he's been onmultiple medications over a number of years.

But about seven years ago, hegot two dogs, Oscar and Dudley.

And he comes into the clinic,about, every three days, and just loves it.

He always turns upwith these two dogs.

And I had the pleasure oftalking to one of his carers the other day, and I said,oh, talk to me about the dogs.

And they said, hands down,the most positive effect on his life hasn'tbeen medication, has not been ourhospital system.

It's been those two dogs.

Because in his extremeschizophrenic state, where he has disorderedthoughts and isn't really sure about what he'sdoing next, what those dogs do is provide him with a veryclear path and a very clear plan for his day.

And his day starts by gettingthem up, getting them outside, going to the bathroom,and feeding them.

And the whole day isbuilt around these dogs, and he goes out andtakes them for a walk.

And they say that without fail,those dogs have saved his life, but also turned his life around.

And these are justtwo dogs who seem to, like a lot ofanimals that I deal with and a lot of animals that I seein therapy situations or even just in your everydayhome, seem to know what's required of them.

And that's a really, Ithink, undervalued thing with our pets.

Somehow, they know.

Somehow, they seem tosense when you're happy, they seem to sensewhen you're sad, and they seem to knowwhen is the right time to put that littlenose on your lap, when's the right time tojust give you some space, or when's the right time totry to turn your mood around.

And I think that's a really,really special thing.

So I would hope that giventhe fact that in Australia, we do pride ourselvesin being a world leader in a numberof different areas, I would hope that wecan somehow reverse this trend, wherewe're not a world leader in pet-friendliness.

We gave you some ofthe scores there, and the fact thatSydney was 15 out of 16 in the pet-friendlyscores– well, Australia ranks rightdown, quite low, overall, as a country.

So it's something wedo need to look at.

And as I said, Europeand North America are, kind of, yourgold standard.

And they're not experiencingthis issue with pet population decline like we are.

I was in Canada towardsthe end of last year, staying in a nicehotel for work, and as I waswalking to the lift, a golden retrieverwalked into the lift with me, with its owner,and went up to its room.

And you know, I wasn'tdeterred by that.

I loved it.

But this hotel was quitehappy to have animal guests.

Anyone that's traveledto France will know that whenyou go into cafes, it's not out of the ordinaryto sit up next to a poodle while you have your croissant.

And I think, far fromdetracting from the experience, it actually adds to it.

It actually makes it more ofa pleasant, cultural moment to enjoy.

So I guess we have tolook at, why is that? Why do those countries decideto focus on the positives rather than fear the negatives.

I think, sometimes, inAustralia, we can do that.

A classic example– I'm notsure if you followed in the news the fact that a few months ago,the newly formed Inner West Council in Sydney decidedto ban dogs from the pubs.

So after years andyears and years of dogs being allowed to gointo pubs around Balmain, all of a sudden, thecouncil decided, no.

On occupational healthand safety grounds, the dogs would nowno longer be allowed around food areas– so notallowed in any part of the pub.

The absurdity ofthat is something that grabs me straight away.

When you can seethat on a health– if a health basis iswhat's being used there, pets have their bugsand we have ours.

It's actually very hardfor those to cross over.

So to think that there's ahealth risk around pets being in a restaurant or near wherepeople are eating food– it's far more dangerous to havea person being near the food than it is to have adog being near the food.

I'm hesitant to say this whenthere's a couple cameras on, but it would be farmore safe for me to have a dog lick my face andlick my mouth than a person I don't know.

[LAUGHTER] I'm not going to give ademonstration right now, but that is a simplescientific fact.

And so it's an interestingmental image, to be honest.

But it does stack up,time and time again, on scientific studies.

People are very passionateabout their pets, so I've been encouragedby the push-back on that idea of banning thepets in pubs in Balmain.

But continually,I do find, there are little momentsin our society, where we have to check it.

And we have to have a look at itand go, hang on, is that right? Banning the petsin the pubs is one, but we even had anexample last month, with the census, thathighly successful census.

[LAUGHTER] So what we had therewas– in the past, some census in someyears have actually included questions about pets.

How many pets dowe have out there? What pets do people own? This year– not asingle question.

So considering that thepets are such a huge part of our communities, howcan we possibly plan for communities involvingpets if we don't even know how many pets there areout there and where they live? So as a result of that, Ilaunched my own pet census that night, almost in defiance.

And 100,000 people filledit out in the space of 48 hours, which is aremarkable contribution of people clearly recognizingthat that's not quite right.

But it also shows howpassionate people are and how willing people areto make sure that their pets' voices are heard.

And amongst all ofthe different data about how many differentpets people owned and where they lived and wherethey exercised their pets, there were some reallyinteresting things which really show how much lovethere is for animals out there.

40% of people share theirbeds with their pets.

I was just talking beforeabout sharing saliva.

That's a lot of pillows beingshared and a lot of wet patches that– on the pillow–you can't quite explain.

And you just go back to sleepand think, well, hopefully, it's my drool and not his.

So the other thing was, what'sthe most affectionate way that people show theirlove for their pets? I asked the question, dopeople pat, do they hug, or do they kiss? The most popular was the kiss.

I think it was 40%, then30% for the other two.

So there is a lot of love.

And so hopefully, ifgovernment, at a federal level, at a state level,and at a local level, can recognize the fact that petsdo make a huge contribution out there, that they deserveto be recognized, that they deserve to begiven their little slice, and that they deserve tobe given the pat in return for what they contribute toour society, to our health, and to our well-being–and consistently, I find that the more wegive them, the more they give us back in return.

If people are worried about petsbarking during the day, when you're at work,well, funnily enough, access to an exercisearea in the morning before you go to work may justbe the best cure for that.

So if we actually help themout, and help them help us, then often, we're better off.

So I am encouragedto come in here and see these four-leggedfriends sharing the office with you.

Obviously, Google'sright on board.

And hopefully, more andmore people out there will recognize the importance ofkeeping Australia pet-friendly.

So thank you for your time.

And I look forward totalking with you after this, about your own concerns.

Thank you.

[APPLAUSE] SPEAKER: Thank you very much.

That was fantastic.

I like the idea ofhaving a pet census.

Because I know mygirlfriend and I, we argue about whether ornot the cat and the dog can go in the bed.

And so I think the 40%is about representative.

We sort of have an argumentabout that each time.

CHRIS BROWN: Itwas 40% on the bed.

It was another 25%in the bedroom.

So you can find, like,a compromise position, where they have theirown bed next to the bed.

But we all know how that ends.

[LAUGHTER] At about midnight,there's a little, sort of, slow crawl upwards–[INTERPOSING VOICES] SPEAKER: Exactly.

And then, they're, like, up bythe pillow in a few seconds.

Yeah.

CHRIS BROWN: I know–and look, maybe I'm, sort of, lookingtowards the future here, but I know plenty ofpeople who have been told– and I hate to put words in yourmouth– that it's either you or the dog in the bed.

So you know, you can choose.

That's just how it goes.

SPEAKER: I know.

I know.

So I don't mind the cat sort of,roaming, but the dog, for me, has to be towards the end.

But look, you know,these are things.

But we did our ownlittle survey here.

We had the Bring Your Dogto Work Day last week.

And we, sort of, askedpeople at the end of it, you know, what didyou find useful? How did it all go? And 50% of people said, theyfound that public transport was a big challenge for them.

So they like actually foundit hard to get their dogs even to the office.

So they wanted to bringthem, but they couldn't.

You know, theconversations you're having with the government,and that sort of thing– how are you findingtheir responding to that sort of challenge, liketrains, the buses, and ferries? CHRIS BROWN: Yeah.

I guess, the key messageout of any of this push to open up the avenues for petsto be more included in society is that it does go both ways.

People have to beresponsible, and they have to be goodowners, and they have to pick up after their pets.

If you have a dog that wants tojump up and hug and, you know, tongue pash everysingle person it meets, and it weighs 60 kilos, maybeit's not the perfect candidate to be going on publictransport just yet.

So you have to almostself-regulate a little bit.

And we're very clearin our messaging– this will only work if peopleare responsible as well.

But we are making progress.

And for the simplefact that, I think, government doesrecognize that there are some significantbenefits out there, and we have been caught behind,really, the rest of the world.

And if we are looking for peopleto use more public transport, the people in the community–it's not their fault that they don'thave a car, where we're trying to encourage peopleto use public transport and not necessarily need cars.

So that's got to includethe whole family, and that includes pets.

And look, there are votes in it.

At this simple level, I dobelieve there are votes in it.

I think people– 67% ofpeople out there own a pet.

So generally, peoplearen't offended if we loosen up the regulationsaround where pets can go.

But people are really thrilledif you do it for their animal.

SPEAKER: You've mentionedquite a few countries during your talk of where you'veseen this working really well.

Are there countries thathave the best in class? Is it France, or is it– CHRIS BROWN: Franceis pretty good.

Yeah, like, northernEurope is quite good.

Canada is actually veryimpressive, I find.

Its across the border.

It's in terms oflegislation, and it's in terms of how they influencetheir registration practices with pets and micro-chippingand de-sexing, and all the rest of it.

But generally, northern Europeand northern North America are where it's at.

Further north you go,the better it seems.

SPEAKER: We had somefun questions as well that came through.

So Australia has manyunique animals, locally, but a lot of them, youcan't have as pets.

This person listed a pet quoll,a wombat, and a sugar glider, and asked, how canwe raise awareness of these beautiful animals, andhow can we change the laws so that they can also be pets? CHRIS BROWN: Yeah.

SPEAKER: Where's theline drawn, basically? CHRIS BROWN: Yeah, I know.

It's a tricky one.

Some of those animals that arementioned there– the quoll is our native cat.

Yeah.

You want to be prettyselective about which quoll you take home.

[LAUGHTER] The thing we often forgetabout with dogs and cats– and especially inthe case of dogs– is that they didn'tjust turn up.

We haven't justdecided one day that we want to keep a dog as a pet.

We've been domesticatingdogs for 10,000 years.

So they're such great petsbecause we made them that way.

And you wouldn't just grab awolf and expect to raise a wolf puppy, and think that the wolfpuppy– it'd be awesome, but– [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER: And dingoesstole my baby stuff.

CHRIS BROWN: Yeah.

Well, that's the thing.

Like, dingoes arean example of that.

They, generally, as a rule,don't make great pets, because they'renot domesticated.

And so we've chosen,as the attributes– we've generally chosen the calm,responsible, quieter ones that are affectionate.

So to have quollsor sugar gliders as pets– you can get lucky.

You can get one that's verytame and very, very quiet, but as a generalrule, there's always going to be one in two orone in three, at least, that's not going to be suitableand might ruin it for everyone.

SPEAKER: It's sucha shame, though, because sugargliders are so cute.

CHRIS BROWN: They are.

SPEAKER: At least,they're around, and you can go and visit them.

CHRIS BROWN: They're remarkablypopular in the States as well.

SPEAKER: Really? CHRIS BROWN: Peopleactually have them as pets in the States.

SPEAKER: Right.

Yeah.

Well, I think acontroversial question someone asked was about cats.

So obviously, I,sort of, prefaced by saying thatwe're a dog company.

But someone did ask, cats, whilebeing one of Australia's most favorite pets, arehugely destructive to native Australian animals.

And they suggest,you know, how can we encourage people to make suretheir cats aren't roaming all the time, or to be moreresponsible about how they deal with cats.

CHRIS BROWN: I actuallythink we give cats a hard time in this country.

We're one of the fewdeveloped nations– we might be theonly one or there might be one othercountry– where cat ownership is declining.

In every othercountry in the world, as we move into smallerareas, into apartments, everyone else has recognized thesuitability of cats for that.

And as a result, catnumbers have increased, apart from in Australia.

And I think it's thewildlife thing that causes that, which is a shame.

And certainly, cats are to blamefor a huge number of wildlife fatalities.

When you look at the studies,though, the vast majority of those are feral cats.

Your domestic home cat accountsfor a small percentage of that.

It's still too high, obviously.

But that's why we're saying it'spart of being a responsible dog owner.

You keep a fenced backyard.

With a cat, keep them insideor keep them in an enclosed cat area outside.

If you do the responsiblething, then there's no reason why catscan't be as popular as dogs in this country.

They can be amazing,amazing pets.

I've got a cat, myself,who was, to be fair, was raised with a dogand thinks she is a dog.

[LAUGHTER] And she's great.

You know, and YouTubecan't be wrong.

Look at how many cat videos thatare out there that are popular.

I saw one last night ofkittens massaging each other.

And that's adorable.

[LAUGHTER] How can you not like that? My cat, Cricket, has anobsessive compulsive massaging disorder, where,if I leave her– if I don't– she actuallydoesn't sleep in my room, for one simple fact that at 2:00AM, 3:00 AM, 4:00 AM, 5:00 AM, she massages.

She gets into my roomand just sits there.

[LAUGHTER] SPEAKER: She thinks she'sgoing to be of service– CHRIS BROWN: Like,you're never more relaxed than you are at twoo'clock in the morning.

I do not need a massage attwo o'clock in the morning.

[LAUGHTER] SPEAKER: No.

Fair.

And on the point of thesesocial media stars– like, I had a quick look.

Jiffpom had a hoodie photothat had hundreds of thousands of likes.

And I looked at theoverbite of Tuna the Dog.

How can we, sort of,use– if any of us have really cute pets orbig Instagram followers, how can help try and push thisforward, this sort of campaign? I've seen it's got hundredsof posts on the hashtag, already on Instagramand that sort of stuff.

CHRIS BROWN: Yeah.

I think– how do you boost thepopularity of your own pets online? SPEAKER: Well,that, too, but also to get people talking aboutthis idea of making Australia more pet-friendly andthat sort of thing.

CHRIS BROWN: Look,I think there's a real innocencearound our animals and I think this iswhat they'd want.

You know? They really would, and they'reclearly right behind it.

And I just think that givenall the love and all benefits that they give us, I think it'sonly fair that we give them something in return.

And that's what the wholepet-friendly campaign is about.

It's just giving them something.

And they actuallydon't ask for a lot.

And if we actually give thedogs an off-leash area– those enclosedareas– the amount of energy they burn off in a20-minutes run around there– they'll generally sleepfor the rest of the day.

So it's actually giving ussomething back in return, in the way thatthey're more content.

They're less likelyto be stressed when we're away at work.

So a lot of thesemeasures are not just about making Australiamore pet-friendly.

They're actually aboutour pets being more relaxed an better off as well.

SPEAKER: Well, [INAUDIBLE]questions in the room, too.

So just raise your hand, andwe'll bring over a mic to you.

AUDIENCE: Hi.

I'm Marin, I'mFrench, and I've just moved to Australia last year.

And I happen to live ina pet-friendly block.

I don't have a pet.

But it's probably theonly block in Coogee in, about, a kilometerradius that is pet-friendly.

And the rule to be able tohave a pet in that block is, the pet has to be less thanhalf the height of your calf.

So if you have, like, apet that goes to your knee, you can't have the apartment.

CHRIS BROWN: I'm quitetall, I could [INAUDIBLE].

[LAUGHTER] AUDIENCE: Yeah.

You'd be fine.

But yeah, my really goodfriend had a Doberman.

Obviously, she couldn'tget the apartment.

So is that somethingas well, that– like, I only had a cat in France, andcats are no problem for pets in France.

But is that something thatyou're looking at as well, to work with the governmentsto change the strata rules and the renting rules? Because it's pretty muchimpossible to have a pet here.

CHRIS BROWN: Yeah.

So the push at themoment– the current rule is that it's up to thelandlord to decide, and that's unfortunatelyalmost the– that block is the exception to the rule.

I mean, generally, alot of apartment owners are saying, no.

But what we'retrying to push for is to actually switch itaround so the landlord has to give a reason why not,as opposed to you having to push your case as to why.

And that's anongoing discussion, and it's a hard one.

But what you're saying withthe height being the issue– even that is alittle frustrating.

Because anyone thatknows dogs knows that a small dog like,say, Jack Russell, will have more energy thana big dog like a Great Dane, for example, and willbe, actually, probably, more inclined to barkand more inclined to be destructive in an apartment.

So it doesn't make sense.

And that's probablythe frustration.

It's that a lot of theserules aren't based on fact, and aren't based onscience or research.

And the only way youcan change these things is by actually havingface-to-face meetings and informing them ina non-threatening way, as to why their policyprobably needs a bit of a look.

SPEAKER: And a JackRussell doesn't know that it's a small dog.

It thinks it's a big dog.

You know? CHRIS BROWN: Yeah.

Exactly.

Generally, I knowa lot of big dogs that would behappier in apartments than some small dogs, whichis, kind of, counter-intuitive, but it's true.

AUDIENCE: Thanks, doctor.

What are you– CHRIS BROWN: Thank you, Joe.

[LAUGHTER] AUDIENCE: –wantingthe pet lovers to do? Is it to lobby their memberand get a bit more active? What are you actually wanting,in terms of action from people? CHRIS BROWN: Yeah.

It's a good question.

Thanks, Joe.

I think we're dealingwith politicians, so it's making them realize thatthe votes are involved here.

It's writing lettersto the newspaper.

The Telegraph hasbeen right behind, trying to stir up theissue with the pets in the pubs in the Inner West.

They love opinion piecesbecause they realize that it's a passionate topic.

And so get involved.

Start lobbying people, yourself.

Use the Keep AustraliaPet-Friendly hashtag on your social media posts.

And certainly, keepall the feedback coming around on whatis important to you and your local area.

Because we're in afortunate position where we can collate that andactually make presentations to government.

But if it's more than justus that's in their ear, if it's actually membersof their own electorates, then it's a lot more powerful.

We met with the heads of localgovernment a couple of months ago, so all the mayorsand local councils from around the country.

And in the one monthsince that meeting, they've put in eight newoff-leash area parks.

They do listen, buttheir big feedback was, they didn'tunderstand why there was this buzz aroundoff-leash area parks.

They didn't really understandwhy they are important.

And it just takes peopleto sit down with them and explain thebenefits for them to go, oh, OK, so that'swhy they want the fences, because we couldn't work outwhy they wanted the fences.

We thought that it alwayslooked strange to have a fence in there, but that'sactually what you want.

OK, all right.

And a lot of thoseparks came about because people were lobbyingtheir local government.

They were starting up petitions.

Even just those Change.

Orgs,those online petitions– it's amazing the amountof support they get.

If you can present a coupleof hundred signatures to your local government or acouple of thousand signatures to a state government,they start to listen.

SPEAKER: A localcouncil and park at a time, and thenhopefully, more will join.

AUDIENCE: Hi, Chris.

Thanks for coming in.

With regards to petsbeing allowed or trying to get them to be allowedto come on public transport and things, I often seepeople taking their dogs and having to leavethem or their animals– having to leave themoutside of shopping centers.

Is there any waythat you're going to be speaking to thebig shopping bugles and things like that? Because they are on theother side of the government.

It's really, again, likethe units in apartments.

It's a matter ofthe owner deciding.

So is there any way of, kindof, communicating and addressing that issue withhaving to not leave your animal outside, tiedalong a no-parking sign? Or– CHRIS BROWN: Yeah.

It's a really good point.

We've tried to,in the campaign– we don't want togo in with a wish list that is 15 items long.

So we've tried tocondense it to four, which is the pet-friendly apartments,it's the dog-friendly parks, it's the cafes, restaurants,and it's the transport.

But what you'resaying is actually a really importantpoint as well.

So that's one thatshould be looked at.

It probably comes downto zoning and comes down to just an understandingof health regulations as well.

And what I said during mytalk about that fear around– it's not healthy tohave pets around, and they spread disease.

Even though, as I mentioned,the risk is extremely small.

So it's part of thebroader discussion as well.

But it always makes me nervouswhen I see that sort of thing.

It also gives pets a badname, because they're tied up out the front.

They're barking becausethey're left by themselves, and they're confusedand anxious.

And so it just almostreinforces the opinion that those dogs shouldn'tbe there in the first place, because they'rejust making noise.

But thank you.

SPEAKER: Do you havea favorite animal? Like, I've seen onInstagram, you've got giraffes, dogs, and quokkas.

CHRIS BROWN: Yeah.

My favorite animalis a strange one.

It's a cow.

SPEAKER: Cow? [LAUGHTER] Because they bring milk, or–? CHRIS BROWN: No, no.

I was quite a nerdy kid, andwe had a farm in the Hunter Valley, and I used to showcows at country shows, like, in the white coat, thehat, and the little stick.

And I always liked cows.

I used to breed cowswhen I was a kid.

And I love the– I think whatI love is the fact that they're so big, yet quite placid.

And yeah.

You don't want to see thephotos from that time.

SPEAKER: What's the worstpet someone could get? Like, the most problematicpet that's gonna, you know– the most business to seea vet, and that sort of thing? CHRIS BROWN: That'sa question that always gets me into trouble.

Because no matter theanimal I say, there's always someone in the room– SPEAKER: Who has got one? Yeah.

CHRIS BROWN: And I cansee it straight away.

Their facial expressionis like, oh, god.

But look, I'll play alongand name and shame one.

The one I guess I– oh,god, why am I doing this? I like all animals, butthe one I have the most, sort of, ongoing battleswith is the ferrets.

The thing is that whenyou de-sex a ferret, even though they're underanaesthetic, subconsciously, they let their scent glands go.

And so everyone's seen thecartoons with skunks, right? And skunks let thescent glands go.

It's, kind of, like that.

SPEAKER: Right.

CHRIS BROWN: I have to, whenI'm de-sexing a ferret– SPEAKER: How often doyou de-sex ferrets? CHRIS BROWN: Oh, frequently.

It's not [INAUDIBLE] [LAUGHTER] But I have to, like, make anincision, run out of the room, have a breath, come backin, do another incision, out of the room, backin– it's like a workout.

It's quite amazing.

But apart from that, theycan be quite affectionate.

They've just gotreally sharp nails.

And if they're on the loose,they'll run up your trouser leg and start scratching.

SPEAKER: I've heard alpacasalso are quite difficult.

CHRIS BROWN: Ilike them, though.

SPEAKER: You like them? CHRIS BROWN: They havea lot of attitude.

SPEAKER: They are verycute, aren't they? CHRIS BROWN: Yeah.

I've seen someone– thewhole spitting thing? Everyone talks aboutalpacas and llamas spitting.

I always thought it wasa bit of an urban myth until I saw a kid who was rilingup an alpaca at a country show cop a spit in the face.

And it was one of themost remarkable things I've ever seen.

[LAUGHTER] SPEAKER: Straight to YouTube.

Yeah.

CHRIS BROWN: It was theentire, like, stomach contents of the alpaca– ended up,basically, on this guy's face.

SPEAKER: There you go.

So everyone's gonna go out andget an alpaca after this talk.

Other question? Wow.

Three.

We'll take one at a time.

That'll be too much fun totake three at the same time.

AUDIENCE: Hi, Dr.

Brown.

I'm an allergysufferer, and I was wondering whether you haveany suggestions on how allergy suffererslike myself and pets can more happily co-exist.

CHRIS BROWN: Yeah.

Really good question, andprobably a topic where there's a lot of misinformation.

So a lot of people think thatwhen you are allergic to pets, you're allergic to the hair.

And so the focus is alwayson non-shedding cats and non-shedding dogs.

That's actually not true.

Allergy sufferers aren'tallergic to the hair.

It's actually the driedskin dander and also the saliva thatsits on the hair.

So when pets groom themselves,that sits on the fur, and then once it dries,it flakes off and ends up in the air, we breatheit in, and give off the signs of being allergic.

So having a dog thatdoesn't shed hair doesn't make toomuch of a difference, but coincidentally, thedogs that don't shed as much don't produce asmuch of this protein.

So the best way, ifyou're looking for a dog, is to go and spend some timein a room or outside– probably better off– with the puppies,have them all over you, and see if you respond.

And it's just a bitof a trial and error.

If you can find onethat doesn't cause you to be too allergic, then–if you're having problems, wiping them downwith a damp cloth removes that allergenoff their coat.

And so it makes youless likely to respond.

In terms of cats, DevonRex and the Rex breeds– the quite short-haired cats–produce less of that protein as well.

They're working madly toproduce an allergy-free cat, using genetic engineering,and they're very close.

And so that might help as well.

But the funny thingis that often, you can actually manage allergiesby simple exposure to animals.

I'm actuallyallergic to rabbits.

[LAUGHTER] So if I don't see arabbit for six months or so in the vet clinic, thenext time I see a rabbit, I'll sneeze and have runny eyes.

If I see, say, fourrabbits in a week, I'm not allergic to rabbits.

You can almost self-cureyourself by exposure.

So it's one of those things.

I'm not a human immunologist.

So you cande-sensitize yourself, but I don't know your exact formof allergy to know for sure.

But they're the basic principlesof allergies with pets.

They're manageable.

AUDIENCE: Great.

Thanks.

SPEAKER: OK.

AUDIENCE: Hello, doctor.

Thank you very muchfor being here.

And my question isabout the history.

Has it always beenlike that in Australia? Particularly, inSydney– the fact that it's such an unfriendlycity for dogs in particular.

Has it always been like that? What was the factor? Was there an eventor a chain of events that triggered this sort ofregulations against dogs, which don't seem to bebased on any actual facts, as you mentioned? CHRIS BROWN: Yeah.

There's not reallyan exact, sort of, moment where it all changed.

Generally, through the '60s,'70s, and probably early '80s, we were fairlyrelaxed, but we didn't have a lot ofpolicy around where we sat around our regulations.

But once we actually becamemore, I guess, litigious, and more keen to regulate,when we regulated, we went, I guess,probably above and beyond, where a lot of thoseother nations have.

So we've never been one ofthe most pet-friendly nations in the world, when itcomes to regulations.

And certainly over thelast 10 or 15 years, we haven't necessarilyprogressed and caught up with some of thederegulation that's happening in some of the other countries.

So we were always behind, butI think over the last 15 years or so, we've got furtherbehind, because we've actually regulated more heavily, whilea lot of other countries have become a littlebit more relaxed.

SPEAKER: And what madeSydney come 15 out of 16? Are there certainthings– obviously, you've mentioned the pub.

What other sortof things are you seeing that'sdifferent in Sydney, compared to therest of Australia? CHRIS BROWN: Yeah.

It's to do with– accessibilityof rental properties is quite low.

And I know, just anecdotallythrough my friends, that they really struggleto find rental properties.

Lack of exerciseareas is a huge one.

So it's very hardto find a dog beach to take your dog in Sydney,whereas in Melbourne, for example, there is quitea few that you can go to.

But also, it comesdown to policy and looking to bepositive with our policy.

We tend to over-regulate,fine– we're very strict with our registration.

So it's almost likethere's a negative tone to our policy-making, whereasin some of the other states, in meeting with the otherstates– Victoria, for example, is very positive when itcomes to their puppy-farming legislation.

They're very positive when itcomes to their registration policies for pets, and rewardyou for doing the right thing.

South Australia arelooking at a situation where you'll getdiscounted registration fees if you can show yourdog's gone to training.

And I think that's amuch better way to be, if you can actually give alittle bit to actually get something back in return, asopposed to, do it this way or you're going to be fined,which I think has often been the case in New South Wales.

And that's probably where a lotof the fact that we drift down towards the bottom when it comesto pet-friendliness comes from.

SPEAKER: We'll takeone last question, or we're gonna wrap up.

I think we'll have to wrap up.

One last poll for fun.

Raise your handif you have a dog.

Raise your handif you have a cat.

Raise your hand if youhave a different animal.

What do you have? AUDIENCE: Rabbits.

SPEAKER: Rabbits.

AUDIENCE: Turtles.

SPEAKER: Turtles.

What type of turtle? AUDIENCE: An Easternlong-necked turtle.

SPEAKER: An Easternlong-necked turtle.

There we go.

Who else had one? Someone else? AUDIENCE: Fish.

SPEAKER: Fish.

[LAUGHTER] CHRIS BROWN: Can someonesay, ferret, just to really freakme out right now? SPEAKER: We can bookan appointment with you later this week.

Yeah.

Well, thank you verymuch for coming.

A big thank you for Dr.

Brown.

[APPLAUSE] So remember, try andget your favorite pets trending on Instagram,use the hashtag, and complain toyour local council about why you haven't got parks.

And we can all keepAustralia pet-friendly.

CHRIS BROWN: Yes.

And there is a Keep AustraliaPet-Friendly Facebook page, where you can send inyour feedback in areas that you think need to belooked at– just Keep Australia Pet-Friendly.

And also, I have aFacebook page– Dr.

Chris Brown– where you can send inyour feedback, too, as well.

And we do listen, andwe do collate it all, and we do presentall the information to the relevant people.

So it does make a different.

SPEAKER: Fantastic.

Thanks so much.

[APPLAUSE].

Source: Youtube