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It's a dog's life: modelling the UK dog population


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Alessandro Arbib (DECC) presented the results of a pro bono research project at the Operational Research Society's 2014 Conference OR56.

Published in: Data & Analytics
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It's a dog's life: modelling the UK dog population

  1. 1. It’s a dog life: modelling the UK dog population Alessandro Arbib
  2. 2. Overview of this presentation • Background • Objectives & Scope • Summary of work • Evidence gaps • Outcomes • Working with the Third Sector 2 Modelling the UK dog population
  3. 3. Background
  4. 4. Background 4`` Modelling the UK dog population The RSPCA is the UK’s leading animal welfare charity. Dog-ED is a Social Enterprise applying Systems Thinking to canine welfare. 3 Operational Research and 1 engineer from DECC
  5. 5. Objectives and aims Alessandro Arbib
  6. 6. Objective & Aims To answer the following question: • A consensus view of how many dogs there are “in the system” and how they move between different parts of the system • How many dogs are relinquished and why? Which type of dog? • Can we forecast the likely impact of different interventions ? 6 Modelling the UK dog population
  7. 7. Scope of the work • Review the available data • Design and build a model • Develop recommendations for possible uses and future development of the model 7 Modelling the UK dog population
  8. 8. Summary of work Presentation title - edit in Header and Footer
  9. 9. Literature Review Literature Review of relevant papers and reports • ~50 different sources • ~100 data points and times series • Assessment of data quality 9 Modelling the UK dog population
  10. 10. Snapshot of dog population Aim: Consensus view of dogs that are in the system • No consensus between sources possible • Multiple discrepancies • Validity of some sources should be questioned 10 Modelling the UK dog population
  11. 11. Presentation title - edit in Header and Footer
  12. 12. The Model Demand for dogs - 13 Modelling the UK dog population 69.5% of welfare inflows (27, scaled) Stray dogs 0.5% of welfare in flows (27, scaled) Dogs in welfare greyhounds - 3,910 per year (33) Owned dogs Owned births Owned deaths Rehomed - 80.9% of outflows (27) Welfare dogs reunited with owner - 12.5% of those entering = 16,218 (1). 7.7% Stray births Entering welfare: 129,743 per year (1) of those entering (27) Welfare capacity Stray deaths Welfare births Welfare deaths Owned dogs to welfare Welfare dogs to owned Owned dogs to stray Stray dogs to owned Stray dogs to welfare Imported owned dogs 11.4% of outflow died (27) LB 7142 euthanised (1) Dogs imported to welfare Owned dog exports Number of dogs microchipped Owner education level re dogs Welfare life expectancy Owned dog life expectancy Stray dog life expectancy Space available in welfare Euthanasia policy Emmigration Number of dog breeders Number of puppy farms Funding for welfare Demand for dogs in UK Number of owned dogs having puppies non-UK Disposable income Insurance rates Number of dogs lost Number of dogs abandoned Number of dogs neutered 9.4m (23) 2009 LB: 12,340 2010 LB:10,630 est 1,250 (300 to 2130) 111,000 per year (13) Strays back to owner - 53,280 per year (13) Rehomed - 9,990 per year (13) Put to sleep/die 8,880 per year (13) Working dogs 27,750 per year (13) Assume 0 30% of welfare inflows (27, scaled) - this includes LA and public straying dogs 11.4% of dogs per year? (36) 25% of dogs per year? (est from 24, 41) 12 years (34) 4% of microchipped are from Ireland, 3% from other EU, 2% from outside EU - needs scaling up by 2% (24) 50,000 dogs imported from Ireland per year (31) Working dogs to owned Working dog births Working dog deaths Working dog life expectancy Requirements for working dogs Working dogs to welfare At least 2500 police dogs (45)
  13. 13. The Model • Stocks: Owned, In rescue, Stray and Working • Flows: birth and death rates, import and export rates, flows within the system • Time step: weekly update • Possibility to adjust flow rates (as effect of policy intervention) 14 Modelling the UK dog population Owned In Rescue Working Stray
  14. 14. Evidence Gaps Presentation title - edit in Header and Footer
  15. 15. Missing Stocks & Flows Stocks Dogs in Welfare • Lower bound only Working dogs • We can only get data on police dogs (from Wikipedia) Flows Numbers of dogs being imported into the UK • Poor quality data from Defra • Births of non-KC dogs: these are not registered And more…. 16 Modelling the UK dog population
  16. 16. Data Quality Difficult to get a breakdown of data by dog breed/category/time series Granularity • Little information about breed-rates of non-KC dogs (pure-breed, X-breed or mongrels) • Lack of time series data Inconsistency • Significant variation in “top-down” estimates of total population – 8.5-11+ million – Significant uncertainty 17 Modelling the UK dog population
  17. 17. Predicting the future dog population Dog movements within the system • Influenced by economic and societal influences • These are very difficult to predict Stock evolution • Starting point for future calculation not known (e.g. 2014 dog pop.) • Uncertainties are proportionally very high 18 Modelling the UK dog population
  18. 18. Outcomes Presentation title - edit in Header and Footer
  19. 19. Significant outputs from our work • Significant review of data sources, with all data summarised in one location • Large number of evidence gaps identified • Snapshot of dog population • System map with stocks & flows • Creation of Excel model to be populated as/when data comes available 20 Modelling the UK dog population
  20. 20. What is next? Await introduction of compulsory microchipping in 2016 • This will provide a significant boost to the available data • Breakdown of the total dog population into sub-categories will be much easier to obtain • Trends will be more identifiable, and easier to track Consider ways in which evidence gaps can be addressed: • Surveys of owners and breeders • Commission some academic work • Work with the Kennel Club and PetLog • Approach the Pet Food Manufacturers society 21 Modelling the UK dog population
  21. 21. Working for the Third Sector Presentation title - edit in Header and Footer
  22. 22. What went well • Application of OR techniques to Pro Bono projects • Enhanced knowledge of interesting areas • Professional development • Team spirit • Excellent day at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home • Relationship with client 23 Modelling the UK dog population
  23. 23. What could have gone better • Underestimate of project length • Loss of momentum of project over last couple of months – the 10% of tidying up time has been drawn out. • Disappointing that the ambition of original ‘ideal’ of building and using a model could not be realised due to lack of quality data. 24 Modelling the UK dog population
  24. 24. Questions? Presentation title - edit in Header and Footer