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31 May 2017
Victorian man given lifetime horse ban

In a landmark ruling, a Victorian man has been banned for life from owning horses after being found guilty of animal cruelty.

John Quan pleaded guilty in Broadmeadows Magistrates Court on May 24 to aggravated cruelty and neglect towards six horses under his care. The horses were seized and subsequently surrendered to RSPCA Victoria in April last year.

Quan had previously been disqualified for five years, from 2008 to 2013, from owning horses for similar offences.  

RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker said the lifetime ban was a landmark.

“This is the first time a lifetime disqualification order has been handed down in Victoria,” Dr Walker said. 

“It is a significant ruling and a direct result of amendments made last year to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

“This sentence reflects the seriousness of the crime, and shows that RSPCA Victoria’s mission to end cruelty to all animals comes with the full weight of the law.

“The majority of Victorians value the animal in their care and expect that others will, too.” 

Dr Walker urged all Victorians to report animal cruelty to RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate on 9224 2222 or at rspcavic.org

25 May 2017
RSPCA welcomes ban on horse carriages in Melbourne's CBD

RSPCA Victoria welcomes today’s announcement by the City of Melbourne that it will cease issuing permits for horse carriage operators in the CBD from June this year.

We understand this means horse drawn vehicles will no longer be permitted to park or offer rides on Swanston Street, due to safety risks associated with their operations and the impact of the construction of the Metro Tunnel and the CBD South station.

While operating horse drawn carriages in a busy environment does not constitute cruelty under current laws, RSPCA Victoria has long held concerns for the welfare of these carriage horses in this notoriously busy and congested environment.

We have been working with the City of Melbourne to address animal welfare concerns and recently worked with its animal management team to upskill them on good horse welfare practices so they can confidently and actively work with anyone using horses in the city. 

RSPCA Victoria will continue to work with Council, Vic Roads and Victoria Police to ensure the welfare of these horses remains paramount and that all operators are adhering to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1986), as well as any regulatory codes that apply to this activity. 

15 April 2017
RSPCA Victoria seizes 17 horses in dire condition

RSPCA Victoria seized 17 horses in dire condition from a property on the Mornington Peninsula on

Thursday, after a member of the community reported concerns for their welfare earlier this month.
Inspector Kerrie Gregory said the horses seized were in very poor to poor condition.

“These horses are very thin, which is deeply concerning when pasture levels in Victoria are reasonable, and feed prices are the lowest they’ve been in over two years,” she said.

“Feed prices are expected to rise as we move into winter as the good ground cover we’ve had this summer disappears.

“We’re asking owners to be realistic and assess their ability to feed and care for their horses. If it’s tough to make ends meet now, it’s only going to get harder through the winter months.”
Inspector Gregory said RSPCA Victoria is encouraging owners who are struggling to care for their horses to consider other options: buying and storing feed now while prices are lower, seeking help from family or friends, leasing or selling, or approaching welfare organisations to surrender their horses.

RSPCA Victoria Inspectors will continue to monitor the welfare of the remaining horses on the Mornington Peninsula property, while the 17 who have been seized are carefully supported back to good health by equine veterinarians, nutritionists and expert carers.

“The next few days will be critical. Horses in low body condition need to be fed carefully and monitored to ensure that they do not contract colic or other conditions associated with a sudden change in diet,” Inspector Gregory said.

“Given their condition, some of the seized horses may not survive the next week. However, those that do will be rehabilitated and restored to good condition by RSPCA Victoria while our investigations continue.”

13 April 2017
RSPCA Victoria to move out of Ballarat animal care centre, but will remain present in the community

RSPCA Victoria can confirm that their pound and shelter service contract with the City of Ballarat will come to its completion on 31 August 2017 and will not be extended beyond this date. RSPCA Victoria has been providing pound and shelter services to the Ballarat community for over 40 years, with the most recent contract with the City of Ballarat being in place for three years. There are currently 12 staff and 20 volunteers employed by RSPCA Victoria at this location. 

RSPCA Victoria understands that the City of Ballarat has made the decision to bring these services in-house temporarily while they develop new state-of-the-art animal welfare facilities.

“We think it’s tremendous that the City of Ballarat is planning to build new facilities. It is great news for animals in the region.

“Our staff and volunteers are highly skilled and passionate about animal welfare, so we appreciate the City of Ballarat’s offer to work with us regarding their continued involvement at the shelter,” said Dr Liz Walker, CEO, RSPCA (Victoria).

RSPCA Victoria has pledged to continue its important work in Ballarat and surrounding communities.

“We will continue to collaborate with the Council and the community to ensure that animal welfare remains a high priority in the region. Among our initiatives in the Ballarat area, for six years we’ve implemented free cat desexing programs. We believe that programs like these that support responsible pet ownership are critical in achieving higher standards of animal welfare into the future. 

“RSPCA Victoria will continue to operate in the City of Ballarat through Pets Place Ballarat, providing adoption, retail, grooming and veterinary services,” said Dr Walker.

16 March 2017
Practical testing will reduce duck shooting harm

RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker today reaffirmed the organisation’s almost four decades-long commitment to RSPCA Australia’s policy opposing duck shooting, due to the needless pain, fear and distress caused to the birds involved, especially those who are wounded rather than killed outright. 

Acknowledging the Victorian Government’s election promise not to ban duck shooting, Dr Walker stated that RSPCA Victoria will focus on advocating for the introduction of shotgun skill testing for hunters to improve safety and reduce wounding rates.

Dr Walker argued that both education and practical skills testing are commonly required before Victorians can take part in a range of activities.

“Current laws and regulations insist that people demonstrate practical skills before being licenced to drive a car unsupervised or operate a forklift,” Dr Walker said. 

“It’s equally reasonable to expect Victorians to demonstrate their ability to safely and accurately operate a shotgun, given its potential to be lethal to both humans and animals,” she said.

Dr Walker said research consistently indicates that individual shooters’ poor accuracy and poor judgment of their competent shooting distance contribute heavily to the wounding rate in duck shooting.

“Some estimates reveal that education and practical testing can reduce wounding rates from as many as one in four birds shot, to as few as one in ten. While a 10% per cent wounding rate is still far too high, it’s a significant improvement on the current state.”

Based on the last three years’ season harvest data, and a one in four wounding rate, approximately 84,000 birds on average would have died slowly and in pain after being wounded rather than killed outright every year.

“International research clearly indicates that introducing compulsory shotgunning education, and a practical test for all new and renewed licences, has the potential to drastically reduce that figure. 

Dr Walker said that the Game Management Authority (GMA) currently encourages hunters to improve their skills through practice, but indicated that more decisive action is necessary.
RSPCA Victoria’s Chief Operating Officer and an Authorised Inspector will accompany GMA field officers during the opening weekend of the 2017 season to observe activity on key wetlands.

14 March 2017
RSPCA Victoria seeks witnesses to reported dog assault

RSPCA Victoria is appealing for witnesses to a reported assault on a 10-month-old dog in a Plenty park on Boxing Day 2016.

Inspector Rebecca Mullenger said the alleged incident happened around 1.20pm in Yellow Gum Recreation Reserve on Goldsworthy Lane, Plenty.

“We understand that the park was crowded at the time this alleged assault occurred,” Ms Mullenger said.

“We are appealing for anyone with information to contact the RSPCA Victoria Inspectorate on 9224 2222.”

Ms Mullenger said the RSPCA was investigating reports that a man assaulted the 10-month old Wolfhound-cross dog before leaving the park.

The dog is now in the care of RSPCA Victoria.

9 March 2017
Community Correction order for animal cruelty

A 33-year-old man who fatally beat his housemate’s miniature poodle with a tree branch has had a two-month jail sentence set aside and been resentenced to perform 200 hours unpaid community work.

Yui-Ming Li was given the 12-month Community Correction order in the County Court yesterday after appealing the custodial sentence handed down in Melbourne Magistrate’s Court in December last year. 

Li did not appeal a disqualification order banning him from being in charge of an animal for the maximum 10 years.

RSPCA Victoria prosecutor, Senior Inspector Daniel Bode, said disqualification and community service orders were both a specific and general deterrence for any person involved in animal cruelty.

“Today’s sentencing reflects the seriousness in which the court and community affords animal welfare,” Mr Bode said. 
RSPCA Victoria was also awarded legal costs of $2,500 for yesterday’s court appearance.

2 March 2017
Betty Amsden, philanthropist, a great loss

RSPCA Victoria’s CEO Dr Liz Walker today expressed the sadness felt by the Melbourne community at the passing of Betty Amsden, AO.

“Betty was a generous and forthright advocate for social change through collaboration.

“RSPCA Victoria is immensely grateful for the support she has provided for the prevention of cruelty to animals.

“Betty began supporting RSPCA Victoria in the early ‘70s and played a vital role in enabling us to deliver key animal welfare services to the community,” said Dr Walker.

Ms Amsden was an RSPCA Victoria Board member from 1993 to 2006; an Honorary Life Member. She led capital appeals to enable RSPCA Victoria to upgrade animal care facilities at their Peninsula and Burwood East sites and was a supporter of RSPCA Victoria’s wildlife, animal rehabilitation and foster programs.

“Betty not only provided leadership by example with her giving, but also generously funded the Amsden Leadership and Management Scholarship which allowed the development of future animal welfare leaders.

“Betty was often quoted on the importance of generosity and she credited her parents with instilling this in her at a very early age.

“Even when she didn’t have a great deal, she always found a way to share. Her example as a self-made woman, who left school at the age of 14 for business college and then worked solidly for decades as she built her business, is inspirational. 

“Betty’s support, not only of animal welfare, but also the arts and a variety of community programs, had a profound impact on the development of Melbourne’s identity and she will be greatly missed,” said Dr Walker.

RSPCA Victoria Patron Dr Hugh Wirth particularly acknowledges Betty Amsden’s enormous contribution to the cause of animals.

9 February 2017
Charges laid in Wendouree dogs investigation

RSPCA Victoria has charged on summons two people from Wendouree, near Ballarat, with 40 criminal charges for alleged offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA).

The charges have been issued after a lengthy investigation by the RSPCA’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and the City of Ballarat into an alleged dog breeding establishment.

More than 20 dogs and puppies were seized by RSPCA Victoria inspectors after they executed warrants at a property in Wendouree on April 29 last year as part of this investigation. That followed the seizure of another 52 dogs after they were discovered by Council staff in cages in a park outside of Ballarat earlier in 2016.

The charges issued on Wednesday relate to housing and general health issues.

The first mention for these charges is set down for March 20 at Ballarat Magistrates Court.

RSPCA Victoria Chief Operating Officer Jon McGregor said the animal welfare organisation was grateful to the community for the information it provided throughout this investigation.

“We urge anyone with concerns about the welfare of animals to make a report to RSPCA Victoria at rspcavic.org or call 9224 2222”, Mr McGregor said.

9 February 2017
RSPCA Victoria warning after matted dog treated

Dog owners are being reminded to be vigilant about grooming their pets after RSPCA Victoria’s veterinary team removed more than half a kilo of matted fur from a shih tzu surrendered to its Inspectorate this week.

Dr Rebecca Belousoff described the case as “horrific”, but said the animal was now on its path to recovery and, eventually, adoption after 650gms of fur was removed.

After the matted fur was removed, the dog had lost more than 10% of her weight – going from 5.5kg to 4.85kg.

“Grooming is not just cosmetic, it is an essential part of responsible pet ownership,” Dr Belousoff said. “Most dogs require some form of regular maintenance of their coat. If their coat is not regularly brushed or clipped, it will clump and can lead to serious health issues.

“When a dog’s fur becomes matted, it sticks to the skin and causes irritation, dandruff, dry skin and the matts constantly pull at the skin and can even rip the skin.

“Faeces and urine get caught in matted hair and this can pre-dispose the dog to gastrointestinal problems as they ingest bacteria, worms and parasites through normal grooming of their coats.

“Regular brushing gets out the knots that would become matts. And some dogs - poodle mixes in particular – don’t shed, so they need regular clipping.”

Dr Belousoff said dogs don’t sweat (they pant), so it is important to keep their coat hair to a minimum especially during the warmer months to ensure that they remain comfortable and that their body temperature does not increase too much, particularly during hot weather.

“Tangled and matted hair can also hide other problems. It prevents owners’ from noticing other changes to their pet, such as lumps and skin conditions that may be the beginning of serious problems.”

The case is still under investigation by RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate.

Anyone with concerns for the welfare of an animal is urged to contact RSPCA Victoria at rspcavic.org or call 9224 2222. 

2 February 2017
RSPCA Victoria seizes 16 animals, 7 others found dead

RSPCA Victoria is appealing for the public’s help to establish who was responsible for the care of a menagerie of animals found abandoned at a Dandenong North property last week.

Two emaciated dogs, seven cats, a python, four lizards and two frogs were seized by RSPCA Victoria inspectors from a property in Dandenong North on Wednesday, January 25.

A further five cats and two snakes were already deceased when found.

RSPCA Victoria Inspectors seized the two American Staffordshire dogs on the morning of Wednesday, January 25 while attending the property in response to a report of concerns for the animals’ welfare. 

They returned to the property that afternoon, accompanied by Victoria Police, after securing a warrant allowing them to enter the house at the address where the remaining animals were discovered.

Three of the seven cats found inside the house required immediate veterinary attention. All surviving animals are now receiving veterinary care at RSPCA Victoria.

The RSPCA Victoria investigation is ongoing. 

RSPCA Victoria Inspectorate Team Leader – Southern Metro Stuart Marchesani said it was unacceptable to leave an animal without sufficient food, water or adequate shelter.

“All pet owners must take full responsibility for the animals in their care and, if they are no longer able to provide adequate care, we urge them to talk to RSPCA Victoria about their options,” Mr Marchesani said.

“There is no excuse for animal neglect and those found guilty under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act face fines up to $77,730 and two years’ imprisonment.” 

Anyone with information about this investigation, or with concerns about the welfare of any other animal, can make a report to RSPCA Victoria at rspcavic.org or on 9224 2222.

23 January 2017
Keeping your pet safe and healthy this Australia Day

RSPCA Victoria’s CEO Dr Liz Walker has warned people planning traditional barbeques this summer not to give their dogs leftovers.

“Sharing food is an expression of friendship and a universal cultural activity, so it seems natural at celebrations to include our furry friends in the fun, however we are not doing them any favours,” said Dr Liz Walker.

“People are often surprised to learn that dogs can’t digest fatty meats as easily as humans.

“If dogs eat sausages or other fatty barbeque products they may end up with gastro-enteritis and possibly pancreatitis,” said Dr Walker.

Pancreatitis may be acute or chronic, and occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed, disrupting the flow of enzymes into the digestive tract and forcing them into the abdominal area. Symptoms of acute pancreatitis may range from mild to very severe and may include a very painful or swollen abdomen, lack of appetite, depression, dehydration, a 'hunched up' posture, vomiting, and sometimes diarrhoea.

The condition is painful, and diagnosis and treatment can be an expensive and drawn out process, partly because the symptoms are similar to those of other diseases. 

Dr Walker said barbeques presented a few different health hazards to dogs.

“If your dog is inclined to sneak food, or to go through the rubbish, make sure they can’t get hold of corn cobs or kebab sticks because both of these are fairly irresistible but often cause intestinal blockages. 

 “Cooked bones are another potential hazard because they can splinter and become lodged in the throat or gut, while salad may contain avocado or onions, neither of which agree with dogs.”

Dr Walker also warned pet owners to prepare for Australia Day fireworks. Even in areas where there are no legal fireworks planned, there may be illegal displays. 

“Animals and fireworks don’t mix and at RSPCA Victoria we see the damage and distress the fear of fireworks causes to animals in the community.

“Some dogs express fear by being destructive, with excessive barking or howling, running away to escape the sounds or other anxious behaviour such as cowering, drooling, or shaking. 

“It’s important to have your animal’s identification and microchip up to date so that if they do escape you can be quickly reunited. Also include your contact details on your pet’s collar or halter.

“All animals are at-risk to fear-induced injury caused by fireworks and horses are particularly vulnerable. As a prey animal with little defence other than flight, they have highly developed hearing and eyesight, so what we see as an amusing burst of light and sound may be a terrifying confusion for a horse. A panicked escape attempt can then result in the animal running through fences or kicking its way out of a stable and suffering severe injuries.

“If there are likely to be fireworks nearby, we suggest enclosing small animals in a safe place, like a room with the curtains drawn and music or the television on to provide white noise.

“This is obviously much more difficult with horses. If the horse has a safe paddock, it should be kept in its familiar environment but with regular checks made on it. If the horse is particularly highly strung, it might need sedation, but this should be discussed with its veterinarian.

“If the horse is used to being stabled, loose items such as feedbins should be removed, and once again, the animal will need to be checked regularly during the fireworks,” said Dr Walker.

If anyone finds animals in distress or lost, they can contact RSPCA Victoria on 9224 2222.

3 January 2017
A full duck shooting season announced for 2017

We were disappointed to hear the Government’s announcement to hold a full, 12-week duck shooting season in 2017 and to allow a daily bag limit of 10 birds each day per hunter. Whereas in 2016, hunters were only allowed to kill 8 ducks on the opening day of the season, and 4 ducks each day thereafter.

As reported by the Game Management Authority (GMA) 25,681 hunters were licensed to hunt ducks during the 2016 season and 271,576 ducks were killed. 

Greg O’Brien, acting CEO of RSPCA Victoria states “We are concerned at the impact this number has on the duck population and the cruelty involved in the hunt.

“Although the climatic conditions improved during 2016, waterbird numbers are continuing to decline and last year were the lowest on record.

“While we understand that the Government made an election commitment not to ban duck shooting, duck populations must be allowed to recover from recent climatic impacts in order to secure their long-term sustainability.

“The forecast climatic conditions suggest that much of the waterbird habitat available now across Australia will dry up over summer.  Waterbirds will inevitably be forced to fly south looking for better habitat and Victoria could end up with a very high percentage of waterfowl from all over Eastern Australia. This makes populations more vulnerable and places more responsibility on Victoria to show environmental leadership.”

A copy of our submission to the GMA in December can be found here.

29 December 2016
Storms, wind and festivities drive lost dogs spike

RSPCA Victoria is reminding dog owners to ensure their pet’s microchip, registration and tag details are up-to-date after high winds and stormy weather drove a 22% spike in lost dogs admitted to its nine Victorian Animal Care Centres over the past 10 days. 

Across the state, 224 dogs were admitted to RSPCA Victoria shelters between 19 and 28 December, compared with 184 in the same period last year. 

However, the number reunited with their owners is down from 81% to 74%, partly due to the number of animals whose microchip, registration or tag details were not updated. 

Head of Prevention Sophie Buchanan said humans aren’t the only creatures who can find wild weather difficult to cope with, especially during such a busy time of year.   

“Just coping with lots of visitors coming and going and other changes in routine can upset some dogs. Add to that thunderstorms, lightning, strong winds and fireworks and it’s easy to see why so many dogs shift into flight mode,” Ms Buchanan said. 

“That’s why it’s vital to ensure microchip details are up-to-date; that your pet is registered with your local council; and is wearing a collar with identification, including your current phone number.

“Identification allows RSPCA Victoria, or anyone else who finds your pet, to reunite you and your beloved animal much, much faster.”  

Ms Buchanan said pet owners could enjoy the festive season and New Year celebrations by planning for your animal’s comfort and safety.

To keep your pets safe during fireworks and thunderstorms visit our Pet Safety Tips.

22 December 2016
Love is blind when it comes to some puppies

Australia is a nation of dog lovers, but some of our most popular breeds – including French Bulldogs, Pugs, British Bulldogs, Dachshunds and Shar Peis – are suffering serious health issues because they’ve been bred to look a certain way.

That’s the worrying message from the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) and the RSPCA, who are running a joint campaign called Love Is Blind to raise awareness of the animal welfare problems for these dogs with exaggerated features.

It’s a timely message as many people consider adopting a new pet over the Christmas/New Year holiday period; while rising summer temperatures can also worsen the risks for existing owners of these breeds.

Campaign spokesperson, Dr Rachele Lowe, says she sees a lot of dogs in her practice that require ongoing treatment, and in many cases surgery, to correct problems caused by exaggerated features.

“Some of the features that we’re particularly concerned about include the very short muzzle that we see in dogs like Pugs and French and British Bulldogs. This can lead to severe breathing problems, chronic sleep deprivation, heat stress and heat stroke. 

“Another feature that compromises the health and welfare of a dog are the excessive skin folds, which are common in dogs like Pugs and Shar Peis. Ongoing medical treatment and even surgical intervention in some cases is required to manage chronic skin infections caused by the excess skin. 

“And then there’s the stunted growth and short stature of Dachshunds, Corgis and Bassets. They frequently suffer from serious spinal and neurological problems causing severe pain and difficulty walking. These spinal problems often lead to paralysis, which usually means major surgery, which is very costly to an owner,” Dr Lowe said.

RSPCA Australia’s Jane Speechley said that the aim of the campaign is to encourage the community to work together to address these welfare concerns in affected breeds.

“These breeds have adorable personalities, but we’d urge anyone who is thinking of adopting one of these dogs to carefully consider the risks and find out more before they make a decision that could end up being very expensive and heart-breaking.

“We want dog breeders to avoid breeding for exaggerated features and for prospective buyers to help by choosing a puppy or dog that has been bred with healthier features for a healthier future,

“We also want current owners to be aware that these dogs need extra love, attention and veterinary intervention to ensure the risks and any health issues they’re facing are properly managed,

“Finally, and until these issues are resolved, we’re asking the media, advertising and entertainment industry to stop promoting these affected breeds, which can further encourage their popularity,” said Ms Speechley.

Dog lovers and owners who would like more information, or are keen to help create a healthier future for these breeds, are encouraged to sign the pledge at loveisblind.org.au.

19 December 2016
Jail sentence for man who beat flatmate's dog

RSPCA Victoria has successfully prosecuted a 33-year-old man who fatally beat his housemate’s miniature poodle with a tree branch because he was annoyed with the dog’s barking.

Yui-Ming Li appeared before Melbourne Magistrate’s Court on Thursday and was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment and disqualified from being charge of an animal for the maximum 10 years.

The following day, Li was released on bail pending an appeal of the custodial sentence, scheduled to be heard at the County Court in March next year. He is not appealing the disqualification order.
RSPCA prosecutor, Senior Inspector Daniel Bode said the sentence reflected the seriousness in which the court and community affords animal welfare.

“This sentence is not only a specific deterrence, but a general deterrence for any person involved in any form of animal cruelty,” Mr Bode said. 

The court was told that Li was at his Highett home on August 24 last year when he heard the three-year-old dog, Lutas, barking and took a tree branch from the front yard and violently struck the dog three times. Li admitted to police he wanted to teach the dog a lesson.

Lutas suffered a fractured skull and brain damage and despite a vet's attempt to save the pet, he was euthanised the following day.

Lutas' owners were out at the time, but Li contacted them when he realised their pet was critically injured. He accompanied the owners to the vet and paid the $5000 in vet costs, the court heard on Thursday.

Li, a 33-year-old with a Masters degree in IT and the developer of a real estate website, pleaded guilty to committing aggravating cruelty to an animal.

Mr Bode said the case was one of a growing trend in extreme acts of violence towards animals that RSPCA Victoria was investigating.

“The vast majority of animal cruelty reports that we investigate are the result of ignorance rather than malice, however there have been several extremely disturbing cases of serious violence towards animals recently, and we are appealing to the public to report any incidences of cruelty immediately,” Mr Bode said.

In May this year, a four-month-old Staffordshire Terrier puppy died while receiving veterinary treatment for injuries, including multiple broken bones, believed to be the result of a vicious beating in St Albans. An RSPCA Victoria investigation and appeal for information failed to identify the person responsible.

In September, a one-year-old dead Husky dog was found stuffed in a suitcase in a Melbourne apartment complex. The dog had suffered severe head trauma. Charges are expected to be laid shortly.

In November, the community was horrified by the bashing and burning of an eight-week-old puppy which was left for dead in an Altona Meadows park. The puppy was taken to the Animal Accident and Emergency (AAE) in Point Cook. Vets did all they could to save the puppy before making the difficult decision to humanely euthanise her. Despite extensive canvassing of the neighbourhood by RSPCA Victoria inspectors and an awareness campaign by the community, there are no current leads on this case.

People convicted of offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act face fines up to $75,600 and up to two years’ imprisonment.

To report animal cruelty, contact RSPCA Victoria Inspectorate on 9224 2222 or make a report via email at rspcavic.org

16 December 2016
RSPCA encourages Australians to eat humanely this Christmas

As Christmas approaches and families begin planning their menu for the big day, RSPCA Australia is encouraging consumers to shop humanely at the supermarket.

Demand for ethically-produced ham, turkey and chicken is high at this time of the year, but with so many different labels on products it can be challenging to know which claims to believe. 

“Four out of five Australians believe that it’s important that meat, eggs and dairy products sold in Australia are farmed in a humane and ethical way ,” said Hope Bertram, Humane Food Marketing Manager, RSPCA Australia. “Shoppers wanting to cut through the confusion should choose RSPCA Approved.”    

First founded in 1996, the Approved Farming Scheme is part of the RSPCA’s ongoing efforts to improve the lives of Australia’s most intensively farmed animals.  

In the twenty years since the Scheme began, 805 million hens, pigs, chickens and turkeys have benefited from significantly better conditions on farm.  

The commitment of retailers like Coles and Woolworths to sourcing RSPCA Approved chicken for their own brand ranges has seen the Scheme experience exponential growth in the last two years alone. 
“When the Approved Farming Scheme started, there was far less consumer awareness around animal welfare in farming,” said Ms Bertram. “Now people are more conscious of the impact their choices have on farm animals.”

“RSPCA farming standards are grounded in science and go beyond legal requirements in ensuring that animals are farmed in a way that meets their physical and behavioural needs. 

“By choosing RSPCA Approved, hens can nest, chickens can perch, turkeys can peck and pigs have space to roam.

 “That’s why shoppers looking to purchase higher welfare food this Christmas should look for the RSPCA Approved label.” 

The 2016 Impact Report for the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme is available here.

12 December 2016
RSPCA welcomes whip ban in harness racing

The RSPCA has welcomed the landmark decision by Harness Racing Australia to ban the use of the whip in racing from 1 September 2017.

RSPCA Australia EO Heather Neil said the removal of whips from harness racing will go a long way towards protecting harness racing horses from unnecessary and unjustified pain and distress.

“As Harness Racing Australia has recognised, racing should celebrate quality horsemanship, breeding and training - whips shouldn’t come into it,” she said.

“This is a powerful sign that the harness racing industry is focused on horse welfare and is acknowledging the concerns of the wider community,” she said.

“We commend the industry leadership in removing the use of whips, not only on the track, but also in training.

“Harness Racing Australia’s training and education programs to support this decision will help current drivers adapt to the new arrangements, and ensure that future generations of drivers will also learn to race in a new way.

The announcement makes Harness Racing Australia the first racing industry body in the world to voluntarily end the use of whips.

“The RSPCA congratulates Harness Racing Australia on their international leadership and demonstrated commitment to horse welfare through ending the use of whips in racing”.

“In this global first, the industry has today openly acknowledged that ending whip use is vital to demonstrating their responsibility as an industry, and to earning and maintaining the social acceptance and sustainability of harness racing,

“We strongly urge the Thoroughbred racing industry and its governing body Racing Australia to follow the lead of harness racing and announce the end of whip use as the outcome of their current whip rule review,” said Ms Neil.

6 December 2016
RSPCA Victoria committed to puppy welfare

RSPCA Victoria welcomed the opportunity to be part of the process of the Victorian Parliament’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee’s review of proposed amendments to the Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farms and Pet Shops) Bill 2016.

CEO Dr Liz Walker said she read the committee’s report and the government’s response with interest and appreciated the concerns raised. 

“RSPCA Victoria's own research leaves us in no doubt that the Victorian community expects that our puppies and kittens are bred and raised in the highest standards of welfare and expects that our legislation and regulations ensure that this happens.

 “We look forward to taking part in any stakeholder consultations in the New Year.

“Key aspects that are critical to any legislation on puppy and kitten farming include the establishment of a central registry of breeders, which will allow for complete traceability of all puppies and kittens, the adherence to a uniform standard of welfare, and a strong system of compliance, enforcement and community education.

 “We hope these elements will feature prominently in the next version of the bill bringing significant benefits to the welfare of breeding dogs and cats in Victoria,” said Dr Walker.

A full copy of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee’s report can be found here.

2 December 2016
Committee decides not to ban jumps racing in SA

Jumps racing in South Australia will not be banned following a parliamentary select committee review. Although RSPCA Victoria is disappointed at the decision we are pleased to see the committee made a number of strong recommendations designed to improve the safety and welfare of both the jockeys and the horses. 

In brief the recommendations made in the report were listed under four main headings:

Future Direction
• The industry to undertake these recommended further improvements and this matter not be revisited by Parliament for the next three years. 

Research and Data Collection
• Broadening the scope of the data that is collected recorded and made publicly available, including the number of fatalities, falls and injuries in training, trials and races. (Currently, only deaths during races – not training or trials – are made available.)

Safety Planning and Risk Mitigation 
• Developing and implementing a safety action plan including creating consistency in safety measures across jurisdictions (ie to consider bringing SA’s local Rules of Racing on jumps racing in line with Victorian standards).

Safeguarding of Animal Welfare – 
• Great scrutiny of under-performing horses with steward reports providing more information of the nature of the fall and the impact on the horse; 
• Transparency in whole of life reporting including relevant information on the horses being made available to the public;
• To develop, fund and implement a retirement plan for thoroughbred horses; 
• Implement better duty of care measures around retirement including using industry funding to establish an equine rescue and rehoming program for unwanted horses 
• Measures to address the issue of wastage and overbreeding in the thoroughbred racing industry.

We will take great interest in how the industry reacts to the recommendations and their subsequent influence on the welfare of the horses. 

For more information on RSPCA’s jumps racing policy click here.

2 December 2016
The CFA helps you prepare for the hot summer

To learn how best to prepare yourself and your horse in the event of a bushfire and to answer any questions, the CFA are holding an information session. Details are below:

Where: Oakwood Riding School, The Meadows' 10 Smiths Lane Clyde North
When: 7.30pm Tuesday, 13th December

For more information call 9767 1800 or visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au

25 November 2016
RSPCA Victoria welcomes additional GRV inspectors

RSPCA Victoria has welcomed today’s announcement that 10 additional inspectors will join Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Welfare Inspectorate.

Chief Executive Officer Dr Liz Walker said RSPCA Victoria was supportive of efforts to improve the welfare of greyhounds in Victoria.

“We welcome the boost to the Inspectorate’s capacity to carry out inspections and monitor compliance to ensure the importance of animal’s welfare is first-and-foremost in the minds of industry participants,” Dr Walker said.

Having an adequate number of inspectors, to police, advise and educate greyhound racing participants about their animal welfare obligations, is crucial for industry reform, she said.

The additional inspectors increase Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Welfare Inspectorate to a total of 18 officers. 

“We are encouraged by GRV’s investment in its Inspectorate, which demonstrates a priority for animal welfare and making sure industry participants are held accountable,” Dr Walker said.

“There is no doubt that the entire greyhound racing industry has been on notice since the live baiting investigations revealed entrenched cruelty practices. 

“We continue to hold Greyhound Racing Victoria to account to ensure that animal welfare is the top priority.

“And we will continue to work in good faith with GRV to influence the welfare outcomes of dogs - before, during and after racing. 

“We are watching very closely to see that the reforms are effective and that they meet the high standards of animal welfare that are in line with community expectations.”

24 November 2016
RSPCA Victoria responds to abattoir footage

RSPCA Victoria has offered its support to the Victorian Government as it investigates the extremely disturbing footage of livestock being slaughtered at Riverside Meats in Echuca.

Chief Executive Officer Dr Liz Walker said that, although commercial abattoirs are not within the remit of RSPCA’s Inspectorate, she had spoken with Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Charles Milne, to offer whatever help was needed to hold those responsible to account. 
“The footage that has been made public is deeply concerning and the actions of those responsible is nothing less than deplorable,” said Dr Liz Walker.

“RSPCA Victoria stands ready to offer its expertise to bring an end to this inexcusable mistreatment of animals. We and the Victorian public expect livestock to be treated in a humane manner regardless of their fate.”

22 November 2016
Man who let dogs die found guilty

RSPCA Victoria has successfully prosecuted a man who allowed his dogs to die of dehydration during a heatwave in 2014.

In Frankston Magistrates Court today, the man was found guilty on five counts under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and fined $1000 and disqualified from dog ownership for 12 months. He also had costs of more than $53,000 awarded against him. 

RSPCA prosecutor, Senior Inspector Daniel Bode, said the two Anatolian Shepherd dogs were left in the sun without water and would have suffered severely.

“One of the dogs was tethered and had no escape from the sun or access to cool water; the other was loose in the yard but had no access to shade or cool water, and was found dead at the back door of the premises.

“Death by dehydration is distressing and painful and this case is a timely reminder to all animal carers to ensure they provide plenty of cool water, ventilation and adequate shade as the weather warms up,” said Mr Bode.

“Animal carers need to make sure they provide plenty of water for their animals and that they take into account the possibility of spillage and movement of shade.

“An area that looks cool and shady first thing in the morning might be in full sun by noon. All animals are susceptible to dehydration, but we remind people that smaller animals, like mice, birds, rabbits and guinea pigs are particularly vulnerable,” said Mr Bode.

Further information about the danger of dehydration and advice on its prevention can be found on the RSPCA Knowledge Base.

11 November 2016
Puppy bashed, burned and dumped in park

RSPCA Victoria is appealing for the public’s help to identify the person or people responsible for bashing and burning an eight-week-old puppy left for dead in an Altona Meadows park.

The kelpie cross was found by a passer-by around 7pm on Wednesday (November 9) in Truganina Park and taken to the Animal Accident and Emergency (AAE) in Point Cook.

RSPCA Victoria Senior Inspector Daniel Bode said the AAE veterinarian team did all they could to save the puppy overnight before making the difficult decision to humanely euthanise her on Thursday morning.

“The veterinary team fought to save the puppy’s life, providing pain relief and rehydration, but her condition continued to deteriorate,” said Mr Bode. “The extent of her injuries had already damaged her internal organs and would have affected her future growth.”

It is believed the puppy had been bashed several days before being dumped.

“Her mouth was swollen and possibly fractured before she was burned and left for dead in the park.

“Clearly it is the intention of the offender or offenders to not only cause the death of this puppy, but to inflict pain and suffering as well.

“There is no way this puppy suffered in silence and are appealing to anyone who heard, saw or knows anything around the circumstances leading up to her death to come forward. 

“We urge anyone with information in relation to this matter to contact RSPCA Victoria Inspectorate on 9224 2222 or make a report via email at rspcavic.org.”

People convicted of offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act face fines up to $75,600 and up to two years’ imprisonment.

RSPCA Victoria inspectors are canvassing the neighbourhood surrounding the area where the puppy was found and Hobsons Bay Council is also assisting with the investigation.

In the past financial year, RSPCA Victoria investigated 1,345 reports of animal cruelty relating to beating, wounding and tormenting.

In May, a four-month-old Staffordshire Terrier puppy died while receiving veterinary treatment for injuries, including multiple broken bones, believed to be the result of a vicious beating in St Albans. An RSPCA Victoria investigation and appeal for information, failed to identify the person responsible.

In September, a one-year-old dead Husky dog was found stuffed in a suitcase in a Melbourne apartment complex. The dog had suffered a severe head trauma. Charges are expected to be laid shortly.

“The vast majority of animal cruelty reports that we investigate are the result of ignorance rather than malice, however there have been several extremely disturbing cases of serious violence towards animals recently, and we are appealing to the public to report any incidences of cruelty immediately,” Mr Bode.

If you know anything that may help identify the person responsible for this, please call us on 9224-2222.

27 October 2016
RSPCA Victoria responds to GRV annual report

RSPCA Victoria welcomes the transparency being shown by Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) in its 2015-16 annual report, tabled today in the Victorian Parliament.
Obviously, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done to reduce breeding levels and cut down euthanasia numbers.
We are broadly supportive of any efforts Greyhound Racing Victoria makes to improve the welfare of greyhounds in this state.
The single best thing GRV can do for greyhound welfare is to reduce breeding levels and the oversupply of greyhounds. We strongly encourage GRV to continue to reduce the number of greyhounds which are bred each year, so there are fewer animals leaving the industry.

Last year, RSPCA Victoria rehomed 4200 dogs of all breeds, shapes and sizes from our 11 animal care centres across Victoria, and GRV needs to be realistic about the market for rehoming greyhounds in Victoria. 

Around 7.9% (287) of the dogs and cats surrendered last financial year came from breeders or those involved in the greyhound racing industry.

Critical to the success of a rehoming program is the early and continuous socialisation of the dogs so that they will be suitable as pets when they leave the industry.

This needs to be implemented from an early age - before greyhounds start racing - to be successful, not as an afterthought once they are ready to leave the industry. In fact, all puppies have what is called a “critical socialisation period” that occurs between approximately three to 17 weeks of age.

25 October 2016

Portland woman fined $500 over horse neglect

A Portland woman who pleaded guilty to charges under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act has been fined $500.

The woman was the owner of a bay gelding horse in May 2015 when she was charged by RSPCA Victoria for failing to provide adequate food and vet treatment.

The horse was so emaciated that it could not stand and had to be humanely euthanised.

The Magistrate imposed, with conviction, a $500 fine.

RSPCA Victoria Prosecutor Daniel Bode said: “There are no circumstances under which it is acceptable to allow an animal to become so emaciated that it is unable to stand. If an animal has stopped eating or drinking then it is imperative that it receives immediate veterinary care.”

12 October 2016
RSPCA Victoria seizes collection of animals

RSPCA Victoria can confirm that Inspectors, accompanied by a Hume City Council officer and Victoria Police, attended a property today in Melbourne’s north, in response to community reports of concerns for the welfare of more than 20 animals. 

Following inspection of the animals on the property, RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectors identified immediate and serious concerns for the animals’ welfare and seized:
2 dogs;
4 cats, including a pregnant queen;
2 guinea pigs; 
14 rabbits and 7 kits.

All of the animals have been transported to RSPCA Burwood East to receive immediate veterinary care. 

Senior Inspector Lisa Calleja said the investigation is continuing.

“Our immediate focus is on the health and rehabilitation of the animals,” said Ms Calleja.

“We encourage people to be realistic about the number of animals are capable of caring for. 

“If people find they don’t have the resources to care appropriately for their animals, they should consider rehoming them or surrendering them to us."

We urge anyone with concerns about the welfare of animals to make a report to us here or by calling 9224 2222.

12 October 2016
Wing Tip Wong, RSPCA Victoria's Mentoring Marvel

Meet Dr Wing Tip Wong, a specialist orthopaedic surgeon for more than 35 years, he’s spent the last few months working closely with our vets at the Burwood East clinic and shelter to mentor them and share his experience. RSPCA Victoria is constantly working to provide the best possible treatments available for all animals in our care—which is why we approached Dr Wong.

“I’ve always had an interest and desire to help my fellow veterinary colleagues, and they’ve displayed a strong desire to learn all they can,” Dr Wong shared, and it’s not only the orthopaedic operations that Dr Wong advises on, he’ll help out wherever he can. “I apply the same philosophy and standard to all animals in my care, whether a private patient or a rescued stray, they each deserve the same standard of care. I want to facilitate and champion the cause, I’ll be here to help this team as long as they need me.”

Dr Christina Tee reflected that “…it’s been an amazing experience, three of our team actually studied at university under Dr Wong, so when we saw him in clinic it was fantastic to actually work with him”. Dr Tee added “at university, we’d get to come in after an operation had been performed, but here we can learn from his experience and follow the animal’s recovery from beginning to end, with Dr Wong at our side—it’s invaluable.”

Marley, the lovely Labrador pictured, was one of the first lucky patients of the team when he was surrendered with a severely dislocated hip.  Dr Tee explained that with the help of Dr Wong the team “…performed a femoral head and neck excision, essentially removing the top of his femur, to return the use of Marley’s leg, full recovery will still take a few more months but he’s doing really well.”

Pictured: L-R Dr Riian Lee, Dr Wing Tip Wong, and Dr Christina Tee giving Marley a well-earned treat.

11 October 2016
RSPCA Victoria applauds proposed puppy factory law

RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker today applauded the Victorian Government’s efforts to stamp out puppy and kitten factories, with the introduction of amendments to laws about the commercial breeding of dogs and cats.

The amendments will impose a limit of ten female breeding dogs or cats in a Domestic Animal Business by 2020, and require pet stores to only sell registered pound and shelter dogs and cats.
“It’s a bold initiative, and that’s what’s needed to bring about change in this industry,” said Dr Walker. “We have seen the squalid conditions in the mass production of dogs and cats time and again, and it has to stop.

“This legislation provides the starting point for a great step forward in animal welfare.
“By 2020, we hope that breeding facilities with hundreds of dogs and cats in putrid conditions will be a thing of the past.

“These changes will also mean breeding dogs should be healthier and easier for breeders to rehome, because it’s easier to provide some basic socialisation and exposure to a normal life when smaller numbers of animals are involved,” she said.

Dr Walker said RSPCA Victoria would welcome further investigation and research around the relationship between numbers of animals and welfare outcomes.

“No jurisdiction in the world has had the courage to set a low limit on the number of animals kept by breeders, so research into the link between animal numbers and welfare outcomes is limited,” Dr Walker said. 

“Setting a limit will allow us to start benchmarking welfare outcomes in Victoria.”

RSPCA Victoria is keen to partner with Government and the companion animal industry – including breeders – to educate the community about how to find pets that have been bred in the best possible conditions. The Smart Puppy and Dog Buyers Guide provides useful information for people wanting to purchase a puppy. 

“Put simply, potential pet owners should visit the place where the puppy was born; meet the mother dog (and father too if he’s around) to make sure they’re happy and healthy; and check the breeder provides a high standard of care and living conditions for all of their dogs.

“Increasing community knowledge – and encouraging people to report any concerns to us and to councils - will help ensure that online sales are monitored and dissuade rogue operators,” said Dr Walker.

6 October 2016
RSPCA Victoria releases report from independent review

RSPCA Victoria has today released the full and final report from the independent review of our Inspectorate, along with the organisation’s response to the report and recommendations.

Lead by Senior Reviewer, Mr Neil Comrie AO APM (former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police), the Review Team’s final report contains two findings and 22 recommendations. CEO Dr Liz Walker said that RSPCA Victoria accepts, without reservation, the report and each of its findings and recommendations.

“RSPCA Victoria’s Board and Senior Management Team are determined to lead the organisation to honour its position as Victoria’s most trusted animal welfare organisation,” Dr Walker said. 
“Awareness of the need to improve the effectiveness of the Inspectorate was a key driver in commissioning the review, and we are now very clear on what the current issues are, and what we must do to resolve them.”  

“RSPCA Victoria commits to immediately begin the full implementation of every finding and recommendation that is directly within our power to implement, and begin discussions with other agencies to negotiate implementation of the remainder.”
Actions that relate directly to the welfare and safety of our Inspectors in the field will be our first priority. We expect that the majority of implementation will be completed by December 2017. 

The full report and response can be accessed here.

29 September 2016
Cat found in Bundoora Park with bullet wounds

The cat was reportedly found in Bundoora Park, lying on the ground with what appeared to be a fractured leg and/or dislocated shoulder. A member of the public took the cat to Bundoora Vet where the cat was examined and found not to have a microchip. Classified as a stray, she was subsequently transferred to RSPCA at Burwood East for treatment.

RSPCA Victoria vets X-rayed the cat and discovered she had been shot with a .22. The bullet had fractured her upper leg. The leg was reset and secured with an External Skeletal Fixation, which provided a scaffolding support on the outside of the leg, and will be in place for about six weeks.

RSPCA Senior Inspector Daniel Bode is hoping someone might come forward with information about this incident.

“Shooting an animal and causing this kind of serious injury constitutes an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The cat was clearly suffering and without the intervention of a kind member of the public, would have had a protracted, painful death,” said Mr Bode.

Anyone with any information about this incident, or any concerns about the welfare of animals to make a report to RSPCA Victoria at rspcavic.org or 9224 2222.

UPDATE: This beautiful cat has now been named Malala; a suggestion from one of our Facebook fans, after a woman who was shot at a young age, but lived on to inspire others.

Despite Malala's trauma, she is a very affectionate and loving girl. She is doing well and will soon go into foster care to complete her recovery before going up for adoption.

28 September 2016
Doberman surrender "best outcome"

A four-year-old Doberman from a Wantirna property is receiving veterinarian care after RSPCA Victoria inspectors negotiated its surrender on Wednesday 28 September.

“Bouncy” was surrendered after RSPCA Victoria Inspectors visited the property in response to community reports of concerns for the dog’s welfare.

RSPCA Victoria Prosecutions Coordinator Daniel Bode said Bouncy had a skin condition and poor body weight, and that the surrender would provide him with the best chance of recovery and rehoming.
“It is so much better for the animal when our Inspectors are able to successfully negotiate a surrender,” Mr Bode said.

“When an animal in need is surrendered, we are able to immediately quarantine the animal, ensure it receives appropriate veterinary care and have it ready for rehoming within a matter of weeks.

“When an animal is seized, RSPCA provides veterinary care, but then must hold the animal in custody until legal proceedings are completed. This can take many months in a shelter environment, which is nowhere as good as a home.”   

Mr Bode said further investigation was required to determine whether Bouncy’s owner would face charges under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

28 September 2016
Dead dog in suitcase the latest in growing trend of extreme animal violence

RSPCA Victoria is concerned by a growing trend in extreme acts of violence towards animals as it investigates the horrific discovery of a dog stuffed in a suitcase this week.

The one-year-old Husky dog had suffered a severe head trauma as a result of blunt force before it was stuffed in the suitcase found in a Melbourne apartment complex. The dog was dead by the time it was discovered.

RSPCA Victoria Prosecution Coordinator Daniel Bode said RSPCA is currently investigating the situation, interviewing witnesses and coordinating an autopsy.  Charges are expected to be laid shortly.
Mr Bode said RSPCA Victoria inspectors were seeing an alarming trend of extreme acts of violence towards animals.

“The vast majority of animal cruelty reports that we investigate are the result of ignorance rather than malice, however there have been several extremely disturbing cases of serious violence towards animals recently, many of which have resulted in the death of the animal,” he said.

“There are no circumstances under which it is acceptable for pet owners to take it upon themselves to violently end an animal’s life.

“We want to get the message out that there are plenty of options available to pet owners who may be struggling to deal with an animal’s health or behaviour.

“Help is readily available from animal welfare organisations such as RSPCA Victoria, veterinarians or animal rescue groups.

“If owner's decide they just can't manage an animal's needs, then RSPCA Victoria will take any surrendered animal – no questions asked.”  

In the past financial year, RSPCA Victoria investigated 1,345 reports of animal cruelty relating to beating, wounding and tormenting.  

In May, a four-month-old Staffordshire Terrier puppy died while receiving veterinary treatment for injuries, including multiple broken bones, believed to be the result of a vicious beating in St Albans. An RSPCA Victoria investigation and appeal for information, failed to identify the person responsible. 

Earlier this year, a father and son from Victoria’s east were ordered by a Magistrate to pay $15,000 each to RSPCA Victoria for the “brutal, callous and inhumane act” relating to the bashing of a Husky that had ventured onto their property. The dog survived thanks to the quick action of a local council worker who rushed it to a vet. 

Those charged under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 face fines up to $75,621 and up to two years imprisonment.

Anyone with concerns about the welfare of animals is encouraged to make a report to RSPCA Victoria here or by calling 9224 2222.

27 September 2016
RSPCA Victoria seizes animals from banned owner

Today RSPCA Victoria Inspectors successfully executed a search warrant in regional Victoria after an animal owner failed to comply with a previously imposed disqualification (banning) order. 

People can be banned from being in charge of any animal for up to ten years if they are found guilty of a serious cruelty offence. A breach of such a ban could result in imprisonment for up to two years.

As a result of the operation, RSPCA Victoria, with support from Victoria Police, seized a heifer, two dogs, four adult cats and two budgerigars.

The seized animals have been transported to an RSPCA facility for assessment and care. 

As the investigation is ongoing, no other details can be released.

We urge anyone with concerns about the welfare of animals to make a report to RSPCA Victoria here or by calling 9224 2222.

19 September 2016
RSPCA Victoria will defend Longwood action

In response to Heather Healey's decision to sue RSPCA Victoria, we are confident we acted lawfully and in line with our powers in the Longwood investigation, and we will be vigorously defending the claim brought by Heather Healey.

We note that this legal action will tie up RSPCA Victoria funds and resources that could be better spent on rehabilitating and rehoming animals like those seized from Healey’s property, and investigating reports of cruelty across the state.

15 September 2016
RSPCA Victoria response to breed specific legislation

Please attribute to RSPCA Victoria Animal Welfare Policy Manager Mhairi Roberts:
We welcome the Victorian Government’s decision today to allow pit bulls and other restricted breed dogs to be kept in Victoria under changes to breed specific legislation.

This is a solid step in the right direction, although owners of these dogs will still be required to keep their animals muzzled and on leash when being exercised off their own property. 

RSPCA Victoria believes that 'deed not breed' should be the determining factor in labelling a dog as dangerous.

Dogs of any size or breed can be dangerous: temperament, environment, training, owner behaviour, the animal's health and a range of other issues all play a part.

RSPCA Victoria firmly believes that investing in owner education, along with developing a clear system to identify and manage menacing behaviours in dogs, has the potential to be far more effective than a breed-specific approach.

14 September 2016
Owner circumstances drive pet surrenders

More than two-thirds of the 3,627 dogs and cats surrendered to RSPCA Victoria in 2015/16 came in because of their owner’s circumstances, rather than issues with the animal’s health or behaviour, new analysis shows.

Busting the myth that rescue pets are ‘damaged goods’, CEO Dr Liz Walker said the data shows that in most cases, animals given up for adoption are healthy, happy pets whose owners were simply unable to keep them.

“Just 9.5% of owners who brought their dogs and cats to us for rehoming said that problem behaviours – such as barking, aggression, destructiveness, chasing or inappropriate toileting – were the reason,” Dr Walker said. “A further 1.2% said that the animal’s health was the main reason for their surrender.”

By contrast, human circumstances were the driving force behind 2,780 animal surrenders (67.2%).

Of those who brought cats or dogs to RSPCA Victoria to be rehomed:
  • 761 (21.0%) indicated that that housing was the main issue: they were moving, their homes were too small or their fencing was unsuited to keeping pets. This group included 40 owners facing homelessness or other crises who felt that relinquishing their animals was their only choice.
  • 374 (10.3%) said that they could not afford to feed or provide basic vet care to their animals.
  • 360 (9.9%) were pets of owners who had died or were in ill health.
  • 232 (6.4%) said they did not have enough time to meet their pet’s exercise or social needs.
  • 203 (5.6%) said they had too many animals.
  • 58 (1.6%) indicated that the surrender resulted from the birth of a baby.
  • 46 (1.3%) were seeking to rehome a pet after a relationship breakdown or divorce.
“People’s lives and circumstances can change quickly, often for reasons beyond their control,” Dr Walker said. “It’s important that we understand that these things are beyond the control of the animals in our lives, too – but they have an impact.

“It’s a powerful reminder to aspiring pet owners who might dismiss the adoption option, believing rescue animals as ‘problems’, ‘broken’, or ‘secondhand’. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

“Almost all of these dogs and cats have been the beloved companions of people who could no longer care for them the way all animals should be cared for. Those people have done the right thing in bringing their pets to us, in the hope that we can find new owners to love them and meet all of their needs.”

Dr Walker said that in many instances, owners travelled huge distances to bring their pets to RSPCA Victoria for rehoming. Last year, for example, the organisation received six dogs from East Gippsland – a three-hour drive from its closest Animal Care Centre.

“We are honoured that so many people come to us when they want their pets to have a second chance,” she said.

Around 7.9% (287) of the dogs and cats surrendered last financial year came from breeders or those involved in the greyhound racing industry. A further 4.7% were brought to RSPCA Victoria by Good Samaritans who had either found them abandoned, or rescued them from neglect.

One in ten people bringing in dogs or cats for surrender declined to give a reason.

11 September 2016
RSPCA Victoria endorses pioneering action plan for animals

RSPCA Victoria CEO, Dr Liz Walker, today endorsed the Victorian Government’s draft Animal Welfare Action Plan and pledged the organisation’s support to educate animal owners, modernise legislation, and partner with industry, the Government and the community to improve animal welfare in Victoria

Dr Walker said that the plan has the potential to deliver a step change in the welfare of Victorian animals – whether they’re living in the wild, kept as pets, used in sport and entertainment, or raised to produce food. 

“RSPCA Victoria believes that future advances in animal welfare depend on three elements: a clear, modern legislative framework with strong enforcement, effective public education, and partnerships between Government, industry, communities and welfare organisations,” Dr Walker said. 

“This plan holds a clear commitment from Government to support each of these.” 

Dr Walker said it was timely to undertake a holistic review of the legislation designed to prevent cruelty to animals, three decades after it was first adopted in Victoria.

“We’ve learned a lot in 30 years, and the community has changed as well. It’s clear that the public is more attuned to animal welfare than ever before, yet there’s still a great deal of work to be done,” she said.

“RSPCA Victoria looks forward taking part in the action plan consultation process, hearing other perspectives and working out how we can work together toward ending animal cruelty in Victoria, forever.”
31 August 2016
RSPCA Victoria releases animal cruelty data

The RSPCA has today released the figures on animal cruelty in Victoria for 2015-2016.

Dr Liz Walker, CEO of RSPCA Victoria, said that as expected, the figures were shocking, but not for the reasons you might expect.

“There were of course cases of evil people committing pre-meditated violence,” said Dr Walker.

“But we were shocked by the way many of the cruel acts seemed to be the result of ignorance rather than malice.

“People just didn’t seem to grasp the basic needs of food, water and an appropriate environment for the animals in their care.

“While this is distressing, it also gives us hope that as a society we can eradicate much of this cruelty.

 “Prevention and enforcement are two sides of the coin and in the past we have focused heavily on enforcement.

“The statistical data will allow us for the first time to pinpoint specific areas where we can work with communities and councils on particular issues. 

“Armed with this data, we believe we can make a significant impact on the level of community awareness of animal welfare and provide prevention activity to the areas that need it most.

“The lack of understanding of animals’ fundamental needs is worrying, but we are also optimistic that many of the problems can be resolved.

“RSPCA Victoria’s vision is ending cruelty to all animals – and we know that prevention is the key to ending cruelty. Over the next twelve months, we will be using this data to help us identify the areas that would benefit most from community education and support,” Dr Walker said.

Welfare concerns for dogs, cats and horses continued to make up the majority of issues reported to RSPCA Victoria in 2015/16. Of the 12,022 reports received:
6311 related to dogs and puppies (5973 and 518 respectively)
1691 related to cats and kittens (1374 and 317 respectively) and
2020 related to horses.

Issues reported in Victoria included:
3599 concerns about hygiene, grooming and housing conditions
3293 reports of underweight animals
2509 issues involving sick and injured animals not receiving vet treatment
2175 reports of animals with insufficient food, 2230 with insufficient water and 1777 with insufficient shelter 
1554 abandoned animals and
1345 concerns about animals being beaten or wounded.

 “Even one cruelty issue is one too many, yet the number of reports we receive is steadily increasing every year. We know that the community is becoming more concerned about animal welfare – which may be part of the reason for the continued rise in report numbers,” Dr Walker said. 

“RSPCA Victoria wants to partner with communities to find practical ways to boost animal welfare by improving local knowledge and support for animal owners, and will continue to enforce the law and rehabilitate those animals who have suffered harm.”

19 August 2016
Two dogs seized from Ballarat property

RSPCA Victoria last week seized two dogs from a Ballarat property following inspection of the animals as part of an ongoing investigation.

The two dogs – a Maltese Terrier cross about two years old and a Staffy cross about 10 months old - were seized overnight on August 10 under the Protection Of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA) because of immediate and serious concerns for the animals’ welfare.

The dogs were taken to RSPCA Ballarat to receive immediate veterinary care and have since been transported to RSPCA Burwood East for continuing veterinary care.  

The RSPCA Victoria investigation is ongoing.

We urge anyone with concerns about the welfare of animals to make a report to rspcavic.org or call 9224 2222.

18 August 2016
Parliamentary Commitee to inquire about RSPCA Victoria

Yesterday, the Victoria’s Legislative Council (upper house) voted to conduct a Parliamentary review of RSPCA Victoria. The motion was moved by Mr Jeff Bourman, who represents the Shooters and Fishers Party in the Eastern Victoria region.

The inquiry will be conducted by the Standing Committee on the Economy and Infrastructure, and it will look at:
  • The appropriateness and use of RSPCA Victoria’s powers pursuant to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, including in the context of its other objectives and activities;
  • The appropriateness and use of funding provided by the Victorian government, including in the context of its other objectives and activities; and
  • Any other consequential matters the committee may deem appropriate. 
Like any organisation that receives funding from Government, RSPCA Victoria clearly understands the need to be transparent about what we do and how we use our resources. We will cooperate with and contribute to the review openly and constructively, and welcome the chance to engage directly with Victorian Parliamentarians on animal welfare issues. 

RSPCA Victoria understands that this review will not begin until the findings of the Independent Review of the RSPCA Victoria Inspectorate (currently being conducted by former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Neil Comrie) have been released. We expect that a report from the Independent Review, which was announced in May, will be released with a response from us in late September or early October. The Parliamentary Committee review is due to be completed by 17 August next year. 

RSPCA Victoria will continue to keep its staff, volunteers, members and supporters in the community updated as the review progresses. 

17 July 2016
10 year ban given to owner of King Pets

A Lalor man who owned and managed a Campbellfield pet shop has been banned from being in charge of any animals for 10 years.

The case of Haidar Al-Khirsany was finalised as a Plea in Broadmeadows Magistrates Court last week (Thursday 7 July).

Mr Al-Khirsany was the owner of “King Pets” in Campbellfield housing a large number of birds in May 2014. A number of birds were housed in poor conditions; some of the birds required veterinary treatment; and some were in poor body condition. A total of 12 birds were seized and later surrendered to the RSPCA.

He was charged by RSPCA Victoria with a variety of offences relating to the confinement of an animal, failing to provide vet treatment and failing to provide appropriate food. 

The Magistrate imposed, without conviction, a $1000 fine and also imposed a disqualification order banning Mr Al-Khirsany from being the person in charge of any animal for 10 years. 

RSPCA Victoria Prosecutor Daniel Bode said the 10-year ban reflected the severity of neglect uncovered.

“The general living conditions of the pet store were extremely poor,” Inspector Bode said. “There were several aviaries which contained a deep layer of faeces on the floor underneath a superficial layer of shredded paper. It was obvious the cages had not been cleaned in weeks or months.

“A veterinarian examination found the condition of the birds were consistent with crowding, stress and bullying. Some birds had chronic deformity of the beak and feather loss. One bird had a sunken eye with no vision, while another had lice and Psittacosis, which is a highly contagious zoonotic disease.

“It is only fitting that the person who failed to give these birds the care they require has been banned from being in charge of any animal.”

17 July 2016
RSPCA Victoria responds to NSW government ban on greyhound racing

Please attribute the following comments to RSPCA Victoria chief executive officer Dr Liz Walker:

There is no doubt that the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in News South Wales has put the whole greyhound racing industry on notice.

The report highlights inherent cruelty and significant and entrenched animal welfare problems in this industry and it is clear that for some jurisdictions reform may not be possible. 

In circumstances where an industry is completely unwilling or unable to address welfare concerns, such as those identified in New South Wales, a total ban is the only option.

RSPCA Victoria continues to work in good faith with Greyhound Racing Victoria to influence the welfare outcomes of dogs - before, during and after racing. 

It’s too early yet to measure the real impact of how effective any changes will be on improving animal welfare. RSPCA Victoria will continue to hold the industry to account to ensure that animal welfare is put first and foremost.

We are watching very closely to see that the reforms are effective and that they meet the high standards of animal welfare that are in line with community expectations.

As the NSW Inquiry has highlighted, the social licence of the greyhound industry remains at risk until these concerns are fully addressed.

Please download a PDF copy of the RSPCA NSW media release, or click here for the RSPCA NSW media page for more information.
2 June 2016
RSPCA executes warrants at Blind Bight

RSPCA Victoria inspectors, accompanied by Victoria Police, today executed warrants at a property in Blind Bight as part of investigations into animal welfare concerns for dogs at the premises.

Eight Victoria Police members attended with four RSPCA Victoria Inspectors and two veterinarians.

No dogs were seized during today’s operation.

RSPCA Victoria has been working with the City of Casey and Victoria Police on a joint operation to improve the welfare of the dogs on the property. 

RSPCA Victoria obtained today’s warrant to verify that dogs on the property had received the full course of veterinary treatment required under 10 Notices to Comply issued to the owner of the animals in April.

The Notices to Comply related to a variety of health concerns and were issued during an inspection of the property by RSPCA Victoria in April, following welfare reports from the community.

Each of the 34 dogs on the property was today assessed by the two veterinarians who attended, and no health issues were identified.

RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker said that, while she appreciated the level of public interest in the investigation, RSPCA Inspectors can only seize animals under the powers afforded by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTAA).

“As there were no sick or injured animals requiring immediate treatment on the property today, there were no grounds for seizure,” she said.

All dogs tethered on the property today complied with the POCTAA Code of Practice for the Tethering of Animals – a non-enforceable code that does not incur penalties under POCTAA powers.

Dr Walker said that this case highlights the differences between animal welfare expectations in the community and the laws that RSPCA Victoria currently enforces. 

“It’s clear that the community expects animal welfare laws to reflect the ‘five freedoms*’ at a minimum, and they want to make sure that every owner’s duty of care to their animals is absolutely clear,” she said.

“We support Government efforts to progress towards that goal, and are keen to keep having conversations with the community and with Government lawmakers so that animal welfare legislation continues to improve.”

*The five freedoms are: freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or disease; freedom to express normal animal behaviour; and freedom from fear and distress.

Anyone with concerns about the welfare of animals is encouraged to make a report to RSPCA Victoria at rspcavic.org or 9224 2222.

23 June 2016
RSPCA to PM and Opposition Leader: Suspend Vietnam Live Export Trade

RSPCA Australia has written to the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader urging them to take action to suspend the live export trade to Vietnam, in the wake of shocking footage of cattle being sledgehammered to death.

The letters say that “while the live export industry may attempt to characterise these incidents as ‘isolated’, the Department of Agriculture’s own compliance reports since 2013 note supply chain breaches involving thousands of cattle. As sledgehammering is a common method of slaughter in Vietnam, it is likely that many of these cattle met a similar fate to those depicted in the “7.30” program.”

“Vietnam has more recorded non-compliances with the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) than any other country. There have been 17 findings against exporters in Vietnam in the three years it has been operating under the system. This is more than double the number of recorded non-compliances in Indonesia.”

The letters call upon the leaders to suspend the trade pending a comprehensive independent review of supply chain management issues and the administration of ESCAS.

“This independent review must include an RSPCA scientific representative to ensure it is open and transparent, and considers all of the available evidence.” 

Additionally, the letters call for the transfer of regulatory responsibility for live animal exports from the Department of Agriculture to an independent regulator, free of conflicting institutional objectives.

“These measures represent the only course of action that will demonstrate to the Australian community that the Government is serious about protecting the welfare of animals sent overseas for slaughter.”

“Without such assurance, the live export trade does not have a social licence to operate and will continue to face intense public scrutiny and criticism”.

3,000 Australians have written to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Agriculture Minister and the Shadow Agriculture Minister in less than 24 hours, as a result of RSPCA Australia’s call to action following the “7.30” program.

RSPCA Australia has also written to the Australian Live Exporters Council seeking access to all approved facilities in Vietnam for an independent audit.

22 June 2016
ABC's "7:30" Reveals shameful inactivity on live export standards
RSPCA Australia says tonight’s ABC “7.30” program demonstrates the urgent need for a review of Australia’s live export standards, and the transfer of regulatory oversight from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to an independent authority.

RSPCA Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Bidda Jones, said seven years had passed since the Live Export Standards Advisory Group (LESAG) first supported a review of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL), yet the standards remain unchanged.

ASEL covers the selection of animals for export on farm and on board the ship to the point of disembarkation in the importing country. In 2011, the government-commissioned independent review of Australia’s livestock export trade (the Farmer Review) found that ‘a full review of the ASEL was a priority’. 

A review committee was appointed in July 2012. In September 2012, the Department appointed Dr Lynn Simpson, a veterinarian with outstanding credentials and experience in the live export sector, as its technical advisor to the committee. 

“In February 2013, Dr Lynn Simpson’s submission to the review was published online by the Department. The photographs it contained were a shocking indictment of the conditions endured by cattle and sheep on board livestock vessels.
“A few weeks later, Dr Simpson was removed from the committee as a direct result of industry pressure. Since then there has been absolutely zero progress – the ASEL remain unchanged since minor amendments were made in 2010”, Dr Jones said. 
Dr Simpson’s submission was later removed from the Department’s website.

“The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources still has no processes for receiving independent advice on animal welfare matters relating to live export, and has advised that no resources have been allocated to the long overdue full review of the standards”. 

“The current standards fail to ensure people handling animals are aware of their legal responsibilities and have the competency to carry them out, and allow animals that are sick, injured or otherwise unfit to slip through the inspection process”. 

“The Government has been aware of these faulty practices for years, and has done nothing to raise the standards to best practice”. “There is still a failure to agree on even basic standards covering the welfare of animals on live export ships, such as space allowances and bedding provisions”. 

“Current stocking densities force animals to lie down on top of each other and jostle for access to feed and water points”. 

“Tonight’s “7.30” illustrated the inherent conflict of interest in the Department when it comes to addressing animal welfare issues in the live export trade, even in the face of stark evidence of inhumane treatment of animals”, said Dr Jones

You can download Dr Simpson’s full submission including photos from the link here

20 June 2016
Unseasonal number of cats looking for homes

It may be difficult to remember now that winter has well and truly set in, but the cold weather was a long time coming this year.

That extended warm period may have felt nice, but it also resulted in an extended kitten season, which is now being reflected in the hundreds of cats available for adoption in RSPCA centres across Victoria.

As a result, RSPCA Victoria will be offering “No Fee for Felines” from Friday 24 June to Monday 27 June, inclusive.
During these four days, RSPCA Victoria will be waiving the usual cat adoption fee of $110 (for those four months and over) to give these wonderful creatures a better chance of a brighter future.  The adoption fee for a kitten remains at $185 or $270 for two kittens.

RSPCA Victoria Animal Care Manager Liz Walker said around 250 cats were waiting for forever homes at RSPCA Adoption Centres across Victoria.

“The fee waiver applies to our adult cats – four months and over - which is when a cat that has not been desexed can start having litters,” Ms Walker said. “These cats often get overlooked for adoption for kittens, but they are still so young themselves.”

Every cat available for adoption is desexed, microchipped and vaccinated to ensure it’s ready to start a new happy life. Normal adoption procedures continue to apply during the no-fee period.  

“The same time and effort will go into matching each animal to the right family because cats don’t belong in shelters, they belong in homes,” Ms Walker said.

Cats make great companions; provide relaxation and other health benefits for humans; are suitable for a variety of living spaces and lifestyles; are affordable to own and care for; and provide an opportunity for children to understand responsibility and experience empathy.

No Fee for Felines cats are currently available for adoption from the following RSPCA Adoption Centres, RSPCA Pets Place Centres and Pet Barns:
*Burwood East    *Bendigo    *Ballarat + Pets Place    *Epping Pets Place    *Castlemaine *Portland    *Peninsula (Pearcedale)    * Wangaratta    *Warrnambool  *Pet Barn – Mentone   * Pet Barn - Sunbury 

10 June 2016

The Government’s latest quarterly report into the regulatory performance of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) provides another litany of horrific treatment of Australian livestock.

Among other incidents, the report, released through the Department of Agriculture’s website yesterday, contains details of:

*  thousands of sheep being sold outside of approved supply chains in Kuwait,

*  sheep being trussed and thrown into car boots and slaughtered in makeshift slaughter rooms at livestock markets,

*  cattle being roped and struck multiple times in the head with sledgehammers in Vietnam.

RSPCA Australia has previously raised concerns about the rapid expansion of Australian Government approved supply chains into developing countries like Vietnam and Thailand.

The Australian Government has now allowed nine exporters to send 20,000-30,000 head of cattle per month to 118 different facilities in Vietnam. In 2012, just 3,353 cattle were exported to that country, while in 2015, the number had increased to 311,523.

The high risk posed by such rapid expansion is borne out by the country’s ESCAS compliance record. Vietnam has the highest record of non-compliance of all Australia’s live export markets. It is double the number of non-compliance reports in Indonesia.

The report, yet again, raises serious concerns about the quality and effectiveness of the auditors and auditing processes that are supposed to underpin the ESCAS. RSPCA Australia is also very concerned that critical and major non-compliances were recorded in the latest report, but no exporters were prosecuted or had their licenses suspended.

Livestock Shipping Services (LSS) again featured with non-compliances. It had another two critical and five major non-compliances recorded against its performance, bringing the exporter’s record to five critical and seven major non-compliances.

The faults in the ESCAS system are amplified yet again, when an exporter such as LSS records numerous non-compliances without the regulator imposing meaningful sanctions.

Without adequate penalties, exporters will continue to take a cavalier approach to animal welfare and Australian livestock will continue to suffer

8 June 2016
RSPCA Victoria special investigation into dog breeders

Almost 120 dogs and puppies are in RSPCA Victoria’s care after its Special Investigations Unit (SIU) undertook a major raid on two properties in Longwood, northern Victoria yesterday.  

RSPCA Victoria inspectors, accompanied by Victoria Police and a team of veterinarians and animal attendants, simultaneously executed warrants at two adjoining properties on Tuesday, 7 June.

The RSPCA Mobile Animal Care (MAC) unit was deployed with 21 RSPCA staff, comprising five teams of Inspectors, veterinarians, vet nurse and animal attendants plus incident control centre staff, who were on the scene for the entire day.

Victoria Police officers were in attendance to ensure the operation was carried out safely. Support was also provided by Strathbogie Shire.

The raid is part of ongoing investigations by the SIU into breeders with links to show dogs. It is one of several investigations into large-scale animal cruelty involving dogs currently underway in Victoria 

In a coordinated approach, RSPCA Inspectors rescued 119 small breed dogs, with 50 surrendered and the remaining dogs seized under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTAA).

All of the animals were taken into care because of immediate and serious concerns for their welfare. The dogs, including Chihuahuas, Chinese Crested and Spaniels, were allegedly found to be living in small cages and squalid conditions, both inside and outside the residences. Veterinarians attending the premises also identified a number of health and husbandry concerns.

Six cats were also taken into care, with one seized and five surrendered to RSPCA Inspectors.

All of the seized and surrendered animals were transported to an RSPCA facility where they are receiving veterinary care. Four deceased dogs were also removed from one of the properties.

A total of 13 Notices to Comply (NTC) were issued to the owners at the two properties. These relate to addressing animals’ health, hygiene, husbandry and food/water provisions.

Ten NTCs at the first property relate to dogs, cats and birds that remain at the premises. Three NTCs at the second property relate to birds remaining at the premises.

RSPCA is continuing to investigate alleged breaches of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTAA) and will be working closely with Strathbogie Shire surrounding other potential breaches of legislation related to alleged domestic animal breeding operations.

We urge anyone with concerns about the welfare of animals to make a report to RSPCA Victoria at rspcavic.org or 9224 2222.

2 June 2016
UPDATE: Blind Bight dogs

Since April this year, RSPCA Victoria has been working with the City of Casey and Victoria Police on a joint operation to improve the welfare of a number of dogs at a property in Blind Bight, after receiving a number of reports from concerned community members.

As part of this operation, RSPCA Victoria Inspectors attended the property twice, and issued the owner of the dogs with several notices to comply (NTC).

RSPCA Victoria understands that charges relating to the keeping of the dogs on the property have been issued by Casey Council in line with their local laws, and will be heard in court today.  

These include charges relating to:

  • keeping excess dogs on a property without a permit and subsequently, failing to either reduce the number of the dogs kept or apply for a permit
  • failing to provide sufficient housing
  • tethering dogs on tethers of less than 3m
  • using tethering as a permanent means of restraint for dogs
  • failing to register dogs.

RSPCA Victoria's Senior Inspector Simon Primrose today said that the operation demonstrates the value of collaboration between state and local authorities.

"In general, our powers are limited to enforcing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act," said Senior Inspector Primrose.

"However, neither tethering, nor keeping excessive number of animals on a property are offences under that Act, so in circumstances like these, RSPCA Victoria's powers are limited.

"The City of Casey has had the foresight to turn a non-compulsory Victorian code of practice into a locally enforceable bylaw. That decision meant that they were able to lay charges immediately, where we could not."

RSPCA Victoria will continue to work with a local veterinarian to ensure that the conditions specified in the notices to comply already issued are met. If the notices are not complied with, RSPCA Victoria has the option of obtaining a warrant to seize the animals.

Note: NTC are legal directions issued by RSPCA Victoria Inspectors that require owners and people in charge of animals to prevent or cease animal cruelty offences. Each notice includes a date by which the owner must comply. 

27 May 2016
Appeal for information on alleged puppy beating

RSPCA Victoria inspectors, accompanied by Victoria Police, today executed a warrant at a property in Freda Court in St Albans as part of an investigation into an alleged beating and subsequent death of a puppy on Tuesday, May 24.

The four-month-old brindle-coloured Staffordshire Terrier-type puppy died while receiving veterinary treatment for injuries.

A good Samaritan had taken the dog to the vet after rushing to the aid of the puppy.

The puppy’s injuries included multiple broken bones and trauma-related injuries.

RSPCA Victoria secured a warrant to search for evidence related to the incident, which was executed this morning with assistance from Victoria Police and Brimbank Council.

RSPCA Victoria is appealing for information from anyone who saw or heard anything usual in the area where the puppy was found, or anyone who has information that would assist with identifying the person or people responsible for this incident. 

“This poor puppy suffered significant trauma before its death and we are pleading for the public’s help to catch the person responsible,” said RSPCA Victoria Inspectorate Manager, Allie Jalbert.

“We would strongly encourage anyone who has information about this incident to come forward and contact either RSPCA Victoria or Crimestoppers.”

Anyone with concerns about the welfare of animals to make a report to RSPCA Victoria at rspcavic.org.au or 9224 2222.
25 May 2016
RSPCA Victoria announces independent review

RSPCA Victoria today announced an Independent Review into the RSPCA Victoria Inspectorate will be conducted by former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Neil Comrie AO APM.

The community is invited to make submissions that will help the Senior Reviewer answer three key questions:
What is the scale of animal cruelty in Victoria?
What resourcing and approaches need to be put in place to ensure animal cruelty is being adequately investigated and prosecuted, and community expectations are being met?
Are there any ways RSPCA Victoria could use the resources it has right now more effectively and efficiently?

Online submissions can be made from today and close at 5pm on Friday 8 July. Anyone wanting to make a submission can visit the RSPCA Victoria website and follow the links.

As Senior Reviewer, Mr Comrie will identify and lead a team of experts to provide him with advice and support as he considers submissions, collects information and prepares his report and recommendations. 

All submissions will be received in confidence, to protect the privacy of individuals and ensure that people can be candid and open in the information that they provide. 

Dr Liz Walker, CEO of RSPCA Victoria, assured Victorians that every submission received would be carefully considered by the Senior Reviewer.

“RSPCA Victoria looks forward to the final report, which will undoubtedly reflect the information expressed in a broad range of submissions,” she said.

“In September this year, we will release a report along with our public response to the review.” 

Dr Walker said that it is some time since the Inspectorate function was last reviewed and that periodic reviews are essential to ensure that operational performance and efficiency are maximised and in line with current best practice.

“The reports we receive about animal cruelty are growing in number every year and, like all not-for-profit organisations, our resources are limited,” she said. “If we’re going to meet the community’s expectations of us in protecting animals, we need to have a very clear grasp of the scale of the problem and identify the mix of resources and approaches that will get the best results most efficiently.”

A PDF of this story is available here.

For all review details, click here.

20 May 2016
Racing integrity recommendations welcomed

RSPCA Victoria welcomes the Andrews Government’s intention to establish an independent integrity body to oversee and enforce race day rules and animal welfare codes for thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing.

Released today, the Bittar Review of the Integrity Structures of the Victorian Racing Industry, made two key recommendations:

  • establishing the Victorian Racing Integrity Unit (VRIU) to deliver integrity services for the three codes of racing; and
  • creating a single cross-code Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board (RADB), with associated changes to the appeals process.

RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker said she was pleased that the suggestions made in RSPCA Victoria’s submission had been largely adopted as recommendations.

“We firmly believe, to create enduring community confidence in the racing industry, integrity functions must be separated from commercial operations,” Dr Walker said.

“RSPCA Victoria is delighted that Mr Bittar’s recommendations have been accepted in principle, and look forward to working with the government, the three racing codes and the VRIU in making sure that animal welfare is front and centre.

“In particular, we look forward to establishing Memorandums of Understanding with the VRIU.

“The success of this unit will be assured if it works closely with us and with other law enforcement agencies to cooperatively manage investigations that involve criminal allegations – whether they involve financial or animal cruelty crimes,” Dr Walker said.

RSPCA Victoria also indicated that it welcomed the inclusion of training, education and public reporting of business plans and other metrics in the VRIU’s operating model.

17 May 2016
New Guide for Victorian dog and cat community foster care networks and rescue groups has been released

A new guide has been developed by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR), to provide Victorian dog and cat community foster care networks (CFCNs) and rescue groups with guidance on meeting minimum legislative requirements and maximising the welfare of domestic animals being cared for and rehomed. The guide can be found here.
6 May 2016
Greyhounds surrendered after inspection

RSPCA Victoria inspectors attended a property in Devon Meadows on Wednesday to investigate concerns for the welfare of five greyhounds after being notified by Greyhound Racing Victoria.  

Following inspection of the animals on the property, four greyhounds were surrendered to the RSPCA and were transported to an RSPCA animal care centre to receive immediate veterinary assessment and care. 

A Notice to Comply was issued for the dog remaining on the property. RSPCA Victoria will make further contact after expiry of the Notice.

RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker said community concern for the welfare of greyhounds remains at an all-time high.

“Whether they are racing dogs or domestic pets, the community expects greyhounds to be afforded the same care and treatment every animal deserves.”    

Greyhound Racing Victoria CEO Alan Clayton said GRV would continue to support RSPCA Victoria in its inquiries.

"We will work closely with the RSPCA on any further action and will strongly consider taking additional action," Mr Clayton said.

Anyone with concerns about the welfare of animals is urged to make a report to RSPCA Victoria at rspcavic.org.au or 9224 2222.

29 April 2016
RSPCA Victoria seizes more than 20 dogs in Wendouree

RSPCA Victoria inspectors today execute warrants at a property in Wendouree as part of Operation Cacatua, an investigation by the RSPCA’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and the City of Ballarat into an alleged dog breeding establishment.

Inspectors seized more than 20 dogs and puppies because of immediate and serious concerns for the animals’ welfare. Many of the dogs were allegedly found to be living in squalid conditions.

The animals have been transported to an RSPCA facility to receive immediate veterinary assessment and care.

RSPCA Victoria can confirm that today’s seizure is part of an ongoing operation that resulted in the seizure of 52 dogs after they were discovered by Council staff in cages in a park outside of Ballarat earlier this year.

The dogs are described as working breeds. Council and RSPCA investigations are ongoing. RSPCA would encourage anyone with information that could assist with our enquiries to contact the RSPCA Inspectorate at rspcavic.org/services/inspectorate/tip-line/

We urge anyone with concerns about the welfare of animals to make a report to RSPCA Victoria at rspcavic.org.au or 9224 2222.

23 April 2016
RSPCA thanks rescuers of dog from wombat hole
RSPCA Victoria received a report late Tuesday afternoon about a dog that had been trapped in a wombat hole for some days.  

Early on Wednesday morning RSPCA attended the site, to assess the animal’s welfare and contribute to the rescue effort.

Throughout the course of the day, RSPCA was supported by community volunteers, Parks Victoria, Mansfield Shire Council, Victoria Police and the Department of Economic Development Jobs Transport and Resources to attempt to free the dog without success.

Around 8.30pm last night, after more than 11 hours at the incident RSPCA stood down the Inspector in attendance after he confirmed that the dog was not at imminent risk of further harm and could be safely left, to resume the rescue in the morning.

RSPCA informed Victoria Police that it was leaving the incident and advised those on site that he had organised a veterinary to stand by to provide treatment if the dog was freed.

We are delighted to learn that the animal had been freed at 11pm last night and very grateful to the community, Victoria Police, Parks Victoria, City of Mansfield and Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority for their support and assistance in the rescue effort.

8 April 2016
Boolarra South horse investigation
RSPCA Victoria has been investigating reports about horses at a property in Boolarra South

There have been a total of 10 reports made at this property. We have attended the property four times along with numerous telephone and email contacts.

The first report was in March 2015 and we attended the same day it was received. The matter involved an injured horse which was treated and the matter resolved one week later. No further follow up was required and no subsequent reports were made.

The majority of the horses on the property are in acceptable-to-good body condition.

We received the other nine reports from March 23rd this year. After communications with the owner an injured horse was surrendered on March 26th and has now recovered.

We attended the property again this week and formal written directions were issued to the owner for veterinary treatment of another horse which will expire at 5pm today. The owner indicated that this horse will also be surrendered. We will follow up with the new owners regarding its ongoing treatment and condition next week.

This is an active investigation.

6 April 2016
Thank you to all the generous horse helpers
RSPCA Victoria wants to publicly thank the wonderful organisations and individuals who have contributed to the care of the 23 horses that were seized from a property in Bulla on Monday.

The horses are under the expert care of the RSPCA, veterinarians and the registered charity Horse Shepherd Equine Sanctuary.

Their ongoing care would not be possible without the dedicated people at Horse Shepherd Equine Sanctuary.

Golden Plains Equine and Rosehill Veterinary practices were on hand to provide immediate care for the horses on Monday.

Tragically, one elderly horse that was severely emaciated, became recumbent in hospital and was euthanised on humane grounds.

The remaining horses on the property are continuing to receive 24 hour care and monitoring by Horses At Auction - Preview (HAAP), a volunteer welfare group who facilitate the rehoming of horses out of livestock sale yards.

Chris Giles of Equine Education is providing handling assistance and is overseeing the feeding regime of the horses in care.

RSPCA would also like to thank Racing Victoria, Malua Racing, Freedman Racing, Cloud 9 Thoroughbreds and Chris Giles for their urgent transport of the horses from Bulla at late notice. 

The public continues to provide generous offers of support, including Kelato Animal Health, Ranvet, and Horseland Ringwood who have donated and delivered 23 rugs. 

We thank you all.

6 April 2016
Update on horse seizure

RSPCA Victoria today released footage and images of the horses seized from a property in Bulla on Monday.

Twenty-three horses were removed from the property in a joint operation between Victoria Police (who are the lead agency in the investigation) and RSPCA Victoria, with assistance and transport from Racing Victoria.

The horses were transported to undisclosed locations and are under the expert care of the RSPCA, veterinarians and the registered charity Horse Shepherd Equine Sanctuary.

RSPCA Acting CEO Jon McGregor said the malnourished horses were now in good hands and receiving the expert care that they require.

On arrival, most of the horses had body scores ranging between 0 and 1.

Measures were taken to prevent colicking, and the horses were placed on a strict feeding plan by the attending veterinarians.

*Three horses who were exhibiting signs of colic had more intensive examinations, and were administered intravenous fluids and appropriate analgesic and anti-inflammatory medication, and monitored carefully.

*One of these colic cases, and another horse with lacerations on its hind legs, were immediately transferred to the equine hospital for further care. 

*The horse with colic is in a serious, but stable condition.

*Tragically, one elderly horse that was severely emaciated, became recumbent in hospital and was euthanised on humane grounds.

*On Tuesday, another of the colic horses was transferred to hospital due to the persistence of colic signs. This horse is now doing satisfactorily. 

*The remaining horses on the property are continuing to receive 24 hour care.

Racing Victoria have committed to funding the ongoing veterinary care and feeding expenses of the horses. Collectively, RSPCA and Racing Victoria have received dozens of calls offering assistance from organisations and members of the community.

The RSPCA has the power to hold the horses until such time they become the property of RSPCA through legal processes or alternative orders are made by the court. We expect to be able to give a further update on this in two weeks time.

 “We hope to eventually be able to find the horses new homes and would like to thank the Victorian public for its support with offers of food, equipment and rehousing.”

Mr McGregor said the case was one of many incidences of horse neglect that RSPCA Victoria has been dealing with at unprecedented levels.

“In the past two months we have seized more horses than at any other time in our 145-year history. Since the start of this year we have taken in 139 horses*  through seizure and surrender. This compares with one horse for the same period in 2015.

“There is a very, very serious issue developing across Victoria that will reach crisis point by winter if people don’t act immediately. This is not just about drought conditions, this is about neglect.

This tragic event should never have occurred. We regret that when we attended the property we  were unable to observe the extent of the horrific neglect. The neglect of these horses can be measured in years and months as witnessed by the graveyard uncovered during the investigation.

As a result of this incident we are conducting a formal review of our procedures for receiving and triaging calls as well as the overall level of resourcing for our inspectorate to ensure that we can act as quickly as required. 

RSPCA Victoria is continuing to work with Victoria Police on the Bulla investigation.

In a separate, unrelated operation this morning, RSPCA inspectors executed a warrant at a Mickleham property seizing six additional horses during a planned operation.

*These six horses are now also in RSPCA care and are included in the 139 figure above. 

4 April 2016
RSPCA Victoria response to Bulla horses
RSPCA Victoria is continuing to work with police today after an estimated 22 dead horses were found on a property in Batey Court in Bulla yesterday.


Our immediate concern today is the welfare of the remaining horses on that property and our inspectors will ensure these animals receive care. Our inspectorate team will continue working with Victoria Police on the investigation.

RSPCA Victoria received a preliminary report on March 22 that there was a horse on the property without sufficient feed. We regret that this report didn’t accurately describe the situation that was uncovered yesterday and that observations from our inspector outside the property did not reveal the true extent of what lay within. As the owner of this property is known to the RSPCA and the property is one which is not be attended without police support for safety reasons, our inspector requested police escort. 

We received another call from a member of the public yesterday that provided detailed information about the condition of horses including that there were deceased horses and one in very poor condition requiring immediate care. The RSPCA inspector contacted police again who were then able to attend the property with a vet who was forced to euthanize the horse that was critical. 

This is an appalling situation. It is a tragedy that animals would be left to suffer in this way.  

Our 17 inspectors are tasked with responding to more than 10,000 reports of animal cruelty each year and rely on those making these reports to be as specific as possible in order for us to prioritise our response accordingly.

RSPCA Victoria is a charity that receives more than 90 per cent of its funding through the generosity of public donations.  

Our 17 inspectors are dealing with horses in dire conditions and at unprecedented levels. In the past two months we have seized more horses than at any other time in our 140-year history. The demand for our inspectors is out-stripping our capacity to respond, so we look to other empowered agencies, such as the police to provide support.

There is a very, very serious issue developing across Victoria that will reach crisis point by winter if people don’t act immediately. This is not about drought conditions, this is about neglect.

Our message to animal owners, if you don’t have enough feed on the ground, then you must provide supplementary feed.

All animal owners have a responsibility to ensure regular supervision and supply of water, feed and shelter.

If you’re struggling to care for your horses our advice is to agist by making arrangements for someone else to care for them on their property.  If this is not possible then sale should be considered.

It is unacceptable for animals to be allowed to starve to death or die of thirst under any circumstance. 

These rules don’t only apply to mainstream farmers. Small area and hobby farmers as well as owners of domestic animals have the same responsibilities to put in place management strategies that will provide for the care of animals.

Whether it’s through its veterinary practices, regional inspectors, online or via telephone, RSPCA Victoria, along with Victorian Government staff, are always on hand to offer expert advice on animal welfare.

There are serious charges under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA) for anyone causing pain or even death to an animal by leaving the animal without water, food and shade: 

a)      Where the animal is caused or likely to be caused unreasonable pain and suffering = 12 months imprisonment up to $37,310 in fines and a possible ten year/lifetime ban from being allowed to own or be in charge of an animal.

b)      Causing death or serious disablement as a result = two years imprisonment, up to $74,620 in fines and a possible ten year/lifetime ban from being allowed to own or be in charge of an animal.

1 April 2016
Greyhound prosecution update
RSPCA Victoria today attended Frankston Magistrates’ Court for a further mention of the charges issued against 14 of the individuals involved in the greyhound racing industry for alleged offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA). 

The Magistrate has today adjourned some of these matters to a preliminary hearing scheduled for July to determine the admissibility of some of the evidence.  Some of the remaining matters have been adjourned pending the outcome of that preliminary hearing.

1 April 2016
Free range hens: what will "meaningful" mean to them?
RSPCA Australia says today’s definition of a new free-range egg standard by the Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs may have been a waste of time.

RSPCA Australia’s Senior Policy Officer, Dr Jed Goodfellow, said the announcement of the Information Standard, requiring hens to have ‘meaningful and regular access’ to the outdoors, with a stocking rate of up to 10,000 hens per hectare, failed to provide the animal welfare assurances consumers were seeking.

“RSPCA Australia believes free range hens should be stocked at a maximum rate of 1,500 hens per hectare or up to 2,500 if a regular rotation system is in place.
“Free-range eggs should come from hens who actually go outside. The definition of ‘meaningful and regular access’ to the range is absolutely critical to the integrity of the Information Standard.

“The flock size, stocking densities inside and outside, layout of the barn, and the number of openings are all crucial to determining whether hens have ‘meaningful and regular access’. The conditions of the range, including whether shelter is provided, also play a critical role. If Consumer Affairs Ministers don’t get this right, we will be back to square one.

“In genuine free-range farms, all hens are able to access an outdoor range where they feel safe and protected and can express essential behaviours such as dust bathing and foraging. Inside, they are able to perch and lay their eggs in a nest.
“It’s important to note that none of these conditions are afforded to the 11 million hens currently confined to battery cages around the country. These hens suffer intensely and continuously throughout their lives. Consumers choose free range to avoid cages, and they deserve a standard they can have full confidence in.
“Today’s decision puts the interests of big business ahead of consumers, with hen welfare coming a distant third.

“Consumer Affairs Ministers must ensure that ‘meaningful’ access actually means something to the hen or else all of this has been a monumental waste of time,” Dr Goodfellow said.

28 March 2016
Ministers: Make "Free Range" mean better hen welfare 

RSPCA Australia is calling on State and Territory Consumer Affairs Ministers to set a national standard for free range eggs.

RSPCA’s Senior Policy Officer, Dr Jed Goodfellow, said a meeting of the Ministers on March 31st could meet consumer demands for clarity on egg labelling.

“Believe it or not, there is no legal definition for ‘free-range’ eggs, so what consumers are buying might not actually be what they expect,” Dr Goodfellow said.

 “Australia’s consumers are increasingly voting with their wallets, demanding that their eggs come from farms which practice higher hen welfare standards.
RSPCA Australia believes free range eggs should come from hens who actually go outside, are protected from adverse weather and predators, and are allowed to practice natural behaviours such as dust bathing, perching, foraging, and laying their eggs in a nest.

"We know Australians care about where their food comes from and how our animals are treated. We are asking them to contact their State and Territory Ministers to adopt a nationally consistent standard, so that ‘free range’ actually means what it says.

"This is an urgent issue, and a rare opportunity for Australians to put the welfare of layer hens first. There are still more than 11 million hens in bare cages. They suffer intensely and continuously throughout their lives.

"With more consumers than ever demanding an end to cage eggs, now is the time to move. A national standard on accurate labelling of ‘free range’, including the mandatory national labelling of cage eggs, will improve consumer confidence in the egg market. This is an opportunity for our legislators to act decisively in the interests of Australian consumers. Through RSPCA Australia, consumers can express their views to their Ministers and call for them to take action,” Dr Goodfellow said.

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