Mandatory welfare code for horse racing among big 5 animal-related voter priorities

Published on 4 August 2022

RSPCA releases data showing issues that matter this election

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Mandatory animal welfare standards for horse racing and CCTV in abattoirs and knackeries are two of the five big ticket items RSPCA Victoria is advocating for in the lead up to the Victorian election.

CEO Dr Liz Walker said the five priorities announced today were selected after RSPCA engaged social research agency Kantar Public to ask a representative sample of 3,092 Victorian voters which animal welfare issues matter most to them. RSPCA is calling on political parties to commit to these reforms:

  1. Introduction of mandatory welfare code for racehorses
  • Public concern around racehorse welfare is growing and 76% of voters support the introduction of mandatory standards – support is even higher in Ringwood (87%) and Morwell (84%) along with marginal seats Croydon (81%), Caulfield (84%) and Warrandyte (87%)*.
  • RPSCA is calling for the introduction of mandatory standards that would require owners and trainers to provide appropriate nutrition, socialisation, training and rehoming options as well as mandatory levels of training for staff.
  1. Introduction of mandatory CCTV in abattoirs and knackeries
  • 67% of voters support the introduction of mandatory CCTV to improve animal welfare at processing facilities – support is even higher in marginal seats including Warrandyte (78%), Rowville (89%), Croydon (78%) and Ringwood (76%).
  • In 2020/21, 154 million animals were processed in Victorian abattoirs and knackeries.
  • CCTV is already mandatory in many other countries including the UK and USA, and its use will increase transparency, highlight and monitor risks for operators, enable continuous improvement, assist with improving public confidence and ensure animal welfare is a high priority.
  1. Reduce the shelter quarantine period to three days
  • 69% of voters support this change that RSPCA says would be easy to implement – this is one of the top three issues identified by voters in Morwell, with 83% of survey respondents supporting it. Support is also high in Sandringham (75%), Mount Waverley (72%) and Forest Hill (74%)*.
  • Currently, dogs and cats must serve an eight-day quarantine period prior to being made available for rehoming, increasing their stress levels and the likelihood of contracting infectious diseases, while delaying desexing and microchipping.
  1. Develop a holistic cat management plan
  • Survey participants in Victoria have continually supported cat-related reforms such as funding for cat desexing programs (69%) and mandated containment of cats to owners’ properties (67%).  In Morwell, 86% of respondents support funding cat desexing programs and 73% of respondents in Sandringham supported this.*
  • There are an estimated 3.3 million owned and 700,000 unowned cats in Australia.
  • Cats can start breeding at four months old and, if not desexed, one female cat and her offspring can produce up to 5,000 cats in seven years.
  • In Victoria, RSPCA is calling for a holistic, government-led and funded plan to focus on responsible cat ownership including containment and desexing to improve cat welfare, help reduce the impacts on wildlife and ensure consistent, best practice management across the state.
  1. Finalise development of contemporary animal welfare legislation
  • Animal welfare legislation in Victoria no longer reflects contemporary scientific understanding or the expectations of the community – it is also outdated compared to legislation in places like the UK and the European Union.
  • RSPCA is calling on political parties to continue the work already underway to replace the current Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 with modern legislation.
  • New legislation should include consistent animal welfare policies embedded across all tiers of government, broad recognition of animal sentience and appropriate duties of care to animals.

How Victorians can help 

Victorian voters can track the pre-election commitments political parties and candidates make through RPSCA Victoria’s Action for animals campaign, including an election scorecard on its website and social media updates through to the November 26 election day.

From today Victorians can show their support by visiting https://rspcavic.org/become-an-rspca-animal-advocate/ and providing their name and postcode. Dr Walker said every name added will help convince politicians to support these issues.

“We want our politicians to know that two in five people (42%) indicated a political party’s commitment to a key animal welfare reform would secure their vote for that party in the 2022 Victorian state election.

“We want Victorians to know that by standing alongside the RSPCA in demanding better welfare standards, they will be helping to create real, positive change this election.”

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