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29 July 2021

RSPCA Victoria puts a spotlight on pet dental health

August is Pet Dental Month and RSPCA Victoria is encouraging Victorian pet owners to prioritise the dental health of their pets. The message is timely after RSPCA Victoria’s recent prosecution of the owner of a Miniature Poodle called ‘Roxy’, whose oral health was neglected so badly it caused her lower jaw to decay.  
 
An initiative of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), the focus of Pet Dental Month is on regular dental care to prevent dental disease and related health concerns.   
 
Oral heath for pets is part of responsible pet ownership and is imperative for their overall health and wellbeing. Sometimes causing bad breath, dental disease can also cause painful infections and if left untreated, bacteria can cause serious disease.  
 
Dental disease is the most common health condition affecting pets - 70% of cats and 80% of dogs experience some level of dental disease by three years of age - and it can become worse with age.  
 
RSPCA Victoria Chief Veterinarian, Dr Rupert Baker, said “just like people, pets require regular dental care and yet it’s something many pet owners can forget is an important part of their pet’s overall health.  Consistent dental care is crucial for a good quality of life, to ensure our pets’ teeth stay healthy and functional for as long as possible.  
 
“Dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs should have annual dental check-ups. Horses require annual attention from a specialist equine dentist, but regular dental care will help avoid serious health concerns.”  
 
Dental disease can be a significant problem for pets and their owners because it can lead to more serious problems such as illnesses related to the heart, liver and kidney. 
 
Often appearing in the form of periodontal disease, gingivitis and neck lesions, dental disease can cause serious complications however is preventable through regular veterinary care including teeth cleaning.  
 
Dental disease can cause severe discomfort and pain for pets who often show they are in pain and as it advances, pets can experience tooth and gum infection, inflammation, and bone and tooth loss. It is essential that good dental care is prioritised for pets to avoid poor health.  
 
A well-rounded diet is also key to preventing dental disease, particularly foods that provide physical resistance when pets chew, such as dry food or dental treats. Hill’s Prescription Diet, along with other brands, offers a range of high-quality, nutritionally balanced foods to help keep teeth in check. 
 
The most effective way to promote good oral health in both cats and dogs is to brush their teeth daily. Most animals will become accustomed to this, however, it is important that tooth brushing is introduced gradually and with the correct tools and technique. It’s always best to seek advice from a veterinarian before introducing this to a pet care routine.  A range of toothbrushes, water additives and tartar cleaners are available and should form part of any pet health tool kit.  
 
RSPCA Victoria’s online shop offers a variety of dental care products.  
 
Case Study 
 
Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, pet owners are responsible for providing proper care for pets including food, water, shelter and adequate veterinary attention, including dental care.  Neglect continues to be the most commonly reported animal cruelty concern across Victoria. 
 
In April 2021, RSPCA Victoria prosecuted a case involving an 11-year-old Miniature Poodle known as ‘Roxy’, who suffered severe dental health issues. Roxy’s owner failed to provide veterinary treatment to Roxy who suffered from severe dental disease and infection of the mouth, to such an extreme it caused her lower jaw to decay.  
 
Roxy also suffered from a mass on her lower jaw, preventing her from closing her mouth and impeding her ability to eat. Roxy’s jaw was extremely painful and she could not tolerate human touch near her muzzle.  
 
RSPCA Victoria’s Senior Inspector, Kerrie Gregory, said Roxy was suffering from a variety of issues related to neglect. 
 
“A significant portion of Roxy’s lower jaw had rotted away due to infection and severe dental disease. She was in an emaciated body condition, weighing just 3.75kg, with a matted, odorous, stained coat and skin, along with severely overgrown nails, all of which caused trauma and pain. X-ray images highlighted the remaining teeth were no longer held in place by bone and were only being held in place by soft tissue. 
 
“This case highlights the severe, irreversible consequences and subsequent ongoing suffering Roxy endured as a result of an owner failing to provide dental maintenance to their pet for a significant period of time. The degree of deformity, disease and infection would have been obvious.   
 
“If owners are unable to provide the required veterinary care to their pets, whether that be due to financial constraints or other inabilities, it is important they reach out for assistance and not allow their animals to suffer unnecessarily. Neglecting to provide the required care to Roxy in this situation has had dire consequences that could have been avoided.” 
 
Roxy’s preventable condition caused severe pain and suffering, and clearly illustrates how a lack of a basic care can create severe animal welfare issues. Due to the severity of Roxy’s irreversible condition and extreme pain, Roxy required humane euthanasia. 
 
The case was heard in the Frankston Magistrates Court where the Magistrate advised he found the behaviour appalling and convicted the accused. Roxy’s owner was fined $1500.00, and a disqualification order under section 12 in respect to dogs was granted for a period of five years.  
 
   

28 July 2021

Victorians encouraged to bake to fight animal cruelty this August – easy as pie!

RSPCA Victoria is encouraging Victorians to grab their aprons and preheat their ovens in preparation to bake to fight animal cruelty. Returning on Monday 16th August, Cupcake Day, RSPCA’s sweetest fundraising event is back.

Cupcake Day will officially be held on August 16, with entrants invited to whip up their favourite goodies in a baking frenzy! However, participants can also host their celebration at any time…including virtually. That includes Zoom bake-offs with friends and family or setting baking challenges with colleagues.

Everyone who registers for RSPCA’s Cupcake Day receives online access to all the resources needed to host a virtual baking event.

RSPCA Victoria typically raises around $230,000 annually to help care for the 20,000 animals that enter its shelters on average every year. These funds are needed more than ever before.

“This is the time to roll up your sleeves and put your cooking skills to the test for a very worthy cause. Knowing that you’re raising funds for thousands of animals in need and joining like-minded animal lovers around the country adds another level of joy to cooking,” said Dr Liz Walker, CEO at RSPCA Victoria.

“RSPCA’s Cupcake Day unites people who care about animal welfare - their efforts help to ensure we can continue to care for vulnerable animals and investigate cases of cruelty.”

RSPCA Victoria relies on community donations to fund its work caring for homeless, neglected and abused animals. All funds raised through Cupcake Day will be used to support this vital work.

“Our work is 90% funded by the community and we rely on that support. We know it’s been a tough year for many Victorians, however if you are in a position to help, even the smallest amount counts and goes toward our much-needed work to care for and protect all creatures great and small,” said Dr Walker.

RSPCA’s Cupcake Day isn’t limited to cupcakes and sweet treats, with quiches, pies and savoury pastries all making the cut along with wintry soups, soufflés or casseroles. It’s all about cooking up a storm while raising money for animal welfare.

How RSPCA Cupcake Day donations can make a difference:
• $25 can help provide a homeless kitten with a warm bed, litter tray and a meal.
• $55 can help cover one week of antibiotics for a sick animal in need.
• $150 can help desex a dog or cat to get them ready to find their forever home.

To register and find cooking tips, drool-worthy recipes, along with helpful hints and online competitions, visit www.rspcacupcakeday.com.au
   

27 July 2021

Battery cages, duck shooting, whips – RSPCA Vic calls time on big animal welfare issues

RSPCA Victoria today revealed six new “big ticket” goals to guide its advocacy work over the next year, targeting welfare improvements for wildlife, domestic, farmed and racing animals:

1. End duck shooting in Victoria
2. Ban battery cages in Victoria
3. Drive significant welfare improvements across the three racing codes
4. Desex all owned and semi-owned cats in Victoria
5. Influence wildlife legislation reform in Victoria
6. Influence animal welfare legislation reform in Victoria.

RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker said the six goals target some of the biggest issues in animal welfare today and aim to drive positive changes to improve the lives of animals.

“RSPCA Victoria’s advocacy goals focus on areas that need real change, such as the continued use of battery cages to house layer hens, duck shooting in Victoria, the need for stronger legislation to protect wildlife, Victoria’s cat overpopulation problem and the need to improve the welfare of racing horses and greyhounds,” said Dr Walker.

“In Victoria we are constantly advocating but much of our work happens behind closed doors directly with decision makers, government and industry – we want to let Victorians know what we’re working toward because we know people care about animal welfare and want it to improve.”

Currently there are over 10 million hens – half the egg laying hens in Australia - in battery cages, despite them being banned in the UK and New Zealand. Many Australians now buy cage-free eggs but around half the eggs produced nationally are from caged hens and go into food service and packaged foods. The RSPCA is advocating for a phase-out of battery cages as part of the current review of the Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry.

“The evidence is clear that hens can’t have good welfare when housed in battery cages – we’re advocating to ensure a phase out starts to happen in Australia so we can improve the lives of millions of hens,” said Dr Walker.

Victoria’s cat overpopulation problem is another big focus this year. Presently 30% of the estimated 3.3 million cats in Australia are not desexed. Cats can breed quickly and from just four months old, resulting in unplanned litters, causing a cat overpopulation which impacts the welfare of cats and wildlife.

“This year, we’ve set ourselves the ambitious goal of desexing all owned and semi-owned cats in Victoria to reduce the cat population and the pressure on pounds, shelters, the broader community and the environment,” said Dr Walker. RSPCA Victoria will continue working to end duck shooting in Victoria, saying the practice causes unnecessary injury, pain, suffering, distress and death to waterbirds. RSPCA Victoria was disappointed the 2021 season went ahead after it recommended a cancellation.

“While there have been some positive indicators change may be coming, we’d like to see a definite move by the Victorian Government to end cruel duck shooting this year,” said Dr Walker.

RSPCA Victoria will continue advocating directly with peak racing bodies and the government to improve the lives of animals involved in thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing. The welfare of animals used in racing is paramount and this includes before, during and after their racing careers. “We will continue to advocate for reform in horse racing, relating to whip use, injuries, fatalities, wastage and life post-racing to ensure these animals have lives worth living after their racing careers end. We also hope that a horse traceability register will address some of these concerns.

“The greyhound racing industry has worked to improve the welfare of racing dogs in recent years, including planning and implementing track safety initiatives to reduce injuries. There is still work to be done and we will continue to work with them to further improve the welfare of greyhounds at all life stages.

Finally, RSPCA Victoria will seek to influence the reform of key pieces of animal welfare legislation in Victoria.

RSPCA Victoria recently recommended 16 significant changes be made to the Wildlife Act 1975 to reflect a more modern approach to the welfare of wildlife. Additionally, RSPCA Victoria is providing input to help draft a new, modern animal welfare act to replace Victoria’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.

“Animals positively impact our lives, and we need to ensure they have good welfare and lives that are worth living,” said Dr Walker.

“RSPCA Victoria has been caring for and protecting animals for 150 years and we will continue to advocate to improve the welfare of the millions of animals and end animal cruelty.”

RSPCA Victoria is running a free webinar for anybody interested in hearing more about its advocacy work on Friday 30th July. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask live questions of Dr Liz Walker and other experts from RSPCA Victoria. Register here to attend.

For more information about RSPCA Victoria’s advocacy goals, visit www.rspcavic.org.au
   

23 July 2021

Improving desexing rates this National Desexing Month

July marks National Desexing Month, and RSPCA Victoria is reminding animal lovers that desexing is an important part of responsible pet ownership.  
 
Animals that aren’t desexed often result in unwanted litters that all too frequently come through the doors at RSPCA Victoria. Cats are of particular concern because they can reproduce from an early age, reproduce frequently and have large litters.  
 
“To provide perspective, just one female cat and her female offspring have the potential to produce five thousand kittens in just seven years,” says RSPCA Victoria’s CEO, Dr Liz Walker.  
 
In 2019/20 over 9,500 cats/kittens were admitted to RSPCA Victoria, with less than 2000 of them desexed prior to arrival.  
 
Cats are the second most popular pet with 29% of households in Australia owning a cat. However, over 30% of owned cats are not desexed before six months of age, resulting in cat-overpopulation and a significant cat welfare issue. 
 
“We’ve set ourselves the ambitious goal of desexing all owned and semi-owned cats in Victoria to improve their welfare and reduce the impact on our state’s pound and shelter system, the broader community and the environment,” says Dr Walker.   
 
Desexing is a routine medical operation performed by a veterinarian with the use of anaesthesia. The vet removes the animal’s reproductive organs to prevent them from breeding.  
 
RSPCA Victoria wants to correct the misconceptions that surround desexing.  
 
“Desexing will not change the personality of your pet and in fact, desexing actually has health benefits for animals. In female pets, it can reduce the risk of mammary cancer and other risks associated with pregnancy. Desexing also removes unwanted behaviours that can occur when an animal is in heat, such as yowling, aggression and roaming.”  
 
Cats can be desexed from as early as four months, while dogs can be desexed from six months of age. However, each animal should be assessed on a case-by-case basis according to their age, weight, and medical history. Veterinarians may advise earlier or later desexing dates.  
 
RSPCA Victoria is currently running two desexing initiatives to help address the cat welfare issues in Victoria.  
 
In partnership with the Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF), RSPCA Victoria launched a short film competition DeSexy Snippets, to help promote the benefits of desexing and the associated positive impacts on animal welfare. The public can vote for their favourite short film via social media later this year.   
 
RSPCA Victoria also launched Mildura Loves Pets this month. As part of the project, free desexing, vaccination and microchipping clinics will be available to all pet owners in the region. 
 
“These initiatives highlight RSPCA Victoria’s dedication to desexing the majority of household pets 
throughout the state and improve animal welfare by reducing the number of stray animals that come through our doors,” says Dr Walker. 
 
 
For more information about DeSexy Snippets visit rspcavic.org/mqff  
 

For more information about RSPCA Victoria’s Mildura Loves Pets initiative including free desexing, vaccinations, microchipping and more, visit milduralovespets.com or call 1300 020 040.
   

16 July 2021

Mildura’s pets to have their best shot at a healthy life

FOOTAGE AVAILBLE FOR USE VIA THIS LINK

Friday 16 July marks the first day of RSPCA Victoria’s Mildura Loves Pets initiative which aims to increase awareness around animal welfare and responsible pet ownership in the Mildura region, giving pets their best shot at a healthy life.

RSPCA Victoria’s Education and Community Outreach Manager, Ian Sumpter, said the Mildura Loves Pets project will support both the people and pets of Mildura.

“We know the people of Mildura love their pets and want them to live long, happy and healthy lives. Research shows that more than 80% of Mildura residents strongly agree that animals are a valuable part of society and 75% strongly agree that animals make our lives better.

“The Mildura Loves Pets community outreach project will actively help the community to provide their pets with their 'best shot' at a healthy life by providing free vaccinations, desexing, microchipping, flea and worm treatments and other pet related support.

“RSPCA Victoria is well known for its work to rescue animals and match them with new families in forever homes. What makes our community outreach initiatives different is that they support people to better care for the pets they already have and prevent the need for rescue and rehoming,” said Mr Sumpter.

Mildura Rural City Council Mayor Jason Modica welcomed the announcement, and said the organisation was proud to work closely with the RSPCA to make this initiative possible.

“We have a long history of partnering with animal welfare and rehousing groups to improve outcomes for local pets and are pleased to support the RSPCA with the Mildura Loves Pets initiative,” Cr Modica said.

Representatives from Mildura-based vet clinics, animal training and rehoming groups, Mildura Pound and Council’s Animal Management team have provided valuable insights to the local situation. The Mildura Loves Pets initiative is the result of more than 12 months of dedicated work.

“There are more than 9,400 cats and dogs registered in our council area. Increased awareness and opportunities for locals to be responsible pet owners is very welcome.”

RSPCA Victoria’s Mildura Loves Pets initiative will also offer a variety of tools and information including education on how to better take care of pets. In addition to these services, this important initiative will provide information relating to when and how to ask for help to care for pets.

Vaccinations, desexing and flea and worm prevention are vital to the health and wellbeing of pets. Not only can they help prevent disease and illness, but desexing can also help with reducing the number of stray animals and behavioural issues such as aggression, toileting in the house and roaming.

Parvovirus is common in the Mildura region. In the past 12 months, veterinary clinics across Mildura have reported an increase in cases of Parvovirus, which can be easily prevented through routine vaccinations. Vaccinations not only helps protect pets against catching and spreading Parvovirus but also several other preventable and sometimes deadly diseases. RSPCA will be running free vaccination clinics with local vets to attempt to tackle Parvovirus in the region.

To help reduce the numbers of stray cats in the Mildura region, desexing will form an important part of RSPCA Victoria’s Mildura Loves Pets initiative. Desexing significantly contributes to the health and wellbeing of pets and reduces the number of homeless animals. If they are healthy and at a good weight, cats can be desexed from four months, and dogs from six months.

The Mildura Loves Pets initiative will also address some of the common misconceptions relating to desexing pets and explain that desexing will not impact a pet’s personality, it is not necessary for a female to have a litter before desexing, and it is just as important to desex male animals.

Microchipping a pet is integral and means more pets are likely to be reunited with their owners. This is relevant, based on research that shows almost 80% of Mildura residents strongly disagree that they would rather give up theiranimal than pay reclaim fees at a shelter, showing a true dedication to their pets. RSPCA Victoria’s Mildura Loves Pets initiative will encourage owners to microchip their pets by offering this important service for free.

RSPCA Victoria’s Mildura Loves Pets initiative will enhance public understanding around the key animal welfare issues in the community to support the people of Mildura to care for their pets and increase the well-being of animals in the region.

For more information about RSPCA Victoria’s Mildura Loves Pets initiative including free desexing, vaccinations, microchipping and more, visit milduralovespets.com or call 1300 020 040.
   

2 July 2021

Australia’s most trusted animal welfare charity commemorates 150 years of caring for animals

Sunday 4 July marks 150 years of RSPCA Victoria’s work caring for and protecting animals. Since its formation in 1871 when the first meeting was held in Melbourne to improve the lives of horses in colonial Victoria, Australia’s most trusted animal welfare organisation has worked to better the lives of all creatures great and small, fur covered and feathered, homeless and abused, abandoned or in poor health. 
 
The first RSPCA to be established in Australia, in its 150 years, RSPCA Victoria has worked to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome hundreds of thousands of animals in need.  Since its inception RSPCA Victoria has advocated for changes that would end tail docking of puppies and intensive breeding operations, to improve the welfare of racing animals, to make it easier for renters to have pets, and inform major pieces of legislation, notably the Domestic Animals Act 1994.   
 
Dr Liz Walker, RSPCA Victoria’s CEO, said it was an important time to commemorate and reflect on the charity’s challenges and achievements thus far.  
 
“We are incredibly proud to commemorate this remarkable milestone and to have the opportunity to acknowledge the many dedicated people who have cared for Victoria’s animals over the past 150 years.  Since then, the work of RSPCA Victoria has expanded to a federation of nine RSPCA societies across Australia,” said Dr Walker.  
 
“While the organisation and community as a whole can commemorate many achievements, there is still much to be done and we remain committed to continually improving animal welfare to create a better life for animals,” said Dr Walker.  
 
Originally named the Victorian Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (VSPCA), in 1871 the VSPCA hired the first two inspectors in 1871 and in 1875 VSPCA began looking beyond horses to other livestock such as ducks, geese, goats, and sheep.   
 
In 1956 the VSPCA gained royal patronage, becoming the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) a name for which it is well recognised today. A not-for-profit charity that relies on the generous support of the community for more than 90% of operating expenses, RSPCA Victoria’s vision is to end cruelty to all animals. 
 
Across the state RSPCA Victoria provides community services including animal shelters, veterinary clinics, education programs, op shops and an Inspectorate that is authorised to investigate and prosecute cases of animal cruelty. Operating six animal welfare shelters that provide refuge, each year RSPCA Victoria strives to give more than 20,000 animals a second chance.  
 
In 1974, RSPCA’s administration building opened at the current Burwood East location. This was followed in 1982 by the Animal Adoption Centre which was recently renamed the Dr Hugh Wirth Animal Care Centre in honour of long serving President and Patron, Dr Hugh Wirth, who dedicated his life to animals. Dr Wirth began his association with RSPCA Victoria in 1949, became president in 1972 and served in the role for a remarkable 43 years.  
 
Since its inception, RSPCA Victoria has worked to prevent cruelty around the state, growing the inspectorate to investigate cases of cruelty, opening veterinary clinics to service the public, developing education programs and working in advocacy. Throughout its history, it has continued to care for and find loving forever homes for the thousands of animals in need that come through the doors.  
 
In addition to caring for animals in need, RSPCA Victoria has been integral to a number of Victorian animal welfare milestones, tirelessly advocating for changes to prevent cruelty. Since its inception RSPCA Victoria has worked to influence changes to legislation to improve animal welfare, including that which resulted in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA). RSPCA Victoria was also instrumental in the Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farms and Pet Shops) Act which was passed in Victorian Parliament in 2017 to reform the dog breeding and pet shop industries in Victoria and better regulate the sale of dogs and cats. 
 
Additionally, RSPCA Victoria played an instrumental role in the new laws on pet rental reform which came into effect in 2020 after years of campaigning. Now, landlords cannot unreasonably refuse tenants with pets, ultimately helping to support people to create better lives for their pets, resulting in positive animal welfare outcomes and happier communities.  
 
Dr Walker said, “RSPCA Victoria’s progressive work in animal welfare has paved the way for the organisation, now part of the RSPCA Federation with counterparts in every state and territory. Backed by 150 years of experience and history, the RSPCA remains one of Australia’s longest-standing, most loved and most trusted charities, strongly positioned to deal with the modern-day challenges of the 21st century.” 
 
Dr Walker also said, “We know animals are good for people and contribute to our lives in a myriad of ways so while we pause for a moment to commemorate and thank those who have supported our work over the last 150 years, our commitment to the Victorian community is to continue to find ways to improve the lives of all creatures great and small.” 
 
 
  

17 June 2021

Ducks in danger: 23 per cent increase in calls to Wildlife Victoria prompts support for Discover Ducks

When Victorians think of wildlife in peril they probably don’t think of ducks, but Wildlife Victoria reports it took 2,247 requests for assistance last year from people seeking help for orphaned, sick or injured native ducks – a 23 per cent increase on the previous year.

As a result of reports from the public, Wildlife Victoria helped 6,826 ducks in 2020 – around 18 ducks per day. 

CEO of Wildlife Victoria, Lisa Palma, said ducks are an important part of our native ecosystems in Victoria and – like other more prominent species – they get into tricky or dangerous situations and need help from humans. 

“At Wildlife Victoria our expert wildlife rescuers help all sorts of native animals, including our precious ducks.  We want people to know that they are special creatures that deserve our appreciation and care, just like other native species,” said Ms Palma.

“For this reason, Wildlife Victoria has joined Discover Ducks, a campaign launched by RSPCA Victoria and Birdlife Australia in November 2020. The campaign fits with Wildlife Victoria’s vision to create a community that understands, values and cares about Australian wildlife.”

Outdoor education charity Outward Bound has also joined the campaign, which aims to introduce Victorians to different species of native duck and encourage them to spot them in their local area and further afield at wetlands across the state.

CEO of Outward Bound, Loren Miller, said “we were surprised by research indicating that one in five Victorians can’t name a single species of native duck*.”

“Outward Bound empowers people to discover, develop and achieve their full potential through nature-based activities – we believe an appreciation and empathy for nature and native wildlife is a vital part of that, so we’re very pleased to be supporting Discover Ducks.”

CEO of RSPCA Victoria, Dr Liz Walker, says the Discover Ducks campaign will continue to gain momentum as more people develop an appreciation for all the different types of native ducks.   

“Ducks really are quite unique animals. There are 15 native species in Australia, all with different looks, personalities, and behaviours. For example, Australian Wood Ducks are very family-oriented and bond with their mate for life. They really are delightful and every duck species has its own story to tell.” says Dr Walker. 

“We’ve just added three new ducks to the Discover Ducks website, including the Musk Duck, which is particularly unique. The males have an eye-catching lobe of skin beneath their beaks that they use to attract females by puffing it out in an extravagant display. It’s quite fun to spot ducks when you’re out and about and be able to identify what type they are.” 

The Discover Ducks website teaches Victorians all about the most common and interesting ducks living in their neighbourhood. With a “Duck Detector” map, fact sheets, guides and quizzes, the website encourages the people to explore wetlands, creeks and waterways to see, take photos and appreciate the ducks that call Victoria home.
 
To find out more, visit www.discoverducks.org.au
  

3 June 2021

Preparing pets as Victoria’s winter sets in

As temperatures drop around the state and Victorians prepare for even colder weather, RSPCA Victoria is urging pet owners to think about how the coming winter months might affect their animals. Regardless of whether you have dogs, cats, horses or small animals such as guinea pigs or rabbits, they all need to be considered during cold weather and owners may need to adjust the way they care for them to ensure they stay happy and healthy.  
 
Dr Liz Walker, RSPCA Victoria’s CEO, said that while many of us are aware of the risks that come with hot weather, sub zero temperatures in some areas of Victoria posed a real welfare risk, particularly for animals who spend time outdoors.  
 
“Winter is a busy time for our Inspectorate. We receive an influx of reports from concerned individuals who are worried about an animal’s welfare during the cold months. It’s important pet owners consider any additional requirements needed during winter, such as extra bedding, more food and adequate shelter away from the wind and rain. 
 
“Like many of their owners, our more vulnerable pets often suffer in cold weather, especially those who are very young, elderly, live outdoors or suffer from health conditions such as arthritis.”    
 
Dr Walker explained there are a number of ways to protect animals from suffering in the cold, though ultimately, the best protection is to bring them indoors where possible. This is especially important for small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs whose body temperatures can drop dangerously low in cold weather. 
 
“In addition to making sure indoor pets have a warm place to sleep away from drafts, also make sure heating units are safe and have guards so that pets don’t suffer burns. Always ensure outdoor pets have proper shelter and a place to sleep away from the elements. 
 
“Animals may require more food during cold weather as it takes more energy to regulate their body temperature in the cold. Consult your veterinarian on what this is right for your pet.  And remember that access to water during cold weather is still important, so make sure to check outdoor water bowls and troughs aren’t frozen and provide more than one water source where possible.  
 
“If your pet suffers from arthritis, the winter months can be more difficult to manage so make sure to speak with your veterinarian about how to best manage this condition in cold weather.” 
 
RSPCA Victoria also encourages owners to think about the welfare of their farm animals in cold weather.  They should be able to move from their paddocks into three-sided shelters to escape the cold, rain and wind. Chickens will need extra bedding to keep them warm.  
 
Dr Walker also talked about the importance of exercise for animals, even in colder weather. “It may be tempting to reduce exercise during the winter months but exercise remains important for their wellbeing.. If your dog spends a lot of time indoors, make sure to provide them with enrichment, such as games and food dispensing toys, to keep their minds active and consider taking them for walks with other dogs.  
 
“When exercising in the dark, we want dog walkers and horse riders to keep themselves and their animals safe. Consider reflective clothing or lights to alert other people and traffic,” said Dr Walker.    For more information about caring for pets in cold weather, which dogs need jackets and whether to rug your horse, visit RSPCA’s Knowledgebase
  

31 May 2021

RSPCA Victoria successfully prosecutes owner who left dog to die

RSPCA Victoria is ensuring owners who do not look after their animals are held to account, after another disturbing case of gross neglect was finalised in court.  
 
After receiving a report that a deceased dog had been observed in a rear yard, an RSPCA Victoria Inspector attended a property in Newborough and found the carcass of a small white terrier dog lying on a concrete driveway.  
 
A neighbour had been alerted by a smell emanating from the owner’s backyard over a period of two weeks and had raised concerns about the animal’s welfare. 
 
The dog, ‘Miyargi’ appeared to have been dead for some time but was relatively well preserved. An RSPCA Victoria Inspector observed Miyargi’s spine, hip and femur bones were visible, suggesting the dog had been in an emaciated state at the time of death.  
 
A necropsy revealed generalised muscle atrophy and the absence of body fat, with a vet determining the cause of death was severe emaciation caused by prolonged nutritional deficiency. Miyargi had a body score condition of just one out of five and there was no food material found in his stomach or intestine.  
 
Furthermore, the absence of any other gross abnormalities suggested no other underlying illness had contributed to the dog’s death.  
 
Acting Head of Inspectorate Stuart Marchesani said it was disturbing that the accused had shown so little regard for the terrier’s life.  
 
“This outcome was not only tragic but also wholly preventable,” Mr Marchesani said. 
 
“The dog had obviously been deteriorating for a while, and there is no evidence that the accused made any effort to take the dog to a vet or seek any form of assistance.  
 
“This dog was left to slowly starve to death in the backyard while his owner resided in the house just metres away, and this shocking case of neglect has rightly caused community outrage. 
 
“We want to send the strong message to every animal owner or person in charge of an animal that you have obligations to that animal, and you will absolutely be held to account if you do not meet the required standards of care.  
 
“If your circumstances change and you are no longer able to care for your animal, you owe it to them to do the right thing and seek help or support.”  
 
During an online court hearing, the dog’s owner was convicted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1984 (POCTAA) for: 
 
 9(1)(f) – failure to provide an animal with sufficient food or drink, 
 9(1)(i) – failure to provide veterinary or other appropriate attention or treatment,and
 10 (1) – committing an act of aggravated cruelty which results in the death or serious disablement of an animal.  
 
The accused was convicted and fined $7,500 as part of an aggregate order and was disqualified from being the person in charge of any animal for a period of seven years.  
 
 RSPCA Victoria relies on the local community to assist with investigations by providing information and even the smallest detail can help. Anyone who has knowledge or information relating animal cruelty is encouraged to contact RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate via www.rspcavic.org/report or by calling 9224 2222.   
  

25 May 2021

Another case of dog neglect highlights the need for earlier pet surrender, says RSPCA Victoria

RSPCA Victoria is urging people to surrender their pets to a reputable rehoming organisation if they are no longer able to care for them, after another case of animal neglect was finalised in court last month.     

After a report was received about an animal in poor body condition, an RSPCA Victoria Inspector attended a property in Black Hill and found ‘Missy’, an emaciated fawn pit bull-cross dog in a backyard. Missy’s ribs, hips and spine were visible and she was deemed to have a body score of one out of five, meaning she was extremely thin. She also had open sores on her paw and in her ears, her tail was bleeding and she had some hair loss over her body.  
 
The resident at the house stated he had a second dog inside the property and brought another fawn pit bull-cross dog out of the house for assessment. The second dog, ‘Justice’ was also skinny, with visible ribs and hair loss down her spine, rear end, rear legs and tail.  Justice also had live fleas running along her legs and was assessed as body score 1.5 out of five.   
 
When questioned, the owner said he didn’t have the money to take them to a vet and stated he had been trying to feed them more so they would gain weight. He was provided with various options relating to the dogs’ immediate care requirements, however elected to surrender both Missy and Justice to RSPCA Victoria.  
 
Upon surrender, both dogs were taken to a local vet who determined they had likely been in poor body condition for at least several weeks. In addition, one dog had skin disease and the other was suffering from an ear infection.   
 
RSPCA Inspectorate Team Leader Karen Collier said it was extremely disheartening to see that neglect continued to account for such a high proportion of cruelty reports and that more pet owners should consider surrendering their animals before letting their health seriously deteriorate.  
 
“It’s heartbreaking to see animals are still not receiving the most basic standard of care,” Ms Collier said.  “Last financial year we received over 2,800 cruelty reports relating to underweight animals and almost 4,000 reports relating to animals with insufficient food and water provided. 
 
“If your circumstances change and you are no longer able to care for your animal, you owe it to them to do the right thing and seek help or support. The earlier you do it the better.  
 
“There are various options available, including payment plans for those suffering from financial hardship. All our shelters across the state also offer judgment-free surrender options, but we need people to reach out before an animal’s condition becomes irreversibly poor.   
 
“If you love your animals but you are unable to meet their needs, you have a responsibility to do the right thing by them.” 
 
During an online court hearing this month, the dogs’ owner was convicted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1984 (POCTAA) for: 
 
•    9(1)(f) – failure to provide an animal with sufficient food or drink, and
•    9(1)(i) – failure to provide veterinary or other appropriate attention or treatment 
 
The accused was convicted and fined $250 as part of an aggregate order and was disqualified from being the person in charge of any dog for a period of five years.  
 
Once in the care of RSPCA Victoria, Justice was found to be a sweet soul who sought out attention and affection. After lots of TLC she gained weight and confidence before being adopted into a loving family. 
 
Despite efforts to rehabilitate Missy, she did not regain body condition and was humanely euthanised. 

RSPCA Victoria relies on the local community to assist with investigations by providing information and even the smallest detail can help. Anyone who has knowledge or information relating animal cruelty is encouraged to contact RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate via www.rspcavic.org/report or by calling 9224 2222.   
 

24 May 2021

Winter hazards for pets to feature in pet first aid course

As the colder weather sets in across the state and people start spending more time indoors, RSPCA Victoria is asking people to remember their pets this winter and ensure they have basic first aid skills for pets in case of an emergency.

Pet first aid skills can mean the difference between life and death so to help pet owners learn vital first aid skills that could save an animal’s life in an emergency, RSPCA Victoria is offering Focused First Aid for Pets with tips about winter hazards and how to deal with them.

Running in a virtual format, the 1.5 hour Focused First Aid for Pets course will be held on Thursday 3 June at 7pm, focused on providing participants with important knowledge to equip them to help a pet in the case of an emergency.

The course will be led by Belinda Marchbank, Education & Learning Officer, at RSPCA Victoria, also a veterinary nurse with many years of experience. Ms Marchbank said the course provides necessary tools for all pet owners.

Focused First Aid for Pets is a great way for pet owners to gain some really important basic pet first aid skills that will provide them with the confidence to act in the best interest of animals in the case of an emergency,” said Ms Marchbank.

There are several winter hazards that often result in an emergency visit to the veterinarian however there are ways to prepare for these hazards.

Ms Marchbank said, “With the colder weather upon us, we’ll be talking about a range of scenarios which are common in the colder months, including how to manage radiant heat burns and what to do if a pet swallows a cooked bone from the traditional winter roast.

“Knowing what to do in the case of these emergency situations, and others, will mean you will be better able to act calmly, do the best for your pet and travel safely to your vet.”

Participants will also hear about CPR, bandaging, how to monitor a pet’s vital signs and react appropriately along with the importance of pet first aid kits and how to improvise with common household items.

RSPCA Victoria’s Focused First Aid for Pets course provides basic knowledge about how to care for a pet that has been injured by a car and the steps to take when travelling to seek veterinary care.

The course includes a question and answer session to ensure participants have the opportunity to seek clarification, expert advice and will also receive a booklet of information, for future reference in the case of an emergency.

The Focused First Aid for Pets virtual course is $49.00 per participant. Online bookings are available now at rspcavictoria.weteachme.com Visit RSPCA Victoria’s website for more information on pet first aid – rspcavic.org

17 May 2021

Victorian Budget 2021/22 includes vital funds to support people and pets impacted by family violence

Pets will no longer be silent victims of family violence, with the Victorian Government’s announcement today that $1.3 million in funding is included in the Victorian Budget 2021/22 to support victim survivors and their pets.

RSPCA Victoria welcomes the announcement of $1.3 million allocated in the Budget to help people fleeing family violence keep their pets safe by linking refuge and accommodation services with vets, animal shelters and boarding facilities, and to provide financial assistance to help victims access basic pet care items such as kennels and cat baskets.

RSPCA Victoria CEO, Dr Liz Walker, says the increased funding recognises the strong link between family violence and animal cruelty, along with the need to support people fleeing violence to keep and care for their pets.

“Pets bring great companionship and comfort – they truly are part of the family and essential that we treat them as such when managing family violence situations,” says Dr Walker.

“Numerous studies show that in households experiencing domestic and family violence, where there is a pet present, there is also a high probability of animal abuse. Not only are animals in these households at risk of experiencing abuse, but we also know that many victims of family violence will delay or avoid leaving unsafe situations for fear of leaving their pets behind.

“Fearing for the welfare of pets or being separated from them when fleeing family violence situations can be an incredibly traumatic experience. For victims, knowing that their animals are safe is one less stressor for them to deal with when seeking refuge for themselves or their children.

“This funding will help bridge the gap between animal and human support services, giving victims of family violence an avenue to both protect themselves and their pets from abuse and by leaving their situation knowing their pet will be well cared for.”

In the 2019-20 financial year, RSPCA Victoria provided emergency boarding for 148 animals, including those belonging to people affected by family violence.

As a result of the Victorian Government’s announcement of funding to support people and pets in family violence situations, RSPCA Victoria looks forward to working more closely with refuge, support and accommodation organisations to provide support to pets and people impacted by family violence.

6 May 2021

De-Sexy Snippets short film competition – RSPCA Victoria and MQFF join forces to promote cat desexing

RSPCA Victoria is joining forces with Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) to launch a new short film competition, De-Sexy Snippets, aiming to communicate the importance of desexing cats and the associated positive impacts on animal welfare.


Cats can breed quickly and from just 4 months old - one un-desexed female cat and her female offspring can produce up to 5,000 cats in seven years. Clinical Director at Greencross Vets, one of Australia’s largest vet networks, Dr. Adam Sternberg, says vets are frequently seeing adult cats that haven’t been desexed, putting a strain on animal welfare. 

“Early age desexing is the key to reducing the number of unwanted cats and kittens in the community and forms an integral part of responsible pet ownership, however, a substantial number of cats are not desexed, with many allowed to roam and reproduce. Roaming cats can have a significant negative impact on local populations of wildlife. They can fight with each other in establishing their own ‘territory’ and can transmit diseases such as feline immunodeficiency virus. Early age desexing reduces the number of unwanted cats wandering the streets, fighting and hunting wildlife.” 

“A key to the success of early age desexing is educating pet parents about responsible pet ownership and why desexing is essential to animal welfare. It is a routine surgical procedure which is simpler and more economical when performed on a kitten under 6 months old with up to 50% less surgical time” said Dr. Sternberg.

Launching today, the De-Sexy Snippets short film competition invites people to create a short film that creatively highlights the need for cats to be desexed. Entrants are encouraged to explore the topic of cat desexing in a funny, interesting, thoughtful or unique way. The winning short film will be screened at MQFF in late 2021. 

RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker hopes budding Victorian film makers will get on board to help spread the message about desexing.  

“We all absorb information differently and for many, visual mediums are an impactful and efficient way to provide important messages.  Therefore, I believe that by highlighting the issues and challenges of cat desexing through film, we can better tell the story about why cat desexing is paramount when it comes to positively impacting cat welfare. 

“By generating engaging content that creatively delivers important information via an enjoyable medium, we hope to reach more people and reinforce the importance of desexing cats,” Dr Walker said. 

The competition invites people to submit a written concept for a short film highlighting the importance of cat desexing.  Concepts will be reviewed by a panel of experts and personalities who will select three concepts, each of which will be allocated $5000 for production. The three films will be available for viewing and online voting in the lead up to the MQFF and the winning film with be aired during this year’s festival and will be allocated a further $5000 prize money.

Submissions to the De-Sexy Snippets short film competition can be provided in any medium including film, animation or stop motion.  All films must be appropriate to screen to a broad audience, up to the equivalent M rating, with a maximum length of 30 seconds.  The deadline for all concept submissions is Sunday 18 July with finalists to be announced in August.

RSPCA Victoria believes the De-Sexy Snippets short film competition has the potential to form part of an important messaging toolkit used to positively impact cat welfare in Victoria.

There are an estimated 3.9 million owned cats in Australia; cats are the second most popular pet and 29% of households own a cat (RSPCA Australia 2019). 

For additional information visit rspcavic.org/mqff.

28 April 2021

Response to Racing Victoria reports re injuries and fatalities

RSPCA Victoria is considering reports released by Racing Victoria today regarding the death of Irish horse Anthony Van Dyck after last year’s Melbourne Cup and broader measures to increase the safety of international racehorses and riders.

“There are many animal welfare concerns inherent in thoroughbred racing, including injuries and deaths from training and racing. There has been a lack of transparency to date around injury rates in racing and factors that contribute to them. The RSPCA believes there must be complete transparency on injuries, thorough analysis of contributing factors and a comprehensive plan and investment made to address the gaps so that racing can be safe for both horses and riders – at all tracks around the country,” said Dr Liz Walker, CEO of RSPCA Victoria.

"We’re pleased to see Racing Victoria’s Board has endorsed 41 recommendations to increase the welfare and safety of visiting international horses, along with local horses who race in the Melbourne Cup. Recommendations for enhanced vet screening, education for international trainers and owners, and regular clinical checks for horses once they are in Australia are all steps in the right direction. We particularly support the recommendation for all international horses to have a mandatory CT scan prior to every race start, and for them to only be permitted to have one race start in the lead up to the Melbourne Cup to reduce the risk of injury.

“When it comes to the Cup, with six horses dying in the past seven years, the frequency of catastrophic injury stands out and is of grave concern. Given the concerning history of incidents, we fully endorse the recommendation for all horses running – whether international or local – to have a mandatory CT scan prior to starting and a vet check the day before.

“Like many, we at RSPCA Victoria were distressed by the death of Anthony Van Dyck after he sustained an injury on course during the 2020 Melbourne Cup. The report released today indicates that a mandatory CT scan prior to the race would likely have identified a pre-fracture, and the outcome for that horse may have been different.

“Greater transparency and reporting in racing is absolutely critical, particularly around injuries, fatalities and other animal welfare concerns such as the number of horses entering and exiting the industry. RSPCA Victoria urges Racing Victoria to follow through with the recommendations outlined in today’s reports and to continue to be transparent with stakeholders by providing updates as the recommendations are implemented. Transparency around progress and outcomes will help reassure the community that the welfare and safety of racehorses is being appropriately prioritised,” said Dr Walker.

20 April 2021

RSPCA Victoria calls for information on collapsed carriage horse

RSPCA Victoria is urgently calling on the public to come forward with information relating to a carriage horse that collapsed and died in North Melbourne on the morning of Sunday March 21st 2021.

RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate launched an investigation into the incident after receiving a related cruelty report on the evening of March 21st. However, based on very little detail provided via the report, the Inspectorate is appealing to the public for additional information.

Karen Collier, RSPCA Victoria, Inspectorate Team Leader – North West Region, said the case has been extremely difficult to progress due to lack of information provided.

“The caller only saw the horse after it had collapsed and was being loaded into a vehicle and there were no identifying features given as to the identity of the carriage driver or company involved” says Ms Collier.

“We have been unable to identify the carriage driver or the carriage business in question. Without this crucial information our investigation is seriously impeded meaning a delay to uncovering the truth behind the death of the horse.

“Anyone with information about any horse drawn carriages in the area on the day of the incident is encouraged to come forward and report the details, no matter how insignificant they may seem.

“Anyone who saw a carriage horse on the day of the incident, which appeared to be struggling or showing physical ailment is urged to make a report to RSPCA Victoria to assist in our investigation.

“Most importantly any witnesses who can attest to details relating to this horse’s death, or may have photographic or video evidence, relevant names, a description of the horse or the name of the horse drawn carriage business, are asked to come forward as soon as possible,” said Ms Collier.

RSPCA Australia is opposed to the use of any animal for the purpose of work, or training associated with such use, where injury, pain, suffering or distress is likely to be caused.

RSPCA Victoria relies on the local community to assist with investigations by providing information and even the smallest detail can help. Anyone who witnessed the incident, or saw the horse prior to the incident, is encouraged to contact RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate via www.rspcavic.org/report or by calling 9224 2222.

14 April 2021

RSPCA Victoria disappointed in last minute changes to duck hunting season arrangements

RSPCA Victoria is disappointed by the announcement to ease restrictions to the 2021 duck hunting season based on initial data released from a new aerial pilot survey estimating the total population of ducks in Victoria.


Modifications have been made to the 2021 duck hunting season after data was released today from a pilot survey conducted by the Game Management Authority (GMA) and the Arthur Rylah Institute in November 2020. 

The pilot survey was a trial established by the GMA to estimate the state-wide abundance of game duck species to develop an adaptive harvest management framework. 

Changes include increasing the bag limit (number of birds able to be shot per day per hunter) from two to five ducks and removing the geographic restrictions that limited where Chestnut Teal and Grey Teal species can be hunted. 

“We are very concerned that data from a trial pilot survey has been used to make changes to restrictions imposed on this year’s season. Particularly considering the pilot’s own report outlines several recommendations for changes, modifications, and improvements to the survey’s methodology. The need for these modifications suggests that the survey data is not as rigorous as it could be” says Dr Liz Walker, CEO of RSPCA Victoria. 

“It is truly disheartening to see that this pilot program has overridden the previous decision to heavily restrict the season based on genuine concerns for duck species abundance in Victoria.

“RSPCA Victoria believes duck hunting is inherently cruel and causes unnecessary pain, suffering, injury and death. We remain very concerned at the high wounding rate and lack of knowledge on how to effectively dispatch a downed duck. Australian studies show approximately 26% of birds shot with a shotgun will be wounded or maimed. The likely outcome for wounded, maimed or crippled birds is a slow and painful death.

“Comparing this wounding rate of 26% with the reported total harvest figure of 238,666 from the 2019 season (as the 2020 season was impacted by COVID-19), we estimate that over 62,000 ducks were wounded and not killed outright in the 2019 season,” said Dr Walker. 

The Aerial Survey of Wetland Birds in Eastern Australia, which first began in 1983, provides the most valuable long-term objective data about waterbird abundance in Australia. In 2020, the survey continued to show long-term significant declines in the breeding index, total abundance and wetland area index. Breeding abundance and breeding species richness had also decreased considerably compared with the previous year, with only three species recorded breeding.

Duck hunting is banned in all Australian states and territories except South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Victoria. RSPCA Victoria would like to see duck hunting banned in Victoria due to the inevitable pain and suffering caused. 

The Victorian Government announced that the duck hunting season will begin on Wednesday 26 May, 2021 and last 20 days. 

9 April 2021

Help RSPCA Victoria adopt 200 cats and 50 rabbits - Meows the Time, Hop to it!

RSPCA Victoria shelters across the state are saying Meows the Time for those thinking about adopting an animal, calling upon Victorians to Hop to It. RSPCA Victoria is aiming to find loving homes for 200 cats and 50 rabbits over the coming weeks and needs the help of Victorians to reach these goals.

Meows the Time, Hop to It will see adoption fees for all adult cats and rabbits reduced to $20, as the RSPCA has found itself inundated by twitching noses and long whiskers, all looking for families to call their own.

Head of Operations, Tanya Drakoupolos, says that RSPCA Victoria hopes the campaign will inspire animal lovers and encourage those thinking about adding a cat or rabbit to their household to take advantage of the $20 adoption fees while it lasts.

“Cats and rabbits are sometimes a little under-appreciated, but they make the best pets. They are affectionate, great company and full of personality. All they want is to find a home where they can love and be loved,” said Ms Drakopoulos.

“Our goal is to find Victorian homes for 200 of our cats and 50 of our rabbits. All six of our shelters will be calling upon their communities for support and to spread the word about the Meows the Time, Hop to It adoption campaign.”

“We have high numbers of cats and rabbits at the moment, therefore if you are considering a new pet, I encourage you to adopt a cat or rabbit. If you haven’t considered them before, I can guarantee you will be surprised at the amount of love and companionship they provide.”

While RSPCA Victoria cares for animals as long as they require it, we know that the best place for them is in a loving home environment. Adoption promotions like Meows the Time, Hop to It help reduce the length of stay in the shelter and find them homes faster.

All cats and rabbits adopted from RSPCA Victoria are desexed, microchipped and vaccinated to ensure they are ready to start a happy new life.

The fee for an adult cat is usually $120 and the fee for rabbits $86. For additional information visit www.rspcavic.org/adoption.

 

1 April 2021

Millions of paws to walk 30 minutes a day for the month of May

RSPCA Victoria is encouraging Victorians to join thousands of other Australians and their pooches to hit the pavement this May, to raise funds for the RSPCA. Registrations are open via www.millionpawswalk.com.au

The RSPCA’s Million Paws Walk is an annual highlight for dog lovers across the country where people and their canine friends walk together to raise funds to support the thousands of animals that need the RSPCA’s help every year.

In response to ongoing developments of COVID-19, RSPCA Victoria has adapted the much-loved national dog walking event for 2021. Replacing organised community events and running in a revised event format, Million Paws Walk: Walk This May is asking Victorian dog owners to hit the pavement for 30 minutes a day for the month of May to raise funds to fight animal cruelty.

Million Paws Walk – Walk this May runs nationally and while social distancing is a national priority, Australia’s super pooches still need enrichment and exercise. This year in Victoria, RSPCA is asking supporters to safely take their dogs for a walk in their neighbourhood or their own backyard, as way of continuing the tradition of walking in May to raise funds for RSPCA.

RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker hopes Victorians will take the opportunity to celebrate their four-legged friends by walking to fundraise for animals in need.

“The past year has highlighted for many of us the invaluable comfort and companionship our pets provide. However, there are many animals that haven’t yet found caring forever homes. It’s our job at RSPCA Victoria to care for, protect and find homes for the many animals in need and we rely on community support to do this.”

“I encourage all Victorians to take on the challenge and register to Walk this May with the knowledge they will be helping other animals find their perfect companion,” says Dr Walker.

Participants are encouraged to record all their dog walks using the ‘Pawdometre’ on the Million Paws Walk website, as well as fundraise in the lead up to the event. Money raised from online fundraising and merchandise sales will be used to support RSPCA Victoria’s work within the community, including caring for more than 20,000 animals that come through its shelters each year.

RSPCA Ambassador Tim Campbell has hosted the Million Paws Walk at Albert Park for 12 consecutive years and while he won’t be on stage at Albert Park this year, he’ll be walking his RSPCA rescue dog, Oscar, in acknowledgement of the many animals in need across the state.

“It’s more important than ever that we keep on walking our four-legged friends this year. While the pandemic has impacted our lives in many ways, we still have a responsibility to our pets and all the animals in our community so while I walk Oscar this May, I’ll be thinking of all the animals we’ll be helping RSPCA Victoria to care for and rehome,” said Tim.

For additional information visit www.millionpawswalk.com.au.

 

9 April 2021

Help RSPCA Victoria adopt 200 cats and 50 rabbits - Meows the Time, Hop to it!

RSPCA Victoria is encouraging Victorians to join thousands of other Australians and their pooches to hit the pavement this May, to raise funds for the RSPCA. Registrations are open via www.millionpawswalk.com.au

The RSPCA’s Million Paws Walk is an annual highlight for dog lovers across the country where people and their canine friends walk together to raise funds to support the thousands of animals that need the RSPCA’s help every year.

In response to ongoing developments of COVID-19, RSPCA Victoria has adapted the much-loved national dog walking event for 2021. Replacing organised community events and running in a revised event format, Million Paws Walk: Walk This May is asking Victorian dog owners to hit the pavement for 30 minutes a day for the month of May to raise funds to fight animal cruelty.

Million Paws Walk – Walk this May runs nationally and while social distancing is a national priority, Australia’s super pooches still need enrichment and exercise. This year in Victoria, RSPCA is asking supporters to safely take their dogs for a walk in their neighbourhood or their own backyard, as way of continuing the tradition of walking in May to raise funds for RSPCA.

RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker hopes Victorians will take the opportunity to celebrate their four-legged friends by walking to fundraise for animals in need.

“The past year has highlighted for many of us the invaluable comfort and companionship our pets provide. However, there are many animals that haven’t yet found caring forever homes. It’s our job at RSPCA Victoria to care for, protect and find homes for the many animals in need and we rely on community support to do this.”

“I encourage all Victorians to take on the challenge and register to Walk this May with the knowledge they will be helping other animals find their perfect companion,” says Dr Walker.

Participants are encouraged to record all their dog walks using the ‘Pawdometre’ on the Million Paws Walk website, as well as fundraise in the lead up to the event. Money raised from online fundraising and merchandise sales will be used to support RSPCA Victoria’s work within the community, including caring for more than 20,000 animals that come through its shelters each year.

RSPCA Ambassador Tim Campbell has hosted the Million Paws Walk at Albert Park for 12 consecutive years and while he won’t be on stage at Albert Park this year, he’ll be walking his RSPCA rescue dog, Oscar, in acknowledgement of the many animals in need across the state.

“It’s more important than ever that we keep on walking our four-legged friends this year. While the pandemic has impacted our lives in many ways, we still have a responsibility to our pets and all the animals in our community so while I walk Oscar this May, I’ll be thinking of all the animals we’ll be helping RSPCA Victoria to care for and rehome,” said Tim.

For additional information visit www.millionpawswalk.com.au.

 

31 March 2021

Telling Creature Tales, RSPCA Victoria launches podcast series

In celebration of Australia’s pets, Victoria’s most top of mind animal welfare organisation, RSPCA Victoria is expanding the pet care conversation through the inaugural launch of its Creature Tales podcast series, launching today.

A proud supporter of RSPCA Victoria and one of Australia’s biggest podcast distributors, iHeart Radio will assist in spreading the Creature Tales stories to promote the importance of animals in our world.

Launching with fortnightly episodes covering topics of interest to all animal loving Australians, the series includes useful content on general pet health, including behaviour training and how to manage the mental health of pets. Listeners will also hear from RSPCA Inspectors and a variety of experts to educate Australians on all things pet care and animal welfare.

Dr Liz Walker, CEO, RSPCA Victoria says the new podcast series is another tool in RSPCA Victoria’s education kit to help people care for their animals and tackle some lesser-known topics such PTSD and dementia in dogs and how to be an eco-friendly pet parent.

“We’re thrilled to launch Creature Tales, as we see it as another way we can support people to better understand how to care for their pets.

“Research in the last few decades is proving what we’ve always known anecdotally – pets aren’t just good, they’re actually good for us. We now know that pets can help improve our quality of life including reducing stress, improving health and providing companionship. So it’s important that we give back to our pets and provide them with the best level of care possible, said Dr Walker.

Australia has one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world with over 29 million pets nationally. This equates to approximately 61% of households including a pet where Dogs are the most common (40%) followed by cats (27%).

These figures illustrate how important animals are in Australian culture however it’s not just cats and dogs that Australians include in their families. The Creature Tales podcast series will cover other companion animals such as horses, rabbits and guinea pigs, and will also touch on relevant wildlife topics.

Delivered in a friendly and engaging interview format and hosted by RSPCA Victoria’s Alex Keefe, familiar to many as a TV news journalist, Creature Tales covers an array of engaging and sometimes quirky topics. While informal in its approach, the series provides listeners with relevant information about how to best care for pets.

A curation of original content from RSPCA Victoria and other animal welfare experts, the information provided through the podcasts series is of an educational nature with a storytelling angle. Creature Tales provides informative hints and tips to help Australians better care for their pets and understand the fundamentals of animal welfare.

Interviews in the first series include;
•   RSPCA Victoria’s Veterinary Behaviourist, Dr Gabrielle Carter, on pet mental health
•   Peter Alexander, RSPCA ambassador and why he uses his profile to promote welfare
•   Jess Collins, RSPCA Victoria Animal Attendant speaking about rabbits and guinea pigs
•   Sr Inspector, Major Investigations Team, RSPCA Victoria, Steve Cook, on the importance of the inspectorate
•   Education & Learning Officer at RSPCA Victoria, Jenny Haber on common cat issues
•   Dr Rupert Baker, RSPCA Improvement Manager on the topic of Black Saturday and the 2020 bushfires
•   Dr Natalie Rourke, Head Vet at Werribee Open Range Zoo, regarding the Koala Hospital
•   Dr Steph Stubbe, RSPCA Veterinarian and founder of AniPal, about eco-friendly pet ownership

RSPCA Victoria’s Creature Tales is available via iHeart Radio, Apple, Google Podcasts and Spotify or wherever you like to listen.

Find out more at www.rspcavic.org/creaturetales.

 

26 March 2021

RSPCA Victoria welcomes students back to the barn for school holidays

RSPCA Victoria is opening the doors to its barn to welcome students back to its much-loved School Holiday Program at the Burwood East site for the first time in over a year. The program will run from Tuesday, 6 April to Friday, 16 April with a blended model of in-person and interactive virtual sessions.

The RSPCA Victoria School Holiday Program is most suited to primary-school students between five and 12 years of age. Session topics vary from dog body language, the secret life of hens, and what it takes to be an RSPCA Inspector.

Education and Learning Officer, Emily Constantine, said after a year of live-streaming the team is excited to have students back on site for a truly immersive experience and the animals have missed the interaction too.

“When you bring a group of young, passionate animal lovers together, magical things happen. The smiles on the kids’ faces are the best part of our day; for many of them it’s the first time they’ve met farm animals such as cows, goats and hens up close,” says Ms Constantine.

“The School Holiday Program is a really special part of our education offering, even in a virtual environment. During COVID-19 restrictions we used some amazing technology that brought the animals right into the students’ homes. It was so successful we decided to keep the virtual sessions as part of the program.

“A blended model, with half our sessions in-person and the other half via Zoom, means we can reach more children across the state, including those unable to travel to Burwood East to visit the education barn.”

The face-to-face sessions run from 9:30am to 3.00pm and students will be treated to jam-packed days full of animal fun, interacting with and learning all about the animals that live in and around the RSPCA.

The Zoom sessions will run from 10:30am to 11:30am and students will participate in a live-stream from the barn to meet animals, hear their rescue stories and find out what’s involved in caring for them. The live chat function allows students to ask questions of the experts in real time. These interactive sessions will be accompanied by resources to keep the kids entertained during the holidays.

 

24 March 2021

RSPCA Victoria remains disappointed by lack of basic care for animals after another court case is finalised

RSPCA Victoria is again imploring the community to commit to better standards of care for animals, after another case of neglect, involving a puppy, was finalised in court this month.

After a report was received about animals in poor living conditions, RSPCA Inspectors attended a property in Echuca and found a young Kelpie Doberman cross dog in poor body condition, her ribs and spine protruding.

The resident at the house stated she was not the owner of the dog, but had been left in charge of the animal for a number of weeks while the owner was travelling interstate.

The owner was contacted and provided with various options relating to the puppy’s immediate care requirements, however elected to surrender ‘Jedda’ to RSPCA Victoria.

Upon surrender, the puppy was taken to a local vet who determined she was emaciated and dehydrated. Results from blood tests subsequently confirmed there were no underlying health reasons for the puppy’s emaciated condition, and that the cause of her condition was simply lack of adequate nutrition for multiple weeks. Weighing in at only 3.36kg, Jedda was placed on fluids and hospitalised overnight for monitoring.

The following day Jedda was transported to the RSPCA Burwood clinic where she received ongoing care and assessment. Jedda was put on a feeding plan and placed in foster care to help her recover in a loving environment.

Jedda thrived in foster care and within eight days her weight had increased by 62% to 5.44kg.
Inspectorate Team Leader Karen Collier said it was extremely frustrating to see that neglect continued to account for such a high proportion of cruelty reports.

“It’s heartbreaking to see animals are still not receiving the most basic standard of care,” Ms Collier said.

“Last financial year we received almost 4,000 cruelty reports relating to animals with insufficient food and water provided, and over 2,800 reports relating to underweight animals.

“Our Inspectors are passionate about education and work hard to help the community provide the best level of care for their animals, but there is still an onus on people to be proactive and reach out for assistance.

“There is no excuse for an animal to be in the condition in which Jedda was found, particularly a young puppy.”

During an online court hearing this month, the person in charge of Jedda was convicted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1984 (POCTAA) for:

• 9(1)(f) – failure to provide an animal with sufficient food or drink, and
• 9(1)(i) – failure to provide veterinary or other appropriate attention or treatment.

The accused was fined $1,500 and ordered to pay costs of $207.10. She was also disqualified from being the person in charge of any dog for a period of five years.

Jedda gained weight and confidence in foster care and has since been adopted into a loving family where she has been renamed ‘Juno’.

Please see photos of ‘Juno’ at the time of rescue and now, after adoption at https://we.tl/t-KdZpL9Y0tQ.

 

3 March 2021

RSPCA Victoria commends parliamentary decision to include companion animals in family violence legislation

In a win for animal welfare, pets will now be recognised as victims of family violence as an Animal Justice Party motion proposing changes to Victoria’s family violence laws passed unanimously in Parliament today.

The motion has called on the government to review the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 to recognise that companion animals are affected by family violence. The motion also called for more funding to support victim survivors of family violence, including for the care of animals, and removing barriers for victims who are trying to escape abusive households but don’t want to leave their pet behind.

RSPCA Victoria CEO, Dr Liz Walker, said the link between family violence and animal abuse was well-documented, both in research and in the experience of RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectors.

“Numerous studies have shown that in households experiencing domestic violence and abuse, there is also a high probability of animal abuse. We know that cruelty to animals is a strong marker for other forms of violence, so we are very supportive of any improvements to legislation that works to better protect both people and animals in these situations,” says Dr Walker.

“While the proposed changes aim to better protect animals in violent homes, importantly, they also recognise that victims often do not leave abusive situations for fear of abandoning their animals. Pets are an important part of the family, so making it easier for victims to leave unsafe situations with their pets is a huge step forward.”

In the 2019-20 financial year, RSPCA Victoria provided emergency boarding for 148 animals, including those belonging to people affected by family violence.

“RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectors investigate thousands of animal cruelty reports every year and often see that where animal abuse exists, so does family violence. Our Inspectors are trained to identify signs of abuse and work closely to refer these cases to relevant social services, Victoria Police and family violence agencies.

“We hope that these changes will encourage further cross-agency collaboration, to identify signs of animal abuse before it is reported to us. Veterinarians, community service workers and other frontline staff should be trained and supported to identify and report suspected cases of animal cruelty.”

RSPCA Victoria believes that key agencies need to be empowered to create more opportunities for companion animals to be accommodated at refuge centres and other emergency housing facilities. The RSPCA also believes that relevant state and territory legislation should allow for the inclusion of companion animals in violence intervention/restraining orders.

 

3 March 2021

RSPCA Victoria says pets need vaccines too

RSPCA Victoria is urging pet owners not to delay their pets’ vaccinations any further after last year’s COVID shutdown caused many people to cancel their animals’ annual vet checks.

Dr Emma Bronts, RSPCA Victoria’s Chief Veterinarian, says the RSPCA’s Burwood vet clinic has seen a reduction from 344 appointments to 264 appointments a week, creating concern that pets may be missing out on their essential vaccinations as owners may not have rescheduled cancelled appointments from last year.

“With all the discussion about vaccines at the moment, let’s ensure our pets don’t get left out of the conversation. Vaccinations are essential to protect your pet from a number of serious and life-threatening diseases. It is the single most important way to ensure your pet has a long and healthy life,” says Dr Bronts.

During the COVID-19 lockdown last year, many people had to cancel their pets’ routine check-ups with vet clinics only open for essential and emergency appointments. During an annual vet check, your pet will receive any necessary vaccinations and boosters, as well as a physical exam and any required tests or treatments to ensure they are fit and well.

“Many Victorians delayed their routine heath appointments last year, like the dentist or the optometrist. We know we must prioritise our health this year, and it should be the same for your pet. At RSPCA Victoria clinics, we are reaching out to clients to remind them of their pets’ appointments they may have cancelled during the pandemic lockdown.

“It can be easy to forget when there is nothing obviously wrong with your animal, but yearly checks are an essential part of responsible pet ownership. Without vaccinations your pet becomes vulnerable to a whole host of diseases that may endanger their life. Whether you own a dog, cat, rabbit or horse, booking them in for a vaccination should be number one priority this year.”

Other ways to protect your pet from disease include regularly washing your hands when feeding or interacting with your pet, providing routine flea and worming treatment and ensuring they have a balanced diet.

For cats, RSPCA Victoria encourages owners to keep them indoors, or in a contained outdoor area at all times. Dogs should avoid drinking from communal water bowls and nosing through garbage.

To book a vaccination appointment at an RSPCA Victoria vet clinic, visit www.rspcavic.org/clinic.
 

 

1 March 2021

Call for information on illegal sales of animals in public places

RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations Team is currently seeking information from the public regarding the alleged sale of puppies in public places. RSPCA Victoria Inspectors are investigating two separate alleged brokers and breeders – one selling puppies in public in the Mitchell Shire Council, Macedon Ranges Shire Council and Whittlesea Council areas, the other in the Colac Otway Shire area.

It is alleged the puppies were being sold from public areas near schools, service stations and carparks. The breeds included Bull Terriers, Great Danes and Kelpies, some of which allegedly required veterinary treatment soon after purchase.

The sale of animals in public places such as parks, roadsides and car parks is illegal. Members of the public who may have information relating to the sale of puppies in these areas are urged to contact RSPCA Victoria directly as soon as possible.

The sale of animals in public places became illegal with the Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farms and Pet Shops) Act 2017, which introduced a range of amendments to the Domestic Animals Act 1994. These amendments deliver on the Victorian Government's election commitment to reform the state’s dog breeding and pet shop industries and better regulate the sale of dogs and cats.

The Domestic Animals Act 1994 specifies that dogs and cats must be sold from either a registered domestic animal business, from a private residence or sold at a place where an animal sale permit is in place.

RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate Team Leader – Major Investigations, Lisa Calleja, said that compared to previous years, a higher number of reports related to the sale of animals in public places had been received during the pandemic.

“High demand for pets during the pandemic meant many Victorians sought alternate sales channels and unknowingly purchased animals from illegal businesses that sell animals from public places to hide the location of their operations.

“The subjects of RSPCA Victoria investigations are often sophisticated networks that use covert methods so our Inspectorate team relies on the public for information that may assist with investigations.

“Significant investigations and successful prosecutions do eventuate as a direct result of tip offs from the public so we encourage anyone with information to make a report. Sometimes things that may seem insignificant can be the missing element in an investigation,” stated Ms Calleja.

Penalties can apply for individuals or body corporates who sell dogs and cats from a public place. Individuals could face a maximum penalty in court of $4,835, while body corporates could face a maximum penalty of $24,178.

RSPCA Victoria recommends people looking to become a pet owner read the RSPCA Smart Puppy and Dog Buyer's Guide and RSPCA Cat and Kitten Buyer’s Guide, which provides useful guideless and tips for finding a reputable breeder. These include:

? visiting the place where the puppy or kitten was born;
? meeting the mother dog or cat (and father if possible) and make sure they’re happy and healthy; and
? checking the breeder provides a high standard of care and living conditions for all their animals.

All reports made to RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations Team must be lodged via www.rspcavic.org/services/tip-off or by calling 9224 2222. Facebook messages and emails through unofficial channels do not constitute an official cruelty report. All details, no matter how insignificant they may seem, are welcome and all tip offs are reviewed

 

22 February 2021

AFLW star Gab Pound joins RSPCA Victoria as ambassador

Animal lover and AFLW Carlton player, Gab Pound, has joined RSPCA Victoria as the latest ambassador for all creatures great and small.

After adopting her greyhound cross, Jessie, from an RSPCA Victoria shelter two years ago, Gab is a long-time supporter of the charity and its work to end all cruelty to all animals. With a strong passion for education, Gab’s focus as an ambassador will be on the RSPCA Victoria education programs that promote good animal welfare to young people around the state.

Gab has been with Carlton Football Club for four years now and has seen the growth of AFLW from its early days. When Gab considered welcoming a new pet into her busy life as an athlete, the decision to adopt a dog from RSPCA Victoria was an easy choice.

“Adopting Jessie has been adventurous, fulfilling and loving. I highly respect the work that RSPCA Victoria puts into the love and care of animals. I’m excited to be part of such a great organisation and look forward to learning and teaching others about animal care,” said Ms Pound.

“Animals have so much love to give and I feel like we have the opportunity to give more back to them.”

RSPCA Victoria’s Education and Learning Manager, Belinda Marchbank, says that Gab’s interest in education is an exciting opportunity for the charity.

“Interacting with and learning about animals from an early age improves young people’s compassion, empathy and understanding. The research shows that positive interaction with animals can benefit social and emotional growth of children, and it ensures the next generation has a good grasp on good animal welfare,” says Ms Marchbank.

“We are so excited to have Gab onboard to help impart this knowledge to Victorian children. As an elite athlete, Gab is a role model for many young people and will make a real impact as an ambassador for RSPCA Victoria in the community.

“Gab understands the role that animals play in our lives in helping to reduce stress and build resilience – both key traits for successful sportspeople. We are extremely lucky to have her, and her dog Jessie, as part of the RSPCA Victoria family!”

 

18 February 2021

Victorians to find big love in small animals

Victorians who spent a lonely Valentine’s Day need look no further, RSPCA Victoria says ‘find some bunny to love’ and adopt a rabbit or guinea pig during the small animal adoption drive – Small Animal Big Love. 


With 138 rabbits and guinea pigs in care, RSPCA Victoria is aiming to rehome as many small animals as possible.  From 22nd – 28th February, the adoption fees for rabbits and guinea pigs will be reduced from $68 to $20 at RSPCA Victoria’s Burwood and Pearcedale shelters. 

RSPCA Victoria’s Acting Head of Customer Experiences and Services, Tanya Drakopoulos, says there is more to rabbits and guinea pigs than people might think. 

“They may be small, but rabbits and guinea pigs are colourful characters with big personalities. They have just as much love to give as cats and dogs, if their owners focus on building a strong bond and caring for them properly by giving them all they need for an abundant life,” said Ms Drakopoulos. 

“Sadly, many people buy rabbits and guinea pigs under the guise that they are low maintenance pets, which is simply not true. They are naturally active, social, curious and intelligent animals who require the same level of care as a cat or a dog.

In the 2019/20 financial year, 466 rabbits and 236 guinea pigs were surrendered to RSPCA Victoria Animal Care Centres. The most common reason reported by owners for surrender was not having enough time to care for the animal.

“We see a lot of rabbits and guinea pigs come through our Inspectorate because people do not invest the time or energy that is needed for a pet. Just because they are little doesn’t mean they deserve any less love. 

“Spending quality time with your rabbit or guinea pig is one of the best ways to build bonds and have a meaningful relationship with these special animals. Equally important is ensuring they have all of the fundamental freedoms to live a happy and healthy life including adequate space, food, enrichment, and the company of other desexed rabbits or guinea pigs.”

In 2020, only eight rabbits and guinea pigs that came into RSPCA Victoria shelters were reclaimed by their owners. The Small Animal, Big Love campaign encourages people to learn more about these curious creatures and appreciate them as wonderful pets. 

Not only do rabbits and guinea pigs provide valuable companionship and make wonderful pets, they are the perfect option for those who live in an apartment or home with little or no yard space.

Did you know?
Rabbits love to play with toys
Rabbits can be litter trained, just like cats. 
Rabbits thrive on an indoor lifestyle 
While rabbits are incredibly social they are most active during the morning and evening, which makes them the perfect pet for those who maintain a busy lifestyle during the day
Guinea pigs are friendly and easily tamed
Guinea pigs require companionship from other guinea pigs
Guinea pigs need covered sleeping areas with privacy from other animals
Guinea pigs cannot make Vitamin C and need to eat fresh greens every day.

All rabbits and guinea pigs adopted from RSPCA Victoria are health checked, microchipped, vaccinated and desexed.  

For additional information about how to care for rabbits and guinea pigs, download RSPCA’s small animal care handbook

 

 

06 February 2021

Duck season proceeds despite concerns and community opposition

RSPCA Victoria is disappointed the Victorian Government has announced a 2021 duck hunting season and is urging it to review its decision due to animal welfare concerns, declining waterbird abundance, and a lack of support within the community. 

The shortened season will run for 20 days starting Wednesday, 26 May 2021, with a bag limit of two ducks per day. Out of the eight game species in Victoria, the Grey Teal and Chestnut Teal have restricted hunting areas, while the Blue-winged Shoveler cannot be hunted at all this season. 

The announcement of a modified season comes after RSPCA Victoria and other organisations recommended the season be cancelled. Duck hunting is banned in all Australian states and territories except South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Victoria, and the Victorian Labor Party passed a motion to review its policy on duck hunting at its 2019 state conference. 


RSPCA Australia is opposed to the recreational hunting of any animal for sport due to the inherent and unnecessary injury, pain, suffering, distress or death to the animals involved. 

RSPCA Victoria’s CEO, Dr Liz Walker, says there are multiple, evidence-based reasons why the 2021 season should not proceed, including concerns around cruelty including duck wounding rates and declines in waterbird populations. 

“Duck hunting results in a substantial number of ducks being wounded, with some surviving, whilst others will suffer before eventually dying. Australian studies show approximately 26% of birds shot with a shotgun will be wounded or maimed. The likely outcome for wounded, maimed or crippled birds is a slow and painful death. 

“Comparing this wounding rate of 26% with the reported total harvest figure of 238,666 from the 2019 season (as the 2020 season was impacted by COVID-19), we estimate that over 62,000 ducks were wounded and not killed outright in the 2019 season. This amount of wounding is unacceptably high and cannot be tolerated,” said Dr Walker. 

Of further concern, survey findings from the GMA’s Summary report of hunters’ knowledge show that only 37% of duck hunters could answer questions correctly that related to minimising wounding. Further to this 87% were not able to correctly answer how to dispatch downed ducks. 

RSPCA Victoria continues to be concerned by the data provided in the Aerial Survey of Wetland Birds in Eastern Australia each year, showing long-term significant declines in the breeding index, total abundance and wetland area index. 

Breeding abundance and breeding species richness has decreased considerably in 2020 when compared with the previous year, with only three species recorded breeding - the sixth lowest on record and black swans, which are not a game species, comprised 81% of all records. This indicates that the majority of game species aren’t breeding which contributes to long term decline. 

All game species abundance was well below long term averages, with 5 out of 8 game species showing significant long-term declines. Four of the five species that together made up 92% of game species harvested in 2020; the Pacific Black Duck, Australian Wood Duck, Grey Teal and Mountain Duck continue to show long term declines in their abundance. Decreased breeding species richness and long term declines in abundance illustrate an alarming trajectory for future duck populations and raises significant concern around their sustainability. 

 

While the amount of available habitat has slightly improved from 2019 (which was the lowest on record), this has not resulted in an increase in waterbird abundance, breeding or breeding species richness. While some main water storage levels, such as the Murray River Basin, have experienced an increase in 2020, this is not sufficient to promote sustainable waterbird populations. Additionally, southern parts of Australia are entering into their drier season so summer rainfall will not relieve long-term rainfall deficits. 

“We acknowledge that duck hunting is currently lawful, so while it continues, RSPCA Victoria strongly recommends implementing interventions to reduce the wounding rate, improve hunter education on issues such as humanely dispatching downed ducks, making the Shotgunning Education Program mandatory and the introduction of an annual waterfowl identification test to reduce the negative welfare impacts for ducks and off-target species,” said Dr Walker. 

“We are disappointed that our recommendation to cancel the 2021 duck hunting season was not heeded. Another season will cause unnecessary injury, pain, suffering and death for hundreds of thousands of birds and contribute to the ongoing decline of our waterbird population.” 

 

01 February 2021

Victorians encouraged to Discover Ducks this World Wetlands Day

This World Wetlands Day, RSPCA Victoria is encouraging animal lovers to visit their local wetlands to discover the ducks and other native birdlife living in some of Victoria’s greatest natural treasures.

World Wetlands Day is an initiative that promotes the awareness and protection of significant wetlands that are vital bird breeding and feeding sites.

RSPCA Victoria is joining the cause in encouraging Victorians to explore wetlands through their collaboration with BirdLife Australia called Discover Ducks, an education campaign designed to build an affection and appreciation for the native ducks that call Victoria home.

“Victoria’s wetlands are untapped treasures, full of unique wildlife just waiting to be discovered and explored. With waterbird abundance and breeding at an all-time low, there’s never been a more important time for Victorians to embrace their local wetlands and understand what makes these places so special,” said Ms Mhairi Roberts, Policy and Advocacy Manager at RSPCA Victoria.

“Victoria is home to some very special wetlands. The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty that provides a framework for conserving the biological diversity of the world’s wetlands. Victoria is home to 12 Ramsar-listed wetlands, which support 499 of our threatened native species, including ducks.”

“Our wetlands are a particularly good place for people to observe our native duck-life, which often goes unappreciated. Ducks are interesting and unique creatures and we encourage people to really take the time to get to know them. You might be surprised by what you learn!”

Duck facts – All Australian ducks are unique, here are some of their quirkiest facts!
• Australian Wood Duck – Monogamous, family oriented and nests in trees
• Australian Shelduck – Congregate in flocks up to a thousand and lose their ability to fly for 20 days annually
• Blue-billed Duck – Rarely walk on land and breeding males have a sky-blue bill
• Pink-eared Duck – Also known as the ‘Zebra Duck’ or ‘Clown Duck’ for their unique appearance
• Pacific Black Duck – Oil produced by a gland at the base of their tail makes them waterproof

“RSPCA Victoria and BirdLife Australia created Discover Ducks to educate Victorians about ducks and all their quirky habits. It has an amazing guide to ducks-spotting that is perfect for families who may want to take a day trip to a wetland with the kids, or even a short trip to the local creek which is always full of ducks.”

World Wetlands Day is a reminder that it is our responsibility to maintain the health of these environments and the animals that live there. Some good tips to remember are:

• Reduce use of household chemicals such as fertilisers and insecticides – these chemicals pollute our waterways.
• Avoid single-use plastics such as coffee cups and straws.
• Never leave your rubbish behind.
• Always pick up your dog’s poo – it contributes to the pollution of waterways.
Don’t throw your garden waste in the bush – this waste can become rampant in the natural environment, ruin habitat and create havens for foxes.
• Don’t throw water or plants from your fish tank into a waterway. They can spread and compete with native vegetation, reducing suitable habitat and food sources for native animals like ducks.
• Minimise your household water use – the more we leave in our rivers, the more chance our wetlands have of filling up and providing ducks with a home.

To get involved in World Wetlands Day, post a photo of a duck or wetland on your social media and hashtag #DiscoverDucks and #WorldWetlandsDay. You can find more at: www.discoverducks.org.au


Video footage for World Wetlands Day

Interview footage with RSPCA Victoria and Birdlife Australia representatives here: https://bit.ly/2Yvuf6P

Overlay footage of native ducks here: https://bit.ly/36ua4KM

 


28 January 2021

RSPCA Victoria welcomes Racing Victoria's decision to trial whip use limit


RSPCA Victoria is pleased to see that Racing Victoria will trial limited whip use races and significant penalties for jockeys who breach the rules in the upcoming Country Mile Race Series. This is a positive first step toward phasing out whip use in thoroughbred racing. 

The RSPCA is opposed to the use of whips for the purpose of enhancing performance in racing due to the pain and distress they inflict on horses. Furthermore, most Victorians agree. A state-wide survey conducted in July – August 2020 showed that seven in ten (69%) Victorians believe horses should not be hit with a whip in the normal course of a race.

RSPCA Victoria recently welcomed an announcement from Racing Victoria (RV) seeking national action on whip reform and calling for ultimate prohibition on use of the whips. RV sought to transition to this through a reduction in the use of the whip to between five and eight occasions per race. This would be a significant improvement on current practice where whip use is at the jockey’s discretion in the final 100m of a race.

A recent study showed that whipping horses does not make them run faster, and debunked traditional arguments that the whip is needed for performance enhancement and to maintain racing integrity. 

Reforming whip rules would be a positive change, however our position remains firm that the ultimate outcome should be that whips are not used for the purpose of enhancing performance due to the pain and distress inflicted on horses. This would ensure that racing performance is not determined by inflicting pain through whipping but rather by sound breeding, quality training and outstanding horsemanship.

 


20 January 2021

RSPCA Victoria webinar offers help for dogs adopted over the Christmas period

RSPCA Victoria is offering an educational webinar about separation anxiety in dogs and how to manage the related issues. Running on 27th January at 7pm, the virtual education session will provide a clear understanding of how separation anxiety can manifest and how to treat the symptoms and ease the situation for both dogs and their owners.

As people return to work and school, animals that arrived in new homes over the Christmas holidays will need to adapt to new schedules. After settling into a new home and spending an extended period of time in the company of their new owners, sudden changes such as spending time on their own, may be stressful for dogs and result in changes in behaviour.

Significant changes to a dog’s routine can create a myriad of behavioural changes that may require management and treatment.

Hosted by RSPCA Victoria’s Veterinary Behaviourist, Dr Gabrielle Carter, who is one of just three veterinary behaviourists in Australia, the session will help dog owners recognise anxiety in dogs, tackle unwanted behaviours with or without medications.

Separation anxiety is characterised by signs of distress when affected animals are separated from an owner or family group. Behavioural responses can include toileting in the house, destructiveness, excessive barking, digging or pacing and attempting to escape, among other signs of distress.

Dr Carter believes it’s important to be equipped with information to recognise when our dogs are anxious and understand how to manage it.

“Dogs are highly social animals that prefer to live in groups and many can become anxious when separated from their owners,” said Dr Carter.

“For animals who have just recently settled into a new home, many will now be spending time on their own for the first time as their owners go back to work after the holiday period. This can be stressful for dogs and result in anxiety.

“Anxiety in pets can be stressful for both pets and their owners so it’s important that we can recognise changes in our dogs’ normal behaviour and understand how to help if they aren’t coping. This might include teaching the dog how to be calm and relaxed when the owner is absent.

As a trusted and collaborative organisation, providing proactive support for the community to care for their animals and improve animal welfare, RSPCA Victoria is offering the Separation Anxiety in Dogs webinar as a useful tool that is sure to benefit many Victorians and their canine companions.

The Separation Anxiety in Dogs webinar costs $25 and includes time for participants to ask questions - head to www.rspcavic.org/separationanxiety for more information.


19 January 2021

Christmas Eve pet abandonment sparks plea from RSPCA Victoria

RSPCA Victoria is again urging pet owners to take responsibility for their animals this summer, after three dogs were abandoned and seized by an Inspector on Christmas Eve.

After a concerned member of the community made a report, a Heeler, Kelpie and Bull Arab were found tethered on chains in a backyard in the municipality of Wyndham, with no sign of food or water.

A previous tenant of the property denied ownership of the animals, and all three were transported to a RSPCA facility for veterinary assessment and care.

It comes as RSPCA Victoria continues its new state-wide campaign targeting three of the most commonly reported cruelty concerns during the hotter months: abandonment, dogs in hot cars and insufficient access to water and shade.

RSPCA Victoria received 1,401 reports of abandoned animals last financial year, with 468 of these reports during last summer alone.

Inspector Rebecca Mullenger said it was truly disappointing to see some people continue to show such little regard for their animals, especially at a time of year that should be about celebration.

“Pets are part of the family, so to see these three dogs left behind just a day before Christmas is heartbreaking,” Ms Mullenger said. “If your circumstances change and you are unable to provide the level of care your pet needs, there are multiple options available to you. We accept surrendered animals without judgment, but owners still have to do the right thing and reach out for assistance.

“Moving out of a property and leaving an animal tethered in a yard with no food or water is simply not acceptable behaviour, and the community should be rightfully outraged. The concerned citizen who reported these dogs to us likely saved their lives.” The dogs are not yet available for adoption and will continue to undergo health and behavioural assessment and rehabilitation, including potential time with foster carers.

Last year 1,374 reports were received by the RSPCA Inspectorate in relation to dogs with insufficient water and 1,169 reports regarding dogs with insufficient shelter. These reports reached their peak in summer with 500 and 356 reports received for these issues respectively during the warm months.

For more information on RSPCA Victoria’s summer campaign visit www.rspcavic.org/summer.

Inspector body camera footage and images can be found in the link: https://we.tl/t-nO4O2FExLu


18 January 2021

Foster carers needed for animals who have suffered cruelty

Animal lovers are needed to open their hearts and homes to provide temporary care for animals in the centre of cruelty cases as RSPCA Victoria looks to recruit new volunteers for its Protective Custody Foster Care Program. The call for more carers comes as an unprecedented number of animals wait for their cases to be heard as the courts work through a backlog due to COVID-19-related delays.

Kris Jones, Community Partnerships Manager at RSPCA Victoria, says that Protective Custody Foster Care is a lifeline for animals who would otherwise spend extended periods of time in RSPCA Victoria shelters. It is the only program of its kind in Victoria and it gives foster carers a unique opportunity to play an active role in the fight against animal cruelty.

“On average, our Inspectorate seizes ten animals per week due to welfare issues such as lack of food, water, failure to provide veterinary treatment, or abandonment. Seized animals go into Protective Custody if their owner has made an ownership claim against them, meaning we cannot find them a loving new home until the conclusion of a court case that is ruled in our favour,” said Mr Jones.

“We do our best to provide enriching environments for the animals awaiting prosecution outcomes, but the evidence shows that extended periods of time spent in a shelter can be detrimental to an animal’s health. The absolute best place for them to be is in a home environment, where they can spend time with people, other pets and enjoy their lives fully – this is where the Protective Custody Foster Care Program comes in.

“The program ensures these animals spend their time with a loving family while they are awaiting a court ruling, instead of in our shelters. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience for the animal and foster carer alike. Many of these animals have been seized from very poor welfare environments. A caring and nurturing home is essential to help them regain their confidence and strength.

“Prosecuting acts of animal cruelty can take some time, and with COVID-19 creating a delay in the courts, we are looking to expand our existing Protective Custody Foster Care Program to meet the greater need. All you need is a little extra room and a lot of extra love to share to make a life-changing difference to an animal in need.”

RSPCA Victoria provides all the resources to care for foster animals, including food, toys, bedding, vet treatment and round-the-clock support from the foster care team. Protective Custody foster carers may be required to foster an animal in need for up to five months and will need to follow privacy requirements due to the sensitive nature of the cases the animals are involved in.

A total of 92 animals were placed in Protective Custody foster in the 19/20 financial year. These animals included dogs, cats, horses, reptiles, birds, rabbits and guinea pigs.

Those interested in applying to become a Protective Custody foster carer are encouraged to fill in the application form at www.rspcavic.org/foster.

5 January 2021

New Year New Home for RSPCA Victoria’s cats and rabbits

RSPCA Victoria has hundreds of animals that urgently need new homes – the New Year New Home promotion running from Friday 8 to Monday 11 January 2021 is reducing adoption fees for adult cats and rabbits to just $21 to help find them loving homes.

As many Victorians commence the new year with the ongoing option to work from home, for those considering adding a pet to their family, now is the perfect time to adopt.  RSPCA Victoria’s New Year New Home will mean the sound of new paws in many homes around the state.

RSPCA Victoria ‘s CEO, Dr Liz Walker, says the adoption campaign is the perfect chance to give a little love to the animals who aren’t always in the spotlight.

“Cats and rabbits are often misunderstood creatures. We hope New Year New Home encourages the adoption of these terrific animals so more people can experience the joy, companionship and affection they offer,” says Dr Walker.

“We’ve found these types of adoption campaigns to be very successful in the past. This is a perfect time of year to welcome a new animal into your home. Many Victorians will spend the first part of January on holidays, giving them lots of time to help their new family member settle in.”   

RSPCA Victoria assures the community the adoption process will not change at all during New Year New Home apart from the reduced cost. RSPCA Victoria’s adoption process matches animals and people, ensuring all animals go to the best suited home with an appropriate environment.  The process is tried and tested, based on certain criteria such as space, work schedules and whether there are children or existing animals in the home.

Studies have shown that there is no difference in the care provided for an animal whether adopted through a fee-waiver program or for a fee.

New Year New Home Fast Facts

  • Available at all RSPCA Victoria Animal Care Centres and participating Petbarn stores
  • Running from Friday 8 to Monday 11 January
  • Adoption fee for an adult cat (five months and older) is usually $120 but it will be reduced to $21 during this adoption promotion.
  • The adoption fee for a rabbit is usually $68 but it will be reduced to $21 during the adoption promotion.

As always, the safety and well-being of our visitors, staff, volunteers and the community remains our top priority. Animal adoption at RSPCA Victoria remains via online application, visit rspcavic.org/adoption to view and apply for animals available for adoption. Adoption fees for senior cats (over ten years) and senior rabbits (over five years) will continue to be waived as per the normal RSPCA Victoria adoptions process.

All cats and rabbits adopted from RSPCA Victoria are desexed, microchipped and vaccinated to ensure they are ready to start a happy new life and a happy new year.



30 December 2020

RSPCA Victoria urges pet owners to make plans for their animals this summer


As the weather heats up and COVID restrictions ease across the state, RSPCA Victoria is reminding pet owners to ensure their animals are included in their holiday plans this summer. 
 
RSPCA Victoria received 1,401 reports of abandoned animals last financial year, with 468 of these reports during last summer alone. 

The reminder comes as part of a new state-wide campaign targeting three of the most commonly reported cruelty concerns during the hotter months; abandonment, dogs in hot cars, and insufficient access to water and shade.

Karen Collier, Inspectorate Team Leader at RSPCA Victoria said it was a pertinent time to remind pet owners of both their legal and moral obligations to care for their animals, particularly after a turbulent year where our pets have been faithfully by our side throughout lockdown.

“We know Victorians are eager for a break, so whether it’s a week down the coast or a long weekend away, if you’re making plans for yourself and your family, you need to ensure your pets are included in those plans,” said Ms Collier.

“Leaving additional food or water is not an adequate arrangement if you are going away, even if it’s for a short time. All owners must take responsibility for their animals, especially considering the range of care options available to pet owners.”

Reports related to abandoned animals routinely spike in January, with many reports coming from concerned neighbours. As such, RSPCA Victoria is encouraging pet owners to advise their neighbours of plans they put in place for care of any animals remaining at home. 

“If your neighbour knows you’ve gone away but sees you’ve left your animal, it’s rational they would be worried. We are often dealing with genuinely concerned callers, and sometimes all it comes down to is a lack of communication.

“If you’re leaving your pet at home and have arranged for someone to visit, feed or walk your animal, check in with your neighbour and reassure them that plans are in place.” 

Whether or not pets join owners on holiday or remain at home, there are some important things to consider so that your pet remains happy and healthy during the holiday season. 

Taking your pet with you

Before heading off
Ensure that your pet’s microchip and council registration details are up to date and they are wearing identification tags with contact details
Pack a first aid kit for your animal
Ensure any accommodation booked is pet friendly
Be aware of any specific pest or health concerns related to your destination

On the road

Contain your animal during travel, in a carrier, crate, or on a harness  
Take regular breaks and allow pets to exercise, eat, drink and relieve themselves
Ensure your pets have plenty of cool fresh air

When you arrive
Ensure that in the excitement of your new destination you do not neglect or ignore your pet 
Spend some time reassuring your pet that everything will be fine in your new surrounds - play a game, or simply give them a little affection.
Be sure that your pets are secured and supervised at all times.
Check that all fences and gates are secure at your holiday destination.
Do not leave your pets alone in a strange environment, or with unfamiliar people.

Leaving your pet behind

There are many options for taking care of your pet in your absence, whether it’s leaving them with family and friends, boarding your animal at a cattery or kennel or utilising a pet-sitting service. 
Leaving pets with friends or family

Provide comprehensive information on their usual diet, exercise routine, medical or behavioural needs
Leave contact information for your local veterinarian
Choose someone who can ensure your pet can receive the same routine in your absence 

Mobile pet-sitting services
Provide comprehensive information on their usual diet, exercise routine, medical or behavioural needs
Be comfortable requesting references
Assess your animal’s suitability – while arrangements to visit your pet once or twice daily may be suitable for some animals, keep in mind that animals such as cats or dogs are social creatures that require affection, attention and care. If you’re going away for an extended period of time you may want to consider other options (or take your pet with you!)

Catteries and boarding kennels
Ensure your pets are vaccinated – many facilities will not accept unvaccinated animals
Research a number of facilities and compare them – read reviews and inspect the premises before committing to leaving your animal
Book ahead, especially in peak holiday periods
Provide comprehensive information on their usual diet, exercise routine, medical or behavioural needs



29 December 2020

Virtual school holidays program teaches kids about animal welfare

After a successful pilot program earlier this year, RSPCA Victoria’s virtual school holiday program will return in January to teach children about animals.  Streamed live from the education barn at RSPCA Victoria, the program commences on Monday 11 January, running through to Friday 22 January, 2021.

The online program provides students with an engaging opportunity to learn from home providing a variety of educational experiences including the opportunity to meet an RSPCA Inspector and time to learn about the life of an RSPCA Victoria Veterinarian and plenty of at home activities to keep young animal lovers entertained this summer.

The program is designed for children between seven and 14 years of age and is jam-packed with exclusive content, including a live virtual excursion to meet the animals of the RSPCA Victoria barn and hear the stories about how they came to be part of the RSPCA Victoria team. 

Participants will learn what makes horses unique and discover what farm animals have in common with household pets. A special segment on little animals with big personalities will reveal fun facts about rabbits and guinea pigs.

Running daily for one hour the blended learning model is an adaptation of RSPCA Victoria’s regular school holiday program, which typically sees over 1,000 young animal lovers visit the Education Centre every year. The online format was created in response to COVID-19 restrictions, with students tuning in each day to learn about animals and distract themselves from Victoria’s lockdown.

Belinda Marchbank, RSPCA Victoria’s Education Officer, said that the program aims to educate students about good animal welfare through fun activities and videos and meeting some of the staff and education animals that make up the RSPCA Victoria family.

“The online school holidays program keeps our regular students connected with the animals at RSPCA Victoria, while at the same provides the opportunity for children living outside the city to participate.

“This is especially relevant to children who love animals but previously haven’t had the opportunity to travel to our Education Centre in Burwood East,” said Ms Marchbank.

Fast Facts:

·         Running from 11 January to Friday 22 January 2021

·         Sessions will run for approximately 1 hour per day and will start at 10.30am.

·         Register for one week of daily sessions for $35 or both weeks for $60

·         Includes a live virtual barn excursion to meet the animals

·         Interviews with an RSPCA Victoria veterinarian and Inspector

·         Opportunity to ask questions of experts and interact with other participants

·         Worksheets and recipes

·         Sign up for the program at rspcavic.org/schoolholidays




21 December 2020

Glenelg Shire Council Contract


Attributed to Dr Liz Walker, CEO, RSPCA Victoria

For more than 15 years, RSPCA Victoria has been dedicated to working with the Glenelg Shire Council to provide an animal shelter, and through a contract, pound services for the shire. We are proud to have served the local community during this time by providing high quality care to animals in need, reuniting lost pets and helping thousands of animals find loving new homes.

RSPCA Victoria recently submitted a new tender to Glenelg Shire Council because our current tender is due to expire. Our new tender was not designed to make a profit, but rather, to recover our costs because we are a not-for-profit charity. Previously, we have subsidised some of the cost of operating the animal care centre and pound services for the council. We are not obliged to do this, and we have an obligation to our donors and to the Victorian community to provide the best animal welfare services in areas of greatest need across the state rather than subsidising costs for local councils.

Whilst our three year proposal was not endorsed, we acknowledge and understand the council’s decision to explore alternative operating models. RSPCA Victoria will continue to work collaboratively with Glenelg Shire Council as they explore their options and we look forward to continuing to work with them throughout this period enabling us to ensure we provide great animal welfare outcomes for the community.



15 December 2020

Charges laid against repeat offenders for illegal kitten rearing


RSPCA Victoria has again charged previously prosecuted, illegal kitten rearers, Kon and Liudmila Petropoulos for animal cruelty offences.

Mr and Mrs Petropoulos were previously prosecuted in March for various offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA) and the Domestic Animals Act 1994 (DAA). They were charged with operating an illegal domestic animal rearing business, failing to comply with the Code of Practice, failing to comply with the lawful direction of an authorised officer and improper confinement of ten cats.

As a result, they were each prohibited from conducting or working in a domestic animal business for 18 months, placed on an adjourned undertaking to be of good behaviour for a period of 18 months, and fined $750 and $500 respectively.

In July this year, after a public appeal for information, RSPCA Victoria again executed two warrants at Mr and Mrs Petropoulos’ property in Ballarat after receiving information from several members of the public who lodged official reports with RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate.

The reports claimed the couple was allegedly breaching a court ordered ban by continuing to operate an illegal domestic animal rearing business. RSPCA Victoria’s Major Investigations team seized nine kittens at the property due to further alleged breaches of DAA, in that they were not complying with the mandatory Code of Practice.

Both Mr and Mrs Petropoulos have been charged with various cruelty offences under POCTAA relating to alleged breaches of animal welfare laws, including:

POCTAA
9(1)b - confinement of an animal where the confinement causes, or is likely to cause, unreasonable pain or suffering
9(1)i -failure to provide veterinary or other appropriate attention or treatment for an animal.

Mr Petropoulos was further charged with offences under the DAA, including failure to comply with the mandatory Code of Practice, sale of animals in a public place and offences relating to the advertising of animals for sale. Mr Petropoulos has also been charged with breaching a banning order for operating an illegal domestic animal rearing business, while Mrs Petropoulos has been further charged with breaching a banning order for working in an illegal domestic animal rearing business.

Inspectorate Team Leader of the Major Investigations Team, Lisa Calleja, said the members of the public who made official reports to the Inspectorate provided crucial evidence that enabled RSPCA Victoria to investigate this case, leading to the new charges being laid.

“We rely on public informants to provide tip-offs and information which legally enables us to investigate cases like these.

“With the information we received from the public we were able to execute warrants, seize nine kittens and ultimately lay these new charges and proceed to prosecution,” said Ms Calleja.

Members of the public who may have information about any individuals selling animals in public places, or information about this case, are urged to contact RSPCA Victoria directly as soon as possible.

The sale of animals in public places such as parks, roadsides and car parks is illegal. Dogs and cats must be sold from either a registered domestic animal business, from a private residence or sold at a place where an animal sale permit is in place.

All reports made to RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate must be lodged via www.rspcavic.org/services/tip-off or by calling 9224 2222. Please do not report cruelty via social media platforms.



10 December 2020

As weather heats up, RSPCA Victoria warns never leave dogs in cars


Each year, the RSPCA receives hundreds of distress calls about animals (usually dogs) left in cars during the hotter months. With the temperature set to rise over the coming weekend, RSPCA Victoria is urging pet owners not to leave their animals unattended in vehicles or on the back of a utility vehicle, even for a short period of time.

This warning comes after a Sydney man was recently charged when his dog died after being allegedly left in a hot car for several hours.

On a 23-degree day, the inside of a car can reach over 40 degrees. In this heat, a pet can die an agonising death in less than six minutes. RSPCA Victoria received 367 reports of animals left in vehicles last financial year, with 158 of these reports during last summer alone. 

Dogs are particularly at risk of overheating as they pant to cool down, which also adds to the rising temperature in a vehicle. An animal left in a car or on the back of a ute can suffer extreme stress, organ failure and seizures. If the animal is not immediately removed from this environment it can also slip into a coma and die.  

In many cases, even if the animal is still alive when found, the damage can be too extensive to be revived and recover.

Given the urgent action required in these circumstances, members of the public who find a distressed animal locked in a vehicle should contact the police directly on 000. Police officers have the ability to respond to these matters in a time-critical manner and have the authority to break into vehicles if an animal is at risk. 

RSPCA Victoria recommends that pet owners leave their animals at home during the warmer months, with the provision of plenty of water and shade. It is critical that the community understand the severe implications of leaving pets in a car, especially as the consequences are often irreversible. 
It is an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA) to worry, torment or terrify an animal, or to confine an animal where the confinement is likely to cause unreasonable pain or suffering.  Anyone who is found guilty of such an act can face fines up to $41,305 or 12-months’ imprisonment or, if the offence results in the death or serious disablement of the animal, fines of up to $82,610 or two years’ imprisonment. 

Anyone who has concerns for the welfare of an animal is encouraged to contact RSPCA Victoria on 9224 2222 or at rspcavic.org. All concerns relating to animals in hot cars should be directed to Victoria Police on triple zero.  

Case Study


Late last year a deceased dog was located in a vehicle parked at a Caltex Service Station. CCTV footage subsequently revealed that the vehicle had arrived at the service station around 8am three days earlier. The male driver could clearly be seen, and a German Shepherd cross type dog was alive and visible in the rear seat of the car.
 
A post-mortem examination indicated the dog had been dead for some time prior to examination, and this was supported by the presence of maggots throughout its coat and mouth. Subsequent checks with the Bureau of Meteorology found that the temperatures in the area from 27th to 30th December 2019 ranged between 38 and 42 degrees Celsius. 
 
During a hearing at Bendigo Magistrates’ Court, the accused plead guilty to three charges, being that he did:
worry, torment or terrify an animal,
confine an animal where the confinement caused or was likely to cause unreasonable pain or suffering; and
commit an act of aggravated cruelty whereby the act of cruelty caused the death of the animal. 
 
He was sentenced, with conviction, to a 12-month community corrections order with supervision, 80 hours of unpaid work, and requirements to undertake various treatment programs.  Additionally, he was given a 10-year ban from owning or being the person in charge of any dog, the maximum length of ban for a first offence. 

It can take less than six minutes for an animal to die in a hot car, ute or truck

Remember

 
Do not leave your dog in a vehicle - even when the windows are down dogs can still overheat and die. 
One study found that even on mild days the temperature inside the vehicle rises rapidly to dangerous levels. 
When the ambient temperature is 22°C the temperature inside a car can rise to over 47°C in 60 minutes. 
The high temperatures in the car combined with inadequate ventilation/air flow mean that a dog cannot thermo-regulate leaving them vulnerable to over-heating which can be fatal. 
Veterinary help should be sought as soon as possible if heat stroke is suspected. Heat stress is an emergency. Given the seriousness of this condition, heatstroke is an emergency.
Initial emergency treatment at home should aim to normalise body temperature. Apply or spray tepid/cool water onto the animal’s fur/skin followed by fanning of the wet fur. Don't use ice-cold water or ice as this may exacerbate the problem



8 December 2020

Veterinary Behaviourist to help dogs with separation anxiety post COVID


ToAs COVID-19 restrictions ease in Victoria, bringing a gradual return to work and school, dogs will again be asked to adapt to their owners’ new schedules. After months of quality time at home, this type of sudden change may be stressful for dogs. To help ease the transition, RSPCA Victoria is facilitating an educational webinar all about separation anxiety in our pets and how to manage it. 

The webinar will be hosted by RSPCA Victoria’s Veterinary Behaviourist Dr Gabrielle Carter on Tuesday 15 December at 12pm.  Dr Carter is one of three Veterinary Behaviorists in Australia. The course aims to explain why separation anxiety develops, how to read the warning signs and address the related issues. 

When stay at home restrictions initially commenced, dogs around the state enjoyed a new level of companionship and for many, additional exercise and social interaction.  Quality time with owners meant Victorian pets experienced a new way of life and a new level of connection to the humans in their world.

Significant changes to a dog’s routine can create a myriad of behavioural changes that may require management and treatment.  This might include teaching the dog how to be calm and relaxed when the owner is absent. 

Separation anxiety is characterised by signs of distress when affected animals are separated from an owner or family group to which the animal is attached. Behavioural responses can include toileting in the house, destructiveness, excessive barking, digging or pacing and attempting to escape, among other signs of distress.
   
Dr Carter believes it’s important to be equipped with information to recognise when our dogs are anxious and understand how to manage it. 

“Dogs are highly social animals that prefer to live in groups and many can become anxious when separated from their owners,” said Dr Carter.

“Anxiety in pets can be stressful for both pets and their owners so it’s important that we can recognise changes in our dogs’ normal behaviour and understand how to help our dogs when they are anxious.

“Months of restrictions created significant changes to routines, and now we face more changes as life returns to a new normal. It’s now more important than ever for dog owners to understand how to recognise and treat symptoms of separation anxiety.” 

The webinar will address questions such as whether a second dog for company can help ease anxiety and how to manage separation anxiety without using medications.  Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the webinar. 

As a trusted and collaborative organisation, providing proactive support for the community to care for their animals and improve animal welfare, RSPCA Victoria is offering the Separation Anxiety in Dogs webinar as a useful tool that is sure to benefit many Victorians and their canine companions. 

The Separation Anxiety in Dogs webinar costs $25 - head to rspcavic.org/separationanxiety for more information. 
 



3 December 2020

RSPCA Victoria tackles summer cruelty and neglect head on with new campaign


RSPCA Victoria is looking out for animals like Lucy and Marley this summer with a new state-wide campaign targeting three of the most reported cruelty concerns during the hotter months. The campaign comes just as the World Meteorological Organisation announced that 2020 is on track to be one of three warmest years on record.

Data collected over the past seven years shows that cruelty reports have peaked every January with more than 45 reports per day. This compares to approximately 26 reports per day in the winter months of June, July and August.

Reports related to dogs without shelter or water, dogs left in hot cars or potential abandonment of an animal account for 27.94% of reports made to RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate since 2014.

Lucy and Marley were two such dogs. A concerned member of the public made a report to RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate after discovering Lucy and her sister Marley abandoned on a property, in the middle of summer, with no water and no shelter. RSPCA Victoria vets said the dogs were incredibly emaciated, Lucy with a body score of 1.5 and Marley with a body score of just one out of five. One more week left alone and they would have died.

RSPCA Victoria is imploring people to consider not only the responsibility they have to their pet, but how quickly things can turn to tragedy in the hotter months.

“Stories like Lucy and Marley’s are incredibly common. But not all of them have a happy ending,” said Rebecca Cook, Head of Prevention at RSPCA Victoria.

“Every year we see the same trend. As soon as the weather warms up, reports of animal cruelty and neglect to our Inspectorate skyrocket. And the saddest part is that it’s entirely preventable.”

“It takes just six minutes for a dog to die in a hot car. Temperatures can double within moments and what seems like an innocent trip to the supermarket can have a devastating outcome when pet owners leave their pets unattended during the heat of the summer.”

This summer, RSPCA Victoria is asking people to do three simple things:

  • Never leave your dog in a hot car
  • Make sure your pet always has access to water and shade
  • Make plans for your pet if you are going away, and let your neighbour know they’re being looked after.

A comprehensive digital and radio campaign will support out-of-home advertising across the state. It’s the largest state-wide advertising campaign the charity has ever run, highlighting the scale and severity of the issue the organisation faces. For more information on RSPCA Victoria’s summer campaign visit www.rspcavic.org/summer.









30 November 2020

Free pet first aid course for bushfire impacted communities


To help pet owners in bushfire impacted areas learn vital first aid skills for pets, RSPCA Victoria is offering a virtual animal first aid course, Focused First Aid for Pets.  Held on Sunday 6 December at 2pm, the course is free to members of bushfire impacted communities and funded by money raised in RSPCA Victoria’s Bushfire appeal. 

Many pet owners would panic if their pet was involved in an accident, however, learning basic first aid skills for pets can mean the difference between life and death.

Focused First Aid for Pets is a 1 hour 30-minute webinar focused on providing participants with the best information available, to be better placed to help a pet in the case of an emergency situation. 

The course will be led by Belinda Marchbank, Education & Learning Officer at RSPCA Victoria, and a veterinary nurse with many years’ experience.  Ms Marchbank said the course provides necessary tools for all pet owners. 

“In addition to teaching pet owners the basics of pet first aid, the course covers important preparation required in the event of evacuation during emergency events such as bushfire along with treatment for burns and heat exhaustion.

Focused First Aid for Pets provides people with important knowledge that will support them to act without panic and do the best they can for their pets in the case of an emergency,” said Ms Marchbank.

As pet owners prepare for the spring and summer seasons ahead, the course also provides advice about a range of scenarios which are common in the warmer months. This includes how to pick up on the warning signs of heat stress and how to avoid it, what to do if a pet is bitten by a snake and how to manage insect bites. 

Participants will hear about CPR, bandaging, how to monitor a pet’s vital signs and react appropriately along with the importance of pet first aid kits and how to improvise with common household items. 

RSPCA Victoria’s Focused First Aid for Pets course also provides basic knowledge about how to care for a pet that has been injured by a car and the steps to take when travelling to seek veterinary care.  

The course is comprised of a one-hour presentation plus a question-and-answer session to ensure participants understand the information provided.  Designed to ensure attendees finish the course equipped to better manage in the case of an emergency, everyone will have the opportunity to seek clarification and expert advice. 

Participants will also receive relevant and easy to understand information in a handy booklet for future reference. 

Offered free of charge to members of bushfire impacted communities and areas prone to bushfires, the Focused Fist Aid for Pets virtual course is usually $49.00 per participant. Online bookings are available here



24 November 2020

RSPCA Victoria welcomes increased budget funding for animal welfare


RSPCA Victoria welcomes increased funding for animal welfare in today’s Victorian Budget 2020/21. 

The budget announced today includes increased funding for the state-wide animal protection and enforcement services performed by RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate. 

Dr Liz Walker, CEO of RSPCA Victoria, said the budget funding will help improve animal welfare across the state and reflects the importance of animal welfare within the community.
 
“We’re grateful to the Victorian Government for increasing funding for animal welfare. The funds will help RSPCA Victoria continue protecting and caring for Victoria’s animals through the vital work of our Inspectorate, which responds to over 10,000 cruelty reports each year, prosecutes the majority of animal cruelty cases in Victoria and plays a key role in compliance education to prevent cruelty,” said Dr Walker.

“The budget also includes funding for other animal welfare initiatives which RSPCA Victoria looks forward to accessing, including funds for programs to rehome domestic pets and horses, and support for low-cost desexing of cats and dogs for vulnerable and disadvantaged Victorians.

“This budget demonstrates a real commitment to supporting and improving animal welfare in Victoria.

“We know that animals are central to people’s lives and their wellbeing. This government funding will help us support people and their animals - this is more important than ever as we recover from the effects of COVID-19.”



19 November 2020

Victorians encouraged to Discover Ducks!


RSPCA Victoria and BirdLife Australia have launched a new campaign called Discover Ducks after recent research revealed five in six Victorians cannot name any native ducks, despite Australia being home to 15 unique species.

Dr Liz Walker, CEO of RSPCA Victoria said the campaign seeks to build a state of passionate duck lovers by improving Victorians’ knowledge and love for our diverse range of unique, native ducks.

“We believe more people would appreciate ducks and care about their welfare if they could relate to them the way they relate to other wildlife, such as koalas or kangaroos. After last summer’s tragic bushfires, we know there is very strong public concern for native animals, and a desire to rescue, treat and protect those animals. Ducks need to be included,” says Dr Walker.

“They are fascinating creatures, and each native species has unique traits. Discover Ducks creates an opportunity for the community to learn and share information and celebrate our beautiful native ducks.”

BirdLife Australia’s National Public Affairs Manager Sean Dooley agrees that there has never been a better time to discover our wild duck populations. "Sometimes even birdwatchers can take ducks for granted. But when you take the time to get to know Victoria's ducks, you soon realise what fascinating and beautiful birds they are. However, there are far fewer ducks out there in our wetlands than there used to be with the research showing drastic decline in their numbers, due to the changes we have made to their aquatic habitats."

Research conducted by Kantar shows that while 66% of Victorians consider duck welfare to be important, only 16% can name a single native duck species. Furthermore, despite 65% of Victorians recognising that feeding ducks can be harmful for their health:

·      67% of Victoria still feel that feeding ducks is an enjoyable way of interacting with wildlife
·      64% of Victorians are likely to feed ducks in their local area.

Discover Ducks shows people how to recognise different ducks, where to spot them around Victoria and how to interact with them in a welfare-friendly way.

Victorians are encouraged to visit their local wetlands to see Australia’s beautiful birds in their natural habitats and use the Duck Detector duck-spotting map to upload images and information about the best places to spot ducks.

“Now that COVID restrictions are easing, Victorians are looking for things to do within our state. Getting out and spotting our fabulous native ducks is a wonderful thing to do and a lovely way to support communities in regional Victoria too,” said Dr Walker.

Learn more about Discover Ducks at discoverducks.org.au and spread the word via social media using the hashtag #discoverducks

Duck facts – All Australian ducks are unique, here are some of their quirkiest facts!

·      Australian Wood Duck – Monogamous, family oriented and nests in trees
·      Australian Shelduck – Congregate in flocks up to a thousand and lose their ability to fly for 20 days annually
·      Blue-billed Duck – Rarely walk on land and breeding males have a sky-blue bill
·      Pink-eared Duck – Also known as the ‘Zebra Duck’ or ‘Clown Duck’ for their unique appearance
·      Pacific Black Duck – Oil produced by a gland at the base of their tail makes them waterproof



07 November 2020

RSPCA Victoria helps Mallacoota Pony Club rebuild after bushfires


RSPCA Victoria is delighted to announce it is giving some of the money donated to its Bushfire Appeal to help rebuild the Mallacoota Pony Club, which was almost entirely destroyed in the bushfires last summer.

The Mallacoota Pony Club has been an integral part of the local community for over 40 years, offering show jumping, cross country, dressage, grooming and horsemanship education for local riders. Sadly, the 2019-20 bushfires destroyed the clubhouse, office, round yard, jumping area and cross-country course, the club’s holding yards, fencing, gates, maintenance tools and all horseriding equipment.

RSPCA Victoria will be providing just over $54,000 to:

• Establish new horse stalls
• Repair damaged fencing
• Install a water tank; and
• Construct a pergola/shed.

“Losing our Pony Club facilities during the bushfires was terrible – Pony Club is an important part of life for many people and a way to be connected to the community,” said Stephanie Mew, President of Mallacoota Pony Club.

“We’re grateful to RSPCA Victoria and all the people who generously donated to its Bushfire Appeal for helping rebuild our club. We’re really looking forward to new facilities that will form part of the broader community assets and be made available for a wide variety of leisure pursuits.”

CEO of RSPCA Victoria, Dr Liz Walker, said it’s wonderful to be able to support the people and animals of Mallacoota and help rebuild such an important community facility.

“After receiving generous donations from passionate animal lovers during the summer bushfires, we have been working closely with local communities to help them recover and rebuild facilities that enhance the human-animal bond,” says Dr Walker.

“We know that human and animal wellbeing are inextricably linked. Mallacoota was devastated by the fires and we know that animals will be a key part of the healing process, so we are really pleased to be able to make a contribution that will help that.”



05 November 2020

RSPCA Victoria says industry must call time on whips


RSPCA Victoria welcomes the increased penalties for whip rule breaches handed down at Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup but says more needs to be done to phase out the use of whips entirely.

“Due to the pain and distress whips inflict on horses, RSPCA Victoria is disappointed to hear that a jockey exceeded the whip rules at the running of the 2020 Melbourne Cup. Recently released research shows the majority (69%) of Victorians believe whipping horses causes pain, is inhumane, and do not believe the use of whips in horseracing is necessary or reflective of community sentiment,” said Dr Walker.

Another study released this month showed that whipping horses does not make them run faster, and debunked traditional arguments that the whip is needed for performance enhancement and to maintain racing integrity. Racing performance should not be determined by inflicting pain through whipping but rather by sound breeding, quality training and outstanding horsemanship.

“We were pleased to see that the penalty for excessive whip use at the Melbourne Cup was the largest ever handed out. However, increased penalties are not enough. The ultimate outcome should be that whips are not used for the purpose of enhancing horse performance – that is, making them go faster – at all.

“We recently welcomed Racing Victoria’s call to reduce the use of the whip and believe whip reform is a necessary and positive change. The whip can no longer be defended as a tool for performance enhancement. Other countries have already introduced whip-free racing and we encourage the Australian racing industry to do the same.”



03 November 2020

RSPCA Victoria saddened to hear about euthanasia of Anthony Van Dyck


Attributed to Dr Liz Walker, CEO, RSPCA Victoria;

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the injury suffered by Anthony Van Dyck in today’s running of the 2020 Melbourne Cup. The immediate veterinary care and subsequent decision to euthanase the horse to avoid pain and suffering was paramount.

“The RSPCA believes there are inherent animal welfare issues involved with horseracing. Whenever there is an adverse outcome for an animal, our expectation is that the industry will do a comprehensive review to identify ways to improve in an effort to avoid unnecessary injury or trauma in the future.

“Racing presents numerous risks for horses and this very unfortunate incident illustrates the need for the industry to work toward better welfare for animals used in sport.

“During this difficult time, RSPCA Victoria extends sincere sympathies to those who contributed to the care of Anthony Van Dyck.”



29 October 2020

RSPCA Victoria investigates appalling case of dog neglect

RSPCA Victoria is reminding pet owners of their legal and moral obligations to look after their animals, after Inspectors uncovered a pet dog in a severe state of emaciation earlier this month.  

An Inspector visited a property in the south-east suburbs in response to a report of concern for a dog’s welfare. On arrival, a four-year-old German Shepherd named Bobby was found acutely emaciated and in ill-health. 

After successfully negotiating the dog’s surrender, Bobby was taken to RSPCA Victoria’s Burwood East clinic where the veterinarteam provided emergency care and pain relief. 

With a body condition score of just one out of five (1/5), Bobby was emaciated, covered in ulcerative lesions with secondary infection and presented with swollen hind limbs He had acute muscle wastage and was in severe pain, with one ulcer over his left hip creating a hole so deep that it extended down to the joint capsule.  

RSPCA Victoria’s vets did all they could to alleviate the dog’s pain and suffering, however given his dire condition and poor prognosis, the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanase him. 

 

RSPCA Victoria Inspectorate Team Leader, Stuart Marchesani, said it was unacceptable to leave an animal to suffer in the manner Bobby would have experienced.  

 

It doesn’t take days or even weeks for an animal to deteriorate to this sort of condition, this is gross neglect that has gone on for months and monthsSadly, Bobby would have been in significant pain and discomfort for a long time before we found him. It’s a particularly distressing case as he was only four years old,” Mr Marchesani said. 

 

“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. 

“There is no excuse for animal neglect and those found guilty under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act face fines up to $82,610 and two years' imprisonment."

The case is still under investigation by RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate and no further information can be released at this time. 

Anyone who has concerns for the welfare of an animal is encouraged to contact RSPCA Victoria on 9224 2222 or at rspcavic.org.

 

***WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW***


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28 October 2020

RSPCA Victoria response to Animal Justice Party motion passed in Parliament today

Today an Animal Justice Party motion was passed in Parliament calling on the Victorian Government to make changes to the way animal shelters, pounds and rescue groups operate.

As a socially conscious shelter, RSPCA Victoria believes transparency, collaboration and continuous improvement of standards are vital to ensure all animals are treated humanely and live a good life.

Prior to today, RSPCA Victoria provided feedback to the Animal Justice Party on its proposal. We are particularly pleased to see that our recommendation to introduce regulation of rescue groups has been included, to ensure all animal care groups are transparent and adhere to the same standards.

The motion included five key proposals, many of which are already implemented or supported by RSPCA Victoria. We look forward to working with the Victoria Government and other stakeholders to address these proposals, which are set out in more detail below.  

  1. Mandatory reporting of pound and shelter kill rates

    Publicly reporting statistics such as animal intake, animals rehomed and animals euthanased is essential for shelters to ensure transparency and community confidence. Currently, the Code of Practice for the Management of Dogs and Cats in Shelters and Pounds does not require mandatory reporting of these statistics. However, many reputable animal shelters, including RSPCA Victoria, consider this reporting to be best practice and supply the public with these statistics as part of annual reporting. A full breakdown of RSPCA Victoria’s euthanasia statistics is available on our website here

  2. Requiring pounds and shelters to work with approved and regulated rescue groups before ending an animal’s life

    Rescue groups are an important part of reducing companion animal homelessness in Victoria. RSPCA Victoria actively works with 29 reputable rescue groups and in 2018/19 rehomed 840 animals through these partners. RSPCA Victoria will always seek the best outcomes for animals in our care, which includes rehoming animals to rescue groups.

  3. Introduce more subsidised and free desexing initiatives for companion animals

    RSPCA Victoria has found that working directly with the community can have the greatest impact in increasing responsible ownership of animals. Recently, RSPCA Victoria ran a pilot project in one local government area, Latrobe City, to develop a deeper understanding of the drivers of animal cruelty and neglect, identify barriers to good animal welfare practices and pilot prevention initiatives. This aimed to both reduce cruelty and neglect in the target region and develop successful intervention models to be applied in other regions across Victoria.

    Since the official launch on 12 February 2020, the pilot has directly supported over 408 individual animals with vet care, behavioural and health advice and the provision of food and flea and worming treatment. Our Community Liaison Officer, has had over 700 interactions with members of the community by phone, face to face and email. Initial data shows that most requests were for assistance with desexing (250). In addition, over 200 bags of pet food, 27 kennels and cat carriers, 482 individual flea and worming products have been distributed in the Latrobe community. Working directly with the community and providing free animal care services had very high engagement.

  4. Consider the introduction of a trap, neuter, return (TNR) program, noting the positive long-term impacts these programs have on community cat populations

    RSPCA Australia developed the Identifying Best Practice Domestic Cat Management in Australia report in 2018 which recommended that a research study should be conducted to evaluate whether, and under what specific circumstances, a program of trap, desex, adopt or return and support (TDARS) is an appropriate tool for urban cat management under Australian conditions.

  5. Commit to implementing immediate reuniting of missing companion animals through vet clinics, to stop the unnecessary process of going through the pound system. 

    Prior to the 2018 state election, RSPCA Victoria successfully advocated for registered pets to be directly reunited with their owners. We were pleased to secure bipartisan support to amend section 84D of the Domestic Animals Act 1994 to allow veterinarians and animal shelters to reunite registered and microchipped animals with their owners without the requirement for a section 84Y agreement.

We believe that enabling vet clinics and animal shelters to directly reunite animals with their owners without the need for an 84Y agreement with local councils would reduce the period of separation, avoid additional transferring of the animal, reduce the load on pounds and potentially lower rates of euthanasia. This will have a positive welfare impact for animals found wandering, while also providing further benefits of pet registration and lower operational costs for local councils.




28 October 2020

RSPCA Victoria asks Victorian kids for their Pawsome Stories


Bestselling children’s authors, Sally Rippin and Cameron Macintosh, join RSPCA Victoria to launch Pawsome Stories, a competition for young writers to share stories and essays with animal welfare as the creative focus and inspiration behind their work.

Victorian children in grades three – six are invited to put their writing skills to the test, with entries to be reviewed by the renowned authors, who will sit on a judging panel alongside RSPCA Victoria CEO, Dr Liz Walker. 

The Pawsome Stories writing competition asks participants to write either a fictional story about rescuing an animal, or a persuasive essay to answer the question, ‘If you could change one thing in the world to improve animals’ lives, what would it be and why?’ 

Australia’s highest selling female author, Sally Rippin says, the best thing about writing is you can do it anywhere. 

“All you need is something to write with and a great, big, furry, scaly, feathery imagination! I can’t wait to read some of the stories you come up with. My furry friend has been the best writing buddy I could ever ask for. He basically just sleeps by my feet all day until it’s time to go for a walk. 

“Animals make people so happy, whether we share our homes with them or simply admire them in nature. The more we love and protect our animal friends, the better the world will be. That’s why I’m so proud to be a judge for this writing competition and a big supporter of the RSPCA.”

The respected animal welfare organisation says it takes people of all ages to work together to improve animal welfare in the community. Pawsome Stories aims to educate children about what it means for an animal to live a happy and healthy life, as well as develop their writing skills and learn the value in sharing information through storytelling.
RSPCA Victoria’s CEO, Dr Liz Walker, said that by engaging primary school students through writing, the organisation hopes younger generations will feel more connected to its vision and goals to end cruelty to all animals. 

“We know that writing helps children cultivate their creativity and critical thinking skills, which will serve them well throughout their schooling and professional futures. 

“We hope that Pawsome Stories may spark an interest in animal welfare that will benefit both the child and the adult they grow to be, ultimately creating a kinder future for animals.”

By engaging with school aged children through entertaining interactive activities, RSPCA Victoria aims to educate Victoria’s young people about the community’s responsibility toward all creatures great and small, while working alongside the school curriculum to help develop written communication skills. 
Cameron Macintosh, author of Max Booth Future Sleuth series said, “It’s a real thrill to be part of an initiative that advances awareness of animal welfare issues by encouraging compassionate creativity and critical thinking.
 
“I hope the competition will help young people experience the sense of empowerment that can come through this type of expression, and am very excited to see what the Pawsome young writers of Victoria come up with.”

Entrants of Pawsome Stories will have the opportunity to learn more about animal welfare and the work of RSPCA Victoria. Judges will decide upon one winner and two runners up in each of the categories. While the winner will receive a Pawsome Stories trophy, other prizes include Dymock’s vouchers, plush toys and a virtual tour to meet RSPCA Victoria’s barn animals.

2020 and winners will be announced on a live webinar on Thursday 10 December at 4.30pm. 
Visit  https://rspcavic.org/pawsomestories for more information. 

  
About the Judges

Sally Rippin is Australia’s highest-selling female author and has written more than 50 books for children and young adults. Her widely popular Billie B Brown books are beloved across the globe and have sold more than five million copies in eighteen countries. She loves to write stories with heart and characters that resonate with children, parents and teachers alike.

Cameron Macintosh is the author of more than 100 books for young people, including plays, chapter books and non-fiction across a wide range of genres. He has been writing books for the classroom since 2008, and for a wider readership since 2017, with the launch of the Max Booth Future Sleuth series in Australia and the USA.

Dr Liz Walker is RSPCA Victoria’s CEO. She graduated from Melbourne University with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Hons) and has been CEO at RSPCA Victoria since 2014. She spent six years in private practice (small animal) and conducting research in veterinary parasitology. She is a member of the Victorian Government’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and  Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Animal Welfare Committee.


22 October 2020

RSPCA Victoria welcomes invitation to respond to proposed new animal welfare legislation


Attributed to Dr Liz Walker, CEO, RSPCA Victoria

“RSPCA Victoria is pleased to see the Victorian Government’s invitation to Victorians to have their say on a new Animal Welfare Act. We commend the government’s commitment to review Victoria’s animal welfare legislation and as the most trusted animal welfare organisation in Victoria, look forward to seeing the development of this important work to develop a contemporary Act.

“RSPCA Victoria has over 30 years of experience in enforcing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA) and receives the majority of animal cruelty complaints in the state. Our Inspectors are a highly dedicated and experienced team whose enforcement of the Act has seen RSPCA Victoria prosecute more than half of animal cruelty cases in Victoria over the last ten years and respond to over 11,000 reports of cruelty and neglect each year.

“Therefore RSPCA Victoria is uniquely positioned to reflect upon and make recommendations about improvements to animal welfare legislation in Victoria. We believe that, while maintaining a prohibition on all forms of animal cruelty, there are several key areas that should be addressed for effective animal welfare legislation including recognition of animals as sentient beings, the imposition of enforceable minimum standards of care or a ‘duty of care’, expanded powers to allow animals to be rehomed rather than being kept for the duration of court cases and a model for enforcement that allows for more tools for Inspectors to intervene earlier.

“RSPCA Victoria encourages Victorians to view the key proposals for a new Animal Welfare Act, submit their views and have the chance to help improve animal welfare in Victoria by shaping new legislation.

“This new legislation will provide a more updated platform from which RSPCA Victoria will continue to work to make a better life for animals and end animal cruelty in Victoria.”



21 October 2020

RSPCA Victoria investigates as cats found covered and burnt by hot glue


RSPCA Victoria is calling for information after two stray cats were found in Werribee, covered and burnt by what appears to be hot, industrial strength glue. The cats were noticed wandering the neighbourhood, clearly in distress, by a member of the public who reported the incident to RSPCA Victoria.

The resident believes the suspected attack occurred on Wednesday, 14th of October, as she sighted both cats, seemingly in good condition before heading to work that morning. Upon her return she noted the cats’ fur appeared wet, and by the next day, shockingly their skin had started to peel away.

One cat has been captured and is receiving veterinary attention at U-Vet Animal Veterinary Hospital, while RSPCA Victoria works with Wyndham City Council to locate the second feline so it can also be examined and provided with urgent veterinary treatment.

Upon veterinary examination, it appears the first cat has suffered severe burns to the left side of its face, the top of its head and along its spine. U-Vet veterinarians treated the skin lesions, removed the unknown substance and administered pain killers. The team surmise the cat was doused in hot, industrial strength glue causing painful skin burns and will require rehabilitation and foster care before it can be rehomed.

RSPCA Victoria Inspectorate Team Leader Karen Collier said that the cat was lucky to be found.

“The cat is lucky that she was spotted by a kind member of the public who took a vested interest in her wellbeing. She has suffered significant mental and physical pain, but I am pleased to say the vets expect her to make a full recovery. I hope I can say the same once we provide medical attention to the second cat,” says Ms Collier.

“Sadly, we suspect this was intentional cruelty. It’s abhorrent that someone can commit such a callous act toward innocent animals. As RSPCA Victoria Inspectors, we see the results of animal cruelty on a daily basis. However, deliberate acts of cruelty are always incredibly distressing and of great concern, which is why we are seeking help from the community.

“RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate is working tirelessly to investigate and prosecute the individuals who have committed these offences, but we need those who have information to come forward and make a report.”

RSPCA Victoria relies on the local community to assist in these cases, and even the smallest detail can help. Anyone who has knowledge or information relating to these incidents are encouraged to call 03 9224 2222 or visit rspcavic.org to make a report.

***WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW***
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20 October 2020

Ambassadors urge Victorians to Save Cupcake Day


October 26th is RSPCA Cupcake Day and RSPCA Victoria’s ambassadors are encouraging the community to get baking for the cause, reminding animal loving Victorians to put their isolation baking skills to the test to raise money for animals in need.

While 2020 has been a challenging year for many, RSPCA Victoria’s revenue has been significantly impacted throughout the pandemic. Cupcake Day is one of the biggest annual fundraisers, however with Victorians unable to get together with colleagues, friends and family to host an in-person baking event, registrations are lagging this year.

RSPCA Victoria is supported by a group of passionate ambassadors who are calling on Victorians to help save Cupcake Day 2020 and raise funds to ensure animals in need can be rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed. They are inspiring everyone, from amateur bakers to master chefs, to get creative and get involved, within the limitations posed by the pandemic.

Ambassador Quotes:

Tim Campbell – Ambassador – Actor, Singer and Presenter
“2020 has been a challenge for us all, but the extra challenges RSPCA face helping our furry and other friends continues, so please, I urge you to get involved NOW and help fundraise for the day. So many different and fun ways to get involved, all the info at the website and thank you as always for your generosity and love for our animal friends.”

Peter Alexander - National Ambassador - Designer
“Being able to support the RSPCA has always made sense to me. Over the years, personally and professionally, I have raised over a million dollars for the RSPCA.

“I take my role as an RSPCA ambassador very seriously. Many of my loving pets are from the RSPCA and they remind me every day what we are fighting for. I encourage people to support Cupcake Day for three reasons - it's fun to bake (even if it’s from the packet shhh!), it's yum to eat and share and most importantly you are helping animal welfare.”


Jane Bunn – Ambassador – Meteorologist, Ch7 Weather Presenter
“Isolation has given us plenty of time to practice our baking skills, and what better way to show them off by joining Cupcake Day this year. All money raised is a huge help for animals who still need care, despite everything happening with the pandemic. Get together, virtually, and see who makes the best cake!”

Mark & Mya’s Adventures – Social Ambassador - Influencer
"I consider my pup Mya a part of my family and I treat her as such, but sadly not all animals are this lucky. Having the RSPCA looking out for these animals is really important work. The thing I love about Cupcake Day is that it's a way for us to help support the important work the RSPCA does, in a fun way that isn't simply asking for donations."

Pierrick Boyer – Chef Ambassador - Pastry Chef
“Cupcake Day is so important because it's a time for us to say how special our pets are by baking! I love my two Jack Russell Terriers so much and I know the work of RSPCA Victoria means that many other animals will also find loving forever homes.”

Dan Pasquali - Chef Ambassador - Dan’s Bake Lab
"Cupcake Day is my favourite time of the year as it involves my two biggest passions: cakes and animals! Not only is it an opportunity to get creative with your baking, it’s a great way to support RSPCA’s work to care for animals in need.

RSPCA Victoria relies on generous community support through fundraisers like Cupcake Day, to ensure it can continue to care for vulnerable animals and investigate cases of cruelty. Proceeds from fundraisers such as Cupcake Day go directly to help care for more than 17,000 animals that rely on the animal welfare organisation in Victoria alone every year. The pressure of the pandemic means that this year, fundraising is more important than ever before.

This year participants are encouraged to host their event virtually. Suggestions include a virtual bake-off with friends and family or setting baking challenges. Participants can host their own celebration any time in the lead up to October 26.

There are still many ways Victorians can enjoy Cupcake Day in lockdown:
• Teach an online cooking class for family
• Host a virtual bake off between friends
• Set a baking challenge/goal
• Host a virtual food-inspired trivia night
• Put on a virtual bake race. Everyone who registers for RSPCA’s Cupcake Day receives online access to all the resources needed to host a virtual baking event.

How RSPCA Cupcake Day donations can make a difference:
• $25 can help provide a homeless kitten with a warm bed, litter tray and a meal.
• $55 can help cover one week of antibiotics for a sick animal in need.
• $150 can help desex a dog or cat to get them ready to find their forever home.

Cupcake Day Message from RSPCA Staff – SAVE CUPCAKE DAY

To register, visit www.rspcacupcakeday.com.au



15 October 2020

Consumer sentiment paves the way for whip-free racing


A state-wide survey conducted in July – August 2020 shows that seven in ten (69%) Victorians feel that horses should not be hit with a whip in the normal course of a race, illustrating the majority of Victorians do not believe the use of whips in horseracing is necessary or reflective of community sentiment.

Concerns regarding the use of whips in horse racing have increased in recent years and this new research illustrates the community’s desire to see the end of whips in racing. RSPCA Victoria is opposed to the use of whips for the purpose of enhancing performance in racing due to the pain and distress they inflict on horses.

The research was conducted with a representative sample of the Victorian community by data insights and consulting firm, Kantar. Key findings include:

·       69% of Victorians feel that horses should not be hit with a whip in the normal course of a race
·       61% of punters and racing attendees feel that horses should not be hit with a whip
·       71% of Victorians who attend or bet on horse races would be undeterred if whips were banned and would continue to participate in horse racing events and activities
·       The majority feel that whipping horses causes pain, is inhumane and is unnecessary.

Two in five Victorians attend horse racing events at least once a year (41%) and three in five (59%) never attend. Among those who attend horse racing events, thoroughbred racing (73%) is the most common type of event, followed by jumps racing (20%) and harness racing (15%). Whips are used in all three forms of horse racing.

In thoroughbred racing, Racing Australia’s Rules of Racing allow unlimited whip use during the last 100 metres of a race. Research examining the effect of whip use on performance in racing has indicated that horses are whipped most during the last 100 metres of the race, in an attempt to make them increase speed towards the finish line. Yet how the horse ran prior to this stage was found to be the most critical factor in racing success. [1] This indicates that whip use occurs at its highest frequency when horses are fatigued and have less capacity to respond.

RSPCA Victoria recently welcomed an announcement from Racing Victoria (RV) seeking national action on whip reform and calling for ultimate prohibition on use of the whips. RV is seeking a transition to this through a reduction in the use of the whip to between five and eight occasions per race. This would be a significant improvement on current practice where whip use is at the jockey’s discretion in the final 100m of a race.

Racing Victoria’s request for national action is scheduled to be addressed at the upcoming Racing Australia Board meeting in November. RSPCA Victoria hopes to see the Racing Australia Board support the proposed changes to reflect community expectation.

In addition to Racing Victoria’s request for Racing Australia to address the use of whips nationally, in August this year, Harness Racing Australia announced amendments to the Australian Harness Racing Rules (AHRR) outlining the whip cannot be applied with overt force. RSPCA Victoria is calling on all jurisdictions and all types of racing to prohibit the use of whips.

RSPCA Victoria’s CEO, Dr Liz Walker said, “Reforming whip rules would be a positive change, however our position remains firm that the ultimate outcome should be that whips are not used for the purpose of enhancing performance due to the pain and distress inflicted on horses. This would ensure that racing performance is not determined by inflicting pain through whipping but rather by sound breeding, quality training and outstanding horsemanship.

Dr Walker went on to say “RSPCA Victoria supports the introduction of racing where horses are not whipped to improve performance. Other countries have already introduced whip-free racing and we encourage the Australian racing industry to do the same.”

For additional information on RSPCA’s position on whips in racing, visit kb.rspca.org.au



14 October 2020

Clydesdale horse rescued after falling five metres down a well


A Clydesdale horse has had a lucky escape after falling down a five-metre-deep well after RSPCA Victoria, the CFA and a local veterinarian were called to quickly rescue the horse from a property in Donald on Tuesday.

The horse’s owner made the discovery after hearing a loud splash and upon checking, found the six-year-old gelding submerged in a considerable amount of water at the bottom of an unused well. It was surmised that Soxz the horse had unsuspectingly walked onto wooden sleepers being used to cover the well’s opening. The sleepers collapsed under the sheer weight of the Clydesdale, sending him plummeting down the five-metre drop.

RSPCA Victoria, Donald CFA, CFA’s Oscar-1 Emergency Response Team and a local veterinarian were called to the scene to sedate and safely extract the horse from the well using a harness and crane. Soxz surprisingly escaped with minor injuries but received a full veterinary check-up Tuesday evening to ensure no internal injuries or fractures were sustained.

RSPCA Victoria Inspector, Jeremy Dean, attended the incident to provide animal welfare expertise and assist with the rescue.

“It was shocking to see how far Soxz had fallen. It took a lot of manpower to help him out of the sticky situation, including adequate sedation to ensure the process wasn’t overly stressful,” said Mr Dean.

“The rescue was a true team effort; the CFA, the Oscar-1 Emergency Response team and the local vet were incredible. There was a huge amount of precision required to lift Soxz to safety using the winches and crane, generally seen used in mine rescues.

“RSPCA Victoria is contributing to the cost of the rescue operation and is providing support to the owner by subsidising the cost of ongoing veterinary treatment to ensure Soxz makes a full recovery. As an Inspector, we see a lot of heartbreaking stories, but yesterday was a true good news story. It was an honour to reunite Soxz with his owner and know that he hasn’t suffered any lasting physical damage, despite a few cuts and bruises.





6 October 2020

Would you know what to do in a pet emergency? RSPCA Victoria launches virtual pet first aid course


Many pet owners would panic if their pet was involved in an accident, however, learning basic first aid skills for pets can mean the difference between life and death. To help pet owners learn vital first aid skills that could save a furry friend’s life in an emergency, RSPCA Victoria is launching its first ever virtual animal first aid course, Focused First Aid for Pets. The first course will be held on Saturday 10 October at 2pm with another course to follow on Tuesday 24 November at 7pm.

Focused First Aid for Pets is a 1 hour 30-minute webinar focused on providing participants with the best information available to be better placed to help a pet in the case of an emergency situation.
The course will be led by Belinda Marchbank, Education & Learning Officer, at RSPCA Victoria, also a veterinary nurse with many years’ experience. Ms Marchbank said the course provides necessary tools for all pet owners.

“Focused First Aid for Pets will teach pet owners the basics of pet first aid, providing people with important knowledge that will support them to act without panic and do the best they can for their pets in the case of an emergency,” said Ms Marchbank.

As pet owners prepare for the spring and summer seasons ahead, the course also provides advice about a range of scenarios which are common in the warmer months. This includes how to pick up on the warning signs of heat stress and how to avoid it, what to do if a pet is bitten by a snake and how to manage insect bites.

Participants will hear about CPR, bandaging, how to monitor a pet’s vital signs and react appropriately along with the importance of pet first aid kits and how to improvise with common household items.

RSPCA Victoria’s Focused First Aid for Pets course also provides basic knowledge about how to care for a pet that has been injured by a car and the steps to take when travelling to seek veterinary care.

The course is comprised of a one-hour presentation plus a question and answer session to ensure participants understand the information provided. Designed to ensure attendees finish the course equipped to better manage in the case of an emergency, everyone will have the opportunity to seek clarification and expert advice.

Participants will also receive relevant and easy to understand information in a handy booklet for future reference.

The Focused First Aid for Pets virtual course is $49.00 per participant. Online bookings are available now at rspcavictoria.weteachme.com

Visit RSPCA Victoria’s website for more information on pet first aid.




5 October 2020

RSPCA Victoria appeals for information after cat caught in illegal leg hold trap


RSPCA Victoria is appealing for information after a domestic short haired cat was found in a fishpond with his front paw caught in an illegal steel jaw trap in Mooroolbark. A local resident in Partridge Way located the cat in their yard on Sunday 27 September and RSPCA Inspectors were immediately dispatched to the location. The cat was subsequently taken to RSPCA’s Burwood East clinic where it received pain relief and urgent veterinary treatment.

The cat was seen to be dragging the affected leg, and subsequent x-rays confirmed several fractures and nerve damage had occurred as a result of the trap. Due to the severe nature of the cat’s injuries his entire limb was amputated to prevent any further infections or complications. It is unknown how many days the cat had spent trying to free itself from the trap, or how far the cat has travelled.

The male black and white cat was wearing a blue collar with a bell, however had no identification tags and has not been microchipped, so the RSPCA have not been able to contact an owner.

RSPCA Inspectors are calling on the public for any information that may help locate an owner of the cat or assist in tracking down the origin of the illegal trap. Residents in the local area in particular are being urged to make a report if they know of people who set these traps or have traps similar to the ones pictured in their possession.

RSPCA Victoria Inspector Kate Davies stated the cat is now in the care of RSPCA Victoria and investigations would continue to locate the person or persons responsible for this act of cruelty.

“This cat would have been in significant physical pain and experienced severe mental distress,” said Ms Davies.

“We are currently encouraging anyone who has seen something that may contribute to this investigation to come forward with information.

“This was an horrific act of animal cruelty and our thanks go to the person who found the animal and reacted quickly to prevent the cat from further suffering.”

Serrated steel jaw traps are illegal and cause extreme pain and suffering to animals caught in them. It is also illegal to set any leghold trap for the purpose of trapping domestic animals.

Once identified, the person or persons responsible for this crime face prosecution and serious liability, including a term of imprisonment for up to two years and fines of up to $82,610.00. RSPCA Victoria relies on the local community to assist in these cases, and even the smallest detail can help.

Anyone with information they believe may be relevant to either of these cases is encouraged to make a report via www.rspcavic.org/report or by calling 9224 2222.

***WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW***
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30 September 2020

RSPCA Victoria secures conviction and ban after dog dies in hot car


A fantastic outcome for animal welfare, RSPCA Victoria has secured a criminal conviction for a case of animal cruelty that occurred in the Greater Bendigo area late last year.

On 30th December 2019, a deceased dog was located in a vehicle parked at a Caltex Service Station. CCTV footage subsequently revealed that the vehicle had arrived at the service station around 8am three days earlier. The male driver, subsequently identified as Mr Craig Binder, could clearly be seen, and a German Shepherd cross type dog was alive and visible in the rear seat of the car.

A post-mortem examination indicated the dog had been dead for some time prior to examination, and this was supported by the presence of maggots throughout its coat and mouth. Subsequent checks with the Bureau of Meteorology found that the temperatures in the area from 27th to 30th December 2019 ranged between 38 and 42 degrees Celsius.

Mr Binder admitted to being the driver of the car and confirmed he was the sole owner and person in charge of the dog, named Tully, having owned the animal for five years. He was unable to explain why he hadn’t returned to the car for four days and expressed remorse for Tully’s suffering.

During a hearing at Bendigo Magistrates’ Court, Mr Binder plead guilty to three charges, being that he did:
• worry, torment or terrify an animal,
• confine an animal where the confinement caused or was likely to cause unreasonable pain or suffering; and
• commit an act of aggravated cruelty whereby the act of cruelty caused the death of the animal.

Magistrate Ms McRae described the suffering of the dog as “heartbreaking” and said that Mr Binder had failed in his duty of care to the animal.

Yesterday, Mr Binder was sentenced, with conviction, to a 12-month community corrections order with supervision, 80 hours of unpaid work, and requirements to undertake various treatment programs. The 53-year-old was also given a 10-year ban from owning or being the person in charge of any dog, the maximum length of ban for a first offence.

RSPCA Victoria Head of Inspectorate, Terry Ness, said with temperatures set to rise this week, it was a timely reminder for pet owners across the state that no animal should ever be left in a vehicle, even for a short period of time.

“We know that animals left in hot cars can suffer severe heat exhaustion and die in just six minutes – it is truly alarming to see the amount of harm that can occur in such a short time frame,” said Mr Ness.
“It is likely Tully would have experienced severe mental distress before her death, and we do not want any other animal to endure this same level of suffering.”

Vehicle tests conducted by Melbourne’s Metropolitan Ambulance Service on a 29-degree day showed that even when the car’s air conditioning had cooled the interior temperature to a comfortable 20 degrees, it took just 10 minutes for it to climb to 44 degrees. In a further 10 minutes the temperature had tripled to 60.2 degrees.

If anyone locates a pet in a locked vehicle it is essential they immediately call Victoria Police on triple zero. Police officers have the ability to respond to these matters in a time-critical manner and have the authority to break into vehicles if an animal is at risk.

Anyone who has concerns for the welfare of an animal is encouraged to contact RSPCA Victoria on 9224 2222 or at rspcavic.org. All concerns relating to animals in hot cars should be directed to Victoria Police on triple zero.

Tomorrow, Thursday, 1 October 2020, is RSPCA Victoria’s Give to Get Them Home day. For one day only, every donation to RSPCA Victoria will be doubled to help the Inspectorate continue to investigate cases of animal cruelty like this. Donations can be made via: https://www.charidy.com/rspcavic.



29 September 2020

Zoos Victoria & RSPCA Victoria Koala Hospital Announcement


Zoos Victoria and RSPCA Victoria are joining forces to build a new, world-class veterinary facility for sick and injured koalas and other precious wildlife.

The $1.84million koala hospital will be built at Werribee Open Range Zoo, with a staggering $1.3million coming from generous donations made to RSPCA Victoria during last summer’s devastating bushfires. The remaining costs will be funded through Zoos Victoria.

Werribee Open Range Zoo’s location, facilities and scope for expansion position it as the ideal home for the new medical facility. The Zoo is located in the heart of Melbourne’s west, a bushfire-prone region with significant wildlife and koala populations. The new koala hospital will treat wildlife from the western regions of the state and complement the existing wildlife hospitals at Healesville Sanctuary and Melbourne Zoo.

Once complete, the new hospital will increase the Zoo’s capacity to care for koalas, native birds, reptiles and mammals in Victoria’s western regions by up to 400%. It will also equip Zoos Victoria’s team of wildlife experts with greater resources to respond during bushfire emergencies.

RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker thanked the charity’s bushfire appeal donors for making the new hospital possible and said she looked forward to combining the expertise of the RSPCA and Zoos Victoria to change the face of wildlife care in Victoria.

“We’re very excited to be partnering with Zoos Victoria to build a new, state of the art koala hospital for Victoria – made possible by the generous donors who supported our bushfire appeal last summer. With our joint expertise in animal welfare and wildlife care, we will increase the capacity to care for koalas and other vulnerable wildlife populations in Victoria’s west and across our state, during emergencies and at other times.”

Zoos Victoria CEO Dr Jenny Gray said she was excited to join forces with RSPCA Victoria to bring this really important project to life.

“We’re thankful for RSPCA Victoria’s generous support,” Dr Gray said. “This alignment will allow us to provide expert, compassionate care to more sick, injured and bushfire-affected wildlife in a region where we are seeing this need grow year on year.”

The announcement follows last summer’s devastating bushfire season where Zoos Victoria’s veterinary teams treated and rehabilitated bushfire-affected wildlife, and RSPCA Victoria deployed its Mobile Animal Care Unit and support staff to triage locations. Both organisations continue to actively support communities and animals through the recovery.

There is a strong need for emergency wildlife services in the western region with the number of koalas and other injured wildlife requiring treatment increasing by a staggering 650% over the past five years. This increase is attributed to urban sprawl in the region and rising community awareness about the medical services that Werribee Open Range Zoo’s vets provide for wildlife.

Construction of the facility is slated to commence in early 2021 and a large eucalypt browse plantation has already been planted that can provide a critical food source for koalas and wildlife whilst they are in care.

The koala hospital will be constructed to allow Zoo visitors to see staff undertaking their wildlife conservation work and help foster care and respect for wildlife.

This latest partnership between Zoos Victoria and RSPCA Victoria builds upon a strong existing relationship. In 2018, the organisations jointly launched Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife, an initiative that provides cat owners with advice, tips, and tools to help their felines live a happy life indoors - enabling local wildlife to freely roam and flourish.

Werribee Open Range Zoo is temporarily closed to members and visitors, but animal lovers at home can stay connected with the Zoo’s animals through Zoos Victoria’s live stream cameras at www.zoo.org.au/animals-at-home.


17 September 2020

One day, double the impact for neglected and abandoned Victorian animals


For one day only, animal lovers will be given a rare opportunity to double the dollars they donate to RSPCA Victoria during Give to Get Them Home on Thursday, 1 October.

Every donation made to RSPCA Victoria during Give to Get them Home will be matched by generous major donors and corporate partners on the day.

“With many Victorians feeling the strain in their back pockets at the moment, dollar matching fundraisers are a wonderful way for even the smallest donation to make a big difference,” said Dr Liz Walker, CEO at RSPCA Victoria.

“Animal cruelty still occurs, even in the face of the pandemic. Our Inspectors are still on the road, our vet clinics are still treating sick animals and our shelters are working hard every day to find loving new homes for the animals in our care.

“On October 1, any donation made to RSPCA Victoria will be doubled by our Give to Get Them Home matching partners. That means a $25 donation will turn into $50, $100 into $200 and so on. This money will go directly towards helping neglected, abandoned and abused animals.

“Like many charities, we are feeling the impact of COVID-19 so every dollar donated counts even more at the moment. The potential impact of a day like Give to Get the Home is not to be underestimated. Last year 2,768 generous donors and matching partners raised an incredible $798,778 for RSPCA Victoria.”

On average it costs RSPCA Victoria $1,000 to rescue, care for and find an animal a home. Money raised will go directly to help homeless, neglected and abused animals in the community, and support RSPCA Victoria’s animal welfare advocacy and education work.

Give to Get Them Home is made possible by major donors and the below corporate partners.

Participants can donate via www.charidy.com/rspcavic or via telephone on 9224 2538.


16 September 2020

RSPCA Victoria appeals for information after possum is found dumped in sealed bag


A ringtail possum has escaped with his life after being rescued by RSPCA Victoria Inspectors from a sealed bag found dumped in Brighton on Tuesday, 16 September.

The bag was discovered by a local resident who reported to RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate that an unidentified animal was seemingly alive inside the tightly sealed bag.

The bag was found on the road in Asling Street, Brighton. It may have fallen off a moving vehicle or may have been placed there intentionally.

The lucky animal, dubbed Possum Magic, was assessed by RSPCA Victoria vets who said it was likely the possum had been caught in a trap before being cruelly sealed in the bag, as indicated by the wound on his nose.

RSPCA Victoria Inspectorate Acting Team Leader Maree Crabtree said that the possum would have no long-term injuries, but he would need time to recover from the trauma he had endured.
“Upon receiving the report from a concerned citizen, I was worried the ringtail possum wouldn’t be able to be saved. But it’s been a true good news story, despite the odds,” says Ms Crabtree.

Possum Magic is now with an expert wildlife carer who will help rehabilitate him before returning him back to the wild.

“The possum would have experienced significant mental distress from being contained in such a way. Thankfully, he is in good hands and our focus is now on investigating and prosecuting the individual who committed this act of animal cruelty -as such, we are asking those who have information to come forward and make a report.”

RSPCA Victoria Inspectors are investigating the case without any known persons of interest and are appealing to the public for information to bring the offender/s to account.

Ringtail possums are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and it is illegal to harass or interfere with possums.

RSPCA Victoria relies on the local community to assist in these cases, and even the smallest detail can help. Anyone who has knowledge or information relating to these incidents are encouraged to call 03 9224 2222 or visit rspcavic.org to make a report.

Individuals convicted of cruelty under section 9 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act can face fines up to $41,306, or 12 months’ imprisonment.

For information on how to live in harmony with possums visit https://rspcavic.org/health-and-behaviour/native-and-introduced-animals/living-in-harmony-with-possums."


12 September 2020

RSPCA Victoria welcomes resumption of grooming services


Attributed to Dr Liz Walker, CEO, RSPCA Victoria;

“RSPCA Victoria welcomes today’s announcement by the Premier, Hon. Daniel Andrews, that contactless animal grooming will be allowed to resume from 28 September 2020 in Metropolitan Melbourne.

“RSPCA Victoria alongside other animal welfare agencies and industry, has been advocating for this change to restrictions based on animal welfare grounds. We thank the Victorian Government for listening to feedback from the animal welfare community.

“RSPCA Victoria understands that many pet owners will be relieved to know they can again access grooming services for domestic animals. Grooming is an essential form of care for some breeds such as double coated and long-haired animals, in order to prevent adverse welfare outcomes such as matting which can cut off blood supply to extremities and cause significant skin conditions.

“Now that we are in the spring season, grooming becomes ever more important as animals go through their spring moult, grass seed prevalence increases, flea activity increases, and seasonal allergies are aggravated.

“We will work through what this announcement means for our operations and advise our grooming customers next week.

“In the interim RSPCA Victoria’s website provides grooming tips and guidance; however, anyone with concerns should contact their veterinarian for advice."


10 September 2020

Neglect continues as Victoria’s most reported animal cruelty concern


Neglect continues to be the most commonly reported animal cruelty concern across Victoria, according to RSPCA Victoria’s analysis of the 10,745 animal cruelty reports – averaging 29 per day - made to its Inspectorate during 2019-2020.

For the fifth year in a row, RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker is disappointed and concerned about the welfare of Victorian animals knowing that basic neglect continues to make up the highest proportion of reports.

“I am disheartened to see the overwhelming issue continues to be neglect, indicating many animals in Victoria are not receiving the most basic standard of care, such as sufficient food, water and shelter.

“It is heartbreaking to know so many animals continue to suffer across our state due to a lack of basic care and these statistics clearly illustrate the need for our Inspectorate’s important work,” Dr Walker said.

“Additionally we are concerned for all animal welfare in the year ahead as the economic impacts of the pandemic are yet to be fully experienced.

“The 2019-20 animal cruelty report statistics clearly indicate the need for further education and for people to seek help if they are having trouble providing basic care for their animals.” Dr Walker said.

These numbers are a return to the historical average of the past six years, with the high level of reporting seen in 2018-2019, similar to the high levels of reporting in 2015-2016 that were associated with particularly dry seasonal conditions.

Offences in these reports included:

Reported concerns

19/20

18/19

Instances of animals with insufficient food, water or shelter

6,044

6,672

Concerns about hygiene, grooming and housing conditions

3,887

3,706

Reports of underweight animals

2,862

3,274

Sick and injured animals not receiving veterinary treatment

2,559

2,799

Concerns about animals being beaten or wounded

1,467

1,310

Instances of abandoned animals

1,172

1,232

Note: Many of the reports received by RSPCA Victoria in 2019-20 included allegations of multiple offences involving multiple animals, hence the total number of concerns exceeding the 10,745 reports.    

Dr Walker noted that RSPCA Victoria relies heavily on the public to report concerns regarding animal cruelty and neglect.

“Unfortunately we know that cruelty continues and that Victoria’s animals need us to continue our work to end animal cruelty so I encourage people to continue reporting to our Inspectorate.

“Without the caring Victorians who take animal welfare seriously and make the time to report cruelty to our Inspectorate, many animals in need would go without the care and attention they deserve.

“There is no shame in asking for support so we also encourage people to seek advice or assistance if they have concerns about properly caring for their animals.

Dr Walker also emphasised the hard work and persistence of RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectors, who investigate cases of animal cruelty and enforce animal welfare law.

“While our inspectorate importantly investigates matters of cruelty, the inspectors also work directly with the public to provide support by helping people to improve the care they provide to their animals.

“Our Inspectorate performs a vital function for the Victorian community and RSPCA Victoria is thankful for the support of the Victorian Government as we work toward our vision of ending cruelty to all animals.”

In 2019-20, RSPCA Victoria Inspectors:
·        issued 492 notices to comply
·        laid 120 charges against 44 people
·        finalised 51 prosecutions, with facts proven in 49 cases

At the end of the financial year, 62 cases were still before the courts.

While the Inspectorate continues its important work, court cases have been adjourned due to COVID-19, meaning the length of stay in shelters for animals involved in court cases has increased. Currently there are 106 animals in care under Protective Custody Hold while RSPCA Victoria awaits revised court dates.

Animals most commonly reported

Welfare concerns for dogs, cats and horses continued to make up the majority of the 10,745 cruelty reports in 2019-20:
·        6,723 reports involved dogs and puppies (an increase of approximately 4% from 6,445 reports in 2018-19)
·        1,886 reports involved cats and kittens (an increase of approximately 7% from 1,756 reports in 2018-19)
·        1,236 reports involved horses (a decrease of approximately 28% from 1,712 reports in 2018-19)
Reports by local government area

Reports by local government area

Rankings by number of reports

2019-20

ranking

2019-20

reports

Local government area

2018-19 ranking

2018-19 reports

2017-18 ranking

2017-18 reports

1

581

Casey City Council

2

561

2

462

2

561

Greater Geelong City Council

1

617

1

559

3

374

Hume City Council

3

410

3

376

4

344

Whittlesea City Council

5

383

10

311

5

338

Melton Shire Council

6

375

7

325

6

338

Frankston City Council

10

315

4

350

7

333

Latrobe City Council

12

310

11

305

8

328

Wyndham City Council

7

364

13

291

9

320

City of Greater Bendigo

4

393

6

333

10

303

Mornington Peninsula Shire Council

13

300

9

322


Neither Yarra Ranges Shire Council, which ranked 8 for 2018-19 with 362 cruelty reports, or Cardinia Shire Council, which ranked 9 for 2018-19 with 351 cruelty reports, appeared in the 2019-20 top ten ranking for the highest number of cruelty reports.

Rankings by Reports per capita

2019-20 Ranking

2019-20 Per capita

Area

2018-19 Ranking

2018-19 Per capita

2017-18 Ranking

2017-18
Per capita

1

1:144

Pyrenees Shire Council

1

1 : 101

5

1: 223

2

1:179

Hepburn Shire Council

3

1 : 180

1

1 : 157

3

1:208

Loddon Shire Council

2

1 : 139

11

1 : 289

4

1:223

Corangamite Shire Council

15

1 : 274

7

1 : 248

5

1:227

Latrobe City Council

8

1 : 243

6

1 : 247

6

1:263

Mitchell Shire Council

16

1; 277

12

1 : 290

7

1:265

Rural City of Wangaratta

19

1 ; 288

26

1 : 388

8

1:283

Moyne Shire Council

12

1 ; 260

18

1 : 345

9

1:289

Yarriambiack Shire Council

31

370

23

1 : 370

10

1:290

Wellington Shire Council

13

260

24

1 : 370

For further details regarding cruelty statistics for a specific council area, please contact RSPCA Victoria’s Media Team.

About this data

·         Many of the 10,745 reports received by RSPCA Victoria in 2019-20 included allegations of multiple offences involving multiple animals.

·         Not every report contains a substantiated offence. Some reports involve concerns that do not meet the threshold for an offence in Victoria, and others were not substantiated through investigation.

·         Not every offence results in a charge or a prosecution. Many offences are resolved quickly by the owner or person in charge of an animal after they have been contacted by an RSPCA Victoria Inspector.

About RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate


R
SPCA Victoria has 28 Inspectors authorised to enforce Victoria’s
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTAA). The other authorised organisations are the Department of Jobs, Precincts & Regions; the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning; Parks Victoria; Victoria Police and many local councils.

 

RSPCA Victoria investigates reports of animal cruelty involving companion animals (including horses), livestock in herds of less than 10 and poultry in flocks of less than 50. Reports involving larger herds of livestock or wildlife are referred to other agencies for investigation.



9 September 2020

RSPCA Victoria rescues stray sheep with 20kg fleece


In a good news story, an abandoned, roaming sheep in central Victoria has been rescued by RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate after a member of the public reported a single sheep roaming on a property in Redcastle with no apparent flock or owner in July.

Upon arrival at the unfenced, heavily wooded area, the RPSCA Victoria Inspectors located the sheep and found she was carrying the burden of an enormous fleece. Local knowledge suggests the ewe had not been shorn in approximately four years.

After capture the sheep was shorn yielding a fleece weighing 20kg. After her veterinary checks were completed she was aptly named Ewenice, and was sent on her way to her new home in Geelong.

Head of Inspectorate Terry Ness noted the case illustrates the commitment of RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate to address every cruelty report received regardless of the type of cruelty involved.

“Carrying such a large fleece for an extended period of time would have had dire impact on this ewe’s welfare and quality of life. It was fantastic to see her transformation after shearing and to send her on to her new home,” said Mr Ness.

For sheep breeds specifically grown for wool production, the fleece must be removed regularly because it grows continuously and they are unable to shed. Sheep are typically shorn at least once a year, usually in spring.

If sheep aren’t shorn, they can suffer from poor health and hygiene. In severe cases excess wool impedes the ability of sheep to regulate their body temperatures, which can cause them to become overheated and die in some cases.

Animal husbandry is integral to animal welfare, whether it be for domestic pets such as cats and dogs, or farm animals, regardless of whether they are part of a production system or a pet on a hobby farm.

Anyone who has concerns about the welfare of an animal is encouraged to make a report to RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate. All reports made to RSPCA Victoria’s Inspectorate must be lodged via the RSPCA Victoria website or by calling 9224 2222. Facebook messages and emails through unofficial channels do not constitute an official cruelty report.