RSPCA Tasmania News

Published: 07 December 2016

Timely Christmas present for greyhounds

Government responds to Inquiry recommendations

RSPCA Tasmania has welcomed the government’s announcement of a range of actions in response to the recommendations from the recent parliamentary inquiry into Tasmania’s greyhound industry.

RSPCA CEO Peter West says the actions outlined in the document are a very positive step forward and a great Christmas present for greyhounds.

While not a shut-down of the industry, the actions announced by government puts the industry on notice and clearly signals that the Office of Racing Integrity is earnest about getting owners and trainers to take the welfare of greyhounds seriously,” Mr West said.

He said as the state’s leading animal welfare advocate, RSPCA Tasmania will continue its work behind the scenes to achieve better outcomes for greyhounds and indeed, all animals.

RSPCA Tasmania is willing to assist the Office of Racing Integrity to achieve a safer and smarter Greyhound Racing Industry - one that puts the respect and care for their animals ahead of gambling dollars.

Tasmania continues to lead the way on greyhound welfare reform and we hope that other states will see what’s happening here and tighten their stance.

Mr West said he hoped the good news would continue in terms of government announcements around longstanding animal welfare legislation.

Published: 29 October 2016

RSPCA Tasmania continues to look to the future

Tasmania’s peak animal welfare body, RSPCA Tasmania has recognised the great work of staff and volunteers in delivering improved animal welfare outcomes in its 2015-16 Annual Report, released to members at the Society’s Annual General Meeting held in Launceston today.

RSPCA Tasmania President, Simon Froude, acknowledged the organisation’s achievements in a challenging year.

The last financial year has not been without its challenges, but we feel that RSPCA Tasmania continues to make significant steps towards becoming a more stable and sustainable organisation,” Mr Froude said.

A few years ago the future of the Society looked bleak but the dedicated efforts of the Board, staff and volunteers have ensured we have a clear understanding of where RSPCA Tasmania is headed.

We have achieved many good things this year and will continue to deliver growth through initiatives such as an increased Vet Clinic presence, greater emphasis on Grant funding and building stronger relationships with our supporters.

During the year the RSPCA Tasmania completed the constitutional and governance changes agreed to by members at the 2015 AGM, which have taken almost two years to achieve.

This year has seen us move to become a Company Limited by Guarantee, and adopt the new Constitution agreed to at the last AGM,” Mr Froude said.

We have also adopted a Strategic Plan that charts the way forward and provides measurable goals for us to focus on."

The Work for the Dole programs at each of our Animal Care Centres are also delivering great benefits by making the Centres safer and more attractive (to animals and humans).

Work includes completion of new walking tracks, upgrades to dog exercise yards, new cat viewing rooms, a veterinary clinic in Launceston, a dog wash area in Devonport and the commencement of a special project to provide new dog kennels to animals and people in need.

"These measures ensure RSPCA Tasmania will continue to meet the expectations of all our stakeholders into the future,” Mr Froude said at the AGM.

RSPCA Tasmania CEO, Peter West, said last year’s poor financial result had prompted a great deal of introspection leading to a greater emphasis on diversifying income streams.

"There is a very real and demonstrated need for our services and the challenge for us is to respond to that need within our available resources,” Mr West said.

We intend to continue focussing our efforts on providing increased opportunities for the community to help us help more Tasmanian animals in need.

In 2015-16 RSPCA Tasmania achieved a live release (rehoming and reclaim) rate of 79%. Three years ago this was 63%, followed a year later with 58%, and in 2014-2015 the live release rate grew to 72%.

"One of the things that makes me most proud of our year is that we continue to achieve strong results in rehoming animals from our Animal Care Centres,” Mr West said.

I am so pleased we are able to help more animals find homes than ever before.

With a 97% success rate in the courts, and with almost 3,000 calls to the Animal Cruelty Hotline resulting in over 5,800 individual complaints investigated, RSPCA Tasmania’s Inspectorate Service has yet again shown their commitment to upholding Tasmania's Animal Welfare laws.

This year RSPCA Tasmania has led the public discussion around significant animal welfare issues including the live baiting and welfare of greyhounds and the development of a new and stronger Cat Management Plan. It has also tackled issues related to extreme weather events across the state, community reporting of animal cruelty, and the increase in reports of cruelty to horses.

Mr West said RSPCA Tasmania recognises the role the media plays in helping the society to achieve its vision of a Tasmania where all animals are treated with respect and kindness.

"News media is a most effective avenue to raise community awareness about animal welfare issues and to reach out to the public for support and we gratefully acknowledge the media’s assistance in telling these important stories,” he said.

RSPCA Tasmania Annual Report 2015-16

Published: 14 September 2016

Publication of the Tasmanian Parliamentary Greyhound Report

RSPCA Tasmania welcomes the publication of the Parliamentary Committee’s report into the greyhound industry but says the Inquiry has not let the greyhound industry off the leash.

RSPCA CEO Peter West says the industry is now on notice that it needs to do better.

The opportunity was there for a once-in-a-generation response that would finally bring about better welfare outcomes for greyhounds and other animals such as those involved in the live baiting scandal.

It seems the Committee has decided to not make a stand for greyhounds and chosen instead to take the easy way out.

The focus now shifts to the state Government to see what it will do to ensure greyhounds get a better deal,” Mr West said.

Judging by recent media releases and what has been said in parliament over the last few weeks, it is clear that the Government, with Labor support, will put jobs and income from gambling revenue ahead of the welfare of animals, especially greyhounds.

Statistics show that on average, two greyhounds will be injured every time there is a greyhound race meeting in this state, and there is a reasonable chance that at least one greyhound will be euthanased - just so we can gamble and be entertained.

Mr West says TasRacing is at the forefront of reforming industry practices, and other states are considering similar practices to Tasmania’s.

However there are still so many questions around injury and deaths at race meetings, massive shortfalls in rehoming options and the need for constant policing of owners and trainers by the Office of Racing Integrity – these indicate that greyhound racing can never be a completely humane form of entertainment or sport.

Mr West says at the end of the day, it is perfectly clear there will be a vast number of greyhounds that will need re-homing, that are currently not being re-homed.

TasRacing says 100% of greyhounds will be re-homed by 2019, but we ask - why can’t that be from today, or next week, or even next year?

It seems that those of us that advocate significant change will need to accept the cards we’ve been dealt, take a pragmatic approach and be prepared to work with government and the racing industry to achieve better animal welfare outcomes.”

The full report can be viewed here.

Published: 25 August 2016

2016 Election of Directors

RSPCA Tasmania hereby gives notice of, and calls for nominations for, election of Directors to be held at the 2016 AGM. Valid nominations need to be received, no later than midday 13 September 2016 addressed to :

Mr Peter West
CEO RSPCA Tasmania,
553 Pass Road,
Mornington. TAS 7018

Nomination form available here.

Published: 05 August 2016

Talking Point: Stop industry going to the dogs

by Peter West CEO of RSPCA Tasmania.

If the problems in the greyhound industry are not effectively resolved, the RSPCA does not support greyhound racing.

Since the NSW Premier handed down his decision to close down the industry and the ACT Government also withdrew its support, I have been trying to see past the emotion from both sides of the debate, and focus on the facts.

Everyone I have spoken with, even in the industry, agrees the concerns about greyhound racing are larger than just euthanasia rates, and that there are complex issues that need to be addressed.

Industry representatives stress that in Tasmania there has been a concerted effort to address the main concerns around animal welfare, especially after the ABC story on live baiting went to air about 18 months ago.

While NSW and the ACT are making the bold move to shut down the industry, Queensland and Victoria are moving to a model more closely aligned to the Tasmanian system, which separates the integrity arm of racing from the racing authority.

The Queensland and Victorian decisions have given their greyhound racing industries more time. Time to come good or time to hang themselves? I guess time will tell. In those states, the governments are pulling every lever, including a massive injection of funds to achieve better greyhound rehoming rates, to get positive results.

Does the Tasmanian Government have enough money to make an effective or significant difference?

There is no doubt there are good people in greyhound racing in Tasmania; people who care for animals, who abide by all the rules, and who genuinely believe the industry can and should continue.

In its formal submission to the sitting Tasmanian Parliamentary Inquiry, RSPCA Tasmania outlined 14 areas of serious animal welfare concerns with the greyhound racing industry.

The concerns were: significant overbreeding and high wastage rates, high euthanasia rates and low rehoming rates, injuries suffered by greyhounds, lack of industry transparency and accountability, insufficient socialisation of greyhounds, housing conditions and environmental enrichment, enforceable standards for greyhounds, licensing and inspection regime, education of participants, extending the racing career of greyhounds, administration of illicit drugs and other banned substances, illegal live baiting, the welfare of greyhounds in the possession of disqualified owner/trainers, and issues around the export of Australian greyhounds.

Together with the Office of Racing Integrity, Tasracing believes it has addressed or is working toward addressing these 14 points of concern.

Progress definitely is being made, however there are still serious issues that require consideration and change.

It is clear that just by running greyhound races there will be injuries and sometimes deaths.

In 2014 there were 157 races across the state. Stewards report that there were 274 injuries, 13 illness-related incidents and 14 greyhounds were euthanised.

Is this acceptable?

On the issue of “wastage”, the significant number of dogs that will inevitably be made redundant at the end of their racing days cannot be sustainably rehomed.

Even if the number of post-racing greyhounds reduces, as the industry is saying it is, there will still be hundreds of greyhounds needing a new home each and every year.

The 35 per cent increase in rehoming retired greyhounds by the Greyhound Adoption Program this year represents just over 20 dogs (85 in total).

This is a tiny number considering about 400-500 greyhounds exit the industry in Tasmania each year.

The RSPCA has long expressed concern about poor animal welfare outcomes in the greyhound racing industry and has been frustrated in the past by the inability of the industry to see that there was need for change.

Tasmania has a limited market for new dog homes. What is the rehoming saturation point? What is an acceptable level of animals not being rehomed? I would suggest there isn’t one. It is clear to me that Tasmanians do not accept the killing of healthy dogs — once their value for sport, entertainment and gambling is over.

Whatever the Tasmanian inquiry report recommends, committee members must satisfy themselves that every dog going into racing will find a home at the end of their career. If the committee members cannot assure Tasmanians this will occur, the Government should be left with no choice but to follow the NSW lead.

On the issue of live-baiting, it is not correct to claim, as the industry does, that there have been no complaints or reports of live-baiting in Tasmania.

The last conviction for live-baiting in Tasmania was eight years ago. After the Four Corners story on ABC TV there were 12 reports of live- baiting or similar, all of which were investigated by RSPCA inspectors. While there was not enough hard evidence to prosecute any of these cases, it would be naive to believe live- baiting does not happen here.

The RSPCA has long expressed concern about poor animal welfare outcomes in the greyhound racing industry and has been frustrated in the past by the inability of the industry to see that there was need for change.

It is pleasing to see the desire of the greyhound racing industry in Tasmania to achieve better animal welfare outcomes, but is it all a case of shutting the gate after most of the greyhounds have bolted?

This opinion piece appeared in the Mercury Newspaper on August 5, 2016.

Published: 11 November 2016

Milly survives horrific cruelty

RSPCA Tasmania is seeking public assistance in identifying the perpetrators of an horrific act of cruelty on a pregnant cat.

Milly was surrendered to RSPCA Tasmania in late October having had three kittens only an hour before she arrived at our Mornington Animal Care Centre with burns to the back of her head and neck.

The person who surrendered Milly said that a week earlier Milly had petrol poured on her and was set alight.

RSPCA Chief Vet Andrew Byrne says Milly is healing well and is a great mum to her kittens.

We were initially concerned by the nature of the wound and thought that she might lose her ear, however it has healed well and Milly should make a full recovery, with her ear intact.

RSPCA Tasmania Inspectors are looking into allegations that other domestic animals in the Bridgewater have also been cruelly treated.

RSPCA Tasmania Inspector Ashlie Burnett with Milly

RSPCA Tasmania Inspector Ashlie Burnett with Milly

Inspector Ashlie Burnett says they have been in contact with Tasmania Police and are investigating whether this may not be an isolated incident.

Anecdotally we are hearing that pet owners in the area are ensuring their pets are indoors of a night. This is a wise thing to do given this situation,” Ms Burnett said.

RSPCA Tasmania CEO, Peter West said he was appalled that this sort of thing was happening in 2016.

He said his biggest concern is that children or young people might be the perpetrators of this cruelty.

Studies have shown that cruelty to animals in childhood can lead to antisocial behaviour later in life,” he said.

RSPCA’s vision is for a Tasmania where all animals are treated with respect and kindness, and we hope the community can help us investigate this case and get help for the people who are doing this to our vulnerable pets.

We urge anybody with any information to call our 24/7 Animal Cruelty Hotline on 1300 139 947 or go to our website and fill out a complaint form. We follow up 100% of complaints and all calls are treated confidentially.

If there is any good to come out of this it’s that Milly has had three healthy kittens – Mika, Milan and Marlon- and has a chance at a wonderful new life,” Mr West said.

Published: 16 September 2016

Bass Strait cattle deaths investigation concludes

RSPCA Tasmania advises that progress has been made in the investigation into the death of 59 cattle during a Bass Strait crossing aboard the MV Statesman in late January this year.

RSPCA Tasmania Inspectors have been assisting the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) with their investigation.

DPIPWE has concluded its investigation and is preparing a report to go to the Tasmanian Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration.

In the interim the MV Statesman continues to transport cattle across Bass Strait under strict animal welfare instructions from DPIPWE.

Published: 01 September 2016

RSPCA Tasmania appoints new Chief Veterinarian


RSPCA Tasmania is excited to welcome experienced veterinarian, Dr Andrew Byrne to the new role of Chief Veterinarian and Animal Care Manager.

Dr Byrne has 30 years veterinary experience and was recently the Chief Vet for RSPCA Victoria. He may also be familiar to many as the public face of RSPCA pet insurance.

Dr Byrne will be based at RSPCA’s Launceston Animal Care Centre but will travel widely and use contemporary communications technology to liaise with other veterinary and Animal Care Centre staff around the state.

RSPCA Tasmania CEO Peter West says that thanks to the Work for The Dole program, RSPCA’s Launceston Animal Care Centre has a new facility exclusively for vet activities.

Now that we have the infrastructure and the fulltime expertise, we intend to considerably ramp up our de-sexing, vaccination and microchipping services for dogs and cats statewide,” Mr West said.

Obviously, RSPCA animals continue to be our first priority, but our longer term plan is to make these important vet services available to the general public.

We are very pleased that someone with such expertise and outstanding reputation has chosen to come to Tasmania to lead the implementation of our new vet care strategy,” Mr West said.

Dr Byrne says he’s looking forward to his new challenge.

I am keen to bring my expertise, knowledge and passion to assist RSPCA Tasmania in developing our veterinary program.

I will be drawing on my thirty years’ experience from other RSPCAs around the country and in private practice to bring improved animal welfare outcomes to Tasmanian animals.

RSPCA President Simon Froude says Dr Byrne’s appointment heralds a new era for RSPCA Tasmania’s vet services.

With Andrew’s considerable veterinary and management experience and with an additional new vet recently appointed in the south, RSPCA Tasmania is set to embark on another exciting phase in our renewal strategy.

Andrew will help us develop and implement strategic initiatives that will improve animal care and welfare outcomes in the Tasmanian community and at the same time, create sustainable value to the RSPCA,“ Mr Froude said.

We have taken the bull by the horns, as it were, and introduced new services that will not only benefit the community and fulfil our mission, but also have potential to sustain our animal care and inspectorate operations into the future”.

Published: 15 August 2016

RSPCA Cupcake Day 2016

Today is the 9th RSPCA Cupcake Day - the day when many hundreds of cupcakes will be baked, sold and consumed in homes, cafes, businesses, and schools right around Tasmania, raising funds for Tasmania’s peak animal welfare charity.

Cupcake Day is one of RSPCA’s Tasmania’s major fundraising programs. This year’s target is $40,000 and to date, 230 people statewide have registered on the RSPCA Cupcake Day website. However, many more individuals and businesses traditionally are “unofficially” fundraising for the campaign, which runs throughout all of August.

All funds raised from the campaign are critical to sustaining the operations of RSPCA Tasmania’s three Animal Care Centres and its statewide Inspectorate service, which investigates cruelty complaints.
Each year RSPCA cares for around 4,500 animals and investigates approximately 3,000 animal cruelty complaints.

For 2016 RSPCA Tasmania has added a new dimension to the Cupcake Day campaign, introducing the inaugural Schools Challenge, encouraging schools around the state to compete with each other in raising funds for Cupcake Day.
The Risdon Vale Primary School on Hobart’s eastern shore is one of 33 Tasmanian schools whose students have enthusiastically embraced Cupcake Day.

With a big day of cupcake sales expected at their official Cupcake Day stall today, Risdon Vale Primary’s Year 4/5 students have already raised several hundred dollars through online donations and are hoping to raise close to $1,000 overall.

Risdon Vale Primary School teacher Michelle Gearman has been a driving force behind the school’s Cupcake Day fundraising. She says it wasn’t difficult persuading the students to embrace the Cupcake Day campaign after an educational visit from RSPCA Tasmania CEO Peter West.

The students were very excited to help the RSPCA after that visit and they’ve really got into the spirit, bringing cupcakes from home for sale at school,” said Michelle.

This exercise has been a real winner from the school’s perspective because it fits so well with the Australian curriculum, covering maths, English and even science. The social development opportunities are enormous as well.

Beyond all that, it’s a great way to raise lots of money for this wonderful charity!

More information is available at

Published: 07 July 2016

RSPCA Applauds Baird Government’s Historic Decision on Greyhounds

RSPCA Australia applauds the Baird Government’s decisive action to end the cruelty of greyhound racing by banning the sport in NSW from July 2017.

The RSPCA provided extensive written and oral evidence to the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry which has found animal cruelty, mass greyhound killings and live baiting are systemic to the sport.

The Inquiry’s view is consistent with RSPCA’s position that there are significant and entrenched animal welfare problems inherent in the greyhound racing industry. These include problems with over-supply, injuries, physical overexertion, inadequate housing, lack of socialisation and environmental enrichment, training, illegal live baiting, administration of banned or unregistered substances, export and the fate of unwanted greyhounds with high wastage and high euthanasia rates.

The Baird government has made a courageous decision today, but one based on devastating evidence, and that has the overwhelming backing of the Australian public” said Dr Jade Norris, Scientific Officer, RSPCA Australia.

The greyhound racing industry lost its social licence in 2015 when ABC TV’s Four Corners exposed the horrors of live baiting using footage obtained by Animals Australia and Animal Liberation Queensland.

As a result, criminal investigations by the RSPCA and Police have resulted in over 50 individuals being charged over live baiting offences across three states and 179 trainers and breeders charged for exporting greyhounds to Macau. Multiple trainers have also been banned by industry regulators from training or owning greyhounds.
“We urge all state and territory governments around Australia to read the Inquiry’s report and follow suit. We urgently need a national approach to ending greyhound racing across Australia.

The Special Commission of Inquiry has demonstrated that cruelty is intertwined into every level of this sport. Greyhounds have been regarded as disposable objects for far too long – it’s time to treat these graceful and intelligent animals with the respect they deserve.

The RSPCA is Australia’s leading animal welfare organisation and one of Australia’s most trusted charities. The RSPCA works to prevent cruelty to animals by actively promoting their care and protection.

How you can help

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Every donation great or small helps RSPCA Tasmania continue to help thousands of animals in need every year.