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RSPCA Tasmania News

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: 22 June 2016

RSPCA Tasmania Horse Community Information Sessions

RSPCA Tasmania’s Inspectorate Service will next week host three information evenings around the State for Tasmania’s horse owner community.

This initiative is designed to enable RSPCA to actively engage with the Tasmanian horse community and provide a positive, proactive approach to issues raised by the horse community over recent months.

The free information sessions will canvas relevant legislation, the commonly used Body Condition Scoring (BCS), legally acceptable animal condition, and RSPCA Tasmania’s involvement in cases of animal welfare.

Speakers at the sessions will provide general and veterinary advice on a range of equine care topics including tips on supplementary feeding of horses to maintain them in a good condition.

More than 120 people have already registered to attend the sessions.

RSPCA Tasmania Chief Inspector Ray Kroeze says "it been an extremely challenging season for horse owners because of the harsh drought conditions the State experienced earlier this year."
Horses are large animals and need to be fed substantial amounts of food to maintain a reasonable and acceptable body condition," Mr Kroeze said.

There are so many passionate people that contact RSPCA Tasmania with concerns for animals in need, or looking for support with their own animals, so we believe these information sessions will provide participants with a greater understanding of RSPCA’s legal obligations and limitations in these situations.

Our desired outcome from these community consultations is to continue engaging positively with horse owners and to change any negative perceptions into a more positive understanding of how the Inspectorate team goes about their daily business," Mr Kroeze said.

The free events will be held in Launceston at the Best Western (Tuesday 28 June), Burnie at the Menai Hotel/Motel (Wednesday 29 June) and in Hobart at the Old Woolstore (Thursday 30 June) .

Speakers:
Ray Kroeze : Chief Inspector - RSPCA Tasmania – will speak about the role of the Inspectorate and the Animal Welfare Act.

Debbie Grull : Veterinary Officer, Animal Services at DPIPWE – will speak about Body Condition Scoring of Horses.

Martin Connell : Territory Manager with Hygain – will speak about horse feeds and supplements appropriate for our conditions.

Full details of these events and the links to the pre-registration pages can be found here

Published: 06 June 2016

Extreme Weather Conditions

The extreme weather conditions around the state are presenting major challenges for everyone.

RSPCA Tasmania urges all animal owners to ensure the safety of themselves and of their animals.

We are aware of a few locations that, due to flooding and owners not being able to get to them in time, livestock are in difficulty” RSPCA Tasmania CEO Peter West said today.

All our Centres and our animal cruelty hotline are getting calls from concerned community members asking us to take action and help animals already in flood affected areas.

RSPCA Tasmania acknowledges that if animals have already entered swollen rivers due to flooding then it is most likely that nothing can be undertaken safely to help them.

SES and Tasmania Police are the best first responders in these instances – our staff and volunteers are aware of the situation and each of our Animal Care Centres stand ready to assist any lost or displaced animals.”

RSPCA Tasmania urges all Tasmanians to consider their own safety first and to leave anything dangerous to those that are trained to deal with it such as the SES or Police.

RSPCA Tasmania hopes that the community, including their animals, pulls through this extraordinary weather safely.

Published: 31 May 2016

RSPCA Tasmania frustrated and disappointed as Greyhound Racing report stalls again.

RSPCA Tasmania is extremely frustrated and disappointed that the handing down of the report from the Joint Select Committee on Greyhound Racing in Tasmania is being extended until 22 September this year. 

This latest extension announcement would see the release of the Inquiry outcomes 12 months after the original date. This is un-necessary and unacceptable,” RSPCA Tasmania CEO Peter West said.

RSPCA Tasmania calls on the new Select Committee Chairman, Tania Rattray MLC along with members of the Committee to urgently review this decision and endeavour to expedite the completion of the inquiry in a timely manner.

To view a full copy of the media release click here.

Published: 21 April 2016

Cat Management Plan “big step forward”

RSPCA Tasmania says the State Government’s draft Cat Management Plan released today is a big step forward from the existing Cat Management Act, which CEO Peter West has previously described as a “poorly drafted, toothless tiger”.

Speaking at the launch today at the RSPCA’s Launceston Animal Care Centre, Mr West said

“The new draft Plan looks at legislative and other changes to the Cat Management Act to address the contemporary challenges of domestic, unowned and feral cats in Tasmania.

“This is a challenge the whole Tasmanian community needs to consider so importantly, the draft Plan allows almost ten weeks for community consultation and feedback about this significant and growing problem allowing all stakeholders to be part of the discussion.

“RSPCA Tasmania is pleased that the new Plan incorporates many of the issues discussed over many months by the Cat Management Reference Group, which identified that the revised plan needed to be a mix of action, education and more research.”

Mr West said RSPCA Tasmania expects swift outcomes after the consultation period expires.

“We have waited a long time to see meaningful movement in this area and we hope that the Government ensures that the final plan is rolled out in a timely manner.”

Roy Morgan Research* shows that 34% of Tasmanian residents live with cats and 16% of residents live with both cats and dogs.

“As the state with highest level of pet ownership in Australia, it’s fitting that we should have a strong plan to tackle the ongoing challenges of feral, unowned and domestic cats,” Mr West said.

He said RSPCA is particularly keen to see a clarification of the roles played by the state and local governments, as key stakeholders, in managing stray and unowned domestic cats and trapped feral cats.

“Feral cats remain a massive problem for this State,” Mr West said.

“While humane control in certain areas is possible, RSPCA Tasmania believes that total eradication should be the ultimate goal despite being practically impossible to achieve.

“More research will be the key to helping us understand how feral cats operate in remote and wild areas and what measures can be taken to control their numbers.

“I urge the Government not to delay implementing any achievable recommendations identified in the consultation period and to maintain momentum on this issue.”

More information on the draft plan can be found at http://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/invasive-species/cat-management-in-tasmania/draft-tasmanian-cat-management-plan

(*Roy Morgan Research - Doggone it: pet ownership in Australia 4 June 2015)

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.

Published: 17 June 2016

Suspend Live Exports to Vietnam Until the Brutality Stops

RSPCA Australia has called on the Government to implement an immediate suspension of the live export trade to Vietnam, until the security of the supply chain is watertight.

RSPCA’s Chief Science and Strategy Officer, Dr Bidda Jones, said tonight’s “7.30 Report” broadcast of sickening footage of Australian cattle being sledgehammered to death proved that the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) was an abject failure.

“Five years ago, we were promised by the live export industry and the government that this system would ensure that Australian cattle would be slaughtered according to minimum requirements”, Dr Jones said

“Tonight’s report shows that, five years on, Australian animals are still facing shocking treatment within and outside Australian Government approved slaughterhouses”.

“Since ESCAS was introduced in 2011, there has not been one export company prosecuted or had its licence revoked, despite repeated breaches”.

“Clearly, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has failed to adequately regulate the live export industry to ensure humane treatment of Australian animals”.

“There have been multiple reports of cattle being sledgehammered over recent years. In May 2015 and June 2016, Animals Australia provided the Department with evidence of sledge-hammering, showing the regulatory system was failing to protect cattle”

“RSPCA Australia is therefore also calling for the immediate establishment of an independent authority that will enforce live export regulations which are not compromised by the Department’s focus on expanding the live export trade”.

“More than 12 months ago the live export industry admitted it had lost control in Vietnam”.

”Despite the industry’s contention that it has spent ‘millions of dollars’ on its 6 Point Plan to improve the live export market, this investment has still not prevented cruel and barbarous treatment of Australian cattle”.

“We call on the Government to suspend the live export trade immediately to Vietnam. Its systems have failed, its Department has failed, the industry has failed, and the result is horrific treatment of Australian cattle”, Dr Jones said.

“Once again, cattle producers have put their trust in the live export industry and once again, they have been betrayed by the industry. The only way to prevent Australian animals from being subject to the atrocities we have seen tonight, and which occur every night in Vietnam, is to slaughter Australian cattle in Australian abattoirs to Australian standards, and export the meat. Meat exports are good for Australian animals, Australian farmers, Australian jobs and the Australian economy”, Dr Jones said.

 

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.

Published: 02 June 2016

RSPCA Tasmania removes 177 animals from a single property

RSPCA Tasmania's southern-based Inspectors this week had cause to attend a property in the Midlands for a routine inspection. The inspection was conducted as a joint operation with Tasmania Police. As a result of this inspection, a large number of animals were located living in sub-standard conditions.

The owner was spoken to and subsequently the majority of the animals in his care were surrendered to the RSPCA and some were seized pending further investigation.

177animals1

Our Inspectors removed 119 chickens, 18 ducks, 2 dogs, 2 quail, 4 goats, 1 sheep and 31 pigs and piglets from the property. 14 of the ducks were subject to a seizure notice, but the remainder of the animals were all surrendered.

177animals2

All the animals will be subject to the normal standard veterinary health checks, and some of the animals that have been surrendered into our care will be available for re-homing once these checks have been completed. They will continue to be monitored by our Animal Care Centre staff to ensure they are suitable to be re-homed.

Published: 28 April 2016

Warning after illegal trap caught local cat

RSPCA Tasmania CEO Peter West today issued a warning to all owners of small animals to be vigilant following an incident where there has been a cat caught in a leg-hold trap close to homes in Lenah Valley.

Chester (name chosen by our staff) was caught in an illegal trap sometime over the ANZAC Day long weekend and it wasn’t until an off-duty policeman, an after-hours vet nurse and one of our professional animal carers teamed up that poor Chester’s plight became better.

“Chester definitely used up one of his nine lives,” Mr West said today.

“The off-duty Police officer heard Chester’s cries and called an after-hours Vet nurse in North Hobart, who in turn called our staff member who attended the scene, cut Chester and the trap loose and got the dehydrated cat to the vet clinic for initial treatment. The RSPCA Tasmania Vet (at our Hobart Animal Care Centre) then performed surgery to remove the whole leg that had become excessively damaged due to Chester’s endeavours to break free of the trap.

“This trap was set close to homes and anything small could have been caught, like native animals, dogs, cats and worst of all it could have even snared a small child,” Mr West added.

RSPCA Tasmania will continue to monitor Chester’s recovery and all indications are that he will make a good recovery and hopefully be ready for adoption in coming weeks.

“It is an offence just to set a trap like the one that snared Chester; you don’t necessarily have to catch or have caught anything for it to constitute an offence,” RSPCA Tasmania Chief Inspector Ray Kroeze said today.

Traps are covered under Section 12 of the Animal Welfare Act.

Section 12(1) Subject to subsection (2), a person must not set, lay or place a leghold trap, glueboard trap or snare.
Penalty: (b) natural person, a fine not exceeding 100 penalty units ($15,400) or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or both.

Section 12(2) A person may apply to the Minister for an exemption to use a leghold trap, glueboard trap or snare.

“We will continue to investigate cases of illegal trapping, and other inhumane ways of catching and confining animals, and would encourage people to report this to the RSPCA,” Mr Kroeze added.

RSPCA Tasmania will continue to update their Facebook page with news on how Chester is doing.

Published: 01 April 2016

Free Range Hens: What will “Meaningful” Mean to Them?

RSPCA Australia says today’s definition of a new free-range egg standard by the Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs may have been a waste of time.

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

“RSPCA Australia believes free range hens should be stocked at a maximum rate of 1,500 hens per hectare or up to 2,500 if a regular rotation system is in place.

“Free-range eggs should come from hens who actually go outside. The definition of ‘meaningful and regular access’ to the range is absolutely critical to the integrity of the Information Standard.

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

“In genuine free-range farms, all hens are able to access an outdoor range where they feel safe and protected and can express essential behaviours such as dust bathing and foraging. Inside, they are able to perch and lay their eggs in a nest.

“It’s important to note that none of these conditions are afforded to the 11 million hens currently confined to battery cages around the country. These hens suffer intensely and continuously throughout their lives. Consumers choose free range to avoid cages, and they deserve a standard they can have full confidence in.

“Today’s decision puts the interests of big business ahead of consumers, with hen welfare coming a distant third.

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

How you can help

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