ADVOCACY

Stop the Sale, Possession or Use of Pronged Collars on Dogs

RSPCA Tasmania is calling on the State government, to amend the Tasmanian Animal Welfare Act 1993 to ban the sale, possession, or use of pronged collars on dogs.

Pronged collars have fang-shaped metal links, with blunted open ends turned towards the dog’s neck so that, when the collar is tightened, it pinches the naturally loose skin around the dog’s neck in order to restrict their movement.

The damage that pronged collars can do to dogs goes beyond yanking and choking.

Depending on dogs’ size, how hard they pull, and how forcefully they get yanked, these collars can cause them serious injuries, including the following:

  • Intervertebral disc protrusion
  • Partial or complete fore- or hind-limb paralysis from spinal cord injuries
  • Damage to the vagus nerve, affecting the functioning of major organs, including the heart, lungs, liver, bladder, spleen, and kidneys
  • A crushed trachea, with partial or complete asphyxiation
  • Crushed or fractured bones in the larynx
  • A bruised oesophagus
  • Sharp increases in pressure inside the head, which can cause brain or eye damage and sometimes prolapse of the eye
  • Bruising and damage to the skin and tissues in the neck, resulting in the formation of scar tissue
  • Fainting

Dogs who are repeatedly yanked and choked may become resentful, aggressive, and fearful. Real fences and positive training methods are the kind choice and are actually much more effective. These collars are a cruel and unnecessary tool to modify canine behaviour.

Unfortunately, while it is illegal to import pronged collars under Australian customs legislation, the sale and use of pronged collars is not illegal. So unscrupulous distributors bring in these collars in segments to avoid breaching the import legislation. Upon arrival, the collars are reassembled and sold to dog owners who may well not be aware of the dangers these pose.

The use of these collars is banned in Victoria under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008. However, as yet, Victoria is the only jurisdiction to ban these harmful collars. Tasmanians care about the treatment of dogs and implore the State government to take action to stop this cruel practice.

Stop the Sale, Possession or Use of Pronged Collars on Dogs
  • Dear Minister Barnett,

    Dogs play a central role in the lives of most Tasmanians. Tasmania has the highest incidence of pet-ownership in Australia, with 44% of us sharing our lives with at least one dog, 34% living with at least one cat, and 16% living with at least one of each.

    I care a lot about the welfare of dogs - and I know you do too.

    The use of pronged collars is cruel and unnecessary. I understand that their importation is prohibited. However, sale, use, or possession of pronged collars is not prohibited under Tasmanian law, so that doesn’t stop people bringing them into our state and selling them on.

    Most Tasmanians say animal welfare is important to them, and most of us expect our government to be at the forefront of improving welfare legislation.

    I therefore implore you to do the right thing and close the legislative loophole which allows unscrupulous people to use these harmful collars on their dogs in order to control them.

  • Signed

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State Election May 2021
RSPCA Election Priorities

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Tasmania (RSPCA) is a not-for-profit non-government organization that cares for, treats, protects, and rehomes animals across the state. We have been working to improve the lives of animals in this state since 1878. We are the only Tasmanian organisation named in animal welfare legislation and we appreciate the continued support of all levels of government.

During the past three years, we have:

  • Investigated over 25,000 reports of animal cruelty;
  • Provided care for more than 6670 animals; and
  • Delivered information to thousands of people on animal welfare, responsible animal care and pet ownership through school, community and online education.

Our role is to act as a conduit for the community’s concerns about animal welfare, to ensure those concerns are heard by our state’s decision makers.

Tasmanians have made it clear that they expect improved animal welfare outcomes to be a high priority for the state government.

On that basis, RSPCA is calling on candidates for election to show the people of Tasmania that they care for the welfare of all animals in our community.

To that end, we have prepared a list of reforms we want political candidates to commit to as part of their election promises. Some of these things are long term objectives, but others are of immediate concern.

The reforms range from stamping out puppy farming to providing RSPCA inspectors with greater regulatory powers to ensure adequate protection for animals across the state. The details are set out in the attached booklet.

Whether you want to see more animal welfare in education, new legislation to better protect pets, or want to encourage higher welfare outcomes in schools and workplaces, your say could be crucial in improving and promoting the welfare of Tasmanian animals.

Time is running out to have your voice heard ahead of the state election on 1st May. As a proud community of animal lovers, we need you to act now and make sure that improved animal welfare is on the agenda for our next state government.

Download RSPCA Election Priorities 2021
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Save Our Wild Ducks

Save our wild ducks

In the first week of March, the annual duck shooting season will once again start in Tasmania. Over three months, native ducks will be blasted out of the skies in the name of sport. The targets include five species of ducks, three of which mate for life. Non-target as well as targeted birds will be wounded and die a painful and lingering death.

As part of this legalised “sport”, hunters are permitted to shoot up to ten ducks each day.

According to government reports, 1134 licences were issued for the 2019 season. This shows that only a very small proportion of Tasmanians are actively involved in duck hunting. In fact, 1134 licences represents just 0.2% of the population – or two in every thousand of us.

DPIPWE estimated that these hunters shot approximately 49,671 ducks over the three month season. Studies show it is likely that as many as 13,000 more ducks would be wounded but not killed – and die in agony.

Note that this figure is an estimate. Hunters are legally required to report the number of ducks they shoot, and the official figures show reports of only 33,684 ducks being shot. So the estimated death toll is 147% of the reported number of birds shot.

Without further explanation, it would not be unreasonable to infer that the department accepts significant under-reporting by hunters (ie a factor of almost 50%). Greater transparency and accountability is clearly of vital importance.

These returns are also meant to include information on the number of each species shot and the region where they were shot. However, as no detailed information is made publicly available from this data collection, it is impossible to determine whether the requirement is being met – or to determine impacts on populations.

In order to be issued with a licence, hunters need to have passed the Waterfowl Identification Test (WIT). Currently, the WIT only needs to be taken once, and someone with pass mark as low as 47 out of 66 can still be issued a licence. This means that 19 out of each 66 birds shot at could possibly be protected or endangered species. This is an unacceptable risk.

Yet we have no up-to-date population data to inform decisions that might impact our wildlife – like continuing to permit shooting of wild ducks.

A survey of licenced duck shooters undertaken last year by the Victorian government found that:

  • 80% could not reliably distinguish between permitted species and non-target species – some of which may be endangered;
  • Barely a third had any knowledge of wounding rates; and
  • Only 1 in 10 had any knowledge of how to humanely kill wounded birds.

These are appalling statistics by any measure.

Without any independent evidence to the contrary, there is no reason to believe that the situation would be any different in Tasmania.

Recognising the strong evidence of the extreme suffering involved by the animals, and the community’s lack of support for recreational hunting, three states in Australia (Western Australia, NSW, and Queensland) have already banned recreational duck hunting.

Last year, in a draft minute to the Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, departmental officers recommended that the 2020 open season be cut back on conservation grounds.

The government did not take that advice.

The RSPCA does not believe there is justification for continuing to licence hunters to shoot ducks for sport – and community concern for the welfare of native ducks make it clear that there is no social licence for this to continue.

The fact that departmental experts advised that the duck season is unsustainable highlights even more reason for the government to address this unacceptable situation.Tasmania’s native wildlife is globally recognised as unique and remarkable. It is an essential responsibility of the state government to ensure the wild populations of these animals remain at healthy, sustainable levels.

Surely there is now enough evidence to for the Tasmanian government to recognise changing public sentiment and take drastic measures to stop the slaughter by instituting a permanent ban on duck shooting. Realistically, it is too late to implement change this year. So the RSPCA calls on the government to announce that 2021 will be the last time native duck species face decimation by hunters in Tasmania.

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Beware the Puppy Scammers

The RSPCA encourages potential pet owners to find pets from reputable sources – such as the RSPCA and other well-known rescue organisations – that exist to promote animal welfare, rather than for profit. Or look for a registered breeder and ask for references from previous clients. Check out our guide to finding a good breeder: rspcapuppyguide.com.au.

Of course, not everyone can get out and about these days, so many people will turn to the internet, our go-to place for browsing before we shop. Our Adopt-a-Pet website (adoptapet.com.au) is a safe and secure place for you to ‘meet’ your future friend online.

However, buying a pet is nothing like other online shopping – and, sadly, not everyone advertising animals on-line is as careful about their animals as we are. While the internet is a great way to research and look for your new best friend, you should absolutely avoid buying a pet without meeting them in person first.

Otherwise, you could inadvertently be supporting puppy farms or poor breeding practices – not to mention the fact that you could fall victim to a scam, leading to emotional (and financial) heartbreak.

And scammers are quick to take advantage.

So, you think you’ve been scammed?

Please report at the Consumer, Building and Occupational Services

The West Australian government have compiled a list of puppy scammers, which is nationally relevant.

Dogs Die In Hot Cars

It only takes 6 minutes for a dog to die in a hot car

Do not leave your dog in a vehicle. Pets can overheat even
when the windows are down or the car is in the shade.

Make Your Pledge

I pledge never to leave my dog unattended in a car.

Greyhound Racing in Tasmania

Greyhound Racing in Tasmania

As you know, we have been actively calling for the state government to demonstrate its commitment to the independence of the Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) and to ensure there is transparency and accountability around all the program’s activities.

If the program is to have any credibility, it must be run at arm’s length from the industry. There also needs to be greater transparency around both the operation of the program and the actual metrics of the industry itself.

In our view, GAP should ideally be run by an organisation with experience in contemporary animal welfare, with a state-wide presence, and a network of volunteers and foster carers – and It is our firm belief that we definitely fit this bill.

However, putting aside the issue of who manages the program, the key thing that we all want to see is better welfare outcomes for all greyhounds.

And, with your support, we’re making some progress.

Last weekend, Racing Tasmania advertised the manager’s position for the GAP. You can see the ad here.

This means that the suspended program manager has been terminated – which is absolutely appropriate in light of recent events.

We will now be in touch with Racing Tasmania to offer to work with them to ensure a reset of the program to better address the issues we have raised.

We would like to extend our most sincere gratitude for the part you have played in bringing about change in the greyhound industry.

Without the pressure you applied to our elected representatives, change might have been far less timely, or not occurred at all.

The power of people to bring about change should never be underestimated.

I hope you don’t mind if we call on you again, as we continue our work to improve the lives greyhounds – and in fact all animals – in Tasmania.

Animal Welfare Advisory Committee

An RSPCA representative sits on the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC).

advocacy

The role of the committee is to provide advice to the Government Minister on animal welfare matters. Section 39 of the Animal Welfare Act 1993 sets out the roles and membership of the Committee.

Members bring expertise from relevant agricultural industry organisations, Government departments, the university, racing industry, Animals Australia, the Australian Veterinary Association, police, local Government, community and recreation-based organisations.

RSPCA Tasmania’s AWAC representative is our Inspectorate Manager, who uses their voice to advocate for changes to the Animal Welfare Act 1993 and a greater understanding of good animal welfare.

This understanding includes proposals for the education of Tasmanian industry and community regarding the welfare of animals and best practice in animal care.

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