RSPCA Tasmania News

Published: 08 April 2018

HELL ON HIGH WATER: Ship loads of death and cruelty as new live export horror exposed

Australians have tonight been shocked by never-seen-before footage, documenting the routine conditions and appalling suffering Australian sheep are facing on board live export vessels.

The distressing evidence, provided by a brave whistle-blower and aired on 60 Minutes tonight shows five routine long-haul voyages loaded to Australian standards, below usual stocking densities and with a vet on board.

Yet as conditions rapidly deteriorate, countless sheep crammed into pens are seen suffering and dying slowly and painfully due to inescapable heat and humidity, injury, lack of access to food and water, and with apparently no veterinary attention.

Sheep and lambs battle to stand during rough seas and buried in mounting levels of manure and waste; and at least one sheep that’s clearly alive is thrown overboard.

RSPCA Australia Chief Science and Strategy Officer Dr Bidda Jones said this horrifying evidence shows Australians for the first time exactly what a routine long-haul voyage for around 2 million sheep every year looks like.

"This footage is gruesome. It is stomach-turning. To watch Australian sheep being left to collapse, die and decompose, with no attempt made to alleviate their suffering, is truly sickening," said Dr Jones.

"And it’s all happened under our watch. Under conditions that had been deemed by the Australian Government as meeting Australian standards. Standards that the industry repeatedly describes as ‘world best practice’," she said.

"We’ve been concerned about the death and suffering associated with live exports for decades, but this is the first time we have irrefutable proof of what the live export industry has kept hidden,

"Once again, Australian farmers have been gravely let down. The live export industry’s social licence to operate is in tatters and this shocking evidence will damage Australian agriculture more broadly unless real action is taken,

"In the light of this evidence, we believe that the Australian Government, through the Secretary for the Department of Agriculture, has a legal obligation not to give further long-haul voyages a green light,

"While no sheep farmer relies completely upon live exports, we would support government support for farmers, to make any adjustments they need to move away from live exporting their animals," said Dr Jones.

“We must stop this suffering by moving to ensure all sheep destined for long-haul live export are slaughtered right here in Australia,

Farmers, governments and the community have been deceived by live exporters for long enough - but now the truth is out in the open, there can be no more excuses,” she said.

Australians can take action at

Published: 01 December 2017


RSPCA Tasmania President, Alexandra Garrott today announced changes to the future management of the organisation.

We are pleased to advise that Dr Andrew Byrne has been appointed to the role of Interim CEO until 30 June 2018, after current CEO Peter West shared with Board his decision to leave the role in early January 2018.

Dr Byrne, who is the current RSPCA Tasmania Chief Veterinarian and Animal Care Manager, brings with him a wealth of experience. Andrew has many years with RSPCA Victoria and in private practice, and has also built up strong networks with our counterparts in other states.

Dr Byrne will be well known to the general community as the face of RSPCA Pet Insurance and has over 30 years’ experience working in the veterinary and animal welfare space.

The Board thanked Mr West for steering the organisation through some challenging times over the last 4 years, rebuilding a strong and trusted brand and providing leadership in the animal welfare space. The is no doubt that under Peter’s leadership the organisation has achieved great results especially for animals - lifting the live release rate from 58% three years ago to consistently reaching close to 80% today.

This is an exciting time for RSPCA Tasmania as it continues to reshape the future role it will play in the care and welfare of animals across the state.

Published: 14 November 2017

Pledge never to leave your dog unattended in a vehicle

In 2016/17, RSPCA Tasmania received over 2,200 calls to our 1300 139 947 Animal Cruelty hotline – 87 of those were distress calls about animals (usually dogs) being left in cars in the heat.

The Issue

    • Vehicles in the sun get hot at any time of the year.
    • A vehicle can get hot even with the windows down in a cool, shaded position – the clouds and sun can move quickly.
    • Leaving car windows down on an unattended vehicle is illegal and will not prevent a car from reaching extreme temperatures.
    • Vehicles are made of metal and glass – both heat up quickly and retain heat. Generally speaking, vehicles with larger glass surface areas (e.g. hatchbacks) heat up faster and to higher temperatures than similar-sized sedans.
    • Tray-back utilities can get extremely hot. Dogs travelling on the back of utes must be secured and have access to shade and water – preferably under a canopy.
    • Due to health regulations, dogs cannot enter shopping centres, unless in special circumstances and with prior agreement from management. (In an emergency, however, the cool air of a shopping centre may help save the life of an animal in distress.)
    • Dogs tied up unattended outside a vehicle or building may present a risk to the public and may be at risk themselves (from cruelty, theft and weather conditions). You may also be in breach of local council laws.

Animal Welfare Alternatives

Do not risk your dog’s life in a hot vehicle. Leave your dog (and other animals) at home with shade, shelter and access to fresh water.

If, as a last resort (or in an emergency) you need to have your dog with you, the RSPCA advises:

    • DON’T leave your dog inside an unattended vehicle, even with the windows down (locked or otherwise). Leaving your vehicles windows down on an unattended vehicle is illegal and will not prevent a vehicle from reaching extreme temperatures.
    • DON’T leave your dog on the back of a parked utility, especially in the sun.
    • DO leave your dog secured in a safe area in the shade outside the vehicle with access to water, and ideally under the supervision of a responsible person, if you have to leave the animal for a short time.
    • DO ensure sufficient ventilation while the vehicle is moving (air conditioning, windows down safely) and that your dog, or its cage, is adequately restrained.
    • DO ensure your dog has regular access to cool, clean drinking water.

Leaving an animal without appropriate hydration and shelter is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act and you may be prosecuted.


In Tasmania there is no specific offence in the Animal Welfare Act (in which our Inspectors operate) for leaving a dog in a vehicle, or on the back of a ute.

It is however illegal to leave car windows down in an unattended vehicle.

Whilst there is no legislation surrounding pets being left in hot cars, depending on the outcome, these situations can be offences under Section (7) Management of animals, Section (8) Cruelty to animals, or even Section (9) Aggravated cruelty.

The maximum penalty for serious animal cruelty is a 5 year term of imprisonment, or a fine not exceeding $31,800, or both.

How YOU Can Help

Most people that leave their pets unattended in a vehicle or on a ute are unaware of the dangers for their pet. The last thing a pet owner would want is to find out that their quick visit to the shops has cost them their pet’s life.

If you come across an animal in distress locked in an unattended vehicle, we believe the best course of immediate action is to contact the Tasmania Police radio room on 131444. We would also recommend trying to locate the owner.

You can help RSPCA Tasmania by spreading the word to family and friends of the dangers of leaving pets unattended in cars.

For more information and to take the pledge to never leave your best friend behind visit :

Published: 21 October 2017

RSPCA Tasmania AGM Outlines Mixed Results

RSPCA Tasmania held their Annual General Meeting in Campbell Town today.

The Tasmanian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals started in Tasmania in 1878 and has always led the way in animal welfare discussions and been the voice for animals in need.
RSPCA Tasmania President Alexandra Garrott outlined the results for the last financial year and reiterated the Boards focus on ensuring sustainability of the organisation for the next 140 years.

Change is never easy, and throughout this year we have had to make some tough decisions around how we achieve sustainability and to focus on the core elements of our organisation.

The challenge is not a new one for established not-for-profit organisations in a world where there seemingly are new charity organisations starting up every week. The review and planning process, led by the board and supported by staff, has shown that doing nothing is not an option.

With the support of RSPCA Australia the sustainability project provided a number of recommendations that are being implemented. We look forward to reporting a positive change in the next annual report,” RSPCA Tasmania President Alexandra Garrott said at the meeting.

Key results from the meeting were;

    • An animal live release rate (reclaimed and rehomed) this year of 77% (not that long ago this figure was 58%)
    • Almost 9,000 animals across Tasmania were helped by our team (4,573 animals via our Animal Care Centres and 4,271 animals investigated by our Inspectors)
    • Almost 2,200 calls were made to our 24/7 Animal Cruelty Hotline throughout the year, broken down into 3,479 individual complaints about 4,271 animals
    • The volunteer team and network of Foster Carers have provided many valuable hours of service which equated to around 25% of our business as usual hours
    • The financial report looked at the first 14 months of our organisation trading as a Company Limited by Guarantee. The previous report (10 months) identified a $25,000 surplus - and this report (14 months) a $780,000 deficit.

RSPCA Tasmania CEO Peter West reiterated that, although the fiscal results were quite concerning, the organisation’s focus remains simple - helping animals (and people) in MOST need across Tasmania.

While there has been some changes to the way we operate, and there may well be more changes to come, we absolutely remain committed to;

    • Caring for vulnerable animals
    • Upholding Animal welfare laws though our state-wide Inspectorate team
    • Lobbying Government for improved animal welfare legislation and support
    • Educating the community to achieve better results for all animals
    • Collaborating with other groups to ensure the best outcomes possible
    • Delivering a sustainable business model

I congratulate all RSPCA Tasmania staff and volunteers for helping to make the lives of animals better. It is a challenging time for all, and we continue to keep our focus on achieving the best possible results for all animals throughout Tasmania,” Mr West added.

 RSPCA Tasmania Annual Report 2016-17

Published: 16 August 2017

2017 Election of Directors

RSPCA Tasmania hereby calls for nominations for election of Directors to be held at the 2017 AGM. Valid nominations need to be received, no later than midday 5 September 2017 addressed to :

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

Nomination form available here.

Published: 05 March 2018

Judicial decision welcomed

Another chapter in a long running Tasmanian animal cruelty case came to an end today.

In a prosecution brought by RSPCA Tasmania and Tasmania Police, Jocelyn Gaye Larkins was sentenced to gaol after being convicted of charges under the Animal Welfare Act:

    • 1 count of Management of animals
    • 1 count of Fail to comply with an instruction
    • 1 count of contravene conditions of a Court Order

These charges relate to the treatment of horses by Ms Larkins on her property in southern Tasmania.

RSPCA Tasmania exists to protect animals by upholding our animal welfare laws, by advocating for improved conditions, and by educating the community on the role we all have to play in achieving better outcomes for animals.

RSPCA CEO Dr Andrew Byrne welcomed the court’s decision, which recognises the seriousness of this breach of Tasmania’s animal welfare laws.

Our Inspectorate team at RSPCA Tasmania work very hard to bring forward prosecutions like this - and today’s result sends a clear message to the community that animal cruelty will not be tolerated.

This was an extreme, and particularly sad case where our Inspectors had worked over a long period of time to resolve these issues.

It is also heartbreaking for the staff and volunteers who care for sick and suffering animals, like the horses in this case.

This is an example of the critical work RSPCA Tasmania does in standing up for animals in greatest need.

I strongly encourage anyone that is experiencing difficulties caring properly for their animals to seek help before the health and wellbeing of animals is compromised.

RSPCA Tasmania: Protect - Advocate – Educate

Published: 22 November 2017

Ducks waddle off to new home amongst the vines

24 ducks rescued by RSPCA Tasmania have found a new home at one of Tasmania’s most loved vineyards.

RSPCA Tasmania today re-homed 25 ducks to a new home at Frogmore Creek in Campania.

The ducks are not just going to a new home to live out their years; they will be put to work on pest patrol!

Frogmore creek already makes use of ducks as part of the winery’s suite of pest control measures. (Along with sheep to keep the grass down!)

The ducks in question were seized as part of an Inspectorate operation 18 months ago and the courts awarded ownership to the Society last week.

The ducks (of varying ages) will enjoy their new lives amongst the 70 hectares of vines together with a whole flock of new friends.

ducks newhome

Ducks are well known for keeping potentially devastating pests like snails at bay and have been used in Italy, France, South Africa and other states of Australia for years as a natural adjunct to pesticides.

RSPCA Tasmania is always looking to find the best outcomes for animals.

We are all delighted to see the ducks getting to enjoy a new life amongst the vines, and to know the ducks will serve a useful purpose makes this rehoming all the more special, “ RSPCA Tasmania CEO, Peter West said today.

5th generation local farmer Danny Belbin is Vineyard Manager at Frogmore Creek, and fully embraces the use of ducks as a sustainable option to keeping the numbers of snails under control.

Our team are always looking at ways to help make our wine making practices more sustainable and in keeping with community expectations. These ducks will not only provide a wonderful atmosphere around the dams and vines, they will be an important part of the wine growing story,” Mr Belbin said.

ducks homeandfriends

Published: 06 November 2017

Spare a thought for the horses that are not running in the cup

The celebration of the horse reaches fever pitch tomorrow and RSPCA Tasmania has reminded the community that it has many horses in its care that also need your love and attention.

We have 23 Horses and Ponies in our care (available for adoption and going through the courts) and when we see the extravagances of the racing carnival period - it just seems wrong,” RSPCA Tasmania CEO Peter West said today. 

Also RSPCA Tasmania inspectors investigated cruelty complaints relating to 495 horses Last year, sadly this huge number was a normal year (it was a particularly bad year the year before with 944 complaints about horses investigated)

A classic example of how the RSPCA makes a difference in Tasmania is a case from earlier this year where a horse trainer (Keith Toulmin) from northern Tasmania was convicted for:

    • Cruelty to Animals (failing to feed / parasite treatment) – Section 8 of the AWA
    • Aggravate Cruelty to an Animal – Section 9 of the AWA
    • Failing to comply with an Instruction Notice – Section 14 of the AWA

The horses in his care were seized and looked after until the matter was finalised in the courts.

Some of the horses were reclaimed by their owners and we have found new homes for most of the other horses; however there are still some of these horses at the Hobart Animal Care Centre ready for a new life.

One of those horses is Thabela Brioso, or 'Bella' as she is known around the Hobart Centre - a lovely looking mare with a beautiful presence.


She is approximately 15.3hh, 13 years old and has had two foals in the past. She is exceptionally well behaved, has good ground manners and is a dream to handle if she is in regular work. She is a very laid back mare, a typical Standardbred trait. She would be easy enough to teach to be ridden as she is well used to having gear on, and easily takes the bit and bridle. Bella had a pretty successful harness racing career - including winning the 2008 Tasmanian 3yo Filly Championship - winning $13,000 in prize money (2w + 2p from 42 starts) before her troubles started.

If you want to bet - you can bet on the fact that RSPCA Tasmania will be fighting for better animal outcomes every day of the year.” Mr West concluded.

RSPCA Australia’s campaign to ban whips in horse racing… ‘Don’t party for animal cruelty – instead, demand a move to whip-free racing

What we don’t like, is watching beautiful horses being hit with whips.

Independent research commissioned by RSPCA Australia confirms around 3 in every 4 Australians (74%) think horses should NOT be hit with a whip.

And 9 out of 10 people who watch or bet on racing will continue to do so if whipping is stopped. Research also found 98% of horses are being whipped without it influencing the race outcome.

Without whips, horses will still win races.

For more information head to the website

Published: 17 October 2017

RSPCA and Bendigo Bank have $3 million reasons to celebrate

RSPCA and Bendigo Bank are this week celebrating the milestone of $3 million in support of the Adoptapet program – all thanks to Bendigo Bank customers.

Adoptapet is a national website that allows prospective pet owners to view animals waiting for adoption at RSPCA locations across Australia from the comfort and convenience of their own home, workplace or mobile phone.

The Adoptapet program is supported in part by Bendigo Bank’s RSPCA Rescue credit card product suite. By signing up for and shopping with one of the RSPCA card products, Bendigo Bank customers are actively helping orphaned animals find new forever homes.

Customers have helped raise more than $3 million, resulting in a second chance for more than 488,000 animals nationally.

RSPCA Australia CEO Heather Neil said the Adoptapet program is well supported across Australia.

The ongoing support of Bendigo Bank and its generous customers has helped the RSPCA’s Adoptapet program find homes for almost half a million animals since it first launched in 2005,” Ms Neil said.

A partnership of this length and magnitude is vital for the RSPCA and helps ensure we can continue our work in the community helping all creatures great and small.

Bendigo Bank’s Executive Engagement Innovation, Robert Musgrove echoed Ms Neil’s sentiments.

As a Bank, we believe that partnering with likeminded organisations that make a difference to the community is fundamental to our purpose,” Mr Musgrove said.

It’s partnerships like this one with the RSPCA that have helped us become recognised on a global stage - this year named the top Australian company in the FORTUNE Annual “Change the World” list of Companies that are Doing Well by Doing Good. “We are so pleased to celebrate this $3 million milestone with RSPCA. Not-for-profit organisations make an important difference in our community; and we applaud the commitment of the RSPCA who work to prevent cruelty to all animals - great and small.” Mr Musgrove added.



Meet Dallas, a 10 year old horse who was recently seized. Covered in lice and suffering greatly due to internal parasites, things looked really grim for Dallas. This beautiful horse was far too skinny and had lost a lot of hair due to his ailments. Dallas was adopted to a wonderful new home, just like thousands of fortunate animals every year in Tasmania thanks in part to the support from Bendigo Bank and it customers.

Published: 29 June 2017

RSPCA Tasmania welcomes “mixed bag” Cat Management Plan

The new Cat Management Plan released today by the state government – featuring some much-needed reforms and missing some opportunities – is a step in the right direction, says RSPCA Tasmania CEO Peter West.

RSPCA Tasmania welcomes a number of constructive changes that will positively impact the wider community, primary producers, save more wildlife, and provide a greater focus on tackling feral cats in this state,” Mr West says.

RSPCA supports the decision to actively manage feral cat issues under the auspices of a newly proposed Tasmanian Biosecurity Act.

However, any control measures must be humane and also integrated with initiatives to maximize the protection of vulnerable birds and animals.

Mr West says RSPCA Tasmania also appreciates that the new Cat Management Act has stronger penalties for cat owners who fail to de-sex or microchip their cats.

We will continue to encourage the creation and promotion of subsidy programs that could greatly increase opportunities for owners to be responsible, safeguard the welfare of their cat, and avoid these penalties.

However, Mr West says it’s an opportunity missed in not doing more with Tasmania’s 29 municipal councils to introduce programs to implement cat registrations and confinement.

RSPCA Tasmania recognises that the new plan incorporates many of the recommendations from the Cat Management Reference Group, which included representatives from key stakeholders including RSPCA Tasmania, TFGA, LGAT, cat breeders and welfare organisations, and the AVA. The reference group recommended that the new plan needed to be a mix of action, education and more research.

RSPCA Tasmania is looking forward to seeing things progress quite quickly now that the plan is in place,” Mr West says.

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

As the state with highest per capita pet ownership in Australia it is fitting that we should have a strong plan to tackle the ongoing challenges of both feral and domestic cats including owned and unowned.

As this issue is also a national one RSPCA Australia is inviting comment on an important national Cat Management discussion paper released last week to increase collaboration across the whole of Australia and implement more consistent evidence-based approaches to improving the welfare and management of cats, while minimising adverse impacts.

How you can help

Are you ready to welcome an animal into your home? Search the Adoptapet database for animals currently available for adoption at your local Animal Care Centre.

Every purchase from the World For Pets online shop through this link raises funds for RSPCA Tasmania. All products are RSPCA approved.

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

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