Outrage over photo of pet industry group president posing with dead cat

Herald Sun; Wayne Flower ; March 07, 2012

Steve Austin

Pet Industry Association of Australia president Steve Austin has been pictured holding a dead cat. Herald Sun

ANIMAL lovers have called for the resignation of the president of Australia’s peak pet trade industry association after he posed smiling for a photograph holding a dead cat.

Pet Industry Association of Australia president Steve Austin is pictured smiling with two friends as he holds a dead feral cat dangling by its neck off a piece of white rope.

PIAA chief executive officer Roger Perkins defended Mr Austin today, saying he was “having a bit of fun” after a day of hunting feral cats in the Kimberleys.

“The cats had been humanely shot and they were having a bit of fun at the end of a long day,” he said.

“It is absolutely wrong to thing that he does not have animal interests at heart and that he doesn’t do a power of work to assist and promote the companion animal industry in Australia and to eradicate feral animals such as the one depicted.”

Mr Austin apologised for posing in the photo.

“I am terribly sorry this photo has caused such offence. I can understand how people perceive this photo and in hindsight I agree that taking a photo like this was in poor taste and was poor judgement,” Mr Austin said.

“This judgement does not reflect my feeling toward companion animals and as PIAA president I respect people’s passion for their pets and am committed to ensuring our pets welfare.”

Mr Austin said feral cats were not like ordinary house pets.

“Feral cats, like the one pictured, are not like our friendly pet moggy but are a devastating problem that decimate and kill our Australian wildlife in the millions,” he said.

“`I am pleased to be working with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy to prevent feral cats from destroying our wildlife inside our native sanctuaries.”

Debra Tranter, founder of animal advocacy group Oscar’s Law, said the photograph was disgusting.

“It’s in really poor taste. It is just so disrespectful to the animal, and as president of the pet industry he needs to stand down,” she said.

“I mean, the pet industry are advising government on animal welfare and he’s not an appropriate person to sit as the president of PIAA.”

Ms Tranter claimed the photograph was posted on Facebook before being removed after a barrage of criticism.

Mr Perkins said Mr Austin was now in Tasmania, but had expressed concern over the criticism he had received on the association’s Facebook site.

“Is he embarrassed? I think he’s concerned that there are a lot of people who don’t understand the work that he’s done and have made a number of defamatory and feral comments regarding him,” he said.

“Steve Austin is held in the highest regard by all of the conservation groups that he’s worked with.”

The association has worked to remove most of the damning criticism, although some still remained online this morning.

Ms Tranter said the photograph was completely inappropriate.

“This is the president of PIAA, which represents thousands of pet owners, was quite happy to pose for a disgusting photo with a cat dangling off a rope. It just shows complete disregard and lack of respect … Animals should be treated humanely and with respect even if they are dead,” she said.

Original story

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Outrage over photo of pet industry group president posing with dead cat

  1. Jan Baker

    His idea of fun is sick!! that cat is only feral due to the irresponsible people who have never had their cats desexed!! we should be educating people to do the right things by their dogs & cats….that cat is dead Yes…BUT it is still an animal & he suppose to be an animal lover….to stand there with those two hillbillys beside him give him a very bad look….He should stand down from President of the PIAA his fun is in very bad taste!!!!

  2. Lou Beaumont

    ….and they block out the faces of his conspirators so they cannot be identified! Aren’t they a cheery little group of intrepid hunters?

  3. Catty Bates

    It’s the notion that hunting animals is a “bit of fun”. It’s the wrong attitude, especially from this man and his position in society. To be a good marksman, to decide to use that skill to reduce the feral animal population is perfectly reasonable. But to see it as a trophy sport, to see a dead animal that looks exactly like our pets do, held aloft, that it’s miserable little existence being ended is something to boast about and something that is, again, a “bit of fun” is revolting. The second, massively questionable issue is, how was this cat killed? An accurate, quick bullet to the brain doesn’t look like what has happened here. Instead, it looks like this cat has had a slow, frightening death. Animal cruelty charges, anyone?
    What an oaf.

  4. Paul Middleton

    I see no problem with a pet owner being proud of killing a feral animal and posing for a photo. I am an animal lover and a RESPONSIBLE pet owner. I believe that if there was a virus that targeted only feral cats and/or dogs that it should be used! Say that killing a feral is ‘revolting’ in any way shows to me a lack of responsability. If you have seen the damage and injuries ferals cause to our native animal population. I cannot see the photo as it would not load at this time, however as someone who has seen some of the damage feral can do to the native animal that have more right to be here than us or our pets, let alone ferals. I don’t care who shoots them as long as they are killed in a resonable and safe manner. If they enjoy it, at least they aren’t hurting natives, and are taking out a threat to many of our endangered species

    (as a side note I am however pro-culling for wild roo populations if the circumstances warrent it)

  5. Catty Bates

    What’s the saying? A photo tells a thousand words? Something like that? It’s about attitude in holding a dead ginger cat up by a rope/string around it’s neck whilst he poses like an extreme angler with his catch of the day. To find so much pleasure and triumph in ending the miserable life of a feral cat puts his animal ethics in the spotlight and his suitability for his job under scrutiny. If you love cats, you don’t like seeing someone having a fun day out killing them, even ferals. I, too, think the feral population needs to be dealt with, but not like this, not by him, and not with the tacit acknowledgement that shooting up cats is fun. THAT is what the photo says.
    (On a side note, we just hope that cat was shot, cleanly. For all we know, that string around it’s neck may be from some macabre trap, so it was slowly strangulated to death. )

  6. Catty Bates

    ANd I didn’t read my post where you quoted “revolting”, then I did.. You are taking the word out of context, deliberately I assume because your high horse aint that high. I will stress, the notion of killing a feral cat to be FUN, as opposed to a duty, is what is revolting. That was perfectly clear. Read more carefully, please.

  7. Kathryn botter

    Omg both my German shepherds were trained by Steve ? This really shocks me . If ur a animal lover it’s all animals ( disgusting photo ) u won’t be getting anymore of my money

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