EDITORIAL, THE SUN-HERALD;June 6, 2010
IF A dog is a human’s best friend, the reverse, it seems, does not apply.
Of the 69,383 dogs surrendered to the RSPCA in Australia in 2008-09, 31.8 per cent were put down. Of the 66,205 cats handed in during the same period, almost 60 per cent were destroyed.
About 250,000 unwanted animals are destroyed each year, some 60,000 of them in NSW.
How hard can it be to look after our dumb animals? Very hard, sadly.
Dogs, cats and many other domestic pets give great pleasure to people of all ages. They enrich lives, help in the education of the young and in some cases provide practical, vital support.
It should be straightforward enough that humans, such superior beings, ensure animals are treated kindly and intelligently.
But unsuspecting pooches and pusses are not immune from that most human of failings: greed.
While there is a buck to be made in breeding and selling animals for the $5 billion domestic pet market then the appalling accompanying destruction of animals is set to continue.
Laws need to be tightened. Vigilance needs to be redoubled.
The RSPCA, which has issued a discussion paper on the plight of these animals with the laudable aim of triggering much-needed debate, says so-called puppy farmers act within the law.
Cat and dog breeders pump out creatures without the stringent controls so obviously needed to make sure supply doesn’t outstrip demand – as it has been doing with such heartbreaking consequences.
As Australian Veterinary Association president Mark Lawrie said: “No one wants to kill animals.”
Obviously, it is almost a daily chore for a vet to put down diseased or aged animals, but slaughter on the scale prevailing in Australia should disturb even the most hard-hearted “non-animal person”.
Charity towards pets really does begin at home. While cruel, greedy charlatans’ activities must be curbed, pet owners must examine their own circumstances.
It is impossible to quantify, but a contributing factor to pet overpopulation is the shocking practice of hoarding. This is the accumulation by erroneously labelled “animal lovers” of too many pets for the animals’ – and the neighbours’ – good.
The RSPCA and animal liberationists have a common goal: to expose and punish people who ill-treat animals, whether it be for commercial gain or for even more repugnant purposes.
It’s a mighty challenge.
But it is a fight the community and authorities must take on, for the sake of the animals and, importantly, for society’s self-esteem.