The Advertiser ;Adam Hegarty; Nov 25 2011
MORE than 13,000 dogs and cats were destroyed in South Australian shelters last year, as their owners abandoned, neglected or failed to microchip their pets.
Dog and Cat Management Board euthanasia figures, released for the first time to The Advertiser, show about 3800 dogs of the 10,315 admitted to RSPCA and Animal Welfare League shelters were destroyed in 2009-10.
Of the 13,300 cats admitted to shelters, 9310 were destroyed, mainly as a result of many more feral cats being caught. The figures equate to an average of 10 dogs and 25 cats being destroyed each day.
Cats and dogs are primarily destroyed when they are considered “unsuitable” to re-home because of behavioural or health problems.
RSPCA SA chief executive Neale Sutton said every animal admitted to shelters underwent testing before its future was decided, in a concerted effort to prevent healthy animals without major behavioural issues being killed.
“The hardest part of our work is having to euthanase animals. It is absolutely heartbreaking for our staff and is never a decision that is taken lightly,” he said.
He said the RSPCA went to great lengths to ensure animals were re-homed, including rehabilitation and foster-care programs.
“However, during the summer months when kitten season is at its peak, we are inundated with animals and can often receive more than 100 cats and kittens in a single day at our Lonsdale shelter alone,” he said.
“While our qualified staff do as much as they can, we simply cannot provide appropriate care to such a high number of animals at one time.”
Environment Minister Paul Caica – whose portfolio covers the Dog and Cat Management Board – said the State Government was considering “a range of options” put forward by the board to “improve dog and cat management in South Australia”.
“The State Government encourages responsible pet ownership through a range of measures and there is a range of information available for free from local councils, RSPCA, Animal Welfare League shelters and the Dog and Cat Management Board,” he said.
“In addition, the State Government also formed a working group made up of industry and animal welfare experts to review the code of practice governing the conduct of the pet industry following complaints about the cruel practices of some pet sellers.”
Mr Sutton said the problem needed to be addressed at its source, which was indiscriminate breeding.
“The companion animal community … needs to focus on ways to ensure every animal is wanted and does not end up in a shelter,” Mr Sutton said.
“Companion animal management is the joint responsibility of state and local government and should include provisions for compulsory desexing, microchipping and registration of both cats and dogs.”
In August, the NSW Government announced a taskforce to combat rates of killings at its council pounds, using almost identical rates to those in SA to justify its introduction.