Wednesday 4 April, 2012; MEDIA RELEASE
Don Page MP Minister for Local Government Minister for the North Coast
Local Government Minister Don Page has told Parliament today that the NSW Government’s first ever Companion Animals Taskforce is close to releasing a Discussion Paper seeking community input on future pet policies in NSW, including ways to reduce the number of cats and dogs being euthanased in pounds.
Mr Page, whose portfolio covers the Companion Animals Act, told Parliament that the Taskforce will issue the Discussion Paper to invite the public to examine its initial proposals to promote responsible pet ownership, improve pet breeding practices in the community, and ultimately lead to fewer unwanted pets.
“The NSW Government’s Companion Animals Taskforce represents the government’s commitment to focus on poor pet breeding practices such as `puppy farms’, to increase micro-chipping, de-sexing and lifetime registration of pets, and generally to crack down on poor pet industry practices to reduce the number of unwanted animals and to lower euthanasia rates in NSW council pounds,” Mr Page said.
“Recent figures show that in the last five years, 150,000 dogs and cats were euthanased in NSW pounds. Of the animals that arrive at pounds each year, about 33 per cent of dogs and nearly 70 per cent of cats are euthanased – about 15,000 dogs and 15,000 cats a year.
“These are shocking statistics and the Taskforce will seek to address them, in consultation with pet owners and other concerned members of the community.
“The Taskforce has brought together leading animal welfare experts, local government representatives, and is chaired by Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell, who was a veterinary surgeon before entering politics.
“Mr Cornwell and the Taskforce member stakeholders are people who care deeply for pets, understand the pet industry, and are best placed to inform the government on pet breeding, pet care and other pet-related issues.
“The Taskforce will travel around NSW, led by Mr Cornwell, to hold community consultations that will discuss the issues the Taskforce is examining.
“Their Discussion Paper should invite healthy dialogue on matters pertaining to pet welfare moving forward.”
Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson, whose portfolio covers the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, said the formation of the Taskforce underlined the NSW Government’s commitment to improving animal welfare.
“Animal welfare is an issue the NSW Government takes very seriously. We are committed to continually improving animal welfare standards in NSW and look forward to the Taskforce’s Discussion Paper and its recommendations,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
Mr Cornwell said the Taskforce has been successful and its recommendations will be far- reaching because it consists of a cross-section of stakeholders which have the interests of pets at heart.
“The Taskforce consists of the RSPCA, with its 130 years’ of experience, the Animal Welfare League, with its more than 50 years’ experience, the Cat Protection Society and its 50 years’ experience, as well as the Australian Veterinary Association, pet breeders, and local government representatives including council rangers,” Mr Cornwell said.
“These are experts on pet breeding practices, on pet welfare issues, on responsible pet ownership. These are the people who can share heartbreaking stories about unwanted pets and abuse of animals.
“The Taskforce has examined all issues relating to euthanasia rates of pets and unacceptable breeding practices and it will hand over its findings to the government soon.”
Media: Steven Graham, Minister’s office, 9230 2796 and 0467 741188