SMH: Nicole Hasham,October 10 2012
THE MP leading a review of the state’s companion animal laws has backed the RSPCA’s use of controversial ”temperament tests” to determine whether dogs are put down, despite a study showing many shelter staff across the sector are untrained and believe the tests are deficient.
It follows claims by animal welfare advocates in yesterday’s Herald that the NSW RSPCA’s kill rate is higher than many council pounds who work with ”no-kill” animal rescue groups, and that dogs that fail behavioural assessments are unfairly destroyed.
The Charlestown MP, Andrew Cornwell, a veterinarian who is heading the NSW government’s companion animal taskforce, defended the RSPCA’s ability to administer the assessments, also known as ”temperament tests”, which score a dog negatively for actions such as barking, jumping and trembling.
”It’s not a matter of poking your head in a cage and seeing if a dog barks at you … the RSPCA puts an enormous effort into accurate behavioural assessment and, where possible, to behavioural modification to help an animal become suitable for re-homing,” he said.
Mr Cornwell denied space limitations influenced whether a dog was destroyed rather than put up for adoption, but conceded the assessment results were subject to ”a small area of grey”. ”You can’t simply quantify every aspect in it … there is always going to be a degree of subjectivity,” he said.