MP backs RSPCA over use of controversial ‘kill tests’

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.

Original here


1 Comment

Filed under Abandoned animals, RSPCA NSW

One response to “MP backs RSPCA over use of controversial ‘kill tests’

  1. companionanimalnews

    My letter to andrew cornwall, 10/10/12

    Dear Mr Cornwall

    I was very angry when I read your comments in the SMH regarding temperament testing.

    As the Chairperson of the NSW Taskforce on companion animal welfare, you have no right to comment in public before the Taskforce has issued its findings and report. This is a gross conflict of interests and you should retract your comments immediately.

    I don’t believe that you have any idea about the practices of the RSPCA NSW in regard to temperament testing. You say “the RSPCA puts an enormous effort into accurate behavioural assessment”.

    Could you please reply and tell me exactly what these enormous efforts are? And your experience with the RSPCA NSW? What is your data?

    I attach for your information a paper by Nathan Winograd, the world’s leading expert on reducing shelter killing and his views on the mis-use of temperament testing. Please take the time to read and digest it.

    The RSPCA NSW has a poor record in saving animal lives and is in constant denial about adopting better ways to increase Rehoming, specifically strategies of the No Kill Equation. I attach a document explaining that for you as well. (Please don’t write back and say “not every animal can be saved- we know that and this is an intrinsic part of the No Kill solution).

    The RSPCA NSW is quite rightly under the spotlight for its poor numbers.

    It is really disappointing that a high profile person like you, as Chair of the Taskforce, shoots from the hip and comes out in their defence, instead of saying “wait a minute, yes, their numbers are very poor –let’s look into this as part of the Taskforce investigation and we will give a reasoned response”.

    Would that not be more appropriate for a person in your position??

    In my submission, I stated that the RSPCA NSW should be investigated for its rehoming practices, and I stand by that statement. They contribute an unusually high number of animals into the overall NSW kill statistics , and was that not the point of the Taskforce, or am I mistaken??

    There are plenty of world best practice shelters to measure the RSPCA NSW against.

    Finally, can you please explain why the Taskforce report is taking so long to be published – early 2013. The investigation commenced in August 2011. In 18 months another 70 or 80,000 animals will have died. Where on earth is your concern and sense of urgency in all thus?
    Thank you.

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