The Mercury ZARA DAWTREY | December 20, 2012
“RSPCA president Paul Swiatkowski has angrily denied allegations of animal mistreatment at the organisation’s Tasmanian shelters.”
ANIMALS at RSPCA Tasmania shelters have repeatedly been left unmedicated, untreated and uncared for over the past 18 months, according to a series of internal complaints from senior staff.
The Mercury has obtained documents which show veterinary staff — including statewide chief vet Gabby Lawson — have reported on a number of occasions what they describe as serious animal welfare issues.
However the RSPCA has rejected the allegations, choosing to respond through a lawyer.
“Those allegations are spurious, scandalous, wrong in fact, defamatory, highly inflammatory,” president Paul Swiatkowski said through lawyer Leonard Fernandez.
In January a staffer discovered a rosella trying to escape from a portable cage in the shelter laundry. “Clearly it has been abandoned in a carrier all night,” the woman’s complaint reads.
Dr Lawson had complained that animals were not being medicated properly and in November wrote that this remained an ongoing issue. The chief vet’s email stated she was “struggling to understand” why a core task was still presenting such a problem.
A sample of the further complaints reveal:
A KITTEN with cat flu housed in a cage next to healthy kittens.
AN unvaccinated rabbit with a rotting uterus and mummified foetuses put up for adoption.
RABBITS left without food or water in the sun.
A SICK kitten left without heating overnight causing it to die from severe shock and hypothermia.
A DOZEN cows left without water last summer.
ID collars excessively tight on kittens that had grown.
ROOSTERS in filthy pens.
A now-former RSPCA inspector emailed supervisors last year expressing reluctance to seize animals and bring them back to the Launceston shelter as “in its current environment it may affect their health in a detrimental way”.
The inspector referred to “terrible outcomes” such as four previously healthy cats due to be euthanised that day after contracting a disease at the shelter.
It was suggested the best option would be to board animals seized away from the RSPCA’s shelter.
Documents reveal Dr Lawson and sacked chief executive Ben Sturges pressured shelter staff in Hobart and Launceston to improve the standard of care in a variety of areas and Dr Lawson repeatedly queried why her instructions were being ignored. She is currently off work on extended sick leave.