The Advertiser, July 3, 2013
Almost half the dogs and cats from the Cessnock local government area impounded at the RSPCA’s Rutherford facility in the past 12 months were euthanised.
Society of Companion Animal Rescuers (SoCares) vice-president and Greens candidate for Hunter, David Atwell labelled the RSPCA’s performance “extremely poor” and said council’s kill rate had been better at the old Kurri animal shelter.
Cessnock City Council closed the Kurri pound in August 2011 when it entered into an agreement with the RSPCA to provide pound facilities for the Cessnock local government area.
Under the Companion Animals Act, all council impounding authorities are required to seek alternative placement for companion animals before they are killed.
The report to council stated that the RSPCA works with a number of rescue groups and has released five dogs that originated from the Cessnock area.
RSPCA NSW will continue to work with some rescue groups and will seek to establish formal relationships with those groups when a consistent process is established at a national level.
A consistent decrease in the number of dogs impounded by council and increases in reclaim rates was reported. For the financial year to date 31.8 per cent of dogs originating from the Cessnock area have been euthanized, however the real number euthanized is the second lowest in seven years.
The report described the management of cats as “still challenging”, but there has been an increase in the number of cats reclaimed. For the financial year to date 78 per cent of cats have been euthanized with many of these related to a disease or medical condition.
Mr. Atwell said it was “extremely disappointing” and that other nearby pounds have had far better results.
“Pounds at Wyong and Muswellbrook which work with animal rescue groups have the much lower figures starting at eight per cent,” Mr. Atwell said.
“It is equally disappointing that the State Government’s Companion Animal Taskforce apparently accepts the high kill rate as it is totally ignoring the issue.”
Mr. Atwell said a recent petition on lowering the kill rates in NSW animal pounds received 34,000 signatures, but because it was online petition it could not be tabled in State Parliament.
“The huge number of responses indicates a high level of concern in the community about the fate of animals in pounds,” he said.
He added there is an overwhelming need for an independent Office of Animal Welfare in the Federal sphere which could oversee and intervene in such issues as the high kill rate.
In a recent visit to the Hunter area, NSW Lead Senate Candidate Cate Faehrmann sat down with members of local rescue group, Hunter Valley Cat Haven, and Mr. Atwell to discuss the ongoing issues facing such organisations.
Group representative Tracey Burkill described the ongoing struggles of the rescue including discrepancies in the cost of the de-sexing animals between vets in the area and the difficulties faced by pensioners in covering these costs.
She also described many instances of illegal animal sales in the area for cats and dogs as young as four weeks old.
Ms. Faehrmann agreed that the State Government needed to take on more responsibility when it comes to overcoming these issues.
“The State Government really needs to step in and regulate the industry to prevent these forms of cruelty, especially on a domestic level,” she said.
“The community does not want to see animal cruelty and now rescue groups are picking up the pieces and filling the holes left between the RSPCA and the council.”
“While that conflict is going on there’s not much council can do,” Cr. Morgan Campbell said.
Group leader built and natural environment, Gareth Curtis, said council does not believe the RSPCA is in breach of its contract.