Category Archives: Animal Advocacy

Project Hope

Sunday Tasmanian – Pet Column; Anne Boxhall, Oct 9 2016


Young Sydney vet Dr Sam Kovac is only 27 years of age.

Like many compassionate vets before him, Dr Kovac will treat wildlife emergencies and the pets of homeless people free of charge. Going a step further, this vet has created Project Hope to help a range of other pets or people in crisis. Distressed by situations where pet owners genuinely could not afford treatment, Kovac was caught up in a bleak life and death dilemma.

To not provide treatment would mean the suffering or death of an animal. Witnessing the owners’ wretched emotions too, financially unable to pursue treatment options for their pet but not wanting to let their pet down was intense and painful for all concerned.

And so Project Hope was born to prevent vets and disadvantaged owners ever having to bargain over life and death. Project Hope raises funds to alleviate the burden on struggling owners so that no animal suffers through economic disadvantage. As well as running the occasional fundraiser, public donations and contributing his own dollars to cover costs at his clinic, Dr Kovac and his vet clinic colleagues have now launched a crowdfunding campaign to enable other vets around the country to provide free treatment where there is genuine need.

This came about following contact from interstate vets and welfare agencies wanting to refer financially disadvantaged pet owners to Kovac’s clinic. The crowdfunding target of $50,000 would foot the bills for local vet treatment wherever the owner is located. Dr Sam Kovac understands that losing your home or income would be one of the worst situations to find oneself in, let alone losing your pet as well.

For more on Project Hope visit or Go Fund Me.


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Filed under Animal Advocacy, Anne Boxhall column, Uncategorized

Political Animals

Sunday Tasmanian – Pet Column, Anne Boxhall; July 10th

Vote One for the Sausage Sizzle is the likely pitch of dogs attending polling booths with their humans last weekend.

All over the country, dogs became the stars of election day as their photos were posted on Twitter using #DogsAtPollingBooths. Some posed near signage endorsing their owner’s favoured candidate, others were pictured scanning how to vote cards, but most turned their attention to the aromas wafting from the sausage sizzle tent.

Dogs of all ages, shapes and sizes became political animals, despite being unable to vote.

In the absence of the ‘Butcher’s Party’, it begs the question who would our canine friends vote for if they could? Would the Animal Justice Party (AJP) top their list perhaps?

The failure of the major parties to safeguard animals in the areas of live export, greyhound racing, factory farming, hunting and puppy farming has given rise to this political voice for animals.

In 2015 an AJP candidate was elected to office in New South Wales state elections. Pro-animal bills have already been introduced in the NSW Parliament to address issues relating to factory farming and experimentation on primates. The AJP envisages a legal system which protects the interests of people, animals and their environments and similarly a political system which enables people to effectively express concerns about the treatment of animals and have issues dealt with in a transparent and accountable way.

For more on AJP, visit   And for those dogs who have seen a few polling booths in their time and are still waiting for their pork barrel and democracy sausage, next time is your time to make a stand and vote one for the sausage sizzle.

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Filed under Animal Advocacy, Animal Justice Party, Animal Rights, Anne Boxhall column

Workplace Foster Care

Sunday Tasmanian column by Anne Boxhall, April 3, 2016

Meet mother and son Beans and Maple, the face of foster care in the workplace. These two are promoting the benefits of giving rescue pets a temporary home in the office while they wait to be adopted into a domestic household. Companies are being encouraged to give foster animals a helping hand and simultaneously boost staff morale.

The program is being championed by Pet Rescue, an organisation providing on-line exposure for animals in the care of shelters and rescue groups across Australia. Pet Rescue spokesperson John Bishop says fostering in the workplace is a great way to develop and strengthen bonds between colleagues, get everyone engaged in office life, and bring some super stress busting happiness into the office environment.

Studies suggest that a pet friendly workplace decreases stress, improves morale and productivity, reduces absenteeism and increases staff retention rates. At the same time, individual staff members have the opportunity to really get to know the rescue pets and ultimately help find them a new permanent home. The right animal in the right workplace connects people to people and people to animals.

It fits perfectly with a new push to incorporate natural elements into busy human lives. Psychologists and sociologists are researching our need to connect with nature and the impacts of it on our thinking, creativity, social skills and mental health. Health researchers are looking at how much more productive we might be if plants and animals are incorporated in the office, along with fresh air and outside views of something natural rather than man-made.

Workplace foster could work for businesses, staff, rescue pets, shelters, rescue groups and even researchers. For more on workplace foster care visit

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Filed under Animal Advocacy, Anne Boxhall column, Fostering, Uncategorized

Labor animal welfare policy may gratify activists

Farm Weekly, 13th May, Colin Bettles

SHADOW Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon says the Labor party’s soon to be released animal welfare policy will seek to cut red tape while upholding growing community expectations of livestock production standards.

But he has remained coy on whether the Opposition’s policy position will indulge the Independent Office of Animal Welfare (IOAW) that farm groups have repeatedly opposed but animal rights groups support.

Today, Mr Fitzgibbon visited Yass in southern NSW with Labor candidate for Eden Monaro, Mike Kelly, holding meetings with locals, including farmers, to ventilate topical issues like animal welfare standards.

He said the Opposition’s animal welfare policy for the 2016 election campaign would soon be unveiled detailing his core objective to reduce regulatory burden rather than increase it.

Mr Fitzgibbon said the Labor party’s national conference last year committed to an IOAW and he supported that resolution.

But he promised more detail would be revealed in the coming weeks about how he planned to implement the party’s actual policy.

“I am determined that we do have standards in Australia that assist with both the productivity and sustainability of the sector which protects it from charges of animal cruelty,” he said.

“And I want to do that in a way which does not impose a regulatory burden but certainly helps provide the sector with a future.

“It’s good for the sector if people, consumers and animal activists know that we have a government that is working with the sector to ensure community standards are upheld.”

RSPCA Australia and animal rights groups have released a list of core federal election demands, including calling for an IOAW to be adopted by the federal government.

They have also slammed the Coalition government for axing the $1 million per year Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS) immediately after the 2013 election and also urged its return.

But farm groups say the AAWS should not be restored and oppose introducing an IOAW saying a federal watch-dog only adds to existing regulatory burdens while yielding no practical advantage.

The IOAW was designed on a pre-tense the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources possesses a conflict of interest in managing welfare outcomes, while overseeing the expansion of animal production.

But during an inquiry into legislation by the Greens to establish an IOAW in this term of government, the Department rejected that allegation saying animal welfare and livestock profitability had shared values, with improved practices leading to “healthier animals that produce a higher quality, safer and higher value product”.

Mr Fitzgibbon said he had heard and understood the various views put forward about the Department’s alleged conflict of interest in managing animal welfare and livestock profitability but kept his gunpowder dry.

“I’m determined that we will produce a policy which helps the sustainability and the profitability of the sector as we see the rise and rise of community concern about animal welfare issues,” he said.

“But at the same time, reducing regulatory burden and hopefully, doing more with the States to better harmonise some of the rules around animal welfare more generally.”

WoolProducers Australia senior vice president Ed Storey operates a fourth-generation wool enterprise near Yass and participated in talks with Mr Fitzgibbon today on core election issues.

Mr Storey welcomed the discussions but said his group had “grave concerns” about introducing the IOAW or returning to the AAWS.

“We see a lot of regulatory creep that only imposes additional costs on livestock producers while achieving little practical benefit,” he said.

Mr Storey said the Labor Shadow Minister understood industry concerns about the IOAW proposal “but the proof will be in the pudding” on any policy announcement.

He said while the AAWS wasn’t discussed, his group saw it as an unnecessary bureaucracy that failed to generate practical animal welfare improvements and “we’re absolutely against bringing it back”.

“The AAWS was just a talk-fest that achieved nothing in meetings with people whose credentials were questionable,” he said.

“They were mostly animal activist groups who are not interested in practical animal welfare standards and don’t want people using livestock for anything like food production or even owning pets.”

It’s understood the National Farmers’ Federation’s Animal Welfare Taskforce – Chaired by Chris Groves – is set to produce a broader, current view on the IOAW proposal.

Retiring Fremantle Labor MP Melissa Parke – one of the chief architects of the IOAW concept – used her valedictory speech last week to reinforce the need for greater regulatory oversight on animal welfare standards.

The Office gained legs at the 2011 ALP National Conference where Ms Parke also raised a motion to end live exports in a four year phase-out that was defeated 215 (against) to 174 (for).

At the time, Ms Parke said the new Office would be a statutory authority operating outside of the agriculture portfolio, dedicated to animal welfare policy, science and law and independent of undue influence from competing political and commercial interests.

She also acknowledged the work of RSPCA policy officer Jed Goodfellow in assisting with designing the proposed model.

Last week in her farewell speech, Ms Parke said “Lyn White, of Animals Australia, uses forensic investigations and powerful advocacy to raise public consciousness of the plight of the millions of animals raised, transported and slaughtered for human consumption”.

“I agree with the former President of the Australian Law Reform Commission, David Weisbrot, who said animal welfare would be the next great social justice movement,” she said.

“Establishing properly resourced independent offices of animal welfare at federal and State levels should be a priority to ensure that animal welfare laws and policies are strengthened, harmonised and enforced.”

RSPCA Australia has joined Animals Australia, Voiceless and World Animal Protection in calling for the government to restore the AAWS and establish the IOAW as part of a group election campaigning platform.

The collective advocacy block has also called for a ban on live animal exports and a ban on the commercial kangaroo trade.

RSPCA Australia said leaders of the main political parties, Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten and Richard Di Natale, need to redress the lack of leadership on animal welfare issues during this year’s election campaign.

RSPCA Australia Chair Gary Humphries said Australia had been going backwards on animal welfare over the past three years with the dismantling of departmental and administrative structures for animal welfare and withdrawal of AAWS funding.

He said RSPCA Australia was also seeking a commitment from government to work with livestock industries to increase the nation’s meat exports and reduce live exports.




Filed under Animal Advocacy, Animal cruelty, Independent Office of Animal Welfare

Political Animals! Australia needs an Independent Office of Animal Welfare

Political Animals – Anne Boxhall article

May 8th 2016

With a federal election around the corner, now is your chance to ask your representatives to commit to standing up for animal welfare. It’s time to remind politicians that large numbers of Australians feel strongly about the treatment of companion animals, wildlife and farm animals. Food retailers are getting the message with farmed meats and eggs increasingly being marketed under higher standards of animal welfare. Politically though, Tony Abbott’s government took us backwards by dismantling Australia’s animal welfare strategy and not acting to end the live animal export trade despite a litany of on-going atrocities. While other countries have stepped up, Australia has fallen behind. Farmers themselves (and industry groups who represent them) are raising concerns over the fragmented approach to animal welfare laws and standards. Existing laws still allow cruel practices to be inflicted on animals, practices that are no longer allowed in other countries. In 2014, Australia fell behind countries such as New Zealand, UK, Germany and Denmark on a ranking of animal welfare laws and policies of livestock producing countries. A key step in protecting the welfare of Australia’s animals is setting up an independent office to take a leadership position on animal welfare. Respected animal protection organisation Voiceless recently used its national lecture series to advocate for such a body. Currently there is no dedicated branch for animal welfare within the Department of Agriculture. It follows that animal welfare should not be in the hands of departments of agriculture whose primary objectives are economic outputs and industry protection as opposed to ensuring the welfare of animals. Voiceless has provided a summary on where Labor, the Coalition and the Greens stand on establishing an independent office of animal welfare. The summary is available at

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Filed under Animal Advocacy, Animal Rights, Anne Boxhall column, Independent Office of Animal Welfare, Voiceless

Hodgkinson in hot water

The Daily Advertiser, July 19, 2013,

MINISTER for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson will be asked to make a public apology after likening animal liberationists to terrorists.

Yesterday at the NSW Farmers Association general meeting Ms Hodgkinson came out swinging when talking about animal rights groups which covertly film piggeries to monitor the welfare of animals. 

It didn’t take long for her comments to reach the ears of welfare organisations. Her comments have been slammed as “baseless, outrageous and highly offensive”.

During her address  Ms Hodgkinson pointed the finger at Animals Australia.

“We have to win the fight on this one and we have to keep putting it up to city people that may not necessarily understand our farming practices and how important they are, that they can not support these groups such as Animals Australia and can not support what they’re doing,” she said.  READ MORE HERE

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Filed under Animal Advocacy, Animal cruelty, Animal exports overseas, Animal Rights

Temp tested into the kill zone: shaping the future a conversation about canine behaviour evaluations.

Veterinary behaviourist Kirsty Seksel says : “the sad reality is that many of the dogs relinquished to these groups (Rescue Groups) are not suitable for rehoming and should be euthenased in the interest of the long term welfare of the dog. Unfortunately there is little if no expertise in many of these groups to assess the suitability of these dogs for rehoming purposes”

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Ms Seksel is CEO of ACAC ( Australian Companion Animal Council)


Filed under Abandoned animals, Animal Advocacy, Animal Rights, Dangerous dogs, Dumped animals