Greyhound Ban

Sunday Tasmanian – Pet Column, Anne Boxhall,  July 17th

The decision to ban greyhound racing in New South Wales has generated lively social media in recent weeks.

Inevitably, those owners and trainers who haven’t been breaking the rules are venting widely. Their anger would be best directed towards those in their own industry whose cruel practices led to the ban in the first place.

Premier Mike Baird was well aware that for too long, too many people knew what was going on and didn’t do enough to reform greyhound racing even though the industry had many chances to reform itself.

The NSW special commission uncovered systemic cruelty, intentional deception and illegal activity. Even after the Four Corners investigation and with full knowledge of the inquiry, the commission’s report found trainers were still using live baiting and flouting the rules.

It’s widely held that this culture of deception and mistreatment of dogs runs too deep right across Australia and other states must follow New South Wale’s lead. Premier Baird admirably banned the industry rather than derive gambling revenue from such shameful animal welfare practices.

Meanwhile some within the industry are claiming alarm at the prospect of greyhounds being killed due to the ban. Are these the very same owners and trainers who have been insisting they love their greyhounds and that these dogs are part of their family? If so, why not simply keep their dogs.

Bear in mind that if lives were lost as a result of the shutdown, it would be a very small fraction compared to the lives lost if the industry had continued.

For any doubters, the full review is available here:  Strategies for rehoming existing racing dogs will be in play over the next twelve months enabling many more people to be smitten by the considerable charms of pet greyhounds.


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Filed under Animal cruelty, Anne Boxhall column, Breeders, Greyhounds, Uncategorized

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


Published 3 hours agoThe RSPCA NSW is the leading charity pound provider in the country.

They take in more animals than any other animal welfare organisation – 33,000 dogs and cats every year*

They also generate easily the most revenue of any animal charity in the country, with Australian’s gifting more than $51 million dollars to the organisation in the 2014-15 year**. The state government even donated $7.5 million dollars to the organisation for new facilities back in 2012. As such they should be a beacon of excellence for our animal welfare dollar spend.

We made them rich because we love our pets.

In return, we expected that they will be providing what should be some of the very best examples of animal sheltering in the world. These guys should be leading the charge in compassionate, cutting-edge, dedicated care for pets – that is the community expectation.

So this graph compares the RSPCA NSW’s performance with other RSPCA shelters nationally.

For every ten dogs and cats brought into their shelters, the RSPCA NSW kills four times as many as the RSPCA QLD and twice as many at the RSPCA VIC.

Which doesn’t seem like “cutting-edge” at all, but terrible, terrible underperformance in comparison to their peers.

But that’s not all.

When we look at WHY dogs are being killed we see an even larger difference between the agencies:

For some reason, the dogs in NSW are being killed at a rate twice or three times as often for behaviour. And twice as often for medical issues.

The dogs in NSW have a problem.

So, when I first put these graphs out, I was met with hurdled abuse:

“You don’t know how overworked RSPCA staff are – we have literally pets coming out our ears and we all are working ourselves to death here.”


“How very dare you. If it wasn’t for irresponsible owners dumping thousands of pets every week into our shelters they wouldn’t be needed. Why don’t YOU come and take all the pets?”

And you know what? These do seem like pretty reasonable retorts to anyone criticising an animal organsation with such large demands on their shoulders. Certainly I can’t personally put 33,000 animals in my backyard. No one can. So we should all just accept that the staff at the RSPCA NSW work as hard as they can and they’re simply overworked and have to kill pets. Right?

Well, that’s not the entire story. The reality is there is no single RSPCA NSW shelter who is trying to cope with 33,000 pets. In fact there are 10 shelters in the RSPCA family:

  • Blue Mountains
  • Broken Hill
  • Central Coast
  • Coffs Harbour
  • Hunter
  • Illawarra
  • Orange
  • Port Macquarie
  • Shoalhaven and,
  • Sydney

Of these, five of these take less than 1,000 dogs a year (Blue Mountains, Broken Hill, Central Coast, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie) and their results are below.

At these small shelters, 3 of the 5 are killing MORE dogs than they’re adopting.

Just think about that for a moment.

More dogs lose their lives in these shelters, than are adopted into new homes. Even though the load is extremely light on the individual shelters and staff could hardly be described as being “swamped” at these places. And this is happening under the management of what is supposedly our leading national animal welfare organisation.

Add to that, exactly zero of these shelters are managing one adoption a day. A DAY. Not one of these shelters gets a successful adoption out the front door every day.

“You don’t know how overworked RSPCA staff are – we have literally pets coming out our ears and we all are working ourselves to death here.”

But they’re just the little ones. What about the big ones?

Fair enough. These shelters combined, take in less than 6,000 pets (2,944 dogs/2,695 cats) – maybe they’re the exception. What about the BIG GUYS? Those who take in more than 1,000 dogs a year (Hunter, Illawarra, Orange, Shoalhaven and Sydney).

THEY must be run ragged, no?


So of these five RSPCA NSW shelters – again three are killing more dogs than they are adopting.

  • Hunter – there is only one way to describe the level of killing here – a fucktonne.
  • Illawarra is killing two and a half time more dogs, than it is adopting.
  • While Orange is basically not even showing up to work. Except to shovel dead dogs into an incinerator.


In addition, if we assume that there are 350 working days a year for a regular run-of-the mill shelter (open weekends most public holidays)

  • Hunter does about one dog adoption a day (but kills nearly three dogs a day)
  • Sydney adopts (a smidge over) 2 dogs a day
  • Illawarra does a dog adoption every other day (but kills more than two dogs daily)
  • Orange adopts a couple of dogs a week (but kills more than one dog daily) and,
  • The only shelter who can claim any success at all – Shoalhaven – adopts one dog a day.

Does any of that feel like staff are being “overworked” to you? Would showing up and doing your job once a day – would that leave you personally gasping for respite?

“How very dare you… Why don’t YOU come and take all the pets?”

That is a very good question, and bloody hell we should.

Someone – anyone – could do better than this. Even if they’d never seen a dog and couldn’t identify the front end from the ass end of an animal. Even if they had a chronic animal allergy and had to work in a hazmat suit. Even then, any one of us could do a better freaking job than this.

In fact, here is the CEO explaining the organisation’s performance (please watch).

Steve says they only kill 2%. WHERE is any of this reflecting 2%?

It’s got me completely befuddled as to how anyone can look at these stats coming out of this organisation and go “yup – seems we’re about 98% effective here – job well done!” Either Steve C. can’t count, or he’s hoping no one would notice.


Steve Coleman has been leading the organsation since 2007. He is obviously not up to the job of leading his shelters into the safe future we require.

You need to fix this.

If you’re in NSW, you should be shouting at your screen about now. Because you PAID for this. You gave this organisation $55 million dollars last year alone and paid to build the swanky head office where the management sit and rubber stamp the operation of their shelters.

If you’re in any of the locations where an RSPCA NSW shelter is delivering these craptastic outcomes, YOU are responsible for lobbying everyone who will listen to make positive change. The animals need an advocate right now.

Go. Do. Fix. YOU.

Original :


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*RSPCA Australia National Statistics 2014-15

** RSPCA NSW Financial Statement 2014-15


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Puppy farms: Call for tax office probe as online boom in dog sales sparks welfare concerns

ABC News

Owners of puppy farms are making hundreds of thousands of dollars each year as regulatory oversight allows the online market for buying dogs on platforms such as Facebook and Gumtree to boom, according to animal welfare group Animals Australia.

Investigations by welfare groups have uncovered dog breeding facilities where puppies live in squalor, with no access to sunlight, where they are given tiny amounts of food and water.

“It’s an industry we’d encourage the tax office to look into because there’s a lot of cash changing hands and a lot of money being made,” said Lisa Chalk, communications director at Animals Australia.

“You could have farms that are making $300-$500,000 a year on these animals, it’s a lot of money and it’s very lucrative.

“Most puppies are sold online these days and that has really helped puppy farmers thrive.”

The Australian pet industry is estimated to be worth $8 billion annually, with 4.2 million pet dogs living in homes across the country.

Online stores, classified ads and posts on Facebook groups have helped facilitate the ease of buying dogs on the internet.

Advertisements posted online on Gumtree seen by the ABC list French bulldogs for $4,500, German shepherd puppies for $1,900 among hundreds of other listings. Many did not specify where the animals came from.

French bulldogs listed for sale online
PHOTO: French bulldogs are listed for $4,500
A post on a Facebook group offered Pomeranian-cross-Husky puppies for sale for up to $4,800 each.

“Part of the online challenges of puppy sales is that there is no tangible tracking mechanism available so as to determine the growth,” RSPCA’s New South Wales chief executive Steve Coleman said in an emailed statement to the ABC.

“We are working with government to develop an education package that will provide consumers with a list of easy questions to ask regarding their online enquiry.”

“If the breeder can’t answer them, we will be asking the public to provide RSPCA and Animal Welfare League with those breeders’ details.”

‘Most’ of the 500,000 puppies sold each year are online

Animals Australia said just under half a million puppies are sold in Australia every year, with most sold online and around 15 per cent through pet shops.

“When you consider one puppy factory could have 60 breeding dogs and you start looking at the price of dogs, you start to see what kind of money these places are bringing in,” Ms Chalk said.

“A lot of these transactions take place on the side of the road in shopping centre car parks, at gas stations or through pet shops as the middle person.

In a statement sent to the ABC, Gumtree said animal welfare was a priority for the site and it has worked in conjunction with the RSPCA to develop policies relating to the sales of pets.

“Gumtree aims to facilitate pets trade in a safe, responsible and successful manner that benefits both people and pets. Gumtree operates a report and takedown process and we rely on our users’ feedback to keep the site safe and relevant.”

In a statement, Facebook said its advertising policies “do not allow for any illegal products, services or activities”.

Earlier this year, welfare groups expressed disappointment at the NSW Government shying away from implementing key recommendations from an inquiry into the mistreatment of animals at puppy factories.

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Filed under On-line buying, Puppy Mills

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

Tasmania is poised to make 2014 a better year for companion animals

The Sunday Mercury – column/Anne Boxhall;  Sunday 29 2013

Tasmania is poised to make 2014 a better year for companion animals with new regulations on the breeding and selling of puppies.

Due to the growth in large scale commercial breeding operations, other states are doing the same. Last week Victoria announced its revised mandatory code of practice for breeding and rearing businesses, claiming it to be strictest set of regulations in the world to protect the welfare of domestic animals. It’s come about as part of that Government’s commitment to crack down on rogue puppy farms and involved feedback through 25,350 submissions. The code includes breeding limits to improve the likelihood of animals successfully finding homes, READ MORE HERE

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Filed under Back Yard Breeders, Breeders, Tasmania, Victoria