The Maitland Mercury



  • KILL RATES: RSPCA euthanasia rates at its pounds have come under fire.KILL RATES: RSPCA euthanasia rates at its pounds have come under fire.

The Society of Companion Animal Rescuers has backed calls for a televised debate about “kill rates” at RSPCA and council run pounds.

SoCares vice-president and Lower Hunter resident David Atwell said the RSPCA’s euthanasia rates for animals were too high.

“We want to know why there is discrepancy with what they can achieve and what we can in co-operation with the pounds,” he said.

“We would like to see this brought into an open, public discussion.”

State government figures show about half of all cats and dogs taken into the pounds statewide are destroyed each year when they can’t be placed in new homes.

Mr Atwell said by working with Muswellbrook and Wyong pounds SoCares had reduced their kill rates to 12 per cent for cats and dogs compared to 21 per cent at Cessnock.

Mr Atwell said the rate used to be better when the pound was at Kurri Kurri where SoCares had access.

“We don’t have access to Cessnock or Maitland since the services were contracted to RSPCA,” he said.

“Crowding can happen in the peak periods but the rescue groups try to accommodate for that by putting dogs out in foster care.”

Animal rights lawyer Anna Greenaway recently provided information to SBS program Insight for an episode aired last week which highlighted kill rates occurring in council pounds and shelters around Australia.

The lawyer hoped the show would make the public more aware of the large numbers of companion animals being killed each year.

“I think the RSPCA also needs to be more transparent with the rescue groups they work with and I would like to know how many animals they released to rescue groups last year,” she said.

RSPCA chief executive officer Steve Coleman defended its kill rates on Insight.

“Because of our open door policy, we take in animals that are sick, injured, abused, neglected and unwanted,” he said.

He said a number of these animals were deemed dangerous or it would be downright cruel for them to be kept alive.

Showing 17 comments

  • wisekat

    I support a televised debate on this issue. It is about time the high kill rates by the RSPCA were brought out into the open.

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  • Fionak61

    Any animal that can be saved should be, it’s not their fault humans are such selfish people who breed and discard dogs and cats as if they’re just an old pair of shoes they no longer want.

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  • DMA

    The RSPCA simply has to do better if they truly claim that their core business is for the care & welfare of animals. Overall their kill rate for dogs alone is 44%, as published in the NSW Govt Companion Animal Taskforce report back in May, whilst the state’s pound system has a kill rate of 28%. One of the reasons for this is many pounds cooperate with local community rescue groups whereas the RSPCA doesn’t (especially here in Rutherford).

    Another reason is the RSPCA’s notorious behavioural test. It is very complicated and very strict. It accounts for why a large number of animals are euthanised by the RSPCA whereas the state’s pounds and rescue groups don’t use it. Indeed neither Muswellbrook, Singleton and Wyong pounds don’t use it; Port Stephens pound uses a simple five point test; and Gosofrd pound uses a heavily modified version, of the RSPCA, which hardly resembles the original. Meanwhile all these pounds have a lower kill ratio than the RSPCA.

    All this and more means that the RSPCA has a lot of questions to answer, especially in light that they raise millions of dollars from the public under the impression that this organisation claims that: “We will never give up on TJ and other animals like him.” Yet as the kill rate figures demonstrate, they give up on over 7000 dogs every year according to the NSW govt published figures. Similarly the RSPCA makes millions of dollars every year from council impounding contracts. Again the RSPCA has thus a contractual requirement and a duty of care towards the ratepayers who would expect far more dogs and cats saved than is otherwise the case.

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  • Bec

    To me the RSPCA is all about money. My boy was one of lucky ones to be saved by a rescue group, he was not in great shape back then of what these people did to him, I know he would have been killed by the RSPCA, but with time and lots of love he is a happy dog.

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  • Anne Greenaway

    Why was did the RSPCA tender for the Kurri Kurri facility when it’s it’s animal holding facility at Rutherford was overflowing? Why did the money from the Cessnock council contract go to fund a shop at Tuggerah?
    Were Cessnock ratepayers ever consulted about this? Did they approve?

    When will RSPCA NSW start working with animal rescue groups in the Hunter Region?

  • Kate

    the RSPCA are quite wealthy enough to offer very cheap desexing. to stop the senseless breeding, hence the high kill rate. People just don’t realise by letting their dogs and cats breed unnecessarily it is very irresponsible and cruel. This would solve a majority of the problem- its not rocket science.!!!!

  • tortikat

    Congratulations to Ms Grenaway. I most certainly support a debate on the RSPCA.
    The RSPCA is neglecting its duty of care, and it should be investigated.
    I would like to ask Steve Coleman a few questions myself, such as “What do you do with all the donations Steve?

  • wisekat

    It’s ‘Be Kind to Animals Week’ excellent time to bring up the issue of the mass killings at the RSPCA. Steve Coleman, you have a lot of explaining to do. Bring on the debate!!!

  • christy

     Why is the government using tax payers’ funding on a business and a high kill business at that.  I hope this funding is extended to the
    other small struggling non kill rescues. Government should also not be involved
    in a company that obviously has serious operational and organisational flaws. What
    diligence has the government done before
    extending public funding to this organisation?

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  • Tlouisn

    Come on RSPCA, what have you got to hide? All the people who donate so much money deserve the truth

  • RSPCA could quite easily reduce kill rates, they get enough money in donations and support. It’s time to fight for NO KILL

  • Doggiedayout

    I watched the SBS debate.  Few points I noted were: It was stated that a meeting between rescue groups and RSPCA Rutherford went no where – it was insinuated that the rescue groups did not ‘get back’ to them.
    It would be interesting to hear from these rescue groups to ascertain their side of the story, or was there just a total breakdown in the communications between said groups?

    The RSPCA criteria to euthanise a dog they deem not suitable for rehoming is so harsh it is unbelievable.  These dogs are ‘terrified’ – take them away from the cages and the constant barking and whining of the other terrified dogs and you would in all but a very few circumstance, have a totally acceptable animal for rehoming.
    Each dog should be assessed, other facilities are able to do same on a lot less funding, this then provides a good description of the dog for promotion and a far better chance of adotption.

    I realise that RSPCA have a lot of other animals issues in our inhumane society, but let’s get this right please.

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  • David Atwell

    David Atwell here from SoCares. I was at the Rutherford meeting in August of last year. The claim by Mr Coleman about the rescue groups not getting back to the RSPCA is wrong. At the meeting Mr Coleman asked us for contact details from our representatives in order to conduct further negotiations. Our legal representative, who was at this meeting on behalf of SoCares & Dog Rescue Newcastle, handed Mr Coleman, in response to his request, their business card to ensure that he personally had the contact details according to his wishes on the very night of the original meeting. Furthermore all the people representing the rescue groups at that meeting also signed a “roll call” leaving behind our respective email address. And this is despite the fact that the RSPCA already had several contact details as I had to forward these contact details onto the RSPCA prior to the meeting.

    So, as far as SoCares & Dog Rescue Newcastle are concerned, we fulfilled our obligation to ensure that the request by Steve Coleman had been meet. Consequenitally it was the rescue groups who didn’t hear back from the RSPCA, for the next step of arranging these negotiations, and not as claimed on the SBS Insight Program.

    Far more importantly, at the original meeting on 24 August 2011, I offered to the RSPCA that the rescue groups take cats & dogs from Rutherford under the same conditions that takes place at every council run pound throughout the state. This means that any group with a Clause 16d can take a companion animal into foster care.

    A Clause 16d is “certificate” which has been authorised by the NSW govt as part of a process whereby rescue groups, who have obtained their Clause 16d, can turn up at a pound & claim a cat or dog. It forms a key part of the Companion Animal Regulations, which is attached to the NSW Companion Animals Act, & therefore has the full weight of the Act behind it. Basically a Clause 16d wavers most of the fees, which a general member of the public would have to pay if adopting an animal from a pound, apart from the cost of the microchip (which is generally charged at the wholesale price).

    Although there is no actual legal demand for a council to be forced to release an animal to a rescue group with a Clause 16d, it is within the “spirit” of the law for councils to oblige themselves to cooperate with rescue groups, according to the Companion Animal Regulations, as well as their legal requirement to do so under Section 64 para 5 of the Companion Animals Act where it states:

    “Before destroying a seized or surrendered animal as authorised by subsection (1), it is the duty of the council concerned to consider whether there is an alternative action to that of destroying the animal and (if practicable) to adopt any such alternative.”

    To me that indicates that the Act is refering to the Clause 16d even though it doesn’t specifically mention it in detail (please note that this has never been legally tested nor has it been set out in the “guidelines” – it is, though, my learned opinion).

    Quintessentially neither the Act or the Regulations excuse the RSPCA run pounds from observing Section 64 quoted above (BTW Section 64A states the same requirement for surrenders) nor from not allowing rescue groups, who have a Clause 16d, from taking an animal from an RSPCA run pound. It maybe a different story from a private RSPCA shelter, such as Yagoona (ie Sydney), but not from somewhere such as Rutherford which has four council pounds located therein (Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, & Cessnock).

  • Vinfimoult

    Shared a Page: Justice4Max.
    This page is open to those in rescue, and to community members concerned by RSPCA NSW’s appallingly high kill rates for its shelter animals. We aim to encourage community awareness of the issues, and to push RSPCA to reform its practices.

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  • rescue

    SoCares is certainly not the only rescue who has helped to get the kill rate down at these pounds. Credit where credit is due, we have all played a part. This has not been achieved single handedly.

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  • Tulipflower6

    If they have nothing to hide why not show us, like most organisations you can catogorise what they do. I except that animals are put down if they are sick, injured, abused, neglected: Catergorises these, but i bet most kills::: fit into the unwanted category and that is what people see as being unacceptable these animals should be given a chance and if the RSPCA wont be transparent send your money else where.


    I support a televised debate on how many defenceless children are abused….now that would be worthwhile.
    And then something done to help them…



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