ANIMAL rescue groups from around the state will converge in the Hunter in 2013 to address what they believe are alarming rates of animal cruelty in the region.

The Rescuers and Advocates Companion Animal Conference will be held in February at Warners Bay and aims to educate people on how to participate in animal rescue, how to find foster families for pets and how to work with media, council and vets.

Dog Rescue Newcastle founder Sue Barker, who will speak on the day, said there was a big concern about overpopulation and euthanasia rates of animals in the Hunter.

‘‘Our councils aren’t doing anything to reduce rates, especially concerning backyard breeders,’’ she said. ‘‘We’re constantly busy. Sometimes we’re getting six to eight animals in a day.

‘‘It’s unacceptable and this conference is about figuring out how we can make change.’’

Ms Barker said they wanted a wide range of people to participate in the conference.

‘‘The Hunter is a huge problem area and I’m appalled by the neglect and ignorance here,’’ she said.

‘‘We need to make the public aware of what’s going on.’’ .

Other speakers will include Olga Parkes of Hunter Animal Watch, Dr Cathy O’Neil of Macquarie Road Veterinary Hospital and Barb Steffensen, from Animal Rights and Rescue.

Organiser and lawyer for companion animals Anne Greenaway said the conference was open to anyone, and that speakers would aim to teach people about animal welfare.

The conference will be held on February 2 at the Salas Function Centre, 298 Hillsborough Road, Warners Bay. The cost for the conference is $20 and those interested can email Ms Greenaway at for more information.

Showing 17 comments

Why isn’t Hunter Animal Rescue involved? They are the biggest in the Hunter?.


Jeff Jones

‘Pet Overpopulation’ is a myth. Basing a conference around the idea that breeders or anyone other than the the shelters who implement the policy of killing for convenience or space is setting the industry up for failure.

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Thanks for publicising this important event and drawing attention to the surplus pets in this region.  Councils vary widely in how they handle animals and their stewards so I am looking forward to learning how things work outside of the Hornsby Shire, where animals and their stewards are viewed as revenue streams and nothing more.




This is an excellent initiative. Animal cruelty should be of the utmost concern in any society. May 2013 see serious changes in the law for all animals. Susanne



conference shouldn’t be only about puppies and kittens dumped by their owners,
it should address larger scale subjects. Banning live animal exports and
upgrading exports to processed meat that would create added value for the
economy, besides reducing animal cruelty. Illegal breeding of dogs, dog theft to
supply dog fighting. Increasing rate of pet theft from pet shops, houses to
supply 2nd hand pet market, smuggling. Need for tougher enforcement of laws and
tougher regulations. That’s not only about animals, that’s about people, about alarming rate of criminal offences in our society.


Anne Greenaway

It is a ONE day conference FG.

How about you organise one for all the larger scale subjects you mention.


Kathryn Wilberforce

Congratulations, Anne Greenaway, for organising this Conference. We need to lift our game in Australia about animal welfare. It is sad that in an affluent country 250 000 healthy dogs and cats are killed annually in our pounds and shelters. This is especially evident at Christmas and New Year, when our pounds and shelters are overflowing, and the dedicated rescue groups work tirelessly to save animals from being killed.
Many of the animals killed are little puppies and kittens, and animals dumped by their owners. This Conferance has the wonderful potential to address the problems, and develop strategies that will  hopefully save innocent lives.



I agree Kathryn the fact that owners are dumping and the breeders are getting away with horrendous conditions all comes back to the council and their community. We always advocate that people at least visit their local pound once a year and ask questions.  If the councils had “community” pounds run by and for the community there would be more accountability. People talking to and helping people in their community one on one. The fact that a lot of very lazy councils choose to waste their rate payers money by contracting out their pound responsiblites maintains the status quo and nobody learns anything and nobody knows anything and big money changes hand which perpetuates the kill cycle. You are right small rescue groups run themselves ragged and get nothing and that is the way the large high kill rescues they like it.They have the big paid PR guns that rake in all the money with soft fluffy stories and the smaller groups doing all the real “rescue work” and non kill get nothing.



Excellent! If only, at long last, 2013 could be the year when Australia’s appalling record of animal cruelty will be ‘on the agenda’ and politicians finallly respond to what more and more Australians want done – e.g. the banning of live exports and of jumps racing horse-killing; and doing something tangible about the laughable fines and penalties imposed for gross animal cruelty by magistrates (which are usually at the level of minor traffic infringements).



This is called progress by the people for the people. Well done Anne from Company Animals. The system of animal welfare has broken down and has never worked. Government bodies and council are the biggest contributors to the system failure. They are not proactive and do not keep up with the laws they impliment so the system is always in sytemic failure. Its the old claytons law scenerio “laws you have when you really have no laws”. The councils due to their lazy attitude and not willing to work with their rate payes take the easy way out and contract out their pounds which perpetuates the “breed – kill” cycle that has become a very profitable business for the large rescues and a total waste of rate payers money because it is not a solution it is part of the problem. The Government nor the Councils have ever done a cost benefit analysis on the impounding of dogs and cats to the community and choose to do the same as until somthing like these conferences bring the truth to the people and creat constructive dialogue and collaboration between all those involved.



People need to be made aware of what is happening in there “own backyards” we can not leave it to a few very special people to do it all.
Animals give us so much, its about time we realised we are here to share our world, and stopped ‘turning a blind eye’. There is so much we can all do, if it is only having our animal desexed, cared for, and protected it is a start. If anyone can look at the pictures of these animals and not feel something, you have a real problem. We all can’t forster, or rescue, but we can help in any way it is possible for us to do so, write to your local members, contact your council express your concern for their inaction, and the normally callous way they treat the poor animals that do come to their notice. As they say  it all starts with one step!



This is a great initiative, Anne, Goodonya! I sincerely hope this conference attracts many animal lovers from the region, not just those already converted.

The media could also help animals by promoting this event more, attending the conference and presenting excerpts from some of the presentations, and interviewing people from local rescue groups who do such a tremendous job under difficult circumstances. The callous cruelty, cold indifference and total lack of responsibility shown by some people towards their animals, is often very stressful and demoralising to those who come to rescue, rehabilitate and comfort those animals. They do this with very limited resources, donating their time and money, just because there is no-one else who will do it.

Please, local people, attend the conference if you can, support Dog Rescue Newcastle, Hunter Animal Watch and Animal Rights and Rescue by volunteering your help – there is much to be done. eg. foster carers are always in short supply.


Fiona kane

every animal organisation should be there , they all should have this as a common interest to try and help theses poor animals ,if they choose to stay away then its obvious they care that strongly about the poor animals that a killed and the ones still waiting to see what there fate will be



This conference will help bring people together to tackle the problems of dog overbreeding and irresponsible pet owners. It comes at a time when large scale puppy farms continue to thrive in the Hunter. Dog theft to supply dog fighting is also a huge problem in our region which is seldom reported.

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This is a very good idea and long overdue. There are a number of issues effecting the community, rescue groups, animal lovers, councils, governments, and other animal welfare organisations. And not everything is good. Whilst Australia destroys over 250 000 unwanted pets every year, most of whom are healthy, new ideas and strategies need to be developed and implemented in order to drastically reduce the numbers killed.

The rescue groups in the Hunter Valley and Central Coast have developed such strategies where we have seen a huge reduction in the kill ratios at numerous council pounds who cooperate with the rescue groups. At Singleton they have a kill ratio of 17.5%, Gosford has one of 15.5%, Wyong has one of 12.5%, and Muswellbrook has one of 8.5%. This success reflects all the hard work and effort put in when the emphasis is place solely upon the saving of lives. Meanwhile the RSPCA has a kill rate of 50.6% whilst they have over $40 million invested in shares and long term investments and they made a further $9 million operating profit last year. Clearly there’s a fundamental difference in the strategies of the two groups: one is about saving lives whilst the other is about making money.

This conference will be thus about demonstrating to the public the greater alternative which the rescue groups have on offer. Given the NSW Government’s Companion Animal Taskforce is supposedly about trying to significantly reduce the number of companion animals killed every year, then they should listen to what these successful groups have to say instead of ignoring them as is usually the case.



 The NSW Government’s Companion Animal Taskforce is seated by members for the very groups and bodies who have for the last 50 years helped get us to where we are today. It is stupidy at its best to load a taskforce with the very same groups and bodies who churn our 250,000 annual pet kill mill. They feed it, they market it and they get money from it. “What kind of vetting was put into this Taskforce? Obviously non the same old people expecting a different outcome.

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Should drag the CEO from RSPCA along as they have the highest kill rates… They need to work with rescue groups and not against them to drop their kill rates …

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