In August 2011 The New South Wales government established a Companion Animals Taskforce and has produced a Discussion Paper. Submissions are due by 1 July 2012.
This document submission below was a collaborate effort with input from around 30 people very concerned with the high kill rates of cats and dogs in NSW.
PLEASE NOTE – THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Input from the document came from a range of sources, all of them concerned with the high kill rate of cats and dogs in NSW.
If you agree with the submissions below, please feel free to send the template document below or amend or delete parts of it for your own purposes.
The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
PLEASE DO NOT FORGET TO INCLUDE the feedback form on Page 41 of Taskforce discussion paper. It is extremely important that concerned animal-lovers provide feedback to the NSW government on this discussion paper. You may wish to include cc emails to Ministers Page and Hodgkinson. The email addresses are as follows
Companion Animals Taskforce Discussion Paper
Division of Local Government,
Department of Premier and Cabinet Locked Bag 3015
NOWRA NSW 2541
Via email email@example.com
An additional 50,000 animals will have been killed while the Taskforce Discussion paper has been underway. The Taskforce was established August 2011, the draft report was released May 2012 and public submissions to the draft paper are expected by 1st July 2012. In essence there is the very least; another 3-4 months wait before any final recommendations will be released. The lack of urgency from the Taskforce is shocking, the lives of cats and dogs are at stake and priority is called for to address these issues.
Predominantly groups which make up this Taskforce generally have little experience in the rescuing or rehoming of these animals and furthermore on average hold a vested interest in maintaining high numbers of animals in the community for commercial and or hobby interests. It also appears that Questions (options) 1-20 are geared in such a way to raise revenue, without providing concrete examples of how the revenue will be spent to reduce the kill rates of cats and dogs.
Furthermore, the lack of “grass roots rescue” and volunteer groups is particularly noticeable when reviewing the recommendations made. Rescue and volunteer groups hold no commercial or vested interest and understand the issues faced, as this is their day-to-day experience. Surely that should have earned them a right to a voice, a voice that this Taskforce needs to listen to. Numerous requests were made to the Minister for Primary Industries and the Minister for Local Government to include NO KILL rescue groups on the Taskforce, but all these requests were denied. I contrast this with the situation in America where the City of Dallas has established the Dallas Companion Animal Project, the official task force appointed by the City of Dallas in July of 2011. Originally conceived by the Animal Shelter Commission on June 23, 2011, its mission is to guide the community toward increasing programs and strategies to end the killing of adoptable homeless animals. You will notice that the Dallas Task force is comprised of more than 50% of the people who are currently, or have previously been, part of community rescue groups. https://dallascompanionanimalproject.wordpress.com/about/task-force-members/
If Taskforces are established to provide a solution it should be a taskforce with members with a proven history of implementing proactive and proven programs in animal welfare that have reduced the number of animals killed in Australia. The current members on the taskforce have not implemented meaningful solutions to substantially reduce the kill rate of our companion animals, whereby grass roots rescue are leading the way with compulsory sterilisation and micro chipping of animals rehomed and turning high kill pounds into low kill pounds.
It is reported that over 50,000 animals in NSW alone are killed on an annual basis; surely this is a testament that these key groups have repeatedly failed to implement any strategies to substantially reduce the kill rate of our companion animals. In the Taskforce discussion paper, no mention is made of the AWL Queensland approach “Getting to Zero” or any inclusion from the US and Canadian “No Kill” initiatives. The very fact that these strategies have not been referred to, demonstrate an unwillingness by the Taskforce membership to strategies concerning the saving of animal lives in pounds and shelters. The very subject they have been asked to report on!! On 18 May 2011 Tim Vasudeva (AWL) and Kristina Vesk (Cat Protection Society) co-ordinated a workshop at NSW Parliament House, which was hosted by Clover Moore. Steve Coleman (RSPCA NSW) was also present at this Workshop. One of the topics presented at this workshop were Getting to Zero in whole communities: the model and how it can be achieved. Why is it that there are representatives of THREE organisations on this Taskforce that are supposedly animal welfare orientated who have attended this Workshop yet there is no reference to Getting to Zero in the Discussion Paper? There is a lack of transparency as to which (if any) of these three Taskforce members were in favour of Getting to Zero principles, despite being aware of them. No minutes of meetings of Taskforce meetings have been made publicly available (that I am aware of).
I make the following recommendations: –
- Introduce High Volume Low Cost Desexing Schemes for cats throughout NSW. This could be done via mobile desexing clinics similar to those which operate in the US and New Zealand. If New Zealand can do this, why can’t Australia? http://rnzspca.org.nz/saving-lives/mobile-clinic/311-mobile-clinic
- Surrender Tax on breeders whose animals end up at the pound. All microchips to include the breeder details for the lifetime of the animal. There has been a proliferation of rescue groups who are cleaning up the mess of unwanted animals, which are bred indiscriminately by unscrupulous and/or irresponsible people. This way breeders will have to bear some of the responsibility for the animals they indiscriminately pump out into the community. Rescue groups carefully scrutinise potential homes for dogs and cats they rescue and rehome. Also most rescue groups and some ethical breeders allow for animals sold by them to be returned (thereby continuing to take full responsibility for the animal). Unethical breeders do not care where the animal ends up as long as they are can make a short-term financial gain from the sale of the animal.
- Recommend an enquiry into RSPCA NSW’s high euthanasia rates. The RSPCA NSW has massive financial resources and despite this, has high kill rates of animals entering their facility. 2010-11 41,662 dogs and cats entered the RSPCA NSW, and 21,240 were subsequently killed*, that is 51%. http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=rspca%20statistics&source=web&cd=1&sqi=2&ved=0CFIQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rspca.org.au%2Fassets%2Ffiles%2FResources%2FAnnualStatistics%2FMicrosoft%2520Word%2520-%2520Annual%2520Statistics%25202010_2011%2520EXTERNAL%2520ONLY.doc%2520%252011.11.pdf&ei=pFLxT6bbNO2ZiAft0_j7DA&usg=AFQjCNHhjOHvlZxbgCElwlIqLlBzeV8zXg
- The Dogs Trust UK is a comparable organisation and their mantra is “We never kill a healthy dog”’. This Inquiry should also investigate community concerns regarding dissatisfaction with action not being taken in animal cruelty cases. Too many times rather than taking the action the community expects, the RSPCA merely says, “we are monitoring the situation, the investigation is ongoing, we can’t tell you any more due to privacy”. Meanwhile animals are suffering. There is a great deal of community anger due to a strong perception of lack of response by the RSPCA. The easy access to large numbers of unwanted animals makes them easy targets for animal cruelty perpetrators.
- The Taskforce should also be investigating the possibility of expanding the Companion Animals Act to include other animals such as rabbits. At present there is no regulation of rabbit breeding in NSW. If rabbit breeders continue to breed rabbits indiscriminately there is the potential for domestic rabbits bred in a rural areas to escape and mate with the local wild population, which could wreak havoc on the local environment. For this very reason, it is illegal to own a rabbit as a pet in Qld.
- The introduction of a breeder-licensing program with an aim to regulate the industry.
- Impose limits on the number of puppies and kittens that can be bred. Impose time limits between litters. Mandatory record keeping of all litters (and parents, ie stud or bitch) ie, one litter per year per cat.
- High penalties need to be introduced as a deterrent for unlicensed breeding. . Funding to go to policing of unlicenced breeders and rehoming of confiscated animals.
- Prohibit large-scale commercial breeding activities and licence backyard breeders.
- Stop the sale of live animals in Pet Shops and local markets.
- Address Greyhound breeding numbers and actively seek solutions to their plight. There needs to be an expansion of the GAP program so that a significant number can be re-homed. The numbers that are re-homed by GAP are tokenistic. Over 85% of greyhounds bred will not live a full life span. There needs to be (breeder and owner) accountability for greyhounds that are bred. Let’s not forget that some greyhound breeders breed in large number and are, regarded by some, as puppy farmers.
- Backyard breeders need to apply to their local council for a Development Application to breed dogs. Special areas are required for to be set aside for whelping and cleaning run off need to be considered.
- Councils to ensure an Animal Welfare Charter is included into their internal governance. In addition to this, council pounds to implement a rehoming facility as part of the care and responsibility towards animal welfare.
- Resourcing in local pounds is minimal, therefore recommendations to local councils to ensure better collaboration within their community and acceptance of volunteers who are working at these facilities.
- All animals available for rehoming should be prominently advertised on the council website and social media sites, with every effort being made to ensure these animals find alternate homes. Often this work is undertaken by volunteers and these volunteers should be encouraged to undertake this work. Additionally work with local animal rescue and rehoming centres to further expand the reach of advertising for homeless animals.
- Implementation of key performance indicators for Council and Shelter Staff that focuses on the reduction of euthanasia rates. Refer to the AWL Queensland Getting to Zero scorecard as a guide.
- Implement a Council Foster Care Program that will minimise the number of animals held in pound facilities until their alternative home may be found.
- Redefine with a view to significantly improve Temperament Testing with a view to assisting the animal with behaviour modification. (See Winograd, Temperament Testing in the Age of No Kill)
- Implement appropriate training to be provided to pound and shelter staff in animal welfare, management and rehoming practices.
- Education – one of the important aspects of education for dog owners is dog training. Many dogs end up in pounds because of their behaviour. This is a point that needs to be highlighted. It is a major issue as to why dogs get killed. It is not always aggressive behaviour. Quite often it is stupid things like dogs barking and general unruly behaviour and people don’t now how to handle it and are not told at the time of acquiring dog proper information about dog behaviour or how to train dogs. There are all sorts of ways that all councils could be encouraging dog training;
for example- Owners get discounts if they have attended dog training classes.
- Introduce legislation to make it illegal for a landlord to discriminate against pet owners on the basis of their choice of household companion. Introduce pet bonds to satisfy landlords.
10. Regulate the advertising of animals for sale unless the advertiser is an approved registered and licensed breeder with an approved licence number, or an approved Rescue group.
11. Legislate so that the sale of cats and dogs online, in newspapers and elsewhere is prohibited without displaying a licence number (for example like tradesmen are required to do)
12. Recommend the AVA to actively encourage vets to work at preferential rates with approved Rescue groups. This work should be encouraged as a community responsibility.
13. Vet surgeries should be encouraged to act as small-scale rehoming centres and take part in rehoming initiatives as part of their community contribution.
- Education and the encouragement of responsible pet ownership with the aim to reduce the number of animals surrendered each year to council pounds and shelters. The current education is more about inaccurately identifying dangerous breeds. Ie Councils to actively put out leaflets and information with rates on responsible pet ownership.
- Education should include full disclosure on lifetime costs and imposts on ownership of an animal for its lifetime. These costs are well known and are explained in detail in the ACAC 2010 report “Contribution of the Pet Care Industry to the Australian Economy 7th Edition”. People seeking a pet should be made aware of the full lifetime costs and responsibilities associated with lifetime ownership.
- Far more focus needs to be put onto Councils to provide education for Rangers and Animal Control Officers to develop strategies designed to help members of the community keep their animals and return animals to owners. (See Standing Tall in Reno, No Kill Advocacy Centre 2010).
REGULATION OF BREEDERS
Option 1 Introduce a breeder licensing system
Do you support the introduction of a breeder licensing system to strengthen the regulation of cat and dog breeding practices?
Breeder licensing must be applied to each and every breeder; there should no exemption for membership to any Kennel Club, Dogs NSW or other Association. Licensing details should be kept by a State Government or independent authority.
Option 2 Revise the Breeding Code of Practice to make existing guidelines enforceable standards
- Do you support revising the Animal Welfare Code of Practice – Breeding Dogs and Cats so that the guidelines contained within the document apply to breeders as enforceable standards?
Yes, all guidelines should be standards
- Do you think that such standards should also form the basis of requirements for a breeder licensing system (see Option 1)?
Option 3 Clarify planning legislation requirements relating to the approval of commercial breeder, boarding and shelter premises
Do you support the development of planning guidelines applying to breeding, boarding or shelter constructions across the state?
I support this, and it should be linked to breeder licensing criteria
ADVERTISING AND SALE OF CATS AND DOGS
Option 4 Mandatory listing of an animal’s microchip number or breeder number in all cat and dog advertisements
Do you agree that all advertisements for cats and dogs offered for sale (including internet advertisements) should include either the animal’s microchip number or the number of the animal’s registered breeder?
Breeder details must be included on microchips for the life of the animal,. There must be suitable resources available to monitor and enforce compliance. Advertisements should NOT display the animals microchip number. Displaying microchip numbers could potentially have devastating effects with regards to privacy issues, and is very much open to abuse by unscrupulous public officials.
Option 5 Issue guidelines on the advertising and sale of cats and dogs
Do you agree that guidelines on the advertising and sale of cats and dogs should be provided by the Government?
There must be suitable resources to enforce any guidelines and the media must be legislated to comply (In Queensland media appear unwilling to enforce the requirements)
MICROCHIPPING, REGISTRATION AND DESEXING
Option 6 Remove existing “two step” registration process to require microchipping and registration of cats and dogs by 3 months of age
Do you support revoking the existing “two step” registration process to require the microchipping and lifetime registration of cats and dogs by 3 months of age?
There needs to be (REGISTRATION) exemptions for animal rescue groups. Many vets, especially in country areas will not desex under 6 months, so 3 month registration won’t work as there are discounts for registration of desexed animals (and some animals wont be desexed till 6 months due to vets being unwilling to desex under 6 months).
Option 7 Provide a registration fee rebate for owners who desex their animals within 3 months of registration
Do you support a registration rebate for owners who desex their animal within 3 months of registration as a means to encourage desexing?
Yes, but the rebate needs to be sufficiently attractive
Option 8 Raise cat and dog registration fees to fund additional council and State Government cat and dog management programs
- Do you think that registration fees should be increased to make more funding available for council and State Government cat and dog programs?
- There needs to be a surrender Tax on breeders whose animals end up at the pound. All microchips to include the breeder details for the lifetime of the animal. There has been a proliferation of rescue groups who are cleaning up the mess of unwanted animals, which are bred indiscriminately by unscrupulous and/or irresponsible people. This way breeders will have to bear some of the responsibility for the animals they indiscriminately pump out into the community. Rescue groups carefully vet potential homes for dogs and cats they rescue. Unethical breeders do not care where the animal ends up as long as they are can make money from the sale. A surrender tax on breeders would be a source of revenue for councils.
The vast majority of pet owners are responsible and should NOT be penalised for the defect of irresponsible pet owners. The pound problem is a community wide problem and responsibility should be taken by the Community and the Pet Industry. I would support an increase in Council Rates as a Community-wide companion animal welfare contribution, and a levy on all revenue generating members of the pet industry, excluding approved Rescue Groups and Shelters. Additional costs on responsible pet owners could drop compliance rates.
- Do you support amending the Companion Animals Regulation to allow registration fees to be annually indexed to inflation?
Only if the money goes towards saving animal lives. How do councils currently spent funds received from registrations and fines?
Option 9 Establish new registration categories to encourage desexing
- Do you support the implementation of “Desexed animal – purchased from pound” registration category?
I support this, and suggest that registration fees for an animal purchased from a pound /shelter or approved Rescue Group be a lower figure than for purchases elsewhere. This will serve as an encouragement for the public to obtain their pets from pounds, shelter and rescue groups.
- Do you support the implementation of “Desexed animal – post-purchase consultation by owner” registration category?
Option 10 Introduce measures to improve compliance with companion animal legislation data entry requirements
- Do you support encouraging breeder and animal welfare organisations listed in the Companion Animals Act to become “registration agents” to process registration fees and change of animal details?
I don’t agree that further fees should be imposed on top of the existing fees.
- Do you support establishing a fee for service model for such registration agents to encourage uptake of this arrangement?
- Do you think that online owner “self-service” data entry options should be developed?
Any process, if user friendly, that makes compliance easier, must be considered. The public already use such services in for example pink and green slips for motor vehicles, so why not pets?
Option 11 Establish a grant funding initiative for councils/partner organisations to deliver targeted microchipping, registration and desexing programs
Do you support the establishment of a grant funding program (sourced from the Companion Animals Fund) for councils to promote the microchipping, registration and desexing of cats and dogs?
- The UK Dogs Trust employs very successful programs of this type targeting socio-economic regions where high numbers of animals are bred.
- There needs to be a surrender Tax on breeders whose animals end up at the pound. All microchips to include the breeder details for the lifetime of the animal. There has been a proliferation of rescue groups who are cleaning up the mess of unwanted animals, which are bred indiscriminately by unscrupulous and/or irresponsible people. This way breeders will have to bear some of the responsibility for the animals they indiscriminately pump out into the community. Rescue groups carefully scrutinise potential homes for dogs and cats they rescue. Unethical breeders do not care where the animal ends up as long as they are can make money from the sale.
THE ROLE OF EDUCATION
Option 12 Develop a community wide socially responsible pet ownership education campaign
- Do you support the development of a whole of community socially responsible pet ownership education campaign?
I ONLY support this option subject to a complete overhaul of the existing and current education programs, which are clearly a failure in respect of reducing pound entrance figures. Any programs developed must be agreed to by approved Rescue Groups. If this turns into a money-grab for RSPCA, ACAC and PIAA as a means of encouraging higher pet ownership figures across the country, then, no, I would not support it.
I believe the current programs, at exorbitant cost to the public, are a failure in reducing the pound entrant and killing problem.
The Taskforce information provided on Page 27 certainly confirms where the focus of such education has been so far:
“The Program is distinct from previous programs in that trained and paid Pet Educators are accompanied by their suitability-tested dog during school education sessions, allowing children to experience dog safety messages first hand, in a controlled environment.
The Program replaced the Safe Pets Out There (SPOT) program, which successfully focused on promoting socially responsible pet ownership and was developed in response to the significant community concern about the safety of children around dogs and ran from February 2007 to September 2009 (Ramsay, 2009).”
I.e. on dog safety and safety of people around dogs. Whilst I certainly support education on safety of people around animals, this is NOT what is needed in order to stop the pound killing problem. It needs a total rethink, and urgently.
- Do you support providing school based socially responsible pet ownership programs to students outside of the 5 to 7 year old age group?
It needs to focus on responsible pet ownership, cost of having a pet, the importance of desexing etc. Students should also be educated to the shameful statistics that around 250,000 cats and dogs are killed every year in Australia and some of the causes of this.
Option 13 Develop mandatory standardised information on socially responsible pet ownership to be given out at point of sale and introduce initiatives to reinforce such information
- Do you support the development of mandatory, standardised information to be provided at point of sale?
I support this option provided the information includes full disclosure on total lifetime costs and responsibilities required for the lifetime of the animal. I would support a requirement for a pet owner to sign an agreement document specifying that they have read and understand the responsibility requirements. I remain opposed to the sale of animals through pet shops or markets, unless they are approved Pound/shelter/rescue group animals.
A pet licence should be introduced. The Lost Dogs Home has an on-line version of it, while hardly brilliant, is a start.
- Do you support post-purchase socially responsible pet ownership consultations as a means to reinforce point of sale information?
Yes, I do, but am unsure how this would be implemented given the high numbers of animals bought. Most breeders have little concern for the welfare of the animal once it has left their hands and they have been paid.
Option 14 Establish minimum qualification requirements for pet shop, breeding establishment and pound/shelter staff
- Do you think that it should be compulsory for at least one staff member working in a pet shop, breeding establishment, shelter or pound to have a minimum qualification in animal care and management in-line with the recommendations of the Animal Welfare Code of Practice – Sale of Animals in Pet Shops?
However that person should be a manager in charge, and I do not support sale of animals in pet shops unless they are animals sold in assisting pound/shelter or rescue groups. This also applies to all staff at PETBARN who is now selling animals on behalf of the RSPCA.
- All petshops have specialised trained staff to a level of education that would allow them to advise people as to which what pets would be suitable to peoples lifestyle and accommodation.
- All those selling or rehoming animals should have a return positive policy whereby all animals sold or rehomed that do not work out can be returned for rehoming. Most ethical breeders and rescue groups already have such policies in place.
- Do you think that a Certificate II level qualification should be developed for this purpose?
Option 15 Provide more funding for research on key cat and dog issues
- Do you think that a portion of the Companion Animals Fund should be set aside for annual research grants on cat and dog issues?
Perhaps, but needs to be focussed on practical solutions to the problems of over-breeding, pound entrance and pound killings, and rehoming. Research should be conducted by entirely independent entities un-related to RSPCA NSW, ACAC, PIAA and its members.
I am concerned that funding for research would be appropriated by ACAC, PIAA, DOGS NSW, RSPCA NSW and/or their members as a money grab and initiatives to further their commercial vested interests. I am totally against any funding being provided to these organisations that have failed the animals on a number of levels over an extended period of time and have stifled legislative change aimed to improve animal welfare.
Do you think that such funding should be limited to key organisations or individuals involved in cat and dog research?
This cannot be answered without knowing who the “key” organisations are.
It has been proven that “key organisations” and those involved in cat and dog research frequently lack the basic understanding of practical measures required at the grass roots level to reduce breeding and increase rehoming levels of needy animals.
Wyong Council Animal Care Facility that has dramatically improved its animal homing rates simply with a change of culture and leadership. This did not need expensive surveys and research.
IMPOUNDED CATS AND DOGS
Option 16 Encourage greater collaboration between councils and animal welfare organisations on the delivery of impounding and re- homing services to reduce euthanasia rates
Do you think that increased collaboration between councils and animal welfare organisations in the delivery of impounding services will improve re-homing outcomes for impounded animals?
By animal welfare organisations I assume you are referring to community rescue groups. Community rescue saving thousands of lives every year by rescuing animals on death row from council pounds. There should have been much more respect given to them in this discussion paper. Indeed, despite repeated requests that they be included, a representative from a NO KILL rescue groups is a very obvious omission.
Absolutely yes, if implemented correctly. There needs however to be a substantial change in culture at many Councils and Pounds who are not used to outside collaboration. There needs to be education around the process and careful management. It would be wrong to just throw councils and animal welfare organisations together and say “get on with it”.
Option 17 Investigate the development of an integrated impounded animal management tool
Do you support the development of an integrated impounded animal management tool to improve policy responses for impounded cats and dogs?
Option 18 Review barriers to cat and dog ownership in relation to residential tenancy laws
- Do you agree that NSW residential tenancy and strata management legislation should be reviewed to identify barriers to the ownership of cats and dogs in rental accommodation and units?
I don’t need to “identify barriers to ownership of cats and dogs in rental properties”. Landlords need to feel confident that their properties will be looked after and that any damages will be made good, as for any other category of damage by other means. Strata unit legislation needs to be replaced with modern legislation that permits animals in units.
- Do you support the development of a pet bond scheme to encourage landlords to accept more cat and dog owners as tenants?
- Do you support the development of targeted education to promote cat and dog ownership in rental accommodation?
Option 19 Introduce measures to encourage the confinement of cats to their owner’s property
- Do you support providing councils with voluntary powers to issue local orders to cat owners to confine their cats (where appropriate and enforceable)?
- Do you support the development of resources that encourage cat owners to confine their cats, particularly at night?
Option 20 Establish an ongoing reference group on cat and dog management and welfare issues
Do you support the establishment of an ongoing reference group on cat and dog management and welfare issues?
I support this option on the provision that independent Rescue Groups and Animal Welfare Advocacy Groups are included. It must not be a reference group comprising pet industry, RSPCA and dog breeding vested interests.
With these recommendations in mind I ask the Taskforce to consider these practical and innovative ideas that will assist in reducing the number of animals being euthanized each year.
Thank you for considering this submission.