Date: 12/11/2009
Publication: Illawarra Mercury
Section: News

THE RSPCA has rejected concerns the rescue of a stranded dog on Lake Illawarra may have been prolonged for the sake of a reality television show.

Ten-year-old pure-bred boxer Gypsy was trapped on Bevans Island for 10 weeks before her rescue in a highly emaciated state on Monday, the drama captured by the Seven Network’s RSPCA Animal Rescue.

Two weeks earlier, an approach was made by NSW Police to rescue the dog, however the offer was not followed through by the RSPCA.

Gypsy and her companion Princess, an 11-year-old Maltese terrier, were trapped on the island for two weeks before being discovered – but it was already too late for Princess, who had died.

Gypsy’s carer Greta Bush said the family had been frantic Gypsy would also die.

Mrs Bush said the RSPCA had tried to trap the dog on two occasions with a cage, the second attempt discontinued after six days because Gypsy refused to enter the cage to eat the bait and was slowly starving.

She said the family was alarmed when told the RSPCA inspector would be returning to the island on Monday for a third attempt with the cage.

Mrs Bush said Gypsy’s vet had also expressed concern about the length of time it took to rescue the dog, saying it could have been managed by placing tranquilliser pellets in her food or water.

Mrs Bush said she was sceptical about the television crew’s presence coinciding with the rescue.

“I think it was planned,” she said.

RSPCA NSW operations manager Matt French said communication took place between the RSPCA and other agencies before they opted to work with the SES.

Mr French said the RSPCA was unable to sedate the dog’s water as she could not be supervised if she consumed the drug and ran into bushland.

“A very large amount of time, resources and energy were dedicated to capturing Gypsy and our efforts to successfully trap her were made frustratingly difficult by attempts of other persons to capture her; there was a substantial amount of food being left outside the trap by well intentioned persons,” he said.

“Once those issues were resolved, Gypsy was caught very quickly.

RSPCA officers do their utmost with the resources available at all times. No officer would ever prolong the suffering of an animal,” he said.

RSPCA Animal Rescue series producer Ross Wilson said his crew followed RSPCA inspectors in their line of duty and never interfered with their work.

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