OPINION: Poor rescue groups shame rich RSPCA



EVERY year thousands of companion animal rescue volunteers save thousands of dogs and cats from pounds and shelters across the state.

These community-based rescue groups don’t have any of the resources or financial backing that the RSPCA enjoys, yet when they can co-ordinate with a council-run pound the results are magnificent.

In our region alone, Wyong Council Animal Care Facility has a kill ratio of 12 per cent, while Muswellbrook’s facility has one of 4 per cent for dogs.

Meanwhile the RSPCA NSW, with an overall kill rate of over 50 per cent, continues to make excuses for ignoring the community’s expectations.

The rescue groups re-home thousands of cats and dogs every year, akin to the numbers of the RSPCA. These groups are major players in the companion animal field and have a significant part to play.

So it was extremely disappointing that not one rescue group or representative was accepted on the government’s companion animal taskforce.

This taskforce was formed, in part, to try to reduce the number of animals euthanised in this state every year. The organisation that destroys more animals than any other single institution is the RSPCA. Yet it was on this taskforce, whereas rescue groups, the major player in the saving and re-homing of animals, were not.

Vet and member of state parliament, Andrew Cornwell, the taskforce chairman, was lobbied by a large number of the rescue groups, to no effect.

Lobbying the responsible government ministers was likewise fruitless.

In the circumstance I am not surprised by the comments of Mr Cornwell in supporting the RSPCA, even though some feel it has outdated practices, including the objectionable behavioural test, while rescue groups expert in modern practices were marginalised.

With an overall kill rate exceeding 50 per cent, it is disconcerting to know that the RSPCA made more than $10 million profit last year, received a $7.5 million government grant, and holds more than $30 million in shares and other investments.

Council-run pounds, which have small budgets, and rescue groups that are constantly broke can achieve far greater results.

They deal with exactly the same type of animals under the same conditions as the RSPCA.

Yet the contrasting results couldn’t be more alarming.

We believe the RSPCA NSW must review and reform its practices and policies voluntarily, especially considering it can well afford it – before calls for governmental intervention become commonplace.

This becomes even more evident when we compare the NSW RSPCA branch with its ACT counterpart.

The RSPCA ACT has reported a kill ratio of a mere 6.5 per cent.

Clearly something is wrong in NSW.

None of our criticism is aimed at RSPCA volunteers and workers – our criticisms are aimed at the leadership by RSPCA senior management and board, who seem to think everything is fine.

We argue that it is not.

David Atwell is the vice-president of the Society of Companion Animal Rescuers.

    • 14 people liked this.

Showing 7 comments

  • Mz_Linda

    Well it’s obvious that there’s something wrong in the RSPCA NSW. Their methodology is obviously NOT working as it should be. If the RSPCA has managed their roles more appropriately I feel there would be no need for so many rescue groups out their.

    (Edited by a moderator)

  • traceybee

    Well said David, more people need to be aware of the facts so changes can be made. Why aren’t NSW RSPCA looking at the practices of ACT RSPCA to lower their kill rates? The public should be re-directing their donations to local rescue groups and telling the RSPCA why.

  • Geoffd

    Well said David.  RSPCA’s practices and kill rates have been shown to be simply inexcusable.   The community rescue groups and council pounds, working together, show that there is a viable, effective and ethical alternative.

    More and more animals are being killed daily while RSPCA delays action to reform their temperament testing and high kill rate mentality.

    And when will the four Hunter councils that send to RSPCA Rutherford – Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Cessnock and Maitland – be called to account for choosing to feed animals into a known high-kill organisation (and paying RSPCA millions of dollars of local ratepayers’ funds for the privilege)?

  • Evon Ingleby

    A very well written article by someone at the coal face working hard to save lives. Yes there is definitely something wrong in NSW and it is a matter of life and death for our companion animals. No more excuses will be accepted from RPSCA NSW about the fact that they kill thousands of happy , healthy rehomable animals. Why ? Arrogance ?  Laziness ? In the too hard basket perhaps ?It is easy to blame the public for over breeding but the facts speak for themselves .
    They just don’t try hard enough to save them and that”s a fact.

  • pam

    Well said David,
    Its time that the RSPCA actually did something pro-active in the area of companion animals.
    For far to long they have left it to the hundreds of “coal faced”  animal rescue groups to pick up the pieces.
    I wonder what the kill rates would be for the RSPCA if every rescue group were to suddenly “shut their doors”?

    (Edited by a moderator)

  • Vinfimoult

    Well said David I totally agree with your comments….Im in disbelief that no rescue groups or organisations were given a place on this Task Force… It almost looks like a Government closed shop task force that will produce exactly what the Govt and RSPCA want.. Sometimes I think the RSPCA is about to be taken over and run as a Govt department…. It is certainly acting like one now and has great government support.

  • Mel

    About time. The RSPCA should be ashamed of themselves.