RSPCA temperament test talks



  • TEST: Earlier this week The Herald reported that family pet Max had been put down after failing the RSPCA test. TEST: Earlier this week The Herald reported that family pet Max had been put down after failing the RSPCA test.

Hunter animal rescue groups are preparing for fresh talks with the NSW RSPCA  on the re-homing of dogs and cats.

The organisations’ lawyers have contacted the not-for-profit charity requesting sit-down talks and RSPCA chief executive Steve Coleman has said he would  participate.

The Newcastle Herald reported yesterday that rescue groups were concerned about the RSPCA’s temperament test, used to determine whether a dog was suitable for re-homing.

NSW RSPCA currently has a 40per cent rate of euthanasia in its shelters statewide.

The Herald’s website was inundated with readers’ comments yesterday and posted an online poll asking whether the temperament test was fair.

Almost 900 people responded with more than  85per cent voting the test as harsh and unfair.

Mr Coleman last met with representatives from Dog Rescue Newcastle, Society of Companion Animal Rescuers and Hunter Animal Rescue on August 24 last year. Both parties claim the other failed to make further contact and no meetings have taken place since.

‘‘We would like to be able to work together, it’s about trying to manage competing passions,’’ Mr Coleman said.

‘‘When it comes down to it we appreciate that there is that passion. What we occasionally disagree with is what’s suitable and what’s not.

‘‘We’ll work with animal rescue groups that are reasonable.’’

Society of Companion Animal Rescuers vice-president David Atwell said he agreed with temperament tests but was opposed to the one NSW RSPCA used to assess animal behaviour.

He believed animal rescue groups had  the ability to help Rutherford RSPCA find homes for dogs with behaviour problems or to assist with re-training.

‘‘We are still willing to meet with him [Mr Coleman] in respect to saving as many animals at Rutherford as possible,’’ he said.


Showing 31 comments

  • Neville

    Potential buyers should be screened as well. It is usually the case that it is not the dog at fault of poor behaviour but the owner.

  • Border Collie


    Absolutely spot on!
    Thank you.

  • Joke.

    Rescue Groups do come out and assess you, your yard and other pets that you own to see if the dog is a suitable pet for you. RSPCA do not.

  • Rowe

    Actually the RSPCA do an inspection of the premises and have meet and greet rooms where potential owners dogs are introducted by an animal behaviourist to each other in a way that will be non threatening.

  • sweet_archangel

    I help out rescue groups and I can tell you now – once an animal is out of the pound, it’s temperament does change.  They are less stressed and happier.

    It’s like having someone in jail – wrongly accused for a crime they didn’t commit. Wouldn’t they be scared and freaked out in unfamiliar surroundings? Course they would and so do the animals.

  • Maxijj

    A sensible and long-awaited move in the right direction for all animals in the area. Well done to David Atwell and others from SOCARES for all your hard work and persistence in highlighting this problem.

  • Judyfuller112

    about time…too late for so many animals, but now there is hope for so many more, still to come …………….

  • Anne Ward

    The RSPCA temp test, is their excuse for killing animals. These animals are not strays, the majority of the time, they are peoples pets. Sometime dogs get out and are sent to the RSPCA for holding, in a lot of cases the owners can not afford the fine to have them released, there is no compassion or leancy given in these cases. Pay up or they die. No Rescue group is asked to help rehome. With the millions of dollars the RSPCA has, it could afford to give just one of those millions of dollars to free desexing, which would help with a lot of the problem of unexpected litters…especially in cats. Cats are the ones that get the wrong end of the stick in this situation.

  • Rowe

    Anne, the RSPCA gets is animals from three sources. Animals are surrendered by people who dont want them anymore, animals are seized from an uncaring owner or animals that are injured are welcome at the RSPCA. None of these scenarios lead to the conclusion that the animal came from a loving home environment.

  • Judyfuller112

    *****well Sunshine, Max didn’t fit into any of those 3 categories so obviously there are other avenues that RSPCA receive animals from……………

  • belle

    An excellent step forward, lets hope good comes out of this and the organisations work closely together for the long term.

  • Vinfimoult

    I believe that with so much public outcry the RSPCA has to be seen to do something…the proof of this pudding will be in its eating…still dont trust them… They are taking on contracts from Councils that are big $$$$$$ cant see them stopping that…

  • Melissa

    I’m a volunteer with Dog Rescue Newcastle and have fostered quite a few dogs and sadly at least half of them would of failed the test if RSPCA Rutherford had of got their hands on them. These dogs were scared, plain and simple! They were stuffed into cages in unfamiliar surroundings and reacted accordingly. Everyone of them have found new loving homes and all it took to win them over was some TLC in a normal environment!!!

  • Vinfimoult

    The main thing here is the Rescue groups having a say in these temperament testing as at present it seems very subjective.

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  • Pogo

    When are people going to learn that keeping animals alive, according to the RSPCA (NSW) is stopping or curtailing other worthwhile projects such as big fancy 4x4s for the executive, all the huge prosecution fees going to the legal firm/s, whose Principal/s are or have been in the past,  members of the executive, plush digs for same mob in Olympic complex Sydney, inflated salaries for Coleman and Co. Gee wizz, do people expect them to live like its a charity?

  • Kmg

    OMG!! I pray that my 11yr old goldie never has the misfortune of being impounded. Yes he barks and gets excited, would likely chase a cat and is sometimes startled by sudden noises… he IS a dog. He is also a beautiful natured, well behaved and much loved family member. Perhaps we should start euthanising people who speak loudly, show their feelings and chase members of the opposite sex!

  • Mariette

    Coleman blames the RSPCA taking ‘every animal that comes’ as one of the reasons
    for their 40% kill rate of dogs. Maybe he does not know that many council
    pounds also take every animal that comes, like Blacktown Pound, which in 2011
    had a kill rate of 14% of the nearly 4,000 dogs that entered. Council pounds do
    not have the money , staff and facilities that the RSPCA has, but they do work
    with rescue groups, and they do NOT have unrealistic behavioural assessment tests that penalise a dog for being a dog. It’s on record that the RSPCA fails around 60% of potentially rehomable dogs based on their unrealistic tests.

  • Lisa

    I’m yet to hear an appropriate response from the RSPCA as to why Max was euthanised? Failing a behaviour test is not an appropriate response when the owner had indicated he was coming to collect Max.

  • Animal Lover

    The RSPCA temp test, is their excuse for killing animals? Pretty harsh considering people who commence work at the RSPCA do so because of their passion for animals and their welfare. Impound fee’s are not expensive if you are a responsible pet owner, get your dog desexed, chipped and registered and the fee will be like $30. Even then this is a council fee, RSPCA holds and cares for council animals, call them and complain about their regulation. It is not the fault of the RSPCA that YOUR dog gets out of YOUR yard, if you cant afford to desex, chip and register then how do you expect to afford vet care if your dog becomes suddenly ill or even so gets hit by a car again when it escpaes YOUR inadequate yard, if you cant fork up $30 or so to reclaim your pet who got out of your yard then perhaps you should not have aquired a dog in the first place. So many of the dogs are not reclaimed not because of imound fee’s but because none comes for them at all, because someone got the dog as a cute puppy, didnt train it then dumped it when it became an inconvience to their yard or time. Again, the entire fault comes down to irresponsible pet ownership not the RSPCA.

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  • Smiddy1980

    I have come to the conclusion the RSPCA is nothing more than a corporate business dressed in charity clothing they have way too much power and no accountability. It’s time for change

  • ben

    my dog is ex resuce dog who was badley treated i know if the rspca would have put him to death. most dogs like this just need time to trust again and good loveing home and u see then come alive again, i guess the rspca does not want  to spend the money all the time on these dogs,

  • LoveMyDogs

    The temp test should be used to identify a POSSIBLE problem which MAY need addressing prior to rehoming, not to decide a live or die situation.

    I am also astounded that RSPCA Rutherford has ANY reservations dealing with rescue groups. So what if there are clashes of passion? Work through it, don’t abandon it!

    Regarding the rescue groups, how will Mr Coleman define what is a “reasonable” ? If we use the temp test as a guide, nothing short of perfect, controlled, composed behaviour will be acceptable or the life of the discussions will end.

  • Vinfimoult

    the testing being done at Rutherford is very subjective…Is the RSPCA prepared to release Max’s temperament test ?????

  • DerekAberglasslyn

    There is no realistic way that the RSPCA or any shelter can re-home all strays.
    A large percentage end up at these places due to behavioural problems as it is, so they cannot possibly be retrained etc.
    The RSPCA are one of the richest charities in Oz, they get left squillions in bequests, but still have to make rational judgements on what they can and can’t do.

  • Judyfuller112

    DerekAberglasslyn…you have missed the point!
    Max was NOT A STRAY and the RSPCA were aware of that fact…. he was tagged AND chipped AND his owner had been contact with them…they CHOSE to destroy a KNOWN and ACKNOWLEDGED loved family pet!

  • smoke screen

    It’s all about money, the product just happens to be live, but it’s still just the product. It’s amazing how desensitized people can become when there is money to be made. the faster the product is moved, with the least handling, the more money is made. Money is the root of all evil!!!

  • Bobg

    Derek, who trained the RSPCA people who have given an animal a death row walk?, what qualifications do they have, besides the bottom line, to make a “rational judgement”.


  • Vinfimoult

    these tests are flawed (Christensen, E. et al. (2006). Aggressive behaviour in adopted dogs that passed a temperament test. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. In Press. Derek go read it for yourself… RSPCA are using these tests to get council contacts done… a production line…. justifying killing in the name of a SUBJECTIVE test.

  • Notagunna

    People need to be temperament tested also. We often see people walking dogs and screaming at them, we have often also commented to the owner that their behaviour is unacceptable.
    Subsidising deserving should also be a HUGE topic, the extreme cost massively contributes to unwanted litters of animals being dumped onto RSPCA resources, this I believe does marr the overall choices and decisions made by the RSPCA on how to manage the large influx of animals to care for

  • Geoffd

    I am most concerned by Steve Coleman’s quote that RSPCA will work with “reasonable” rescue groups.  RSPCA NSW has a history of labelling all those that disagree with them as “unreasonable” and refusing to work with them, also of expelling their own members who lobby for change from within.

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