Tasmanian Times

Suzanne Cass, Stop Tasmanian Animal Cruelty

30.04.12 4:15 am



Stop Tasmanian Animal Cruelty has received several complaints about a dog kept on a short chain at an Old Beach address. The young dog lives a desolate, lonely life in squalor, crying for any human attention and kindness. The complainants reported to StopTAC that the only attention they have observed the dog receiving is being shouted at for digging a hole. For shelter, he has a broken down crate, and there is no visual or psychological stimulation at all in his life.

Over this weekend he has been exposed to icy winds and driving rain. At the time the first complaint was made about a month ago, the temperatures were over 28 degrees, and the dog only had the broken down crate for shade. He was reportedly seen to be cringing against the fence to which he is chained, seeking the only shade he could find.

StopTAC spokesperson Suzanne Cass said:

‘The complainants indicate that they have filed several and separate reports to RSPCA Tasmania, which is funded by DPIW to enforce the Animal Welfare Act. From the evidence we have, the conditions under which this dog is kept are a clear breach of Section 8, the Cruelty provisions of the Act.

‘8. Cruelty to animals (provides that)
(1) A person must not do any act, or omit to do any duty, which causes or is likely to cause unreasonable and unjustifiable pain or suffering to an animal.
And at (e) has possession or custody of an animal that is confined, constrained or otherwise unable to provide for itself and fails to provide the animal with appropriate and sufficient food, drink, shelter or exercise’ 

‘The complainants report that the best response they have received is that the RSPCA has attended the property and intends to take an ‘educational approach’, Ms Cass continued.  ’The response does not indicate whether anyone who might have attended actually spoke with someone at the address. It is alleged that the dog remains, crying, on the chain, in the same conditions. The complainants were also invited, in the next sentence and again in the signature of the message from Scott Basham, the Deputy Chief Inspector, to make a donation to the RSPCA, which appears to suggest that the inspectorate will do its job if a donation is made, yet the Inspectorate is already funded by DPIW for its activities.

‘The RSPCA also claimed in its communication that ‘The RSPCA is an independent, non-government community-based charity providing animal care and protection services, and relies on donations from the public in order to carry out its work’, which in the light of its DPIW funding is simply not true’.

‘It is just outrageous that the RSPCA does not diligently apply its enforcement role and fails so badly in its duty of care’.

According to RSPCA National statistics for 2010-2011, RSPCA Tasmania destroyed 239 dogs (171 allegedly for ‘behavioural’ reasons) and 1,667 (or almost 53% of) cats. A further 60 dogs were ‘transferred’ (to pounds or similar with another 21 listed as ‘other’ without further explanation). In March, it closed down the Burnie Cat Shelter and put the premises, given to it by an elderly couple for the specific purpose of caring for cats, up for sale whilst adding to its administrative staff.

Ms Cass maintains that the notion of an ‘educational approach’ is a disingenuous abrogation of the RSPCA’s core business, and is simple laziness. She added that her advice was that the complaint was first made about a month ago, and it has taken that long, and two further complaints,  for the complainants to elicit even that response from Mr Basham.

‘It seems that it is just too much trouble to take any meaningful action to save this dog from its life of misery, deprivation and loneliness – and this is just one we know about. How many others are the subject of the RSPCA’s lazy ‘educational approach’?

‘The dog should be removed forthwith. People capable of keeping an animal in such poor conditions in the first place are not the sort of people who will ‘learn’, as the RSPCA well knows.  It’s only a matter of time before this dog becomes so stressed that he will be aggressive’, Ms Cass concluded.

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Comments (55)

  1. If the RSPCA can’t do the job it’s charter states then they may find that they receive less donations from people. I was going to make another one but am thinking again about that. The only thing is, if I don’t and others feel the same then the animals are the ones who suffer even more. Is the RSPCA going the way of the government and not able to do anything without putting on more beauracrats?
    Posted by glennis  on  30/04/12  at  08:21 AM
  2. Leaving an intelligent social animal such as a dog on a chain for days on end, even with adequate shelter, is as cruel as it is commonplace in Tasmania.The recent ructions in the RSPCA appear to have been merely an internal skirmish between the usual sort of hacks.Give the public money to Voiceless or somebody else who cares.John Hayward
    Posted by john hayward  on  30/04/12  at  11:13 AM
  3. the rspca does very little on the wefare of animals these days,try ringing them after hours.maybe they should merge with the integrity commission.
    Posted by ignatz  on  30/04/12  at  11:17 AM
  4. Sounds like the RSPCA need some ‘advice and education’ from the TIC, that is, after they have spoken to Child Protection Services.
    Posted by moo  on  30/04/12  at  12:21 PM
  5. The RSPCA is only as good as the laws allow it in the first instant and the animal welfare laws are “clayton laws” they look good on paper but don’t work in practice.
    I personally feel that the government should give inspection powers to more than on animal welfare group I think we need at least 4 to allow competition and thus better service.
    The problem when you have one group monopolising a service there usually is no service.

    Posted by christy  on  30/04/12  at  12:37 PM
  6. For over three years there has been an online petition titled “Leaving a Dog Unattended should be made an Offence” where more signatures would be welcome.Here’s the direct link to it:http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/dog-unattended.htmlThe petition’s introduction states:

    The dog is a highly socialised animal which, to be content, needs almost continual access to company, animal or human.

    It is obvious that most owners do not understand this.

    It is increasingly evident, by their barking, that innumerable suburban dogs are enduring the everyday cruelty of isolation while their owners are at work or otherwise absent.

    In the interests of animal welfare and neighbourhood peace it is appropriate that no dog should have an owner not able to meet its essential needs.

    It is predictable that the offence “Leaving a Dog Unattended” will inhibit the keeping of dogs in situations of prolonged distress for them.

    It is predictable that the number of dogs kept in the wholly unnatural conditions of the suburban environment will decrease.

    It is predictable that the suburbs will become more peaceful and hence healthier for human occupation.”
    and here’s the petition’s wording:
    “This petition draws to the attention of all governments:

    The huge and growing number of dogs kept in the suburban environment;

    That most dogs are kept in the suburbs under conditions of close confinement;

    That the suburbs comprise a totally unnatural environment for an animal congenitally programmed to free-range;

    That innumerable confined backyard dogs are left unattended by their owners because of work commitments, especially during the daytime;

    That many of these dogs bark intermittently or continuously because of their boredom, frustration, confinement and deprivation of animal and human contact;

    That such extended isolation to a dog, a social animal by nature, can be torture;

    That the dog commonly vents its frustration, anguish and torment by whining, howling and loud continuous barking; and

    That such barking is increasingly noxious to nearby humans, is often damaging to their health, and is usually in contravention of barking control laws now so commonly left almost entirely unenforced by reckless animal control authorities having regulatory powers but refusing to use them.

    Your Petitioners therefore ask all governments to:

    Create the Dog Control Act offence “Leaving a Dog Unattended to its ongoing distress” and

    Compel enforcement by authorised persons with the words:

    “It is the obligation of any person on whom a function is imposed or a power is conferred under this Act to perform the function or to exercise the power…”
    This petition and two others may be accessed here:


    Posted by Peter Bright  on  30/04/12  at  01:50 PM
  7. As principal solicitor for law firm Lawyers for Companion Animals, hardly a week goes by where I don’t get some sort of complaint about the RSPCA allegedly failing to act in animal cruelty cases or in cases of neglect. Last week I received two complaints in the one day.There is no RSPCA ombudsman. Many people believe this is what is needed.  The RSPCA needs to be completely separated from the Departments of Agriculture and/or DPI. This conflict of interest appears to ensure that animal welfare will never be the number one priority. It appears that the RSPCA is reluctant to act on sensitive animal welfare issues, nor will it ruffle state government feathers.Animal activists are leading the way in the area of animal welfare and animal welfare reform.  It’s grass roots people who do the hard work, who take the risks, who often risk being tarnished as criminals for simply trying to expose horrific animal cruelty. Unlike the RSPCA, these passionate individuals do not have millions of dollars in the bank, they do what they do because it is the right and ethical thing to do.  And they are punished for doing so.The RSPCA invites people to be “political animals” yet it is the activists who reveal the horrific examples of animal cruelty. These activists are often maligned and targeted as radicals and extremists for their efforts. How can one be a “political animal” if one is unaware of the horrors of sow stalls, battery hen farming, the high number of dogs killed in the greyhound racing industry or any other animal welfare issue?

    Many people are also not aware of the high kill rates (of cats and dogs) of many RSPCA shelters.  For example according to RSPCA NSW’s annual report 2010/2011 RSPCA NSW killed over 51% of dogs and cats that were admitted into its “care”.  By way of comparison with the high kill rate for the RSPCA NSW, council pounds that have been working and co-operating with community rescue groups have reported dramatic falls in the kill rates for cats and dogs. For example, as I understand it, Muswellbrook pound, Singletown council pound and Wyong pounds have experienced kill rates of 8.5%, 17.5%. and 12% respectively.

    Reasons such as medical and behavioral problems are given to kill cats and dogs. I have been provided with the temperament test allegedly used by the RSPCA NSW. It is my view and the view of others who work with dogs that many family pets would fail this test, particularly in an unfamiliar pound environment.

    Posted by Anne Greenaway  on  30/04/12  at  03:30 PM
  8. The RSPCA is hopeless. Politicians are hopeless.  This dog should be removed immediatley.
    Posted by sylvia raye  on  30/04/12  at  03:36 PM
  9. It has long been maintained by animal advocates that the investigative and prosecutorial powers should be removed from the RSPCA and handed to the Police and Departments of Justice, but having more than one organisation appointed under the Act would be a step in the right direction. Whilst RSPCAs receive government funding, and inspectors operate out of DPIW offices, there is a fundamental conflict of interest, not to say a stench that just never ends.
    The promised government review into the Animal Welfare Act has apparently come to nothing.
    It’s sad to see not one, but two requests for donations in the responding communication from the RSPCA; in fact, more is made of the grab fr money than the predicament of this, and who knows how many other dogs kept in condictions of such deprivation.
    ‘Education’ is just a cop-out.

    Posted by Nicola Smith  on  30/04/12  at  03:48 PM
  10. This is heartbreaking. For heaven’s sake, is there nothing that can be done to save this poor animal from his miserable life?
    Posted by Annarosa Berman  on  30/04/12  at  04:10 PM
  11. I am shocked that this dog has not been seized from these people who clearly do not want to provide the poor animal with a ‘reasonable’ home. The RSPCA needs to stop trying to educate those who appear to not want to be educated. Take the door from the care, and I use that word loosely, as the owners do not want the animal. Would you keep a child on a chain? No you wouldn’t so don’t keep a dog on one. As for the RSPCA expecting the community to continue to give it donations when it clearly doesn’t protect all creatures great and small, not those on chains any way, I imagine a lot of people will rethink handing their money over to this organisazation in the future.
    Posted by dog lover  on  30/04/12  at  05:27 PM
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