TORY Shepherd has a recipe to help drive down the shocking number of companion animals put to sleep each year.

Too many companion animals are put to sleep each year by overstretched rescue groups

  • Tory Shepherd
  • adelaidenow
  • September 24, 2012 9:30PM


English bulldog

It is not as easy as you’d think to work out why the RSPCA’s ‘kill rate’ for companion animals is so high with oversupply, negligent owners, mistakes, feral animals and stretched resources all being part of the equation. Picture: Thinkstock Source: Supplied


MY childhood dog, Neddy, had manky bald bits and he’d scoot across the lawn on his bum whenever we had company.

He was partial to trying to have sex with inappropriate things. But we could dress him up and he’d sigh with martyred forbearance and let us photograph him.

Our cats were called Soft and Stupid, and Hard and Hairy.

Now we have Sangio, and even thinking of him dying makes me ache (though after last week I hesitate to use the words “dog” and “love” in the same sentence).

He’s a little crazy, a little too clever. When I write at home he lies across my feet and when we go away without him he takes days to forgive us.

When he was younger he’d get so excited to see us, or visitors, that he’d lose control of his bladder.

This unfortunately generally coincided with the moment at which he was jumping up on them, so several people have been victims of this firehose-like spraying. It’s a sign of affection, of course.

Most of us love our pets and treat them like part of the family. But animals are an industry, so selfishness and profit creep in.

The RSPCA kills tens of thousands of pets each year; around a third of the dogs it gets, most of the cats, and almost half of the “other” animals.

It’s not as easy as you’d think to work out why the “kill rate” is so high. It’s partly oversupply, combined with negligent owners, mistakes, all those feral cats and stretched resources in shelters some think may be a little too quick on the kill switch.

We don’t have all the answers. But here are a few things we should do:

1). Stop puppy farms. Stop ruthless, cold-hearted, bastard, backyard breeders who have no concern for the conditions in which they keep their breeding machines.

2). Stop pet shops from selling animals. Only properly licensed and trained breeders, who know the mum and dad, who know all the circumstances of the animals’ lives, should be allowed to sell those lives. And they should be encouraged to vet the people.

3). No pet should be allowed without education to go with it. Puppy school should be mandatory, to socialise the dog and the owner. And all cat owners should be taught about how to stop their cats killing native animals and should pay to spay.

4). All pets should be microchipped, with the owner to bear the cost. If you can’t afford the education and the microchip, you can’t afford the pet. Regulations right now are a patchwork across the states.

5). We need to work out what to do about feral cats. It’s these, not owned cats, who create the bulk of the problems for the shelters.

6). Help those people who find new homes for pets.

We need to stop the oversupply of animals, the profiteering, the unthinking “impulse buying” of pets, and this slaughter of often healthy animals.

As Michelle Williamson of Pet Rescue (a not-for-profit which finds permanent homes for homeless animals) will tell SBS’s Insight tonight: “(What) we want to see an end to is killing, which is killing for convenience, killing for space, killing because we haven’t got time or we don’t want to invest in rehabilitation.”

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