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RSPCA Victoria inspectors, accompanied by Victoria Police, today executed warrants at a property in Blind Bight as part of investigations into animal welfare concerns for dogs at the premises.
Eight Victoria Police members attended with four RSPCA Victoria Inspectors and two veterinarians.
No dogs were seized during today’s operation.
RSPCA Victoria has been working with the City of Casey and Victoria Police on a joint operation to improve the welfare of the dogs on the property.
RSPCA Victoria obtained today’s warrant to verify that dogs on the property had received the full course of veterinary treatment required under 10 Notices to Comply issued to the owner of the animals in April.
The Notices to Comply related to a variety of health concerns and were issued during an inspection of the property by RSPCA Victoria in April, following welfare reports from the community.
Each of the 34 dogs on the property was today assessed by the two veterinarians who attended, and no health issues were identified.
RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker said that, while she appreciated the level of public interest in the investigation, RSPCA Inspectors can only seize animals under the powers afforded by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTAA).
“As there were no sick or injured animals requiring immediate treatment on the property today, there were no grounds for seizure,” she said.
All dogs tethered on the property today complied with the POCTAA Code of Practice for the Tethering of Animals – a non-enforceable code that does not incur penalties under POCTAA powers.
Dr Walker said that this case highlights the differences between animal welfare expectations in the community and the laws that RSPCA Victoria currently enforces.
“It’s clear that the community expects animal welfare laws to reflect the ‘five freedoms*’ at a minimum, and they want to make sure that every owner’s duty of care to their animals is absolutely clear,” she said.
“We support Government efforts to progress towards that goal, and are keen to keep having conversations with the community and with Government lawmakers so that animal welfare legislation continues to improve.”
*The five freedoms are: freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or disease; freedom to express normal animal behaviour; and freedom from fear and distress.
Anyone with concerns about the welfare of animals is encouraged to make a report to RSPCA Victoria at rspcavic.org or 9224 2222.
RSPCA Australia has written to the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader urging them to take action to suspend the live export trade to Vietnam, in the wake of shocking footage of cattle being sledgehammered to death.
The letters say that “while the live export industry may attempt to characterise these incidents as ‘isolated’, the Department of Agriculture’s own compliance reports since 2013 note supply chain breaches involving thousands of cattle. As sledgehammering is a common method of slaughter in Vietnam, it is likely that many of these cattle met a similar fate to those depicted in the “7.30” program.”
“Vietnam has more recorded non-compliances with the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) than any other country. There have been 17 findings against exporters in Vietnam in the three years it has been operating under the system. This is more than double the number of recorded non-compliances in Indonesia.”
The letters call upon the leaders to suspend the trade pending a comprehensive independent review of supply chain management issues and the administration of ESCAS.
“This independent review must include an RSPCA scientific representative to ensure it is open and transparent, and considers all of the available evidence.”
Additionally, the letters call for the transfer of regulatory responsibility for live animal exports from the Department of Agriculture to an independent regulator, free of conflicting institutional objectives.
“These measures represent the only course of action that will demonstrate to the Australian community that the Government is serious about protecting the welfare of animals sent overseas for slaughter.”
“Without such assurance, the live export trade does not have a social licence to operate and will continue to face intense public scrutiny and criticism”.
3,000 Australians have written to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Agriculture Minister and the Shadow Agriculture Minister in less than 24 hours, as a result of RSPCA Australia’s call to action following the “7.30” program.
RSPCA Australia has also written to the Australian Live Exporters Council seeking access to all approved facilities in Vietnam for an independent audit.
RSPCA Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Bidda Jones, said seven years had passed since the Live Export Standards Advisory Group (LESAG) first supported a review of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL), yet the standards remain unchanged.
ASEL covers the selection of animals for export on farm and on board the ship to the point of disembarkation in the importing country. In 2011, the government-commissioned independent review of Australia’s livestock export trade (the Farmer Review) found that ‘a full review of the ASEL was a priority’.
A review committee was appointed in July 2012. In September 2012, the Department appointed Dr Lynn Simpson, a veterinarian with outstanding credentials and experience in the live export sector, as its technical advisor to the committee.
“In February 2013, Dr Lynn Simpson’s submission to the review was published online by the Department. The photographs it contained were a shocking indictment of the conditions endured by cattle and sheep on board livestock vessels.
“A few weeks later, Dr Simpson was removed from the committee as a direct result of industry pressure. Since then there has been absolutely zero progress – the ASEL remain unchanged since minor amendments were made in 2010”, Dr Jones said.
Dr Simpson’s submission was later removed from the Department’s website.
“The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources still has no processes for receiving independent advice on animal welfare matters relating to live export, and has advised that no resources have been allocated to the long overdue full review of the standards”.
“The current standards fail to ensure people handling animals are aware of their legal responsibilities and have the competency to carry them out, and allow animals that are sick, injured or otherwise unfit to slip through the inspection process”.
“The Government has been aware of these faulty practices for years, and has done nothing to raise the standards to best practice”. “There is still a failure to agree on even basic standards covering the welfare of animals on live export ships, such as space allowances and bedding provisions”.
“Current stocking densities force animals to lie down on top of each other and jostle for access to feed and water points”.
“Tonight’s “7.30” illustrated the inherent conflict of interest in the Department when it comes to addressing animal welfare issues in the live export trade, even in the face of stark evidence of inhumane treatment of animals”, said Dr Jones
You can download Dr Simpson’s full submission including photos from the link here
It may be difficult to remember now that winter has well and truly set in, but the cold weather was a long time coming this year.
That extended warm period may have felt nice, but it also resulted in an extended kitten season, which is now being reflected in the hundreds of cats available for adoption in RSPCA centres across Victoria.
As a result, RSPCA Victoria will be offering “No Fee for Felines” from Friday 24 June to Monday 27 June, inclusive.
During these four days, RSPCA Victoria will be waiving the usual cat adoption fee of $110 (for those four months and over) to give these wonderful creatures a better chance of a brighter future. The adoption fee for a kitten remains at $185 or $270 for two kittens.
RSPCA Victoria Animal Care Manager Liz Walker said around 250 cats were waiting for forever homes at RSPCA Adoption Centres across Victoria.
“The fee waiver applies to our adult cats – four months and over - which is when a cat that has not been desexed can start having litters,” Ms Walker said. “These cats often get overlooked for adoption for kittens, but they are still so young themselves.”
Every cat available for adoption is desexed, microchipped and vaccinated to ensure it’s ready to start a new happy life. Normal adoption procedures continue to apply during the no-fee period.
“The same time and effort will go into matching each animal to the right family because cats don’t belong in shelters, they belong in homes,” Ms Walker said.
Cats make great companions; provide relaxation and other health benefits for humans; are suitable for a variety of living spaces and lifestyles; are affordable to own and care for; and provide an opportunity for children to understand responsibility and experience empathy.
No Fee for Felines cats are currently available for adoption from the following RSPCA Adoption Centres, RSPCA Pets Place Centres and Pet Barns:
*Burwood East *Bendigo *Ballarat + Pets Place *Epping Pets Place *Castlemaine *Portland *Peninsula (Pearcedale) * Wangaratta *Warrnambool *Pet Barn – Mentone * Pet Barn - Sunbury
10 June 2016
ESCAS PERFORMANCE REPORT: HORRORS WITHOUT SANCTION
The Government’s latest quarterly report into the regulatory performance of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) provides another litany of horrific treatment of Australian livestock.
Among other incidents, the report, released through the Department of Agriculture’s website yesterday, contains details of:
* thousands of sheep being sold outside of approved supply chains in Kuwait,
* sheep being trussed and thrown into car boots and slaughtered in makeshift slaughter rooms at livestock markets,
* cattle being roped and struck multiple times in the head with sledgehammers in Vietnam.
RSPCA Australia has previously raised concerns about the rapid expansion of Australian Government approved supply chains into developing countries like Vietnam and Thailand.
The Australian Government has now allowed nine exporters to send 20,000-30,000 head of cattle per month to 118 different facilities in Vietnam. In 2012, just 3,353 cattle were exported to that country, while in 2015, the number had increased to 311,523.
The high risk posed by such rapid expansion is borne out by the country’s ESCAS compliance record. Vietnam has the highest record of non-compliance of all Australia’s live export markets. It is double the number of non-compliance reports in Indonesia.
The report, yet again, raises serious concerns about the quality and effectiveness of the auditors and auditing processes that are supposed to underpin the ESCAS. RSPCA Australia is also very concerned that critical and major non-compliances were recorded in the latest report, but no exporters were prosecuted or had their licenses suspended.
Livestock Shipping Services (LSS) again featured with non-compliances. It had another two critical and five major non-compliances recorded against its performance, bringing the exporter’s record to five critical and seven major non-compliances.
The faults in the ESCAS system are amplified yet again, when an exporter such as LSS records numerous non-compliances without the regulator imposing meaningful sanctions.
Without adequate penalties, exporters will continue to take a cavalier approach to animal welfare and Australian livestock will continue to suffer
Almost 120 dogs and puppies are in RSPCA Victoria’s care after its Special Investigations Unit (SIU) undertook a major raid on two properties in Longwood, northern Victoria yesterday.
RSPCA Victoria inspectors, accompanied by Victoria Police and a team of veterinarians and animal attendants, simultaneously executed warrants at two adjoining properties on Tuesday, 7 June.
The RSPCA Mobile Animal Care (MAC) unit was deployed with 21 RSPCA staff, comprising five teams of Inspectors, veterinarians, vet nurse and animal attendants plus incident control centre staff, who were on the scene for the entire day.
Victoria Police officers were in attendance to ensure the operation was carried out safely. Support was also provided by Strathbogie Shire.
The raid is part of ongoing investigations by the SIU into breeders with links to show dogs. It is one of several investigations into large-scale animal cruelty involving dogs currently underway in Victoria
In a coordinated approach, RSPCA Inspectors rescued 119 small breed dogs, with 50 surrendered and the remaining dogs seized under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTAA).
All of the animals were taken into care because of immediate and serious concerns for their welfare. The dogs, including Chihuahuas, Chinese Crested and Spaniels, were allegedly found to be living in small cages and squalid conditions, both inside and outside the residences. Veterinarians attending the premises also identified a number of health and husbandry concerns.
Six cats were also taken into care, with one seized and five surrendered to RSPCA Inspectors.
All of the seized and surrendered animals were transported to an RSPCA facility where they are receiving veterinary care. Four deceased dogs were also removed from one of the properties.
A total of 13 Notices to Comply (NTC) were issued to the owners at the two properties. These relate to addressing animals’ health, hygiene, husbandry and food/water provisions.
Ten NTCs at the first property relate to dogs, cats and birds that remain at the premises. Three NTCs at the second property relate to birds remaining at the premises.
RSPCA is continuing to investigate alleged breaches of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTAA) and will be working closely with Strathbogie Shire surrounding other potential breaches of legislation related to alleged domestic animal breeding operations.
We urge anyone with concerns about the welfare of animals to make a report to RSPCA Victoria at rspcavic.org or 9224 2222.
Since April this year, RSPCA Victoria has been working with the City of Casey and Victoria Police on a joint operation to improve the welfare of a number of dogs at a property in Blind Bight, after receiving a number of reports from concerned community members.
As part of this operation, RSPCA Victoria Inspectors attended the property twice, and issued the owner of the dogs with several notices to comply (NTC).
RSPCA Victoria understands that charges relating to the keeping of the dogs on the property have been issued by Casey Council in line with their local laws, and will be heard in court today.
These include charges relating to:
RSPCA Victoria's Senior Inspector Simon Primrose today said that the operation demonstrates the value of collaboration between state and local authorities.
"In general, our powers are limited to enforcing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act," said Senior Inspector Primrose.
"However, neither tethering, nor keeping excessive number of animals on a property are offences under that Act, so in circumstances like these, RSPCA Victoria's powers are limited.
"The City of Casey has had the foresight to turn a non-compulsory Victorian code of practice into a locally enforceable bylaw. That decision meant that they were able to lay charges immediately, where we could not."
RSPCA Victoria will continue to work with a local veterinarian to ensure that the conditions specified in the notices to comply already issued are met. If the notices are not complied with, RSPCA Victoria has the option of obtaining a warrant to seize the animals.
Note: NTC are legal directions issued by RSPCA Victoria Inspectors that require owners and people in charge of animals to prevent or cease animal cruelty offences. Each notice includes a date by which the owner must comply.
RSPCA Victoria today announced an Independent Review into the RSPCA Victoria Inspectorate will be conducted by former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Neil Comrie AO APM.
The community is invited to make submissions that will help the Senior Reviewer answer three key questions:
• What is the scale of animal cruelty in Victoria?
• What resourcing and approaches need to be put in place to ensure animal cruelty is being adequately investigated and prosecuted, and community expectations are being met?
• Are there any ways RSPCA Victoria could use the resources it has right now more effectively and efficiently?
Online submissions can be made from today and close at 5pm on Friday 8 July. Anyone wanting to make a submission can visit the RSPCA Victoria website and follow the links.
As Senior Reviewer, Mr Comrie will identify and lead a team of experts to provide him with advice and support as he considers submissions, collects information and prepares his report and recommendations.
All submissions will be received in confidence, to protect the privacy of individuals and ensure that people can be candid and open in the information that they provide.
Dr Liz Walker, CEO of RSPCA Victoria, assured Victorians that every submission received would be carefully considered by the Senior Reviewer.
“RSPCA Victoria looks forward to the final report, which will undoubtedly reflect the information expressed in a broad range of submissions,” she said.
“In September this year, we will release a report along with our public response to the review.”
Dr Walker said that it is some time since the Inspectorate function was last reviewed and that periodic reviews are essential to ensure that operational performance and efficiency are maximised and in line with current best practice.
“The reports we receive about animal cruelty are growing in number every year and, like all not-for-profit organisations, our resources are limited,” she said. “If we’re going to meet the community’s expectations of us in protecting animals, we need to have a very clear grasp of the scale of the problem and identify the mix of resources and approaches that will get the best results most efficiently.”
A PDF of this story is available here.
For all review details, click here.
RSPCA Victoria welcomes the Andrews Government’s intention to establish an independent integrity body to oversee and enforce race day rules and animal welfare codes for thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing.
Released today, the Bittar Review of the Integrity Structures of the Victorian Racing Industry, made two key recommendations:
RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker said she was pleased that the suggestions made in RSPCA Victoria’s submission had been largely adopted as recommendations.
“We firmly believe, to create enduring community confidence in the racing industry, integrity functions must be separated from commercial operations,” Dr Walker said.
“RSPCA Victoria is delighted that Mr Bittar’s recommendations have been accepted in principle, and look forward to working with the government, the three racing codes and the VRIU in making sure that animal welfare is front and centre.
“In particular, we look forward to establishing Memorandums of Understanding with the VRIU.
“The success of this unit will be assured if it works closely with us and with other law enforcement agencies to cooperatively manage investigations that involve criminal allegations – whether they involve financial or animal cruelty crimes,” Dr Walker said.
RSPCA Victoria also indicated that it welcomed the inclusion of training, education and public reporting of business plans and other metrics in the VRIU’s operating model.
We recently made a submission to the review of the Residential Tenancies Act to advocate for the right of tenants to own a pet.
A large proportion of surrenders to animal shelters are due to pet owners needing to move to a home where their new landlord doesn't allow pets. This causes unnecessary stress on both the owner and their pet. It also puts a strain on pounds and shelters who need to look after thousands of extra animals per year.
We wholeheartedly believe that if tenants were allowed pets, not only would surrenders decrease, but more people would come through our doors to adopt and give an animal a second chance at a good life. With more people able to adopt, the length of stay for shelter animals would be shorter, relieving stress and therefore the risk of developing behavioral problems. We would ultimately see less animals become homeless, which can only be a good thing for animal welfare.
RSPCA Victoria inspectors attended a property in Devon Meadows on Wednesday to investigate concerns for the welfare of five greyhounds after being notified by Greyhound Racing Victoria.
Following inspection of the animals on the property, four greyhounds were surrendered to the RSPCA and were transported to an RSPCA animal care centre to receive immediate veterinary assessment and care.
A Notice to Comply was issued for the dog remaining on the property. RSPCA Victoria will make further contact after expiry of the Notice.
RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker said community concern for the welfare of greyhounds remains at an all-time high.
“Whether they are racing dogs or domestic pets, the community expects greyhounds to be afforded the same care and treatment every animal deserves.”
Greyhound Racing Victoria CEO Alan Clayton said GRV would continue to support RSPCA Victoria in its inquiries.
"We will work closely with the RSPCA on any further action and will strongly consider taking additional action," Mr Clayton said.
Anyone with concerns about the welfare of animals is urged to make a report to RSPCA Victoria at rspcavic.org.au or 9224 2222.
RSPCA Victoria inspectors today execute warrants at a property in Wendouree as part of Operation Cacatua, an investigation by the RSPCA’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and the City of Ballarat into an alleged dog breeding establishment.
Inspectors seized more than 20 dogs and puppies because of immediate and serious concerns for the animals’ welfare. Many of the dogs were allegedly found to be living in squalid conditions.
The animals have been transported to an RSPCA facility to receive immediate veterinary assessment and care.
RSPCA Victoria can confirm that today’s seizure is part of an ongoing operation that resulted in the seizure of 52 dogs after they were discovered by Council staff in cages in a park outside of Ballarat earlier this year.
The dogs are described as working breeds. Council and RSPCA investigations are ongoing. RSPCA would encourage anyone with information that could assist with our enquiries to contact the RSPCA Inspectorate at rspcavic.org/services/inspectorate/tip-line/
We urge anyone with concerns about the welfare of animals to make a report to RSPCA Victoria at rspcavic.org.au or 9224 2222.
23 April 2016
RSPCA thanks rescuers of dog from wombat hole
RSPCA Victoria received a report late Tuesday afternoon about a dog that had been trapped in a wombat hole for some days.
8 April 2016
Boolarra South horse investigation
RSPCA Victoria has been investigating reports about horses at a property in Boolarra South
There have been a total of 10 reports made at this property. We have attended the property four times along with numerous telephone and email contacts.
The first report was in March 2015 and we attended the same day it was received. The matter involved an injured horse which was treated and the matter resolved one week later. No further follow up was required and no subsequent reports were made.
The majority of the horses on the property are in acceptable-to-good body condition.
We received the other nine reports from March 23rd this year. After communications with the owner an injured horse was surrendered on March 26th and has now recovered.
We attended the property again this week and formal written directions were issued to the owner for veterinary treatment of another horse which will expire at 5pm today. The owner indicated that this horse will also be surrendered. We will follow up with the new owners regarding its ongoing treatment and condition next week.
This is an active investigation.
The horses are under the expert care of the RSPCA, veterinarians and the registered charity Horse Shepherd Equine Sanctuary.
Their ongoing care would not be possible without the dedicated people at Horse Shepherd Equine Sanctuary.
Golden Plains Equine and Rosehill Veterinary practices were on hand to provide immediate care for the horses on Monday.
Tragically, one elderly horse that was severely emaciated, became recumbent in hospital and was euthanised on humane grounds.
The remaining horses on the property are continuing to receive 24 hour care and monitoring by Horses At Auction - Preview (HAAP), a volunteer welfare group who facilitate the rehoming of horses out of livestock sale yards.
Chris Giles of Equine Education is providing handling assistance and is overseeing the feeding regime of the horses in care.
RSPCA would also like to thank Racing Victoria, Malua Racing, Freedman Racing, Cloud 9 Thoroughbreds and Chris Giles for their urgent transport of the horses from Bulla at late notice.
The public continues to provide generous offers of support, including Kelato Animal Health, Ranvet, and Horseland Ringwood who have donated and delivered 23 rugs.
We thank you all.
RSPCA Victoria today released footage and images of the horses seized from a property in Bulla on Monday.
Twenty-three horses were removed from the property in a joint operation between Victoria Police (who are the lead agency in the investigation) and RSPCA Victoria, with assistance and transport from Racing Victoria.
The horses were transported to undisclosed locations and are under the expert care of the RSPCA, veterinarians and the registered charity Horse Shepherd Equine Sanctuary.
RSPCA Acting CEO Jon McGregor said the malnourished horses were now in good hands and receiving the expert care that they require.
On arrival, most of the horses had body scores ranging between 0 and 1.
Measures were taken to prevent colicking, and the horses were placed on a strict feeding plan by the attending veterinarians.
*Three horses who were exhibiting signs of colic had more intensive examinations, and were administered intravenous fluids and appropriate analgesic and anti-inflammatory medication, and monitored carefully.
*One of these colic cases, and another horse with lacerations on its hind legs, were immediately transferred to the equine hospital for further care.
*The horse with colic is in a serious, but stable condition.
*Tragically, one elderly horse that was severely emaciated, became recumbent in hospital and was euthanised on humane grounds.
*On Tuesday, another of the colic horses was transferred to hospital due to the persistence of colic signs. This horse is now doing satisfactorily.
*The remaining horses on the property are continuing to receive 24 hour care.
Racing Victoria have committed to funding the ongoing veterinary care and feeding expenses of the horses. Collectively, RSPCA and Racing Victoria have received dozens of calls offering assistance from organisations and members of the community.
The RSPCA has the power to hold the horses until such time they become the property of RSPCA through legal processes or alternative orders are made by the court. We expect to be able to give a further update on this in two weeks time.
“We hope to eventually be able to find the horses new homes and would like to thank the Victorian public for its support with offers of food, equipment and rehousing.”
Mr McGregor said the case was one of many incidences of horse neglect that RSPCA Victoria has been dealing with at unprecedented levels.
“In the past two months we have seized more horses than at any other time in our 145-year history. Since the start of this year we have taken in 139 horses* through seizure and surrender. This compares with one horse for the same period in 2015.
“There is a very, very serious issue developing across Victoria that will reach crisis point by winter if people don’t act immediately. This is not just about drought conditions, this is about neglect.
This tragic event should never have occurred. We regret that when we attended the property we were unable to observe the extent of the horrific neglect. The neglect of these horses can be measured in years and months as witnessed by the graveyard uncovered during the investigation.
As a result of this incident we are conducting a formal review of our procedures for receiving and triaging calls as well as the overall level of resourcing for our inspectorate to ensure that we can act as quickly as required.
RSPCA Victoria is continuing to work with Victoria Police on the Bulla investigation.
In a separate, unrelated operation this morning, RSPCA inspectors executed a warrant at a Mickleham property seizing six additional horses during a planned operation.
*These six horses are now also in RSPCA care and are included in the 139 figure above.
4 April 2016
RSPCA Victoria response to Bulla horses
RSPCA Victoria is continuing to work with police today after an estimated 22 dead horses were found on a property in Batey Court in Bulla yesterday.
Our immediate concern today is the welfare of the remaining horses on that property and our inspectors will ensure these animals receive care. Our inspectorate team will continue working with Victoria Police on the investigation.
1 April 2016
1 April 2016
Free range hens: what will "meaningful" mean to them?
RSPCA Australia says today’s definition of a new free-range egg standard by the Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs may have been a waste of time.