• The REAL story on NSW Council pounds

     

    For many years I worked at Animal Liberation NSW and it was not unusual for me to receive complaints from distressed individuals about the fate of companion animals held in council pounds. When I was elected to Parliament, amongst the first calls my office received were in regard to the terrible conditions of some council pounds—allegations of outright cruelty and neglect of impounded animals, high kill rates and unacceptably low rehoming rates. For a nation that prides itself on its relationship with “man’s best friend” and the frequently cited observation that companion animals are “part of the family”, we discard tens of thousands of dogs and cats each year. These animals often end up in council pounds and face an uncertain future. That future is dependent upon the resources invested by individual councils to provide decent facilities, caring staff and a commitment to working with rescue groups to rehome as many animals as possible.

    Improvement in reducing kill rates and increasing rehoming rates across New South Wales must be acknowledged as being due to the enormous efforts of volunteer and self-funded rescue and rehoming groups that outperform council pounds and authorised agencies such as RSPCA NSW and the Animal Welfare League. New South Wales statistics collected for the period 2013-14 show that council pounds rehomed 5,549 cats and dogs, and killed 14,641 animals, the vast majority being healthy animals. The RSPCA rehomed 10,718 but killed 12,641, with one-third being killed for failing the behavioural temperament test. Community rescue groups rehomed approximately 8,000 and euthanased fewer than 200, all for genuine illness or severe behavioural problems.

    In my travels to regional areas, I will often meet with carer groups that work hard to improve the lives of impounded animals and do their best to work with councils to rehome cats and dogs. Frustration is evident in pound reform advocates who observe a lack of accountability and transparency in regard to councils discharging their obligations under the Companion Animals Act. Advocates complain about being referred between the Office of Local Government and NSW Department of Primary Industries when complaining about animal welfare in pounds.

    Although councils are required to comply with both the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Code of Practice for Cats and Dogs in Animal Boarding Establishments, many councils are either unaware or fail to comply. Examples include Griffith pound’s failure to provide daily exercise for dogs, pounds such as Singleton where animals are exposed to the extremes of weather, and Wagga pound where cats were placed alive in freezers. Evidence from the McHugh Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry found that Kempsey Shire Council Dog Pound’s record-keeping was so deficient it could not account for the number of greyhounds surrendered. The use of more than 250 millilitres of euthanasia drugs was not recorded

    I note that pounds are still legally allowed to shoot dogs and kill cats by direct needlestick to the heart or peritoneal cavity. These are marked down in reports as “euthanasia”, with some councils dumping bodies at the local tip. The public would be outraged if they knew. The public are generally unaware of the state of pounds, which can be hidden away near council tips and water treatment sites. A number of council pounds are failing to adhere to the requirements to be open for a minimum of four hours per day, making it difficult for people to reunite with their lost cats or dogs. Many pounds also refuse public access, making adoptions and rehoming difficult. I believe that a comprehensive audit undertaken by the Office of Local Government of all New South Wales council pounds, with findings and recommendations, is the only way the public can obtain a truly accurate account of the state of New South Wales pounds and the care that they provide to impounded companion animals.

  • Companion Animal Action Paper 2017

    After eighteen months of consultations with animal rescue groups, advocacy groups and individuals,  I have now finalised my Companion Animal Action Paper. It is the  blueprint for the work I will be undertaking in parliament.

    Of course, there are more issues that will need to be considered over time (for example,  companion animals other than cats and dogs,  transport of companion animals, use of public space, tenants with animals, penalties for cruelty) but there is plenty to be getting on with in my first term in parliament.

    I would like to thank everyone for their contributions, your expertise and input has been invaluable.

    Download the full Action Paper HERE

  • Notice of Motion-National Volunteers Week

    National Volunteers Week

    This Motion was OBJECTED to by the Government.

    1. That this House, in recognition of National Volunteers Week, honours the selfless and compassionate work undertaken by the hundreds of volunteers in NSW, who give generously of their time in caring for injured wildlife, rescued companion animals and provide sanctuary to farmed animals.
    2. That this House congratulates animal carer volunteers for their commitment in providing care and comfort to animals that would otherwise have died, either through neglect, abuse or being killed in council pounds and RSPCA shelters.
  • Notice of Motion commending the tireless work of Anna Ludvik, founder of Lucy’s Project

    I recently attended the ‘Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence International Perspectives’ conference held in Sydney hosted by Lucy’s Project. I left so inspired by the great work Anna Ludvik and Lucy’s Project are doing to raise the awareness and educate about an area of domestic violence not often spoken about. To read more about Lucy’s Project please visit their website and like the Facebook page.

    lucys-project-logo-2015

    NOTICE OF MOTION

    1. That this House commends Anna Ludvik, founder of Lucy’s Project, for her work in raising awareness of the issue of animal abuse victims of domestic violence.
    2. That this House notes that at the recent ‘Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence International Perspectives’ conference held in Sydney hosted by Lucy’s Project international guest speaker, Allie Phillips from Sheltering Animals and Pets Together (SAF-T), USA, spoke about the bond between companion animals and human victims of domestic violence, citing the example of Hank, a Great Dane who shielded his female guardian McKenzie from a brutal attack by her
      partner, noting that:
      (a) Hank was honoured for his courage and bravery by the Humane Society of the United States receiving the Valor Dog of the Year and People’s Hero award at the Fifth Annual Dogs of Valor Awards,
      (b) Hank threw himself on top of McKenzie when her partner began attacking her with a hammer, in order to protect McKenzie from the blows,
      (c) the partner then began attacking Hank, beating the dog, throwing him from the porch by the neck,
      (d) McKenzie escaped and called the police who arrived to arrest the partner and found Hank still alive but suffering a broken hip and ribs,
      (e) McKenzie sought refuge at the Rose Brooks Center but when she learned she could not bring Hank with her, she refused to go until the Centre agreed to change its ‘no animals’ policy,
      (f) as a response to the story of Hank, the Rose Brooks Center shelter is building a wing that will house the companion animals of victims of domestic violence, and
      (g) Susan Miller, CEO of Rose Brooks Center, has said: ‘Families need to have a safe place to escape to, a place that welcomes the entire family including pets’.
    3. That this House acknowledges that many human victims of domestic violence are unable to leave abusive partners and seek safety due to the difficulty in finding emergency shelters or rental accommodation that provide housing for companion animals.
  • Notice of Motion congratulating Virgin Australia

    REHOMING OF COMPANION ANIMALS

    (1) That this House congratulates Virgin Australia and Jetpets on entering into a partnership with companion animal rescue charities, Australian Working Dogs Rescue, RSPCA and Pet Rescue to:

    (a) provide free transport for companion animal adoptions and rehoming throughout Australia; and

    (b) assist in the relocation of surrendered greyhounds requiring rehoming as a consequence of the Greyhound Racing Prohibition Act 2016.

    (2) That this House notes that every successful rehoming of a companion animal removes a dog or cat from death row in council pounds and RSPCA shelters.

    Motion agreed to.

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