What will you do this year? A wrap on 2010 and a look ahead forward

What will you do in 2011?

Last year we saw much progress in the fight to end the killing of healthy and rehomable animals in our shelters and pounds , but there is much more to be done in 2011. Read here to get a summary of key events last year and a look ahead at some of the main challenges for 2011…

Getting 2 Zero’ (G2Z),the AWL Queensland’s Whole Community Change Model and No Kill strategy, is making progress – results showing in the AWL-run Gold Coast Council area; a number of pounds and shelters across the country adopting G2Z as their standard of operation, including the Sydney Dogs and Cats Home, the Dogs Homes of Tasmania (recently becoming an affiliate of the AWL of Australia) amongst others; a national collaboration from groups in each state who will promote G2Z in their respective states

 ·    Oscar’s Law in Victoria making an impact on the public and State government; Oscar’s Law plans to establish in each state this year. The Oscars law protest (Puppy Farm awareness Day Rally )in front of Government House drew a crowd of over 2000 people. Do you know who Oscar was?

 ·  The RSPCA’s ‘Stop Puppy Factories’ campaign  and Help us close puppy factories– increased public awareness of the problem and a set of solutions that will take effect this year. In particular the agreement by all parties who attended the go forward meetingthat microchips must contain the details of the breeder for the lifetime of the animal

 ·     Significantly increased media coverage of issues related to the overall campaign (see Companion Animal News) and increased recognition of the need and opportunity to adopt pound/shelter animals by the public as their pets of choice

 ·     Increasing awareness by the public that things can be significantly improved by all of the RSPCAs and AWL’s  across the country. The State RSPCA’s and AWL’s increasingly under the spotlight on their rehoming numbers. Some are great, some have significant room for improvement….

 ·    The Gold Coast City Council’s breeder licensing system  and AWL Qnld support was introduced (although the Council then decided they wouldn’t enforce it...)

 ·     The Queensland government announced a new State-wide breeder licensing system to be introduced in 2100 and read more here.

 ·     The formation of the Animal Justice Party,the first Australian political party to focus on animal welfare

 ·    Increased recognition that the state of animal welfare in Australia and our pound & shelter kill rates CAN change, inspired by the progress of the No-Kill movement in the US

 ·     The formation of the Dog Rescue Association of Victoria (DRAV) – a new force by grass roots rescue groups that will create a counter-balance to the government lobbying by the industry groups with vested interests in maintaining hi numbers of animals in the market

 ·    Increased public awareness created by advocacy and rescue groups and many others resulting in more people speaking up and letting the media and councils know that ‘things have to change’

 ·     Independent minister Clover Moore in NSW announcing that she may again table again her ‘Animals Regulation of Sale Bill’ in the new NSW parliament following the elections.  

 ·    The Greens in ACT tabling a new Animal Welfare Bill  (and media release) that will create the strongest animal welfare legislation in the country

 ·    The Royal NZSPCA adopting the ‘Saving Lives’ campaign (founded on the ‘No Kill’ philosophy). (Why are we speaking about NZ? Well, if their RSPCA can do it, why won’t ours?)

 ·     Increased focus and public awareness that BIG improvements are needed at council pounds like Blacktown Pound (NSW’s largest ‘super’ pound) and the Lost Dogs Home in Melbourne

 ·    We saw the FIRST Facebook-managed ‘Flashmob’ protest in a Melbourne shopping centre outside a Pets Paradise store by Oscar’s Law, and a highly successful Flashmob action at Federation Square in Melbourne on Sunday 16 January ( See Oscar’s Law website)

 ·    There are increasing numbers of pet shops who have stopped selling puppies and kittens and started working with rescue groups to rehome homeless animals

.    The draft updated Victoria Code of Practice for Pounds & Shelters was sent back to the AWAC Writing Group after significant adverse public comment (a “win” for public activism and social media)

.    The Victorian DPI’s attempt to capture foster care homes within the existing Vic Code of Practice for Pounds & Shelters was declared “subject to review and clarification” by both the Labor Govt and Liberal Opposition after public backlash (another win for public activism and social media)

 (There have been more achievements – if you feel we have missed anything, please write and let us know!)

 BUT there is still much, much more that needs to be done.

 Animals are still being bred and sold into the supply chain in huge numbers with little or no regulation; pounds and shelters across the country are reporting increasing numbers entering their facilities and volunteer rescue groups are at breaking point with the flood of animals needing a new home.

The point is that the number of people acquiring a pet from a shelter, pound or rescue group instead of a pet shop, puppy factory or backyard breeder will only make a small impact on numbers killed IF the numbers bred into the market are not substantially decreased. It’s like a bucket with holes in the bottom. You can plug the holes as hard as you like, but if more water keeps flowing into the bucket, you will never stop the overflow.

 Ultimately, rescuing animals from pounds and rehoming them is a band aid – it is not, in itself, going to stop the problem. In fact, the better the job that private rescue groups do, one could argue the less incentive there is for governments and councils to take action to STOP THE FLOW.

 We have always said that the solution is BOTH better rehoming rates for shelter/pound animals TOGETHER with REDUCED numbers bred into the market (regulated breeding, no puppy factories, no ‘commercial breeders’, widespread desexing, public education).

 It has to be a two-pronged strategy.

 Here in our view are the BIG items to tackle in 2011 and where YOU can help:

 ·         Getting to Zero to spread and become THE No Kill strategy in every state as the community-based model to increase rehoming rates and drop kill rates of healthy homeless pets to zero. You will see this year G2Z seminars in every state. WILL YOU JOIN IN AND HELP THIS MOVEMENT? (Watch out for information later this year.)

 ·         Pressure needs to be put on the large animal welfare charities – the RSPCA in every state, the AWL in every state and Melbourne’s Lost Dogs Home must be influenced to adopt the No Kill mandate. (If they won’t, ask why not?). Why have the Royal NZSPCA commited to “Saving Lives” , the RSPCA ACT doing  a great job, and the AWL’s of Queensland and Tasmania committed to G2Z, but the others won’t? How can these government-funded charities keep pumping the public for ever-more donations, yet still have very average rehoming rates? If they can’t or won’t, how can we demand that councils adopt G2Z as the operational standard? These groups must absolutely demonstrate leadership, and we must apply pressure. WILL YOU STAND UP AND TELL THE RSPCA AND AWL IN YOUR STATE THAT YOU’LL TAKE YOUR DOLLARS ELSEWHERE UNLESS THEY JOIN THE MOVEMENT?

 ·         Oscar’s Law must take hold and make an impact in every state in order to stop puppy factories and mass commercial breeders. Watch out for news – WILL YOU JOIN THE CAMPAIGN?

 ·         There needs to be local government-mandated collection of council pound statistics in every state using the NSW model. You may know that NSW is the only state that collects council pound statistics each year. We still don’t have an accurate national picture and badly need this to counter the claims by those who claim that the problem is not as bad as we make out. WILL YOU TAKE ACTION TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN IN YOUR STATE?

 ·         There needs to be a far stronger representation on the State Animal Welfare Advisory Committees by ground-level Rescue and Volunteer Groups. Right now, the State Governments are getting their advice from committees that in the main comprise groups that really don’t want change or fear it will interfere in their commercial businesses ( See Australian Companion Animal Council for eg) . This has to change, and the formation of groups like the Dog Rescue Association of Victoria (DRAV) will create that balance. Their needs to be a Dog (and Cat!!) Rescue Association in every state.  WILL YOUR RESCUE GROUP RISE TO THE CHALLENGE?

 ·         There needs to be an increased and strong public voice expressed to councils that things must change. There are very good council pounds around the country – it would be wrong to label them all as bad. The good ones like Wyong Council’s and others need to be recognised, celebrated, supported and held up as models of excellence – widespread public recognition as models of best-practice. Nothing works as well as showing up the bad practices of the poor councils – they hate negative press. If they won’t go to the trough willingly, and that should be the first approach, then we need to drag them through the mud until they get on board. WILL YOU SPEAK UP IF YOU SEE THE NEED?

 ·         Blacktown Pound, NSW’s largest council facility, needs to change. For over ten years advocates have been asking, cajoling , begging and threatening Blacktown Council to change. There have been improvements in rehoming, but still:

 the majority of animals are sold undesexed (TRUE!)

the tender system for buying an animal favours breeders willing to pay higher sums for an undesexed animal

there are not enough staff – council will not introduce an adequate staff to animal ratio

 The problem?

Mayor ‘My own dogs are undesexed, I’m responsible, and people should have a choice’ Pendleton. WILL YOU SPEAK UP AND TELL BLACKTOWN AND ITS MAYOR IT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH?

 ·         The Lost Dogs Home of Melbourne, another high-income, high-kill shelter, needs to be further lobbied to adopt lower kill strategies and move towards No Kill like other progressive shelters across the world. WILL YOU MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD THIS YEAR?

 ·         The Greens Animal Welfare Act needs to be supported in the ACT Parliament. WILL YOU TAKE ACTION TO SUPPORT THIS BILL?

 ·         The public must be increasingly educated about the problem and inspired to get involved so they can make a difference or make better choices regarding where they source their pets. Did you know that very many people, animal lovers among them, still do not know there is a problem? We regularly meet people who are surprised when we tell them that over 250,000 healthy homeless animals die in our pounds and shelters each year. So, WHO WILL YOU INFORM AND RECRUIT THIS YEAR?

 What will YOU do this year?

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