Who are the ACAC (Australian Companion Animal Council) and why will they object to the NSW Inquiry?

  • A very authorative sounding name!
  • A self proclaimed “peak body” ! From their website : we are …”the peak body representing pet ownership and the pet industry in Australia.” ( Note: they did originally say representing ‘companion animals ‘ but must have changed it after reading our letter where we asked about ‘unwanted companion animals’)
  • They write lots of glossy papers you can download, the content of which is probably quite good in itself, especially those on pet ownership and renting*
  • They bang on a lot about “responsible pet ownership”
  • They get their name into the media as a PR strategy to bolster their image

(..and yet around 250,000 unwanted cats and dogs die in our pounds and shelters each year.??)

* to give ACAC some credit, their webpages on renting with animals and related issues are very good, but as we wrote to them and said, unless that information gets into the hands of landlords, it’s useless. And what is ACAC’s motive in this – saving lives in shelters or having more animals in the community?

These are their current members as at 7/06/11:

  • Animal Health Alliance (Australia) Ltd (AHAA)
  • Animal Welfare League Australia (AWLA) (DRP note – we’ll come back to this one)
  • The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) Australia
  • Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)
  • Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association (ASAVA)
  • Australian Veterinary Association Ltd (AVA)
  • Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA)
  • Pet Industry Association of Australia Ltd (PIAA)
  • Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia Pty Ltd (PIAS)
  • Veterinary Manufacturers and Distributors Association (VMDA)

Anyway you can read more yourselves at their website www.acac.org.au

But despite all this gloss and stated good intentions about caring for animals, they are simply an industry lobby group who are constantly in any government ear that will listen to them.

The problem is that they sound good, they look good, they have lots of ‘credentials’ behind them, lots of respected associations as members, and lots of “scientific research”   (I was a trained scientist and very little of what they say actually looks like”science” to me…) and “evidence based” arguments – all of which combine to give gullable Ministers and policy makers the impression that they are dealing with people who really do know what they are talking about and with “whom we have consulted”.

But ACAC is NOT an animal welfare organisation. It is a pet industry lobby group with vested commercial interest masquerading as an organisation fhat cares about companion animal welfare.

(..and yet around 250,000 unwantedcats and dogs die in our pounds and shelters each year…?)

They are led by well known vet and animal behaviour specialist Kirtsy Seksel, an ex AVA (Australian Veterinary Association)  CEO. Ms Seksel is an avowed anti-desexing  proponent and is clearly one of the leaders of the “owned animal population” in Australia is declining, so we should be worried about vet jobs and business” fraternity.

Dr. Kersti Seksel from the Australian Companion Animal Council speaks at the Western Australian Cat Welfare & Management Symposium, September 2009.


Listen for the obvious concerns about the declining cat and dog population outside of shelters and pounds.

And:  “ we need  data collection from Council Pounds nationally”. Our own views entirely! They have known this for years, but why haven’t they done anything about it??

Read Ms.Seksel’s article on the subject of animal populations and vet business: “Will cat decline threaten vet jobs?” :Will_cat_decline_threaten_vet_jobs

And also this article called “Estimated and predicted changes in the cat population of Australian households from 1979 to 2005.Vet_Catpopulation  We quote from that paper:

“the high desexing rates of cats in Australia may have resulted in an insufficient number of kittens available for uptake into households.”

(What? And yet thousands of kittens are killed each month in our shelters and pounds each month?)

One of the authors of this paper FC Baldock, also famously delivered a presentation at an AVA function, entitled ” Are we desexing ourselves out of a job?”

And let’s note that Ms Seksel runs a Sydney based animal behaviour  business called Sydney Animal Behaviour Service

Make no mistake, the vet associations and other pet industry businesses are very concerned about declining owned cat/dog populations ……and the impact on their businesses. They are not interested in animal welfare of unwanted animals in pounds and shelters.

Such is the ACAC concern for declining owned animal populations that are holding a symposium  or “think tank” in September this year called “Putting pets back into our lives: how declining pet ownership is impacting our society and economy”

Yes, let’s see what they come up with to pump even more animals into a crowded supply chain that kills around 250,000 unwanted companion animals each year!

And here is the 2008 AVA policy document on what to do with unwanted cats and dogs, with:

Download here: AVA_policy_framework_unwanted_dogs_cats

 “The five key principles provide a strong framework for dealing with unwanted companion animals in an effective and coordinated way.”

(..and yet around 250,000 unwanted cats and dogs are killed in our pounds and shelters each year…?)

Now, ask any cat or dog rescue group or pound volunteer whether the AVA’s “strong framework” has created any meaningful change since 2008? Has it? You tell us.

We know with some exactness that in NSW numbers of animal enerting NSW pounds and shelters has been consistently high for at least the last 3 years – hardly any decline at all.

ACAC and its various members have been and are at the centre of any opposition to improving  the lot of unwanted pound animals by regulating the pet industry. In 07 , 08, 09 their members were extraordinarly vocal in opposing Independent Minister Clover Moore’s Bill to regulate the pet industry:

Here are some of the letters the members sent out:  1) CCAC_key_concerns_re_bill_ 31.3.08;    2) ava_sale_of_pets_through_pet_shops;      3)   AVA_Letter to NSW MLAs 31.3.08      4)    BRIEFING NOTES FOR MINISTER MACDONALD-2008.

Here is PIAA’s own contribution where they claim that animal welfare groups are exaggerating the problem!!  5) PIAA Press Release The Facts on Pet Shops. Just how low can they stoop? (The boss’s email address is in this one – do write and tell him what you think!)

And here you can see a letter from the original prototype “peak body” :  6) peak bodies objection to Bill 2009 that sets out their objections ( and never any alternative solutions, other than the motherhood statement: “responsible pet ownership” (yes, it is important – we are not saying it is not).

Check out all the logos on the documents and you can see where the vested interest are.

Just imagine how many countless letters they have sent to Ministers and Councils everywhere…………

More recently, this group of industry bodies with strong vested commercial interests infiltrated the ear of the ACT Chief Minister and caused the defeat of the ACT Greens endevours to introduce a stronger animal welfare regime in the ACT. Here is their submission to the Greens Minister Caroline Le Couteur MLA    7):   submission_ACAC_toACTminister

In this letter, you see that they have become more “sophisticated” in their arguments, but the bottom line is this : THEY DON’T WANT ANYTHING TO INTERFERE WITH THEIR BUSINESSES. And they will lobby very hard at government level to ensure that Ministers listen to them. This is drowning out any messages that are sent from the disparate and poorly organised independent animal welfare groups working to stop the slaughter in our pounds and shelters. (poorly organised in the sense of lobbying government)

For those interested, here is the Hansard record of the speeches made in ACT Parliament on 4th May when the Bill was defeated by the Labor government and Liberal opposition:Animal Welfare Legislation Amend Bill Debate Hansard 2011

If you can wade through the speeches made by Labor and Liberals speaking against the Greens proposal, you will clearly see ACAC arguments. There is no mistaking the messages that the opponent Ministers have parroted.

Let’s not forget that the pet industry is worth around 4.6bn dollars. Those of us who have cats and dogs spend big money on pet food, training, vet bills,kennels, toys , the lot. We don’t have a problem with the pet industry – we are supporters of it. What we have a problem with is the obstruction created by ACAC and its members to any meaningful change to the supply chain dynamics that sends thousands of unwanted animals to unnecessary deaths each year.

And yet ACAC and their members spend ZERO dollars on solutions or helping out with the weekly chores of saving lives. Who pays? You do – through your Council rates YOU are funding the cost of running your council’s animal compliance regime. YOU are funding the costs of your pound or shelter contract and ultimately it’s YOUR money going to pay for the killing of those animals. How much do the Members of ACAC put in? There is a question to ask!

And before any one says “but Pedigree fund the Pedigree adoption drive ” (which is undoubtedy an excellent initiative), don’t forget that they are part of a member company of the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia – a key ACAC member. Here’s the question: How much do they generate in income from pet food sales across the country? And how much do they fund into the Adoption Drive? Work it out for yourselves!

Please read our letter to Kirsty Sekesel that has never been asnwered: lttr_kseksel_ACAC_R2_Apr11

DRP Comment:

Industry groups with vested interests have got their act together and have infiltrated government (and we also think Council) thinking and outcomes. This is a serious development. If it reduced unwanted animals enerting pounds and shelters and subsequently killed, it would not be  a problem. IF ACAC rises to the challenge and actually does something to stop the slaughter, we will leave them alone. But will they? Don’t hold your breath. Sadly we do not see any animal welfare groups rising  up and counterbalancing the momentum of ACAC and their members. It would be great if we could rely on the RSPCA, but that is not going to happen. It is with great sadness that we see the AWLA as a member of ACAC. There is a great need for rescue groups in each state to get together and form an association that can speak to government.

Now lets come onto the Animal Welfare League of Australia.

Why are they members of  the ACAC? Is that not an interesting question? Why would they support an industry lobby group? Clearly ACAC need them in the member group as they are the only true Animal Welfare body in the membership. But what does AWLA get out of it?  Our interest was piqued, so we wrote to AWLA President Grant Robb, who is also CEO of the AWL SA.

Click here to go to this part of the story…..


One thought on “Who are the ACAC (Australian Companion Animal Council) and why will they object to the NSW Inquiry?

  1. Anne Greenwood June 29, 2011 / 11:31 pm

    RE this bit

    “to give ACAC some credit, their webpages on renting with animals and related issues are very good, but as we wrote to them and said, unless that information gets into the hands of landlords, it’s useless.”

    of course the ACAC would want people to be able to rent with animals. The more places that will accept animals the more $$$$$ for them (when they sell the puppy or kitten)

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