Do Ministers, Councillors and policy makers really know the extent of the problem?

There would not be a day that goes by when we don’t see a message of this type:

“Urgent! Please help dog/cat 3214 at ABC Pound – his time is up on Friday; who can take him NOW?”.

And these messages go round and round all the facebook pages and forums ……………to the already converted.

Question: how many of these are seen by Members of Parliament or Gov officials or the town Mayor and Councillors?

Here’s my bet : hardly any, if at all!

Am I right?

So, the bottom line is this:  I think that we are very good at preaching to the converted, but really lousy at getting the information out to Ministers, Members and Councillors and policy makers.

Am I being too harsh?

Contrast this to the heavy lobbying done by th ACAC (Australian Companion Animal Council – the self proclaimed “peak body” for the pet industry) and their members.               A recent press release by PIAA even had the effrontery to say that : “the problem as stated by animal welfare groups and animal liberationists is over-stated” !!

How low can they get?

Understand very clearly that ACAC and their members are in the ear of Ministers – and in general rescue groups and pound/shelter volunteers are not.

Governments do not like to deal with hundreds of individual people and groups – they want to listen to and deal with well organised groups with “credentials” just like ACAC and their member associations.

Currently, rescue groups have not organised themselves in this way and because of this the message is just NOT getting through to the people who could make a difference.

One of our colleagues recently met with her local Member to ask for support for Clover Moore’s Inquest. When asked what he knew about all this he said …..”It’s about tail docking isn’t it?”

We will not win this fight unless we get the message to the people who make policy.

So here is strategy we would like to promote and it involves every Rescue Group, Foster Group and volunteer playing their part.

It’s simple : tell your Council, local Member, State Ministers what you and your friends spend your time doing in Rescue and Rehoming and why you need to.

  • Send them every one of your “please give this dog/cat a home” messages…..
  • Adress them personally and ask them what they can do for this particular cat or dog…
  • Write up a document called ‘A week in the life of our Rescue Group”  or “my week as a pound volunteer” and spell out how much time and money you and your colleagues have to invest in this effort. Count the hours and tell them.  Show them photos. Ask them…….  ” why am I having to do this?”
  • Send them photos of the animals that you were not able to save
  • Invite them to come out with you for a day to see what you have to do
  • Get them along to the pound to see how it works
  • Send them regular “briefing sheets” – itemise all you do and spend
  • Ask them to donate money and resources to your efforts
  • Ask all your colleagues in rescue, foster and rehoming to get involved
  • Send them case studies of failures and successes
  • If they have  a dog or cat, spell out what would likely happen if their pet ended up in the pound. Make it personal and real to them
  • Explain to them what would happen if you and your colleagues “went on strike”
  • Send them the statistics from your pound
  • Get petitions going in your area and present them to the Mayor at a Council meeting or your local Member’s office
  • Explain to them why there is a problem and ask them to investigate and come up with solutions. Send them information
  • Write to your local paper and tell them how hard your group  or you have to work at this
  • Send compilations like this   Why
  • Lobby your State Gov to initiate annual pound and shelter statistic collection like the NSW model
  • here is a document that will give you guidelines on lobbying Guidelines for lobbying

You must make more of a noise or they just won’t “get it”.

Ok, I do know that most Rescue Groups and Charity Shelters work hard at promoting a positive image. We get that…but….

One charity shelter said to us “we don’t like to tell the public how many dogs we have to put down.”…………….

Why the heck not? How are people supposed to know there is a problem to fix if we don’t tell them there is a problem?

How are policy makers supposed to improve things if you don’t tell them?

It can be done – changes happen when people shout hard enough. We cared enough about cattle going to  Asia – how is our cronic pound and shelter situation any different?

We invite your comments.

By all means if you act on this, please send us your written documents and we will compile them into a national library.

Let us know how you go! Send us suggestions we can distribute! Post them in the comments section below.

12 thoughts on “Do Ministers, Councillors and policy makers really know the extent of the problem?

  1. Paul July 14, 2011 / 11:14 pm

    As I see it the government departments are already well aware and happy with the killing. To them, high kill rates are preferable to the recent phenomenon of animal rescue charities being established across Australia. Sadly there is a strong anti- rescue group sentiment among government departments that administer so-called animal welfare.

    The Federal government was callous enough recently to ignore the majority of compassionate Australians who wanted to ban live export, in preference to the profit of a few farmers. To government departments it’s preferable for companion animals to be killed behind closed doors than have to actively manage the issue. The status quo is cosey not just for government but the massive industries that profit from the breeding through to the killing of companion animals. But with greater transparency and awareness we are seeeing public outrage. And this appalling situation has to change.

    Yes we need to make more noise, and G2Z models must become mandatory. And perhaps it is becoming apparent that animal welfare must be removed from departments that have no genuine interest in animals. Perhaps there need to be independent Animal Welfare Departments in all States and Territories that get measured on the improvement to animals’ lives rather than how happy meat industries, vivisectors and pet shop owners are.

  2. Anne Greenwood July 14, 2011 / 11:57 pm

    I wish you left a surname.
    You have a keen grasp of the issues and I agree with your comments.

  3. Jo Kelly July 15, 2011 / 7:27 pm

    Paul – both Pauls!

    I’ve got a book planned that will feature a chapter on this and related/broader issues. I’d either like to quote Paul (the Paul who left the comment) or if he’s not keen for me to feature his name, then run his very salient comments but attribute them only to a “contribution/post on the DeathRow Pets blog”.

    Paul (poster) – I am known to Paul (owner of Death Row Pets website). If you were to email him your name and permission for me to feature your extraordinarily well-articulated commentary, I would be very, very grateful.

    Note: Book is not yet in production. It is next in my pipeline. I’m a full-time writer and author. Secondary to that is that I’m a staunch animal welfarist. This has a relevance in this particular forthcoming book.

  4. Romana July 16, 2011 / 6:44 pm

    I would very much welcome a nation-wide lobby organisation which individuals as well as rescue groups could join. Unfortunately, it is sometimes even hard for an individual to join a small local group, because there are often members who focus on the different personal features of the new applicant (you are this and that, you have done or not done this and that, …), instead on the common goal and interest. In an organisation, this needs to be prevented from the start, so that even a breeder or a pet shop owner, or a vet who had to put down healthy animals in a pound, can join and work within this organisation, without being unduly attacked by animal rescuers, provided they have a genuine interest in improving pet welfare in
    Australia. The more genuinely committed people join the better!

  5. Industry Observer August 17, 2011 / 10:58 pm


    Wrong again. Governments don’t like to deal with crackpots.

    Is that why you have a 19 point plan that is all about *other people* lobbying Government?

    Exactly what are your credentials, Paul?

  6. companionanimalnews August 17, 2011 / 11:28 pm

    Sorry, I’m not going to enter into a public debate with someone who hides behind an alias.

  7. Anne Greenaway August 17, 2011 / 11:53 pm

    Who are you Industry Observer?

    Maybe from reading your posts you should change your name to “Vested Interest”

    Paul’s credentials are that he has credibility and respect from those who genuinely care about companion animal welfare.

    Unlike those in the “animal welfare” (read “exploitation”) industries, he is not paid for any of the work he does in raising awareness about companion animal issues.

    There is money in breeding, selling and killing companion animals.

    We know this and will continue to be the voice of the defenceless and exploited cats and dogs.

  8. Ro August 18, 2011 / 10:17 pm

    What a lunatic! Mr/Mrs Anonymous is obviously one of those people who hate anyone who earns money. My guess is: A life-long unemployed-by-choice pensioner who will even the attack the local baker for selling bread to the people who don’t behave the way Mr/Mrs Anonymus wants them to. Paul, please just ignore this ridiculous person.

  9. Deathrowpets August 18, 2011 / 11:22 pm

    Industry Observer has a seriously demented problem. This person does not have the guts to be honest and say who they are. their email is not valid as I have tried to contact him/her/it. I feel genuinely sorry for an individual who has to hide behind their moniker. Until they are honest and at least give their name, we will delete further comments.

    For the record, our consulting business has no relationship with our animal advocacy efforts. We derive no income whatsoever for our advocacy – we never have done, and we never will in order to avoid any conflicts of interest. In fact it has cost us due to our funding websites, blogs, travel to and from meetings etc, and significant time away from our business

  10. John August 19, 2011 / 10:33 am

    Maybe you deleted their post because they touched a raw nerve? I’d like to see what they had to say.

    The most unscrupulous animal welfare orgs shut down conversation when they don’t like it. LDH & CPS Vic case in point.

  11. Kathryn Archer August 19, 2011 / 11:47 am

    Industry observer has reared his head again as ‘John’ now! An ever changing chameleon with a revised ( but same Internet provider.. ) email address. What a hoot! Still not honest or ethical enough to be a ‘real person’…. I feel yet another block coming on har har

  12. Geoff Birkbeck October 14, 2011 / 1:08 pm

    In relation to councillors involvement in this matter, most cities/towns/shires have strict guildlines on councillor ‘interfering’ in “operational matters”. If individual staff discuss operational matters with councillors outside of the protocol, the staff member is liable to be “invited to attend an investigation panel meeting” then if there is enough “evidence” has been established, then a disiplianary panel.

    However, when I was at the Shire of East Pilbara (WA) one councillor questioioned at a council meeting the pound euthansia rate. Each month the Coordinator of Ranger and Emergency Services (CRES) would collate the statistics from both rangers of the three towns and it was tabled in council. I recall for this month in question there were 16 impounded and 16 euthanisias. That does not mean all 16 dogs in pounded were put down, it stated 16 dogs were for that period.

    After the councillor questioned the statistics, CRES and his manager went into panic mode. Suddenly I was “permitted” to rehome dogs to Perth.

    I approached the councillor off duty and instigasted a discussion with him. He was informed off the record that the statitical data for that month was incorrect. This was because dogs that were wriiten off in the pound book were smuggled out to Perth. Some were put down, but I do not recall the figure. This was due to injury, parvo and unsuitibility for rehoming (camp dogs, severe behavioural issues) but no where near the 16 as recorded.

    The councillor informed me that he knew this already but wanted to raise the matter in council. the “Canine Shinldlers List” was the worst kept secret in town.

    CRES would also discourage any inquiry in relation to the method of euthansia. In most regional areas in WA it is by firearm. This denial is actually documented in a reply to a high school project questionaire. there are only two vets in the whole shire. one was a ‘mobile vet’ the other a clinic. Both vets would euthanise animals on rangers request pro-bono only if a case was put forward. for example, a dog with severe parvo, unsafe to discharge a firearm due to the behaviour or type of dog, puppies and wildlife or where proof of destruction was required by the court.

    Dogs were signed off by other senior staff at times and smuggled on flights to Perth. SAFE Perth paid for the flights and took custody of the animals in Perth. Early and late flights were used and the AAE representalive would assist with making a booking to ensure a spot. the window period for transit was only a matter of hours.

    According to SAFE Perth over 250 animals were sent to them in a 20 month period. Given that the impound figures were in my first year were 400, 198 the next year and 205 after that, having 2 rangers reduced the dog population. The majority of impounds were camp dogs from indiginious communities and then general matters under the dog act. (lost, surrenders etc)

    The Shire of East Pilbara has the reputation of shooting dogs. This is because of the current CRES, I believe and witnessed, having a over zealous interest in firearms. There was no official rehoming protocol put in place. although there was a “procedure”. my preferance was to rehome out of district due the transient population being a mining town, not having a desexing program on offer and the extremely high cost of the surgery.

    The RSPCA WA does not publish its euthanisia rates in the Annual general Report. When i attended a training session with them, the Education Officer made a presentation of comparision rates with its NSW counterpart. I then put to her wy this is not reflected in the AGR and the reply was “Thats a very good question, it upsets people so we dont put it in”. I then made a comment that failing to make full disclosure is an offence under incorporated associations legislation, the subject was changed.

    A councillor can only take to Council matters brought to the attention by residents. Not on operational matters by staff. Thier elected role is of a representational one, not a management role. Most councillors are untrained in operational matters. There is no prequequisits in WA for educational standard or psychological suitability for an elected member. The requisits are to have no recordable criminal convictions, to be a permanent resident of the commonwealth and to reside within the shire. Nothing else. WALGA offer a development program for elected members but that is when they are elected to office. Councillors do not vet complaints or matters brought to them by residents. a concern presented to them is a vote. it is not compulsary to vote in local elections in WA.

    What some councillors forget is that they are voted in, they can be removed by being voted out. A mayor or shire president is selected by thier piers, except for the post of Lord Mayor where is by the vote of the people.

    One councillor i know in the City of Stirling is very active with issues concerning the Animal Care Facility and Ranger and Security issues and will present any reasonable request.

    In relation to the comments made by “Industry Observer’ I tend to agree with him. I would not act on a “crackpot” issue. I found personally, if a group or an individual came to me telling me how to run my pound or do my job, (it has happened) or make outlandish statements or complaints, they would be shown the door. i often found that those vexatious informants often had matters of thier own. one example an informant was complaining costantly about a certain neighbours dog and I found out that the informants dog had not been registered for 2 years and they recieved an infringment notice for that. Another had a spa installed without a permit or child proof gates and was referred to Planning and a infringment was issued. the City of Swan has a vexacious complainant that patrols the streets of ellenbrook reporting various ‘offfences” to the point only the CS manager is authorised to deal with him. he makes 100’s of complaints a year. What started this? Cigarette smoke allegedly from his neighbour and he had build an illegal structure to stop this. ”

    Present your case forward with facts not emotions and you will be taken seriously. If the evidence is there and the matter can be proven, the community will benefit. Especially if you are a local based group and require funding or assistance in gaining a grant from other areas in the future. believe me, it goes a long way. I have gone out of my way to assist a request from a genuine and realistic minded group or individual. Even if the shire could not assist, other contacts I had were prepared to help.

    On another point, I agree with our fellow contributor that certian fractions in the “Animal welfare industry” whilst expecting to have thier point of veiw heard, do not take critisism well or are willing to listen to another persons point of view if it differs from thier own. this blog and many other Facebook pages are a clear demonstration of this. Not only this is ignorant but does not give the cause any credibility. And lets face it, some people under the animal welfare banner are doing quite well out of this.

    I belive there is a right to free speech under the Westminster system of government, however this freedom allocated to a citizen of this country is not permitted with certian single issue groups. This rewstriction of right is often masquraded by a policy within both the public and private sectors as “confidentiality agreement”.

    The issue first posted is not only restricted to local government but across the whole ‘industry”

    if your group has mavericks (as most volunteer organisations do) and a poor reputation, no set policies or procedures or make threats or outlandish statements, dont expect to be taken seriously.

    Statuary regulation and licencing is a way to start. Proactive community involment and sponsorship will promote your cause if ligitmate. Find a person worthy of being a Patron. the structure needs t be put in place by regulation and licencing first of all. then the group needs to build a organistion that has purpose and gain respect from the rlavent authorities and community alike.

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