Comments on the members of the NSW Companion Animal Taskforce 2012

The following text is taken from the Deathrowpets submission to the NSW CA Taskforce public discussion document, June 2012. It sets out our perspectives on the stacking of the Taskforce membership with members predominantly having strong commercial vested interests in the pet industry. The document contains many links to various documents created by these organisations that should be on the public record. This submission will be made available to the public by the NSW Taskforce.

Appendix to Deathrowpets submission to NSW Companion Animal Taskforce public discussion document 2012

As part of our submission, we wish to comment on membership of the Taskforce. Membership of the Taskforce has a significant context to the findings and recommendations set out in the discussion paper.

(Underlined references below are hyperlinks to documents)

Australian Companion Animal Council (ACAC),

An industry body with strong commercial vested interests in maintaining high numbers of animals in the market; specifically established to counter the growing voice of public opinion and advocacy which seeks to stop the killing of animals in pounds and shelters; specifically established to protect the commercial interests of pet industry members; no experience whatsoever in developing strategies to increase Rehoming rates and reduce killing rates in pounds and shelters.

Main focus is to promote the value and numbers of pets in Australian households. Promotes “scientific research” as rationale for arguments. They continually advocate “more research”..and of course they will want to be paid to do it.

The President, Kirsty Seksel, is openly opposed to early age desexing. She also runs an active veterinary behavioural service Sydney Animal Behaviour Service.

The fact that they self-proclaim themselves as the “peak body for Companion Animals” and have given themselves a professional sounding name should not fool the Ministers into believing that they have the interests of the animals that find themselves in pounds and shelters.

In the past 7 years they have only ever objected to any moves to regulate the industry and we have no reason to believe that that have any interest today other than protecting their members’ commercial interests.

For more information, see (link to “who are the ACAC?”) :

K.Seksel: Will cat decline threaten vet jobs.; article, the Veterinarian

Briefing notes for Minister Macdonald – objections by groups originating ACAC

Peak bodies objections to Bill, – objections by “peak bodies”

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

Nine questions for ACAC, Deathrowpets letter (never replied to)

ACAC are very concerned about declining ownership of pets in Australia and even convened a conference in September 2011 on the subject and presented a paper called “Putting pets back in our lives – how declining pet ownership is impacting society and economy.

The paper is worth reading as it has good ideas for helping people to have pets, but the solution is clearly focussed on revenue building, rather than saving lives. In fact, the latter is not mentioned once.

 Australian Veterinary Association

The AVA is an industry body that supports the professional AND COMMERCIAL interests of vets across NSW. Whilst individual vets who may or may not be members of AVA, are concerned with the very high numbers of animals killed in NSW Pounds and Shelters, the AVA is not. It has no interest or experience in developing strategies to a) reduce the number of animals that find their way into pounds/shelters and b) increase significantly Rehoming rates of these animals. It is primarily concerned with protecting vet jobs.

Vets have been concerned for many years in the declining rates of animal ownership in Australia, hence their membership of ACAC (??). And they have consistently objected to any proposals by NSW Independent Minister Clover Moore’s efforts to create change in NSW Animal Welfare.

We conclude that the AVA will not be seen to do anything that damages prospects for increasing vet jobs and business.  Clearly that would prove negative to maintaining or increasing their membership levels – a prime objective of any industry association.

Vets as a collective have a clear business involvement at every single level of the pet industry supply chain (from birth of animals right through to destruction of unwanted animals). This vested interest must be recognised by the Ministers.

We can find only one reference to a positive approach to companion animal killing, and that was 16 years ago:

“The issue of unwanted animals: Adopting a strategic and practical approach”;  Lawrie, Gaal, Withers, Widdison and Awad; Urban Animal Management Conference Proceedings 1996

2 of the recommendations FROM 16 YEARS AGO:

1)    “…….the most important strategy that we can implement is to gather comprehensive national statistics and conduct proper analysis and research using those statistics to measure the effect of work that is currently being done.

Has NEVER been acted on, (such is the urgency with which the AVA has on this matter),  and

2)    It is clear that any program to deal with UCA must have a substantive educational component. It is my opinion that education is more cost effective than subsidised desexing.

As we will show in our submission, the “educational components” which are set out in the Taskforce discussion document, have been an ABJECT FAILURE, as evidenced by the very high numbers of animals that find their way into NSW pounds/shelters and subsequently killed.

As with ACAC, of which AVA are a member, they seem to have spent more time objecting to any proposals for reducing animals in the community and reducing pound killing, than coming up with strategies to stop the killing.

It is of note that the veterinary industry creates revenue  at every single stage of the pet breeding supply chain, even at the end where many vets are contracted for pound killing. Whilst we have the greatest of respect for the majority of vets who care for our animals, it will be obvious to any observer that the Association will do nothing that is seen to impact negatively on vet jobs and commercial interests


Are we desexing ourselves out of a job?  Baldock, C.

Effect of declining owned cat population on veterinary practices in Sydney; McGreevey et al; Australian Veterinary Journal, 2002

Key concerns regarding the bill, AVA document in response to  Independent Minister Clover Moore, proposed Animals Regulation of Sale Bill 2007

Dogs NSW

Dogs NSW, as an association, are primarily concerned with membership and furthering the aims of breeding of pure breed dogs.

Dogs NSW have no history or experience whatsoever in developing strategies to reduce breeding numbers or increase Rehoming rates of pound/shelter animals.

There are individual breed-specific groups who do a stellar job in Rehoming unwanted dogs of their chosen breed type, but these are not representative of Dogs NSW.

Dogs NSW have a history of countering strategies suggested to stop the killing. As for other Associations they will do nothing that impacts negatively on the abilities of their members to practice their craft.

Dogs NSW have immediately gone out to their members to negate and undermine one of the key strategies recommended by the Taskforce, of which they are a member:



“The  Taskforce  proposal  has  the  potential  to  add  a  further  tier  of  registration  on  Dogs  NSW  Breeders  which would undoubtedly bring with it unnecessary and unjustifiable further regulation and costs.   Dogs NSW  Members need to be one voice in opposing it.” 

T L Couchman 

President Dogs NSW , 25 May 2012

Source: Proposed DP member response, May 2012, Dogs NSW


 “It is very important that Dogs NSW Breeders and Members register an objection to Option 1 contained within this Discussion Paper. 

This information will also be uploaded to our website and Facebook page and you are asked to cross post this email to ensure that as many Members as possible are fully aware of the existence of the NSW Companion Animals Taskforce Discussion Paper and are afforded an opportunity to submit their comments.
Thank you.

Regards     Christine Davis  DOGS NSW CEO”

Source: email to Members, May 2012

Clearly, Dogs NSW are primarily concerned with ensuring that member’s breeding practices are not interfered with.

Breeders, as a collective, are the people responsible to bringing large numbers of animals into the world. Whether they are “regulated” professional ethical breeders, “regulated” unprofessional unethical breeders,  grey hound racing industry breeders,  puppy farmers, farmers, back yard breeders, or family “one litter for the kids” breeders – they ALL contribute to the very high number of animals born into the front end of the animal supply chain.

Dogs NSW and many of their members constantly claim that it is not their animals that end up in pounds etc, failing completely to acknowledge any responsibility and accountability for their party in the total market breeding supply chain.

Dogs NSW have known about the problem for many years and have constantly objected to initiatives suggested to stop the problem. If Dogs NSW wish to protect their interests as a professional breeder group, they have had ample time to create strategies to stop the other groups mentioned above from breeding……but they have not.

Only now that their interests are threatened, are they reacting, and predictably, it is to undermine a key recommendation of the Taskforce……….. of which it is a member. In our view this is shameful, and we hope that the Chairman of the Taskforce with censure Dogs NSW for this action.


Letter from Clover Moore to Dogs NSW,

Peak bodies objections to Bill, – objections by “peak bodies” including Dogs NSW

Letter from Cat Rescue to Dogs NSW


Pet Industry Association Australia (PIAA)

PIAA is an industry association, which presumably does a stellar job in representing the pet industry as a whole. However, when it comes to pet shops it is significantly concerned with the poor numbers of pet shops that have become members of the PIAA. Thus we have observed that PIAA has used the “threat of banning pet shops from selling live animals” as a vehicle to develop strategies to encourage pet shop members ( ie “we’ll protect you…if you become a member.”).

PIAA has no history or experience whatsoever in decreasing breeding rates or increasing Rehoming rates of pound/shelter animals.

They are an association concerned with ensuring high numbers of animals in the community and have no interest in pound/shelter animals other than as a source of competition for their members.


The RSPCA NSW is much mistrusted by many in the Rescue Group community. It is seen to have significant financial resources, government funding, and undeserved public support through its significant PR efforts  (“all animals great and small”…..).  It garners significant bequests and donations, and yet it has extraordinarily poor animal Rehoming rates, inconsistent with its size and resources.

RSPCA National cat and Dog statistics










Total Dogs










Dogs killed
























Total Cats










Cats killed






















From RSPCA Australia National Statistics 2010-2011

It seemingly plays the “middle ground” between all the public, industry and government stakeholders, and thus fails to be a leading strategist on stopping the problem of over 50,000 animals killed in NSW each year.

RSPCA NSW is known to be strongly litigious in protecting its business interests, even towards Rescue Groups who publically criticise its way of working.

Animals are their business, and without animals they would have no business.

Draw your own conclusions.

Animal Welfare League NSW (AWL NSW),

The AWL NSW has over recent years, through the abysmal efforts of their previous CEO, had a very poor reputation as an organisation willing and able to reduce killing rates and increase Rehoming rates.

This will now change. We believe that the new management led by Tim Vasudeva, will have a reinvigorated effect on the organisation’s efforts and abilities over the coming years.

 Cat Protection Society of NSW (CPS),

The CPA NSW has a very strong reputation and experience in Rehoming high numbers of cats that come into their care.

Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW (LGSA),

Australian Institute of Local Government Rangers (AILGR),

We don’t know anything about these Groups, but we know that Rangers are generally concerned with enforcement of legislation and protection of the public. We doubt if the Association and Institute has any real experience or involvement in reducing killing rates in pounds/shelter.

If they have, then the terrible track record of over 50,000 animals killed each year in NSW show that they have been abject failures, and in our view, likely part of the problem. There are significant opportunities for improvements in how Rangers work with the public on animal welfare matters. (See Submission)

Summary of conclusions:

The taskforce is highly skewed to members with strong vested commercial and hobby interests, and little if any experience in a) reducing breeding numbers and b) increasing rehoming rates of pound/shelter animals.

Of the members, we have confidence in contributions from only 2 who we know to have a strong focus on life saving that is AWL NSW with its new leadership, and CPA NSW.

The lack of membership of any Rescue Groups (of which there are very many in NSW), together with the observations above, means that the Taskforce is strongly flawed in its composition.

As someone once famously said:

“Would you want a tobacco company to advise government on public health policies?”

Obviously not.

Yet that is exactly what has happened with this “Taskforce”.

We urge the Ministers to recognise these circumstances surrounding Taskforce membership as the context to the options recommended by the Taskforce, and our own responses to those options.

DRP Comment

This document should be read in conjunction with the media release by Doggie Rescue NSW.  These two documents combined explain why many of the Taskforce recommendations are focussed on strategies that will increase revenue generating opportunities and hit responsible owners in the hip pocket.


5 thoughts on “Comments on the members of the NSW Companion Animal Taskforce 2012

  1. cherry Leonard July 5, 2012 / 6:27 pm

    ++The income vested animal revenue organisations, vets,petshops, rspca, breeders, all blame the subsidising sterilisation organisation for the decline in pet ownership. The fact is those that require financial help to sterilise their animal (in our case cats) already have the pet, but due to the lack of homes available they will either dump the kittens at an industrial site, posibbly with mum or give to anyone that knocks on their door. The decline in pet ownership is with the good owners who would spend anything to help their cat but all say cat ownership due to anti neighbours and council fines it is all becoming too hard and too stressful.when their pet dies they will not replace it as pet owners

  2. Catty Bates July 26, 2012 / 3:55 am

    The Cat Protection Society of NSW is a resource gobbler. Over a 50% kill rate, nearly $700,000 a year in wages and a membership left in the dark with no forum for input. A board that no one can get near and a President who seems to think she works for the CEO. Mmmm. I’m sure they’ll say all the right things… they’re good at that, but word on the street… they lack true substance as a welfare group. I heard them described as the Cat Destruction Society… And I’m tired of this “respectability” they have, probably based on years past rather than the current regime. The locals are folksy about “their” local cattery, but other than the yuppies going after cheap desexing, no one really analyses what the CPS DOES. They wash their hands of the colony cat’s plight, they don’t help any local campaigns… over a million a year in income and it’s going to the employees… two managers and a CEO for a small shelter. $90, 000 in a year on vehicles. Riiiight. Whose vehicles? Oh, and if they decide to move themselves to take in extra animals… then you eat up the overtime bill without question. No one can donate some overtime, obviously. That would be like… charitable and selfless. Better to keep the rejection rate high if you want to keep the overtime bill low.

    Curiously, they seem to have added a “no kill” section. Let’s hope it’s not more “spin” that they excel in, and is true. No, wait! They are just taking the prerogative of rejecting more animals. 1000 cats taken in the 2010-11 year. Right. Exactly? Their numbers need to be monitored. Fat Cat Protection Society, more like.

  3. veterinary journal July 27, 2012 / 2:29 am

    That is such a good idea and we hope lots of people take advantage of it. We have never seen anything like that advertised around here.

  4. Batty Cat August 29, 2012 / 7:15 pm

    Catty do you even know what you are talking about????? Where did you get your stats from? I adopted a cat recently from the Cat Protection Society of NSW, they are indeed a NO KILL shelter with a fanatastic set up. 50% euth rate? Sure you arent thinking of CPS Victoria. I suggest you really research your allagations before slandering a welfare charity. Cat Protection NSW are not a government pound facility so they don’t even have to accept cats at all, luckily they do to give extra cats a chance at life!!!!

  5. Catty Bates September 18, 2012 / 8:22 pm

    Yeah, I do know what I’m talking about, the numbers are in their own annual reports, the attitude is in their own annual reports and their no kill policy, whilst great for the cats accepted, those in the past of not been recipients of such mercy. Prior to their no kill status, their death rate was at 50%. But I guess that doesn’t go into “Cat Affairs”.

    Yes, fantastic set up. All that real estate for how many cats at a time? Other groups would be gagging to have that much space, and they wouldn’t be filling it with offices.

    I love what the CPS stands for. I love that there is a small shelter in the inner west doing its bit. But I question the current regime and their choices and decisions in how they spend a massive income. And there isn’t any means for the much vaunted membership to participate in policy. The board appear to be rubber stamping financial choices. Do you think it’s wise to spend $90,000 in a single year on cars? Don’t you think that is overstretching in a single department, a massive commitment of money for a small shelter to make IN A SINGLE YEAR? When the annual vet bill stands at about $150, 000, that car figure starts to look pretty dear.

    Did you get to meet the two managers and the CEO when you adopted your cat? Did you find out what they all do to justify a salary for such a small shelter?

    They have the title of INC after their name. Go look up what getting Incorporated involves, take out membership, then wait to get the call for your participation. Oh… feel free to donate, of course, they do have all those paid staff members to look after…

    So. I did my reading. Have you done yours, Batty Cat?

    Non profit orgs set up boards and membership in order that said organisation maintains its integrity and operates according to it’s charter. I think the Cat Protection Society, NEW SOUTH WALES, yes, the one in Newtown, has lost it’s way, and they have become burdened by the cost of their own infrastructure. But silence will not change that. Feeling warm and fuzzy when you adopt a cat, isn’t looking hard at where the money is going every year. I think their choices are questionable, and I have said so. As I’m perfectly entitled to do. And I have used their figures. Where else do you think those numbers came from? And as they are self published by the CPS…

    They do not means test their cheap desexing. Obviously anyone can argue whether it’s yuppies or not taking advantage… I’m open to being corrected on that front. But… they don’t means test cheap desexing. That’s a fact, whaddya want from me?

    The overtime comment… from the President’s report, obviously aologising to anyone bothering to read it, why the overtime bill was up. I find it questionable that in order to save extra cats in a year, you need to pay overtime. Batty Cat, you are right, it’s a CHARITY, with a, according to them, base of 1700 members and 150 volunteers, but they pay overtime to save extra cats? Don’t you find that a joke? I do. I think it’s scandalous. But the current regime think nothing of it, and the next year, instead of saving extra cats and getting volunteers in, they choose not to save the extra cats. It was too expensive, I suppose. Better to look after the employees, not bother with the volunteers and membership and, well… bugger the cats. They aren’t called the Employee award wages Society. This is what I mean about them having lost focus on why they even exist in the first place. It’s not jobs for the girls. It’s a cat rescue organisation.

    And whilst we love the idea of no kill, and it’s nice to know that a cat taken in will live its life, but truly, all it means is that the RSPCA’s kill rate will increase. It’s just shifting the stats around, and will bring down their cat care bill every year because it means they will be taking in less cats. They keep one cat for six months, that’s only one desexing, 3 vaccinations, worming, fleaing and food. No kill means that give other cats have been rejected, so that’s five less desexings, 15 less vaccinations… you get where I’m going? Call me a cynic, but truly, to either have a kill rate of 50% or no kill rate… why wasn’t there any middle ground? Keep the cats longer, make room to hold more cats at a given time… It’s what other shelters do. I don’t denigrate them being a No Kill shelter, but it doesn’t make them saints. I just think it helps meet their agenda of using a very small portion of their income on the cats rather than on everything else. (Like the cars, the wages, the salaries… I wouldn’t mind checking out the catering arrangements for the board meetings… Cat Affairs is a very pretty, glossy publication, that doesn’t say much about their day to day running… why so glossy, then?)

    Am I the only one who took the time to plow through their annual reports on this planet?

    They boast of their (extremely costly) annual audit, but an auditor’s jon isn’t to question how the money is spent, but to just make sure it was spent on what the organisation said it was spent on. So, when they say nearly $700, 000 a year on wages, the auditors job is just ot make sure that indeed, that sum WAS spent on wages. They don’t question the lack of entrepreneurial skill in being willing to pay that much in wages every year for a small, non government funded welfare charity. That’s not an auditor’s job. It’s meant to be the board’s… but they obviously think this is kosher, so every year, they give the CEO the thumbs up to carry on. Then we’re back to the impotent membership… Maybe branch meetings once a month would cure some of this? I’m sure many of their members would like that.

    I know I’m taking on a sacred cow, but I think those who started the CPS would be chagrined, to say the least, at the lack of reality and grass root cat welfare that is being done these days.

    As for “Cat Destruction Society”… it was said to me so I quoted it. Some of the names Pets Paradise, etc, cop on this forum… oh, but that’s okay, that’s a business and we can go after them. Can’t touch a cat charity that is full of hot air and, I think, a complete lack of substance.

    1.3 million a year in running costs is their boast. Yep. And I have issues with that. Why don’t you?

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