“Someone has to be an advocate for the animals and that’s what I see as my role”: Kirsty Seksel

The article below, Pet Project,  is from the Dubbo Week-ender that appeared on July 14th 2012.

Please download it here: petProjectDubboWeekender_July12

Whilst we certainly agree with the sentiment of allowing residents of aged care facilities to keep their pets, there are some alarming messages embedded in the article that those involved in companion animal advocacy and rescue will need to pay attention to.

Firstly,  printed articles like this get out to a very wide readership;  5000 copies are distributed, and then there is the e-version which will go to many readers. Rescue groups and animal welfare advocates are just not competing with this.

Kirsty Seksel (ACAC)  has managed to get herself into this article and is using it as a vehicle to send some messages that we should not under-estimate.

(If you want to know more about ACAC, read this here and here )

These are the important points from this article.

as president of the  Australian Companion Animal Council (ACAC) the nation’s peak body for the pet care industry” . Message: ..listen to us….

“…… among a range of factors ACAC is investigating in an attempt to arrest the declining level of pet ownership in Australia. According to the non-profit organisation, between 1994 and 2009 Australia experienced a 22 percent increase in human population, whilst at the same time there was a 10 per cent decrease in the number of pet dogs and 20 percent decrease in number of pet cats

Message: They are very concerned about declining owned –animal numbers. We know this; this is a drum Seksel and others have been banging for a very long time. The Vet Associations are very concerned about declining owned pet numbers. Obviously it will affect their businesses. The massive numbers of un-owned animals in pounds and shelters are not of concern to them – there is no money in pound animals. That is the whole point of the messages that Seksel is sending in this article.

Seksel (The ACAC representative on the NSW Taskforce) says that “the responsibility for many of the deaths (in pounds) can be laid at the door of people who breed dogs and cats without thinking of the consequences”.

Fine, we can agree with that, but then she goes on to say “We need to breed animals that are suitable as pets and that’s a big issue”.

Now we agree with that statement, but what she is not saying is that she is laying a path to the Breeders (……. who are members of ACAC). She is NOT saying – if you want a pet, get it from your pound or RSPCA or AWL. ( My personal view, I have no problem with responsible breeders, but let’s empty the pounds first…) READ MORE HERE

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The curse of Christmas…….

“I’m a volunteer and committee member for an organisation call K9 Dog Rescue near Mandurah Western Australia. We’re fully volunteer operated and donation funded. We are currently licensed to hold 40 dogs, but we hover around the 28-30 on average.  Last year we found homes for over 700 pound dogs, and we collect from the local pounds on Mondays and Wednesdays, usually taking in 10-12 dogs a week (excluding puppies).

After Christmas, this year our office was swamped with calls from people wanting to surrender Christmas dogs. We’re talking 2 weeks afterwards. Some of the other people came and just dumped dogs on our doorstep.

One story I can tell you: There was a young idiot there one day waiting with a puppy, it was the last of a litter of 11 (obviously the runt), that he hadn’t been able to sell over Christmas obviously. He wanted us to take it. The office staff asked him if he was going to get his dog steralised now…………. “NO! I want another litter” was his reply.  

Honestly, this is what we are dealing with.”

DRP Comment: this true story just highlights the attitude of irresponsible back yard breeders

If you faced this individual, what would you say to him?

The numbers continue to increase…….. 2007-2008 NSW pound statistics available

We’ve just completed a summary of all the available pound and shelter statistics for NSW. As predicted by rescue groups, the number of animals entering pounds has increased yet again, from 118,558 in the previous year, to 126,004. Total animals killed was up from 56,531 to 63,651…..and that figure doesn’t include the greyhound population, so you can add a few thousand more to that figure. Download the summary figures here…..

It beggars belief that DPI Minister Ian MacDonald has this to say “A great deal of progress has been made recently on the issue of welfare of animals in pet shops and the government is ensuring that there will be ongoing improvements in pet breeding activities. Consequently the NSW Government does not support an inquiry into the pet industry” (Read more here…)

CEO Kristina Vesk of the Cat Protection Society says this:

 “We knew it was a disaster but looking at the numbers, the scale is just enormous.

We can’t measure how many cats were ‘dumped’ but we imagine it was considerable seeing the enormous increase in cats taken to pounds and shelters. And I hate to say it, but we think that there are people who kill kittens and cats ‘at home’ (ie not taking them to the vet to be euthanased but doing things like drowning litters of kittens).

The outcome for cats is always worse than for dogs.

From the figures, this means 39% of dogs entering pounds are euthanased versus 68% of cats. It is interesting too, that more cats are taken to RSPCA, AWL & CPS than pounds – I am not surprised. Councils seem to feel obliged to ‘deal’ with dogs (fearing the reaction around dangerous dogs etc) but often tell people that they ‘can’t do anything’ about cats.

This means that they push the ‘cat problem’, and the cost of dealing with it, onto charities. Reasons people gave for bringing cats to us and not their pound included being directed to do so by their council (rather than even telling people what their local pound was) or the pound insisting on payment of a fee that people either could not or would not pay. 

Hence we have ended up with a record number of cats that there simply weren’t homes or room for. And we ended up deficit funding just trying to manage the situation. As I said, no more. We can’t afford to act as a de facto pound for all of Sydney’s poor homeless cats. At the end of the day though, the outcome for the cats is the same. Too many cats + not enough homes = a death sentence.

 We have written to the Minister for Local Government pointing out that councils are contributing to feline overpopulation by releasing undesexed kittens from pounds (7 of 14 we surveyed do this). They include the cost of desexing in the price, but rely on people to go back some time later to the facility or a vet to have the cat desexed (typically advising this be done at 5-6 months). Too late! Those kittens can already have kittens of their own (and typically do). Early age desexing has been safely practised for more than 20 years – what are these pounds doing?

Kristina Vesk, CEO, Cat Protection Society NSW

DRP Comment: So what progress has the NSW Department of primary Industry actually made…..that will stop the killing?

What do you think of the progress Government has made this year? Should we invite Government Ministers to be the ones to make the decision as to who lives and who dies next Friday??

If you live in States outside of NSW, can you tell us what you know about the numbers in your State?

Do you know anyone who is surrendering their pet?

Pounds and shelters report increasing numbers of people surrendering their pets . Many think they are doing the right thing.

What they are often not told is that their pet stands a good chance of being euthenased, and not rehomed. Just look at the numbers. Some are easy to rehome, some are not. If it’s a cat, its chances drop markedly. If it’s old, or “ugly” its chances drop markedly. If the pound doesn’t have an effective volunteer and rescue group working alongside it – as many don’t – its chances drop markedly. Some pounds are good at explaining this to the owner, some are not……

Underdog’s article says:

“So why do these animals end up in the pound? What can we do to reverse this? If you are considering surrendering your pet to a pound or shelter- STOP. There may be avenues you have not yet explored.

Many of the dogs currently on death row were much loved family pets at some point in their life. Despite the fact that the dogs may be well behaved, wonderful companions many do not make it out of the pound or shelter alive……..” Read the rest here….

We asked Underdog Training to produce this useful short information sheet as a resource you can print off and give to anyone you know thinking of surrendering their pet. Go here to download the article..

DRP comment: we hope this is a useful resource for pound staff, pound volunteers and anyone who knows a person or family who feel they need to give up their animal. It won’t solve every situation, but you never know.

What situations have you come across?