Animal cruelty reports to the RSPCA ACT have increased by almost 25 per cent in the last financial year, from 1053 recorded complaints in 2018/19 to 1301 in 2019/20.
Part of the rise has been attributed to increased reporting of cruelty, which has been welcomed by RSPCA ACT Chief Executive Michelle Robertson.
“We appreciate when the community gets in touch and alerts us to potential animal welfare or cruelty complaints as it enables us to respond and take action,” Ms Robertson said.
“Because we have a small team with a large area to cover, we triage jobs, with precedence given to the most urgent and serious jobs but each and every complaint we received is followed up and investigated.”
RSPCA inspectors seized 83 animals in the 2019/20 financial year, most of which were dogs. A further 163 animals were surrendered to the inspectors.
“[We] hope to eventually see a reduction of animal welfare and cruelty cases in the ACT as more and more people realise that animals are sentient beings, and are educated on caring for their pets in a more loving and responsible way,” she said.
Two convictions – one for aggravated cruelty and the other for failure to provide appropriate shelter and accommodation, and failure to provide an opportunity to display normal behaviour – were handed down while a further 40 written directions were complied with and did not need to proceed to prosecution.
Almost 300 jobs were investigated for having inappropriate accommodation and more than 130 cases of confinement were investigated, nine of which involved balconies.
“Not every job RSPCA ACT Inspectors attend will result in the immediate seizure of an animal. We also do not believe that each case necessitates prosecution,” Ms Robertson said.
“Our key objective is the prevention of cruelty to animals, and to achieve this, we need to work with the community and pet owners, to change behaviour and educate them on the appropriate ways to care for their pets.
“However, when prosecution as a last resort is necessary, we hope that magistrates would start passing down upper threshold penalties in line with community expectations as we believe sentencing with regards to animal welfare and cruelty offences is far too lenient.”
While adopting a pet can have numerous positive benefits for families, individuals and workplaces, the decision to adopt should be taken very seriously with considerations given to the animal’s lifestyle and living requirements, the RSPCA says.
“Over and above the basic requirements of food, water and shelter, animals need your time, love and enrichment to ensure they have the chance to live their greatest lives,” Ms Robertson said.
“Stamping out animal cruelty is a whole of community responsibility.”
Reports of animal cruelty can be made directly to the RSPCA ACT.
If you are considering adopting a pet from the RSPCA in the ACT, or are looking for more information, visit RSPCA ACT.
Alternatively, keep an eye out for the weekly Pets of the Week post from the RSPCA ACT on The RiotACT.