2 October 2018

Party hats, cake and reflections as RSPCA-ACT turns 63

| Michelle Robertson
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Staff celebrating RSPCA-ACT Birthday

Staff celebrating RSPCA-ACT Birthday. Photo: Alison Maddalena.

We had the rare opportunity to discard the agenda at the weekly RSPCA-ACT staff meeting in favour of party hats and cake for breakfast as we celebrated our 63rd birthday.

Human relationships with pets have a long and profound history. Studies suggest that dogs were first domesticated in Europe during the Upper Palaeolithic age about 32,000 years ago. Dogs were seen to be of great use and domesticated long before cats. Comparatively, cats become domesticated around 12,000 years ago. In addition (and in true cat form), we have reason to believe that cats sort of domesticated themselves. But the sagacious ways of cats are another story for another article!

The RSPCA is a brand that most of us, our parents and even our grandparents grew up with. As the new CEO less than two months into the job, I feel privileged to be part of something so worthy. In 1871, the first Australian RSPCA opened in Victoria. Fast-forward nearly a hundred years, and the ACT shelter opened in Weston. Over the past six decades, we estimate that just under 200,000 animals would have come through our Shelter doors.

This birthday week, the team took the time to reflect on our contribution to the community and the animals that we love. As with most things at the shelter, there have been extreme highs and very low lows.

Fluffy, the party animal.

Fluffy, the party animal.

In the last financial year, we reported an overall rehoming rate of over 91 percent. This rate is one of the highest in the entire country. We had just under 3,000 animals coming through our Shelter doors. Finding happily-ever-afters, rehoming and the creation of second chances is, and always will be, one of our top priorities.

Our Executive Manager of Animal Welfare reminded us just how far we have come. A short ten years ago, it was not uncommon to have to euthanise animals for space, especially during high volume periods such as fireworks seasons. Thankfully, this is in stark contrast to our position today, where we never euthanise for space.

Caring for shelter animals and finding forever-homes takes an immense effort from every area of our Shelter. It would not be possible without the goodwill and support of the Canberra community. Together, we have made significant progress in animal welfare, but there is still much to do.

We are therefore thrilled to announce a Region Media partnership. It is vital for us, as a local animal welfare charity, to have these rich platforms and channels provided by Region Media to advocate for animal welfare.

For the past 63 years, we have worked hard to shape and uphold our beliefs, and we look forward to what we can achieve over the next 63 years in partnership with the Canberra community.

The RSPCA believes that we should treat animals humanely. We view animals as sentient creatures capable of responding to human care and attention. Such care should be marked by sympathy, consideration, compassion and tenderness towards animals.

For more information about our work or how you can support the RSPCA please visit: https://www.rspca-act.org.au/donate

Michelle Robertson is CEO of the RSPCA-ACT. In addition to her for-purpose and community sector experience, she holds varied executive experience gleaned across a broad range of business sectors. Michelle shares licks and cuddles from their rescue dog, Bowie, with her family.

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