OPINION: Poor rescue groups shame rich RSPCA

EVERY year thousands of companion animal rescue volunteers save thousands of dogs and cats from pounds and shelters across the state.

These community-based rescue groups don't have any of the resources or financial backing that the RSPCA enjoys, yet when they can co-ordinate with a council-run pound the results are magnificent.

In our region alone, Wyong Council Animal Care Facility has a kill ratio of 12 per cent, while Muswellbrook's facility has one of 4 per cent for dogs.

Meanwhile the RSPCA NSW, with an overall kill rate of over 50 per cent, continues to make excuses for ignoring the community's expectations.

The rescue groups re-home thousands of cats and dogs every year, akin to the numbers of the RSPCA. These groups are major players in the companion animal field and have a significant part to play.

So it was extremely disappointing that not one rescue group or representative was accepted on the government's companion animal taskforce.

This taskforce was formed, in part, to try to reduce the number of animals euthanised in this state every year. The organisation that destroys more animals than any other single institution is the RSPCA. Yet it was on this taskforce, whereas rescue groups, the major player in the saving and re-homing of animals, were not.

Vet and member of state parliament, Andrew Cornwell, the taskforce chairman, was lobbied by a large number of the rescue groups, to no effect.

Lobbying the responsible government ministers was likewise fruitless.

In the circumstance I am not surprised by the comments of Mr Cornwell in supporting the RSPCA, even though some feel it has outdated practices, including the objectionable behavioural test, while rescue groups expert in modern practices were marginalised.

With an overall kill rate exceeding 50 per cent, it is disconcerting to know that the RSPCA made more than $10 million profit last year, received a $7.5 million government grant, and holds more than $30 million in shares and other investments.

Council-run pounds, which have small budgets, and rescue groups that are constantly broke can achieve far greater results.

They deal with exactly the same type of animals under the same conditions as the RSPCA.

Yet the contrasting results couldn't be more alarming.

We believe the RSPCA NSW must review and reform its practices and policies voluntarily, especially considering it can well afford it - before calls for governmental intervention become commonplace.

This becomes even more evident when we compare the NSW RSPCA branch with its ACT counterpart.

The RSPCA ACT has reported a kill ratio of a mere 6.5 per cent.

Clearly something is wrong in NSW.

None of our criticism is aimed at RSPCA volunteers and workers - our criticisms are aimed at the leadership by RSPCA senior management and board, who seem to think everything is fine.

We argue that it is not.

David Atwell is the vice-president of the Society of Companion Animal Rescuers.

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