All things great and small
In Melbourne, Victoria 1871 there was a meeting held by members of the public to discuss the negative treatment of horses in colonial Victoria, specifically those located at Assembly Hall in Collins Street. This marked the first annual meeting of the Victorian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (VSPCA) with Sir William Foster Stawell at it’s head. This group of people helped animals, great and small, back to health and found them loving families. The rest of Australia soon followed Melbourne’s example and began shelters of their own. First it was Tasmania (1872), then New South Wales (1873), followed by South Australia (1875), Queensland (1883), and finally Western Australia (1892). After years of great work and service to the community and it’s animals the VSPCA was given the Royal Warrant in 1923 and became known as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
Fast forward 144 years to the present day and the RSPCA is still doing the good work that Sir William and the townsfolk of Melbourne started to an amazing standard. Over the past 10 years there has been nearly 3 million dogs, cats, horses, sheep, goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, and various wildlife rescued throughout Australia and over 500,000 of the animals have been re-homed, with nearly 600,000 of them reclaimed by their owners. During the 2013–2014 financial year alone the RSPCA re-homed almost 50,000 animals with 21,000 returned to their families out a total 127,304. Unfortunately some animals aren’t claimed by their owners or adopted out, these animals account for nearly 20% of all those rescued.
But what happens to the animals that are left behind at the RSPCA? Not every dog has it’s day, as is the case for some poor creatures, which means that they are left with one permanent option. Euthanasia. Any animal put down in a shelter is put down for a reason, and these reasons vary. Infection was the cause of nearly 1/4 of cats being put down at 3,818 in the 2013–2014 financial year, not nearly as many dogs were put to sleep for this reason, with 275 reports Australia wide of infection resulting in death. Medical reasons such as arthritis or organ failure play a part with nearly 3,000 cats and over 1,500 dogs suffering with these types of conditions before death. Behavioural issues are a big reason dogs are being put down in Australia, over 5,000 dogs (75% of all dog euthanasia cases) are being put down due to bad behaviour. The overpopulation of cats is rather prominent in Australia due to the majority of the animals being put down are cats. In some cases cats deaths outweigh dogs deaths 30:1, sometimes higher. This has been caused from owners neglecting to spay and neuter their animals, and because of this there are more and more cats having litters of kittens that are dropped off at shelters and more and more cats being killed.
These statistics may sound all bad, but that is not the case. In 2003–2004’s financial year the amount of fatal incidents at the RSPCA has dramatically reduced. Back then 64% of cats, 37.8% of dogs, and 58.81% of other animals would be put down. The amount of animals finding new homes has drastically increased in recent years too. In 2003–2004 28.8% of cats were re-homed, in recent years that has almost doubled to be a solid 52%. The amount of dogs finding new owners increased as well, but to not as big an extent as cats with now 37.1% up from 31.5%. Assorted other animals being adopted has doubled in the last 10 years, with 18.3% of them finding new families up from 9.2%.
Even under trying circumstances the RSPCA has done some amazing work in the past, and if things keep going the way they have with higher adoption percentages and lower kill rates I’m sure that Australia’s animal community will flourish into the future.