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Inquiry into Pounds in NSW - happening now


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There is some irony to the fact that the chair and deputy chair of the committee tasked with the Inquiry into NSW Pounds are the 2 major players who had legislation enacted last year that broke the system even more than it was before - Emma Hurst (AJP) and Abigail Boyd (GRNS).


The inquiry had it's first hearing last Tuesday, and another is scheduled  for December 15th. To say that some of the testimony was scathing regarding that recent legislation might be a bit of an understatement... lol!


Most interesting was Blue Mountains Council testimony regarding RSPCA pulling out of pound services in their LGA - and elicited some very pertinent questioning of RSPCA by Emily Suvaal (ALP) later in the day, which is quite entertaining to watch. Starts at 7h 22m into the video, if you want to skip straight to that.


All bar one council appearing as witnesses last Tuesday had major concerns about the Rehoming Bill that was enacted last year, and they didn't hold back on listing all the failings of it.


Submissions to the Inquiry can be found here... https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2970#tab-submissions


The transcript of the day's proceedings can be found here... https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2970#tab-hearingsandtranscripts


Documents referred to by Emily Suvaal in her questions to RSPCA can be found here... https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2970#tab-otherdocuments


Video of the day's proceedings can be found here...



Now we wait to see if Emma and Abigail stack the next hearing's schedule of witnesses with those sympathetic to their political agendas with regards to animal welfare (they call it "protection", which is a whole different ballgame) policy. Generally the lobby group I'm with - Animal Care Australia - would be included in these sort of hearings, as our member base covers around 400,000 pet owners. We aren't holding our breath waiting for an invite to testify in this inquiry though. I'm expecting to see a long list of rescue groups asking for government funding to help them deal with the fallout of the now irretrevably broken pound system - something that should only be accompanied with strict regulation of that industry IMHO.


Personally, I'd like to see the rescue industry funded properly for the important role they play in the homeless animal issue - however, there also needs to be some set (and enforceable) guidelines set for how that is achieved - if only to stop the numbers of well-meaning carers taking on more animals than they can adequately care for and rehome responsibly.



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I watched this yesterday - thanks for putting it up, I had no idea it was happening and I will keep an eye out for the next one. I really appreciated the evidence of most of those appearing, in particular Emeritus Professor Jackie Rand and both of the Australian Veterinary Association members. And WOW, Emma Hurst... would not say the word euthanise, had to use the emotive word "kill". Would not use the term "behavioural decline" in relation to dogs being housed in Pound facilities, instead repeatedly using the term "Kennel Rage". Was heartened to hear that no one repeated her terms, choosing instead to use terms like 'behavioural decline" which encompasses a wider range of unwanted behaviours and mental states, such as depression.


And I was pleased also that none of the qualified professionals identified 'over supply' of dogs as a problem to be targeted (by legislation). All of them hands down supported targeted measures aimed at assisting dog owners to keep their pets - noting that the housing crises and cost of living pressures and domestic violence were some of the most common reasons owners were surrendering their dogs.


Worthwhile listening carefully to the evidence of AVA on emotional burden on Vets involved with euthanising pound dogs. She was very clear that veterinary practitioners did (not) generally suffer ill effects of being involved in providing euthanasia services to pounds when there was involvement from intake, there was context for the action being taken, and when they were not simply called into a facility to euthanise en-masse dogs which they had no prior knowledge of. She makes some very careful distinctions in her evidence and would be good for people to understand these.


I was so pleased to hear that at least some shelters/ rescues were dedicating some of their capacity to supporting domestic violence victims and elderly people to keep their pets. To me this type of support is really valuable and prevents sound animals going into the system when they actually have loving owners facing hard times. Reputable Rescues are so important and they should be funded for facilities, consumables and training for their volunteers. 


RSPCA and Blue Mountains pound facility - what a rort! I am so glad they were questioned about that and will now have to provide further detail after taking a question on notice. Emma Hurst did not want to give more time to Emily Suuval, so funny to watch.


State Governments definitely need to seriously invest in better pound facilities and qualified staff and adequate staffing ratios so that animals are not destroyed emotionally by spending time in the system. Animal Welfare League came off as absolutely amazing, sitting beside the behemoth RSPCA, AWL guy seemed to give evidence of staggering achievements and outcomes with their measly $5 million dollar grant compared to what RSPCA has done with their whopping $20.5 million grant. RSPCA defends their swollen coffers by saying it is only responsible to operate with a buffer of three years operational costs in case something happens to put their operations at risk... just can't think of anything that might do that. 



Edited by Adrienne
edits in brackets for clarification and correction.
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54 minutes ago, Adrienne said:

She was very clear that veterinary practitioners did generally suffer ill effects of being involved in providing euthanasia services to pounds when there was involvement from intake, there was context for the action being taken, and when they were not simply called into a facility to euthanise en-masse dogs which they had no prior knowledge of.

 Error! Should read "She was clear that veterinary practitioners did NOT generally suffer ill effects of being involved in providing euthanasia services...".

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Blue Mountains Council should never have to "buy" back what was supplied by their residents who in good faith trusted rspca.   Don't forget the two shops also funded by the residents and included with the pound that had funded the running of the pound for decades until the rspca sold them and pocketed the money from them too, then said they had to close the pound as could not afford the running costs now the shops that had funded it were sold.


hypocritical monsters , pity it has taken decades for the mask to slip enough people can finally see what they really are.


I was told by a rspca member the  2000 AGM elections is when the peta members gained control of the board.


prior to that ANKC members could be members of the rspca, many served on committees.

The writing went on the wall when one dual ankc/rspca member became Chairman of RNSWCC.  Within days of the announcement of his election in the Daily Telegraph and the committee members (forget the exact year) he received a letter from the rspca cancelling his membership and returning his membership payment, ditto for another dual member named on the RNSWCC Board committee as well.



Edited by asal
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Very astute summation @Adrienne... so glad that you got exactly the same "vibe" from the hearing as I did. My involvement with a political lobby group (Animal Care Australia - ACA) that is trying to counter extremist animal rights groups having undue influence on animal welfare legislation sometimes has me seeing these things with a different eye to most of the general public.


Be aware though that the next hearing, scheduled for December 15th, may well be stacked with witnesses sympathetic to Emma's (and Abigail's) causes. Under normal circumstances, my group would be invited to be witnesses in inquiries of this nature, but it is definitely looking very much like we won't be invited to give testimony in this particular inquiry... and if that transpires, then there is a very big question as to why that needs to be asked.


ACA represents approximately 400,000 members from the whole spectrum of animal ownership - including breeders and pet owners. We were invited to participate in the vet shortage inquiry recently, and were subject to some rather nasty comment and questioning (by Abigail Boyd) relating to our submission with regards to our interactions with council pounds and their challenges with sourcing vets - all of the pounds we personally rang and asked questions of responded that most of the time they did NOT have issues sourcing vet services, with the exception of the most remote regions who don't have vet services available on a regular basis for even the general public. The fact that Abigail is now Deputy Chair of this pound inquiry which has so far seen fit to NOT invite ACA to testify is telling, wouldn't you think?


Interesting to note that desexing of animals as mandatory is NOT legislated in the Companion Animals Act. The Act makes provision for reduced registration costs for desexed animals, but it is NOT mandatory. The Rehoming Amendment Bill passed last year has put an onus on desexing animals released from pounds, but it also doesn't go so far as to mandate that under law, so pounds in areas where it may be hard to source vet services have the option to rehome animals from their pounds undesexed, and generally this is actually the case for those pounds.


Emma was most unimpressed with testimony from quite a few witnesses that the "over-supply problem" was NOT related to the activities of reputable registered breeders, but actually the largely unregulated and essentially underground activity of backyard breeders - considering that she has yet to put forward her new Puppy Farming Bill, this salient point would be a spanner in the works for any progress for that Bill.


Of greater concern is that Labor have their own plans for rewriting the pertinent areas of animal welfare legislation in NSW - as Victoria is doing right now. The general concensus is that NSW may wait to put their legislation forward until AFTER the federal government has finalised their legislation regarding an Office of Animal Welfare and Live Exports (currently happening), so we aren't expecting anything forthcoming on that front until maybe later in 2024. This means that Labor may well thwart Emma's and Abigail's animal welfare related bills with the vision that they want their own bill(s) to be the one(s) enacted in the future. It may pay to watch the Victorian progress of their new "Animal Care and Protection" Act progress, as NSW seems to have a tendency to think that Victoria is a "leader" in this sphere of legislation... *sigh*


Note the subtle change of terminology with regard to these new Acts... "Animal Welfare" has been replaced with "Animal Care and Protection"... which is telling as to the input from the animal rights movement, who have rebranded their policies as "Animal Protection" rather than "Animal Rights" (but the intent and policy stance is EXACTLY the same as it always was).



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Good to know about ACA, I will have a look at it! Just off the top of my head I am thinking there are already regulations in place across many areas and they are simply not being monitored and enforced. I don't think the answers are found in more regulation - certainly not before concerted efforts are made by way of sufficient funding and resourcing of those tasked with that work. 


Jeeze I'd like to see transparent longitudinal data on what is really going on with dogs and cats in Australia. Some things just don't add up. 



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