What the hell, Queensland?

awaiting_euth

Queensland, wake up.

If you have ever surrendered a pet to a shelter or bred (even ‘accidentally’) & sold/given away puppies & kittens without being a licenced breeder with papered purebreds (backyard breeder) – you should be made to work in the a big animal shelter or pound for just ONE day. See if you can handle the outcome of your shitty behaviour. Maybe if you had to see your failure through to the end, actually take responsibility for your actions and kill the animals yourself, you would think differently – instead of telling yourself ‘he’s a good boy, someone will come for him, and at least I didn’t dump him on the road’ – they won’t come for him, and stop justifying what you’ve done just because you could have done worse. That’s like saying ‘well I stabbed the guy but I mean – at least I didn’t shoot him!’. Your pet was fucked the moment you apparently decided his life was too inconvenient for you to worry about, and each litter you create causes the death of pound animals in your area and it’s time you woke up to that fact. If it wasn’t for backyard breeding and animal dumping, people would turn to rescues to adopt pets from instead of turning to the internet where they are handed out like balloons at the EKKA to whoever responds first to the ad. ‘To good home only’ – yeahhh for free/cheap when you haven’t done a yard inspection,  discussed their health treatment plans, haven’t desexed it and can’t know if they will ever be vaccinated etc… good effort mate but let’s leave the proper rehoming to the pros… you go get back on the couch now.

Maybe if you worked for these places just ONCE you would start working with rescues, go through the ads on Gumtree and help these animals find homes, and encourage your friends to get their pets desexed and raise awareness. That puppy you’re too stupid to train, that cat you ‘can’t’ keep; those litters of puppies and kittens that you ‘accidentally’ had – will likely never walk out of the shelter they’re dumped at. ‘Oh but it’s a purebred, and he’s SUCH a nice dog!’ HA we actually laugh at this stupidity – 25% of all dogs in shelters are purebred and if your dog is so nice why are you discarding it like a piece of used chewing gum. It won’t be so nice once it’s been in the shelter environment, trust me. Here is some info on what happens in MY area – the Toowoomba region.

In the face of what we are referring to now as a ‘homeless crisis’ with unwanted pets, in steps the small rescues – like mine, and many others out there who do incredible things. Off our own backs we scramble to ‘put a save on’ anything we can that is on death row in pounds. We run desexing campaigns. We take in surrenders so that they never reach the big corporations. It crushes the little guys that run them, eg I can’t remember my last haircut and my car loan is $6,000 behind because, well the rescues don’t stop coming – but we know we make a huge difference and it is what we live for. While I salute each large shelter out there for their efforts – I can not thank the little guys enough. We do it without the media supporting us. Without the donations. Without the publicity and government support. We run this gig ourselves and with our own small bands of supporters and vigilantes who get shit DONE, son. We cut as much of the supply to council and big shelters as possible. But why CAN’T we just leave it to the big guys? Why are we all in such a panic and screaming at people to ‘adopt, don’t shop!’ and desex?!

While the public is kept happy with positive news being screamed at them from large shelters like the RSPCA, it is no wonder people continue the way they do. But lets see what’s really happening here. The RSPCA Queensland state in their 2012/2013 annual report that 76% of all cats and dogs received were rehomed. That is; 29,771 came in, and only 7,727 were euthanised. So a 76% outbound rate all up is a pretty good number, right? Hmmm well not if you were to really look at it. Almost 8000 healthy Queensland animals dead in our biggest shelter organisation, NOT including all the animals put to sleep in pounds before the RSPCA was even offered them.

7,802 or 26% of the incomings for RSPCA Queensland, were council pound transfers. Unless pound staff are compassionate (and can get away with it) and will hold animals over for the RSPCA ‘picking day’, animals are put to sleep once their time is up. All councils have rules on how long they can hold them for. In the Toowoomba Region, a microchipped or tagged animal gets 5 days, and unchipped or untagged gets 3 days before the council will ‘endeavour to rehouse’ before it ‘may be’ euthanised.  Your abandoned pet is confined to a small cage with other barking or crying animals on all sides – the noise of despair is deafening. It will eat, sleep and shit in the same two metre square cell. It will be depressed and cry constantly for the family that abandoned it even though they don’t fucking deserve it. If your pet is lucky, there will be enough staff to take him/her for a walk. If not, it will simply get food slid under the door and its waste sprayed away with a pressure cleaner (which is terrifying, cold and loud).

The Toowoomba RSPCA visits the Toowoomba pound once or twice a week to pick what they will rehome, but as with every shelter their selections have to be made based on kennel availability, behaviour, and what vet work has currently been done ($$$). Unfortunately anything that jumps up too much, anything sick, aggro, undesirable or anything that needs a lot of vet work likely won’t be taken and will be euthanised immediately unless someone else like the AWL can help (which is rare as they face the same struggles).  If your dog is big, black, a working breed (kelpie, collie, cattle) or any of the “pigging” or “Bully” breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, wolfhound, arab etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door or left it in the pound. Those dogs just don’t get adopted. It doesn’t matter how ‘sweet’ or ‘well behaved’ you think they are. YOU don’t even want the fucking dog, what makes you think anyone else will?

Strangely enough, the record of council euthanasia for the Toowoomba region isn’t available to the public – probably because they know the figures would shock and disgust the public. All that they have available is the happy endings – the successfully rehomed animals that the RSPCA got from them. So you’ll just have to trust me when I say, the numbers are huge and yes, the RSPCA does an amazing job ON WHAT THEY CAN GET THEIR HANDS ON… but what about the rest. Why are all these animals dying? Why are they in the pounds and shelters in the first place and why is RSPCA, the first stop for rescue from the pound in my area, having to say no because they’re having so many direct surrenders?

Besides people who don’t properly identify their pets with microchips or name tags and therefore can’t be called if their animal strays, often people simply can/will not pay pound release fees. After that, the wilful surrenders come with these most common excuses: “We are moving and we can’t take it.” Really? Have you actually TRIED to find pet-friendly accommodation, or is this just a convenience thing? Or “The dog got bigger than we thought it would”. How big did you THINK a Bull Arab would get? “We don’t have time for her”. Really? I work a 12 hour day and still have time for my 3 dogs! “She’s chewing things and escaping but we have a massive yard, she’s untrainable”. Really… Lock yourself in your bathroom and never, ever leave. Do you think you’d maybe get a bit bored and start breaking shit/want to run away? Take the dog to the fucking park once in a while you muppet.

So your dog stays in the pound until its time is up and the RSPCA can’t take it, or develops some behavioural issue or illness that comes with a death sentence. So. Euthanasia isn’t as sweet as it is in those YouTube memorial videos. You don’t need to be a qualified vet to do it. Often the animal is pushed onto a table, held down and injected while struggling. It will ‘fall asleep’ while panicking, crying, twitching, and sometimes defecating on itself. Then the corpse is put in a garbage bag and stacked in a freezer with all the others. What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? Used for the schools to dissect and experiment on? You’ll never know and it probably won’t even cross your mind.

I work against these pointless deaths every day. I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and start educating yourselves and the public. Do your homework, and know exactly what you are getting into before getting a pet. These shelters and rescues exist because people just don’t care about animals anymore. They’re disposable. Animal shelters are an easy way out when you get tired of your dog (or cat), and when you drive off smiling because you ‘did the right thing’ by surrendering your dog to a small rescue just because WE don’t euthanise – just think of this. Your dog (most likely not desexed, vaccinated, chipped or wormed) is going to personally cost me $500 of my hard earned wage to get adoption-ready and you probably didn’t even give me its leash or bowls when you dumped it on me, much less a donation – thanks. Then I have to beg, plea and harass my friends into fostering it until hopefully, one day I can get it a home with an owner who will likely not pay more than $150 for it.

My friends are sick of me begging, my family is sick of me begging, my boyfriend is sick of me crying over it and I’m sick of living in a fucking shambles because all my money and time goes into cleaning up your mess. I have seen my rescue friends break from the stress, and I have been close myself… but guess what? Tomorrow I’ll do it again. And the next day. Until all you backyard breeding, animal-dumping little fucks get a GRIP and cut the crap. Because unlike you, I get it. I know what will happen to your pet if it goes to a pound or large rescue organisation. It IS up to small rescues like mine. We ARE the difference. We pick up the slack that the big ones can’t. WE are the change and we need you to get on side.

If you can’t adopt, foster. If you can’t foster, donate. If you can’t donate, volunteer. If you can’t volunteer, educate.

Go forth and desex, PLEASE.

(www.ndn.org.au for discounts!)

Jess

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65 thoughts on “What the hell, Queensland?

  1. Fucking amen! You should be licensed to own pets and held accountable for anything that happens to them. On the Toowoomba buy and sell FB pages there are fuckwits selling/giving away animals all the time and I tell them you cannot rehome let alone wean kittens at 5 weeks, they need to be microchipped, vaccinated, there are fines no one cares. If the council is sick of animals being surrendered or unclaimed they need to start enforcing the rules! Vets need to do their part too and do free desexing clinics.

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    1. Thanks so much Jess! Love your message. I do disagree with the vet clinics though, don’t forget that they are running a business and if people are going to be a responsible owner, they should check these prices PRIOR to adopting. If you can’t afford a vet, you can’t afford a pet is what I tell everyone. I used to think ‘why dont vets just discount’ and then I realised a lot of them already do (eg, the NDN drive each July, independent promotions etc) and that people saying ‘I cant afford to desex’ really mean ‘I simply wont prioritise it’ but we have grown to make it a viable excuse – and instead of turning the blame onto these people aka the masses, we turn against those asking for the fee. I hope that makes sense… thankyou for being a stickler for microchipping and vacc etc, urgh that drives me nuts too! I feel like all I do is yell some days haha!!!

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    2. Do you know how much desexing costs clinics. Vet clinics are not as profitable as people think. As a vet nurse I earn less per hour then I did as a shop assistant in a take away at 17. Clinics do run desexing as much as at cost as they possibly can., yes it brings in some clients but most people will call 5-10 clinics to get the cheapest price and then the same for vaccinations.

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      1. Totally agree Anne! I never blame the vets – if you can’t afford a vet, you can’t afford a pet! A good owner has already budgeted desexing PRIOR to owning their pet 🙂

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    1. Damn straight. I live in the worst house in my street and will for the forseeable future because no way would I ever sleep at night knowing I haven’t given everything I have to this cause. And at the end of the day, I am so crazily grateful for my life as it is – I am happy to even have a roof over me this winter when I know others are sleeping under bridges… So while I get frustrated a lot, I try to maintain perspective as much as possible. I have always despised human children and I think that is because I could never care for animals the way I do, if I had my own baby haha. Things happen for a reason. Thankyou for your efforts too – would love to connect with you on Facebook. Jess xxx

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  2. Love what you’ve written Jess and how true it all is. As for some happy news for you, we just adopted a dog that needs $1500 worth of heartworm treatment and can jump 6foot fences if she sees a possum to chase. We knew she’d be euthanased if the owners took her to the pound as they planned to. We love her, won’t mind a single cent of the money we have to pay because someone else stupidly didn’t use heartworm prevention and have already started behavioural training for the possum fetish and currently searching for a new house with more suitable fencing. The world need more people like you and less of the others. Thanks for the sacrifices you make so that others may live.

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    1. That is so sweet of you! Best of luck for her health and thankyou for your words… I can recommend the PetSafe In Ground Containment System.. I just strung the wire around my existing fence. Can then be moved between houses. It beeps as they approach the perimeter, and then gives them a zap (kind of like a smack) through the matching collar if they dont stop when they should. My dogs have only ever been shocked two or three times EVER because they just learn that they can have the whole yard except for the very outside 🙂 keeps them safe and contained, and gives me peace of mind. I also find my dogs are more relaxed now, as they have stopped patrolling to yell at cars on the footpath etc! Jess xxx

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  3. What gives you the right to say that Queensland is the only state where this happens????? What a load of bulldust….. You only have to look on Gumtree to see where the most are advertised. I for one will NEVER donate to RSPCA nor advertise ANYTHING on Gumtree……. How dare you insinuate that I am part of this. I am a very loyal Queenslander and I am absolutely offended at your insinuations.

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    1. Get over it Lynne. I never said that? I focused on Queensland because this is where I live and where I know for sure what happens. Each state has different government regulation obviously and I won’t talk about what I haven’t experienced myself. I didn’t insinuate that you are part of this unless you are an animal dumper or breeder, and if that’s the case I don’t care about your opinion anyway.

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    1. Thank you SO much Christopher, the NDN is a fabulous national network and our desexing month kicks off in just a few days!!! JULY is it for desexing discounts, mad, hectic, CRAZY DISCOUNTS! Thankyou for your kindness. Jess xxx

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  4. My husband and I recently travelled to Toowoomba to adopt from the RSPCA and its just heartbreaking to see the number of animals who have been abandoned. Our rescue was from a little of pups born to a dog who was not desexed and the owner just dumped her because they did not want a litter of pups. Its disgusting! You are doing one the toughest jobs out there but its so necessary. You are amazing.

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    1. Hey Kira thank you so much for travelling to Tba to adopt! Congratulations on saving a rescue baby… the Toowoomba RSPCA do amazing work so thankyou for supporting them! Such wonderful and caring staff. Enjoy being a furmummy xxx

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  5. Well said last year I volunteered at a shelter and some of the things I saw were sad and discusting including as u mentiond about the owner droping them off with the stories they would come up with just to get rid of the animal and the way they would treat them you could even tell who was lieing and who was telling the truth not only that the amount of new animals I would see the next week was so sad im glad you have said something with your heart in it and not avoiding anything I will share this post of yours on fb

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    1. Thankyou so much Andrew! I appreciate your support. I hope you will continue to volunteer. While it is a soul crushing and devastating job at times, the benefits are huge also and it is such important work. Bless xxx

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  6. Well said, I totally understand how you feel I was part of a rescue group but am now doing it myself. I am unemployed and on a disability pension due to a car accident which left me with a spinal injury, cronic pain and has made me broke along with other issues. All my hard earned money and savings have gone towards saving animals from death row like yourselves, I don’t have enough money to pay my bills and my mortgage and people think I’m crazy. I’m constantly begging for help and have had numerous breakdowns caused from people who don’t care and people associated with certain rescue groups that have screwed me over when I have taken dogs into my care. I live to try and save these poor animals including bull breeds which are difficult to rehome that I also currently have in my care. I sacrifice putting food on the table for myself to make sure my rescues have food before I eat. The emotional and physical stress this causes people who actually care is unthinkable.
    Why can’t people wake up to themselves and look at the big picture and see the end result. “Oh that’s right they don’t care and making money is more important”. Let’s put you on death row to be alone, cold, hungry, scared and crying for someone to love you. Maybe then you’d rethink what your actions are causing!!!

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    1. Pollard you sound like an amazing human being and I totally understand the feeling of isolation, betrayal and being misunderstood. Let me assure you, while I may not be in your area, you are never alone and there are so many of us who want to help you! Animal rescue brings people together. Are you in any rescue support groups? Feel free to message me on my rescue Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/WDDPRToowoomba

      Jess

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  7. When the topic of breeding, moving, rehoming ect is brought up, I always ask them if they’ve ever watched a health animal being put down. I’ve not come across someone who has said yes (which is probably why they are all so willing to back yard breed, dump or just have them euthanized).
    You’ve got a heart breaking job and we’re all very lucky there are people like you out there, thank you.
    Wish more people would wake up and educate them selves and their kids on the process.
    You wrote your article very well.

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    1. thankyou so much Mell. I love your approach… it is so confronting and very, very hard to construct a good argument without letting fear and rage get in the way. Keep up the great work xx

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  8. Fucking awesome post, couldn’t have put it better myself.

    I’ll be sharing this, keep sticking the boot up people’s arses because those who give up animals need a dose of reality slapped across their faces. It’s just heartbreaking what so many poor animals go through.

    Its a similar vein of ignorance when it comes to the meat industry – I’m pretty sure most people would stop eating meat if they saw either how the animals are slaughtered, or if they had to kill the animals themselves.

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    1. Michelle are you my sister from another mister? Im a vego, in the vegan transition stage… love your ‘here’s how it is, dickhead’ approach – the world needs people like you. Keep it up!

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  9. start whinging to the vets then. there the ones that set a disgustingly high price on desexing animals which is why the majority of people don’t and cant afford to desex their pets. the vets keep it high because puppies and kittens bring them a lot of money when they get their first needles. your on here swearing at people who confide console and develop a companionship with and love their pets to death but cant afford the simple 40min surgery. take your negativity to where its needed.

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    1. Kyle people who blame vets are people who don’t understand their responsibilities as pet owners. Vets make a living from their services. They are a business, not a charity and the fact remains that if you want a pet, you need to consider the cost in desexing BEFORE getting it – not get the pet, whine about the price, and then let it breed. Just like you don’t sign a house lease without checking the rent first. That is not how the world works. Several vets offer monthly discounts on desexing as it is, so Im not sure if you are just uneducated, or greedy. Please educate yourself on responsible pet ownership some more before commenting again.

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  10. The job you do is 100% appreciated and necessary, but in my opinion, your attitude towards it is absolutely wrong.
    I am pet owner of two rescues, have been donating $ for over 10 years and spend time volunteering weekly because my LOVE for animals is greater than my anger of actions of humans.

    Education is absolutely necessary and I agree completely with you that all the issues you mentioned need to be addressed but HOW do you expect “change and help” if you are referring to everyone who’s had to give their animals for whatever reason as “animal-dumping little fucks?”

    “I hate my job” (quote) – I imagine due to the lack of awareness of others? – I suggest you stop!
    It honestly seems like, even though you have the right intentions, it is definitely not coming from a place of LOVE, and at the end of the day it is not about you (or your financial/emotional problems). Other than the issues you mention, it seems like this article was just a massive whinge of how bad your situation is and NOT about how you truly want to EDUCATE & HELP people understand a real issue.

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    1. Hey there! Wow I am so glad to see another awesome rescue pet owner on here! There are so many banding together right now and it’s amaaaaazing! I totally know what you’re saying! However of course I hate that my job exists, as does a mortician – but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the good work I am a part of. But how is a ‘don’t worry I get to save some of them, happy lala’ going to get spread as virally as this has? Don’t forget that everyone loves a sad story, they share a lot faster than the happy ones and the facts and figures need to be put out there and tug at heart strings in order for people to get passionate about this serious issue. Asking someone nicely to desex hasn’t worked for anyone, ever. Asking them to help stack bodies in freezers, has. Shock tactics just work. So don’t take this as me not knowing exactly what I am doing in the way I have written this. I have a marketing background. I am not an uneducated tantrum thrower. None of this was supposed to be about me, but people relate more to a story that has a real person and their emotions behind it. Would they trust my words if they didn’t know I gave everything I had to it? Would they not think, well then skip your next holiday to fund it? Because I know I would. It’s human nature! I would encourage you to take in, vet, and rehome effectively, just FIVE dogs/cats, all out of your own pocket – and then see if you can lead from love and effectively stir up mass response in order to raise awareness. I am all about spreading the love and trust me, 99.9% of the time I am a happy and loving person, I help out several civilians who aren’t providing adequate care for their pets (think pensioners etc) who LOVE their pets but just can’t grasp things like, worming, grooming etc – I do all this FOR them so that they get the continued joy of being a pet owner, and the pet can keep its health. I am happy to do it because I know that some people just need help. But I will not apologise for hating on people who cause so much suffering in the world. So please don’t write me off as some selfish insensitive bitch. You clearly missed something nobody else did if you didn’t think that this post was educational as I have spent several hours now, responding to messages along the lines of ‘shit I didn’t know ANY of this happened, I never thought of that, I thought rescues got their vetwork for free, how can I help, where can I foster’ etc etc… 20,000 people have read this in 16 countries now and you are the only one who has said something negative to me. So while I understand your ‘be happy, be nice’ attitude, I WISH that was maintainable in my situation. But it isn’t. And if you think it is – please operate your own rescue and report back in a year with your findings.

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  11. I totally understand your thoughts you’ve obviously taken a lot of time to put on paper. But the type of people you are preaching to would be unable to get past the second paragraph. Anyone who “gives away” an animal is a bastard. End of story. Just put that in capitals and leave it at that. You will never be able to change the mindset of this type of person. So we have to work on legislation and on the pounds and on the backyard breeders. Even if it might mean breaking the law. Worth it.

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    1. Hahahaha I love this comment, you just made my night. Thankyou 🙂 this post has now reached 20,000 views and 16 countries within the first 24 hours and Ive received over 100 messages saying ‘holy shit I didnt realise it was so bad, where can I talk to someone about fostering/adopting/volunteering’. So while the main problem isn’t going to be reading this – their PEERS are 😉 it will make a difference I am sure of it 🙂

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  12. Hi Jess,
    Well said and thank you for just an honest preview to a horrific situation. What is the name of your shelter? I would love to help.
    – Amanda

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  13. Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is great, and unfortunately far too much of a relaity that people just don’t want to hear. People are fuckers, and I feel terrible for the poor helpless animals that suffer at the hands of these uneducated morons!

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  14. Excellent article to raise awareness.
    I’d like know of small shelters around toowoomba that need help and especially the one being mentioned so I can donate. Thankyou for your work x

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  15. Well said Jessica! So many people just don’t have any idea what really happens and how much effort small groups put into saving so many pets from even getting to the big shelters. I admire your dedication, feel your frustration and cheer you on for waking up each day and doing it again Thank you (two words not said often enough).

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  16. Well said Jess, We adopted a gorgeous little miniature fox terrier cross from little Critters through Pet Rescue, Holly is what we named her, she was a surrender puppy with her 2 brothers and mum, such a sweetie, I don’t understand how anyone can just dump them hoping someone will adopt them, I would’ve hated little Holly not to be adopted, don’t want to think of her alternative.I hope your words make people think strongly about desexing. We love our beautiful little girl, she has fitted so well into our home. Cheers, Fay.

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    1. Awww hi Fay! Thanks so much for letting me know about Holly! Critters are awesome! I hope you guys have an amazing future full of long walks and sunshine. Jess xxx

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  17. You are amazing, and this bought me to tears. I am sharing this, in the hope that it will effect even just one person. A lot of people out there do not deserve animals, they really don’t so sad.

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    1. Thanks Rebecca! I was feeling a bit too frustrated last night and was like you know what…. here comes a vent haha. I have had an overwhelming response and I’m so glad to see that I only have ONE hater so far out of over 20,000 views in 16 different countries! That is SO impressive! People are really opening their eyes and Im being asked repeatedly how people can help their local rescues.. AMAZING! Thankyou for sharing 🙂 Jess

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  18. Jess, I also have a small rescue, which has been closed down temporarily due to some rich person up the road complaining that the grass on my footpath is not mown. Feeding 15 horses, 40 guinea pigs, 6 dogs, three cats, four birds, lots of chooks…. most rescues means I can’t afford a mower. I work eight jobs to pay the bills. So when they come to check I have the right number of animals, many will be hidden with my friends till it is over. The council workers who came were embarrassed by their job, and went to great lengths to say the condition of my animals was not in question.
    People need to grow up and take responsibility for their actions. If you don’t want to rescue, don’t stop those who do!

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  19. love this article, i adopted my large (35kg), black German shepherd mix as soon as i saw that they had him down as 10 years old (on top of being a large black dog), i knew he was extremely unlikely to be adopted so i took him home. Shitty world that we live in but there are good people amoungst the majority (who are uncaring, imbeciles)

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    1. Oh hell yeahhhhhhh this comment rocks, I love hearing happy endings! Old dogs are seriously so cool, now that I’ve had puppies, mid age AND old dogs – gotta say the oldies are my fav! I’m so proud of you for taking him home and I wish you two many happy and sunshine-filled years together xxx

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  20. Dear Jess, I feel your pain and heartache at the large heartbreaking problem of unwanted companion animals. I have spent much time working at shelters and doing the unfortunate work of euthanizing healthy but unwanted animals and I would like to as much as possible to reduce this problem. I see the best way forward is to work with all relevant stakeholders to introduce the best ideas based on evidence of them working. I have been talking with RSPCA and AWL on different issues. The AWL have just launched a campaign to improve pet friendly accommodation at http://www.awla.com.au/australias-most-pet-friendly-landlord/. listed below is the policy frame work from the Australian veterinary Association. Take Care Mike
    What to do about unwanted dogs and cats
    Executive summary
    The problem of unwanted dogs and cats is an ongoing challenge for Australian governments and communities at all levels.
    The policy advice of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) about this issue is based around a framework of five key principles. The most effective way to make an impact on the problem of unwanted companion animals is to employ strategies across all five principles that are appropriate to the situation in each state or local government area.
    The five key principles are:
    1. Understand the problem – make sure there is sound information about what is causing unwanted dogs and cats in the relevant jurisdiction.
    2. Education – education about socially responsible pet ownership is a powerful strategy. Public education about how to react to stray cats is also important (ie don’t feed them, but either take ownership or take them to a pound).
    3. Identification – microchipping or other identification for all pets is vital to ensure that lost animals can be returned to their owners.
    4. Targeted programs – strategies to address specific problems in local jurisdictions have often been shown to be effective. These might include low- cost desexing if desexing rates are low, or public education about the best way to deal with stray neighbourhood cats. Providing adequate resources is absolutely crucial.
    5. Increase regulation, compliance and enforcement for all sources of companion animals – controls and compliance to limit the risks of overpopulation are important components. Ensuring enough resources are allocated to enforcement is vital for new regulations to have any effect on euthanasia rates.
    Background
    The euthanasia of dogs and cats is a highly emotive issue, one which animal activists and politicians alike use to rally support around their respective causes. Veterinarians and veterinary nurses are equally disturbed about the number of animals entering and dying in pounds and shelters across the country. Many of them working in shelters are the ones who have to perform such euthanasias.
    Unfortunately, many of the opinions and policy ‘solutions’ to the problem are poorly informed about both the problems, and the strategies that have been effective against them in the past. This means that taxpayers’ money is invested by local and state governments in initiatives that will not have a significant impact on the problem they are intended to solve. Responsible pet owners are often required to spend more money on their pets due to increased regulation. And dogs and cats continue to be
    17 September 2008 1
    euthanased, eliciting the outrage of animal organisations who call for solutions that may not be based on scientific evidence or been proven to work.
    The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is the peak representative organisation for veterinarians in Australia. It advises governments at all levels on the range of policy issues relating to animal health and welfare. The AVA provides policy advice to governments based on the best scientific evidence for effectiveness.
    This document provides a framework for the association’s advocacy and communication activities around unwanted companion animals. The framework is firmly rooted in AVA member-approved policy.
    Framework of five principles
    On the issue of unwanted companion animals, the association’s advice is structured around a basic framework of five key principles.
    The most effective way to make an impact on the problem of unwanted companion animals is to employ strategies across all five principles that are appropriate to the situation in each state or local government area.
    1. Understand the problem
    In each jurisdiction, the reasons vary as to why animals end up in shelters or being euthanased. In most cases, there will be several causes.
    Research has found that most dogs ending up in pounds are owned, and most have been surrendered by their owners. This is usually because of behavioural problems, though a change in the living situation of the owner is also a common reason. 1
    With cats, the majority of those ending up in at the pound are not owned, being either stray or feral animals. A Victorian university study found that 80% of cats entering three major shelters had no owners or were semi-owned.2
    With both cats and dogs, behavioural and health problems they bring with them to the pound often make them unsuitable for rehoming. This is especially the case with animals rescued from animal hoarders and others who house multiple animals in sub-standard conditions. Many of these animals have to be euthanased due to poor health or behaviour that’s unsuitable for a domestic pet.
    There are important differences in the situations of unwanted cats versus dogs. With cats, there are significant problems with feral animals, and colonies of stray cats in urban areas. These problems require different responses to those that cause dogs to end up in a pound and being euthanased.
    Other factors leading to animals arriving at the pound or shelter include the surrender policy of the shelter, local veterinary capacity, human demographics, enforcement and education policies, and even climate (as it affects the breeding season of cats).
    1 Salman, MD, New Jr, JG, Scarlett, JM, Kass, PH, Ruch-Gallie, R and Hetts, S (1998) Human and Animal Factors Related to Relinquishment of Dogs and Cats in 12 Selected Animal Shelters in the United States, J App Animal Welfare Sc vol 1(3) 207-226.
    2 Marston, L, Bennett, P and Touhsati, S (2006) Cat admissions to Melbourne shelters: a report to the Bureau of Animal Welfare, December 2006. Melbourne; Animal Welfare Science Centre, Monash University.
    17 September 2008 2
    2. Education
    Education is a powerful complement to other strategies to address unwanted animals.
    All new pet owners need to understand their obligations and the needs of their pet. This is best handled by requiring all sources of animals to provide standard information on health care, training and feeding requirements.
    The exact educational needs will probably vary slightly from place to place, but the basics of socially responsible pet ownership and the right way to deal with stray cats are standard requirements. A study in Victoria showed that people feeding semi-owned cats was a significant problem2 and a campaign was introduced to educate the public. It raised awareness that feeding a cat that wasn’t yours only contributed to the problem, and encouraged people to either take ownership of the cat or take it to a pound or shelter. In some areas where desexing rates are abnormally low, owner education on its benefits can be very effective.
    There is a particular need to educate owners about how to train and socialise their pets while very young, to avoid behavioural problems later on that result in relinquishment or strays.
    3. Identification
    Identification of owned animals is crucial. Lost animals can be quickly returned to their owners, and it’s clear which animals are not owned. Compulsory microchipping and registration have been effective, although there is not always a high level of compliance.3 Funding initiatives to increase compliance can be a cost-effective way to reduce euthanasia rates.
    There are a number of other ways to identify pets – collars and tags can help return lost animals without the need for microchip reading equipment, and can be read by a neighbour who may be able to return the animal to the owner without having to go to a shelter or pound.
    4. Targeted programs
    Once the cause of the problem is understood in any particular community, targeted programs can be designed to address them.
    There is a high level of voluntary compliance with desexing in owned animals – 93% for owned cats and 78% for owned dogs.4 Voluntary desexing has effectively managed population growth for owned animals in Australia. Existing research has shown that euthanasia in pounds and shelters is rarely because an owner has too many animals.5
    For example, a Victorian study found 21% of cats entering the state’s three largest shelters were owned and the rest unowned or feral. Only one-third of the owned animals were surrendered because of overpopulation. A targeted program
    3 Garrett, M (2006) Compulsory microchipping in New South Wales. In: Urban Animal Management Conference Proceedings 2006. Sydney: Australian Veterinary Association.
    4 Heady, B (2006) National people and pets survey 2006, Melbourne: Petcare Information and Advisory Service.
    5 Lawrie, M and Awad, M (2007) The issue of unwanted animals: an unemotional approach? In: Australian Institute of Animal Management Conference Proceedings 2007, Canberra: Australian Institute of Animal Management.
    17 September 2008 3
    to address the problem of unowned or feral cats would be the way to reduce in euthanasia rates in this instance. 6
    For these reasons, mandatory desexing is not supported by the AVA to control populations as it will not have any significant effect on controlling feral and unowned cats. This means that money and effort spent on promoting and enforcing mandatory desexing would be more usefully expended elsewhere.
    Targeted voluntary desexing programs in areas where there is an unusually low compliance with voluntary desexing can be an effective strategy to reduce unwanted animals in particular communities, especially when complemented by a targeted education program.5
    Other targeted programs might address problems with unscrupulous breeders or animal hoarders if these are found to be a particular source of euthanased animals.
    Better systems can improve the adoption rate of animals, and reduce the rate of return. Improved assessment of the animal, potential owner and his or her home is one example. Expanding supply channels to responsible non-shelter outlets is another. Transporting suitable animals for adoption to areas of high demand and low supply has also shown to be a promising strategy.
    It’s important to remember that many animals in pounds and shelters are not suitable for adoption. An analysis of RSPCA’s Yagoona shelter in Sydney showed that 98% of dogs destroyed during 2004-05 were unfit to be rehomed due to poor health, old age or unsuitable temperament. Eighty-nine per cent of cats euthanased were also unfit for adoption.5 Effective solutions to the euthanasia of unwanted companion animals have to include comprehensive preventive strategies that stop the animals arriving there in the first place.
    Governments at all levels need to allocate adequate resources to the control of unwanted cats. This includes education on what to do about unwanted or semi- owned cats, along with resources to deal with cats that are relinquished. Feral cats are a major danger to wildlife. Although there’s no simple way to control them, various methods are being researched and should be promoted.
    5. Increase regulation, compliance and enforcement for all sources of companion animals
    Standard, enforceable regulations for breeding, keeping and selling companion animals are vital to reduce impulse buying, poor animal welfare outcomes, and euthanasia rates. These should be applied equally to pet shops, registered breeders, backyard breeders, pounds, shelters and animal rescuers. Providing standard, accurate information to purchasers on the health, feeding, behavioural and training needs of their new pet is an important part of this.
    All sub-standard facilities breeding or housing animals for sale should be closed down permanently.
    Governments at all levels need to be committed to enforcing these regulations, not just rely on not-for-profit organisations.
    6 Marston, L, Bennett, P and Touhsati, S (2006) Cat admissions to Melbourne shelters: a report to the Bureau of Animal Welfare, December 2006. Melbourne; Animal Welfare Science Centre, Monash University.
    17 September 2008 4
    Conclusion
    The euthanasia of unwanted companion animals is a complex issue. Only a range of complementary strategies can achieve the objective of reducing the euthanasia rate of unwanted cats and dogs. These strategies must be:
    • based on a sound understanding of the local situation
    • supported by well-researched evidence for effectiveness, and
    • adequately resourced to evaluate their effectiveness.
    The five key principles provide a strong framework for dealing with unwanted companion animals in an effective and coordinated way.

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    1. Mike I really really appreciate this comment and information, I am ALL about education and collaboration! I am swamped right now but I will sit down when I have time to read and understand this information fully and get back to you then. Thankyou so much!

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  21. I read your story, good on you for every word you said. It disgusts me with the backyard breeder and every week there are so many pets PTS, what for, all because of us, humans, well said and I do take my hat off to you and what you do. Thank you.

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  22. Best piece of writing ever , you are 100% accurate in everything you said. Anyone disagreeing with this brilliant woman needs a massive reality check and clearly has never worked tirelessly in animal rescue. You rock Jess keep writing the world needs you , rescue fur bubs are my life too xxx

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  23. Hi Jess
    First of all, appreciate and respect your passion and commitment to protecting our animal friends. It’s definitely a reality that a lot of people don’t want to acknowledge, and all too often people take the easy way out and pretend that the problem doesn’t exist.
    I wanted to share a few thoughts and experiences with you and your readers, and would be interested to hear your thoughts.

    Firstly – My understanding was that AWL now operates the council pounds, meaning that their no euthanasia policy is more widely practiced across pounds in Queensland (not sure about other states). As a volunteer at the Wacol RSPCA, I have noticed a marked increase in the number of animals under our care since the AWL came to operate the council shelters. If we aren’t able to take them in a particular intake, we call on our network of specialty rescue groups ie. FIV or breed rescues to see if they can assist.

    Secondly – a 76% rehome rate for RSPCA does not mean that the 8000 animals euthanised were healthy and just unable to go to a good home. RSPCA does not euthanise healthy animals. Full stop. We have ‘residents’ who have been under our care for 500+ days – healthy and perfectly suitable pets that just haven’t found their forever home yet. Yes it’s terribly awfully sad when animals get put down, but the animals I’ve seen that have required this have been in severe incurable pain, covered in tumours, crawling with multiple broken bones, or are so traumatised from abuse, that it is a small mercy we can help them in their final hours or days to be warm, fed, comfortable and cuddled (if they’ll let us). It’s an incredibly heart wrenching experience. For every euthanasia case I have been involved in though, there are tens of other animals that have been rehabilitated, medically treated and rehomed. Some that we thought were beyond help, have turned into life long pets for adopting families, and there is no feeling more satisfying than coming in for my shift and finding that the little scared cat I sat with until it ate has found a new home, or the dog who was 16 and missing a leg had been adopted.

    Thirdly – RSPCA receives 0.5% of its funding from government funds. Less than 1%!!!! I think it’s entirely possible for smaller shelters and rescues to work alongside and in conjunction with RSPCA, and we can all work together to educate humans and protect animals as best we can. It has to get better. I sincerely hope it does soon.

    Thanks
    Cara

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    1. Hey Cara! You seem to have misunderstood my post haha and taken this as a – small rescue vs RSPCA thing – no way! I am a mad mad MAD RSPCA supporter! I always rally for them and often drive all around town collecting donations of cat litter etc for them! I love their work, this was in NO way an RSPCA-hater post. I was placing the blame on where it belongs – the public. When I meant, no 8000 isn’t good enough, why can’t we rely on the RSPCA etc to do it, why do we need to get involved – well no, it’s not a good number because those animals shouldn’t have been freaking bred in the first place, and we cant rely on them because theyre busting their asses and cant keep up with the amount of dumping the public is bringing to them! This was ALL about the civilians creating the problem, NOT anything suggesting that the RSPCA is incompetent. Read it all again knowing my stance and you’ll probably get a different vibe from it 🙂 btw I think AWL only does the coast and Brisbane 🙂 each state is different and each council is different too. So what I have said about Toowoomba is correct. I stuck with my area cos I know what happens and I don’t want to spread misinformation about other regions. I know that the AWL work with smaller rescues and Ive had many personal dealings with them and I freaking ADORE that company – but unfortunately Toowoomba doesn’t use smaller rescues – it is either RSPCA, AWL as last resort, or nothing. I mean it was such a big deal for AWL to be asked to help Toowoomba out that it made the newspaper last year… it isn’t a regular thing. I also know through my own time with RSPCA (PS the Wacol centre is freaking gorgeous, one of the nicest big shelters Ive been in…) that they dont just stick the needle into anything haha. Nothing dies just because of the time it’s been there which is awesome espesh cos they feed Hills which is hella expensive (but awesome, have you ever seen it fix bowed legs wow!). But then you do have to take into consideration the ones that develop behavioural or health issues due to the timeframe theyve been there – anxiety etc, and then get put down as a result- again, this is ALL on the person who dumped it there! I am all about education and collaboration so please don’t think this is about RSPCA – it’s not. I only use them as an example because they are our big local shelter 😉 would love to connect with you on FB, always looking to link arms with other animal welfare advocates! Jess https://www.facebook.com/WDDPRToowoomba

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      1. Hey Jess, sounds good. I’ll link up with you on facey 🙂
        I do understand that you weren’t having a go at rspca, I just always want to make sure the public understand that it’s not a death sentence to surrender to us – and as much as I like to get annoyed at people, there will always be genuine surrenders (eg. Our ‘pets in crisis’ whose owners are incapacitated and can’t look after their animals), and I agree that prevention is the best thing – we need to promote de-sexing. Animals live longer, are less aggressive and less prone to disease, it’s a win win!
        I know we’re very spoilt at Wacol. One of the best things is the offices are separated and big enough to house some animals so they rotate through and aren’t always confined to their kennels. There’s a gorgeous persian called Picasso who’s 18 and is our foster grandad – he’s always looking after at least 4-5 kittens who aren’t quite ready to meet people 😎 it’s the best way to end my shift to get a cuddle from him you can hear his purr a mile away.
        RSPCA have got operation wanted running at the moment with 20% off de-sexing at participating vets – do you think that could be publicised better in Toowoomba/ have you noticed it being advertised?? Happy to pass on any feedback you have from your area.
        All the best
        Cara

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  24. Great read! Wish people could understand. I grew up on a farm so have had to put plenty of live stock and pets ive had down myself. Its literally pains you. Its like loosing ya best mate. Since moving to brissie and finding new work money is tight and a 14 hr day is nothing unusual but wish i could do more. Ive adopted 2 dogs and got my sister to adopt one from toowoomba also. Keep up the good work anyway!!

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  25. Jess… wow…. you are so spot on …I have my own little pack of Gumtree..puppy farm..backyard breeding and RSPCA poochies..who I consider my children. They all have their own issues having started their lives in far from perfect circumstances but with lots of love, health care and patience they are now settled, happy and safe, I have been actively involved in animal rescue and actually have no time for the larger rescue organisations or councils. Unlike people such as yourself, their motives are largely money motivated and they do not have the animals best interests at heart. I totally agree though that it is the general public who have to take a really long hard look at themselves. The ignorance, cruelty, selfishness and stupidity is beyond belief. And as they say …the more I know about people ..the more I love animals… (with exceptions of course).. Please keep on fighting for these innocent victims. x

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